Taiwan Waldorf Math Workshop:
The Ci Xin Waldorf school in Taiwan is bursting at the seams. This publicy school has a total enrollment of 700 students, and includes a kindergarten, a lower/middle school, and a high school. Waiting lists are hundreds long, and parents move to lush, Yilan county, with its rice paddies and nearby mountains, to meet residential eligibility criteria, so their children can attend the school. Incredibly, class 1 has four streams, classes 2-5 have three streams, and classes 7-9 have two streams.
Taiwan’s educational system may be compared to that of Japan and China where students attend after-school cram programs and have little time for play. But at the same time, perhaps partly as a reaction to this pressure-cooker education, Waldorf schools in Taiwan are thriving.
This spring, I traveled to Taiwan to work with teachers at the Ci Xin school and introduce them to my Waldorf math curriculum and books. After 17 years of work, I’ve completed the last in my Making Math Meaningful® book series. It is incredible to see how the curriculum is being taken up by teachers all over the world who are questioning the way math is conventionally taught.
While at the Ci Xin school, I taught two (two-week) main lessons for high schoolers: calculus and projective geometry. Projective geometry is a uniquely Waldorf topic that stimulates deep mathematical thinking.
The high point of my visit was the weekend math workshop for teachers and parents. The Ci Xin school has a very inclusive approach to its training programs, opening workshops like mine, and its regular teacher training events, to parents who do not necessarily want to become teachers, but who are curious about Waldorf pedagogy.
For two lively days, around 100 participants embarked on a mathematical adventure that is fundamental to my approach to teaching math, and is, essentially, Waldorf. This is about leading students on a journey to discover the wonders of math, encouraging them to grapple with perplexing puzzles, and helping them to overcome struggle.
Taiwan was a wonderful experience for me, and it is exciting to think that my further connection with Waldorf education in Asia is part of the picture for the future.