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Certification of EDE-based programmes in schools starting soon.

Gaia Education has recently, in a quite short time period, received three requests from three different continents to certify EDE-based programmes for youth or whole schools. This is a sign of something emerging and has put Gaia Education on a path of active engagement with schools and youth programmes.

The central features of EDE – experience, immersion in community, project design work, special emphasis on cooperation, trust and social skills for nurturing them – are gaining more and more ground in the mainstream educational scene resulting in various ’integrated’, ’holistic’, ’experiential’, ’transformative’, ’child-centred’ etc. experimental programmes in regular schools. These developments are part of the larger movement towards accepting holistic worldview in education and thus sending forth signals that time is ripening fast for more cooperation between Gaia Education and schools.

Gaia Education’s core – the EDE programme – has inspired several graduates to start EDE-based programmes for school-age children. Few youth programmes certified or inspired by Gaia Education already exist, either embedded in schools or organised separately by ’Gaia’ groups. Some examples are:

  • BBDE – Back to Basics Design Education, developed by THREAD, Siddharth Village and conducted already twice in Siddharth Village school, Hosur, Tamil Nadu, India;
  • Gaia Jovem Rio and Gaia Jovem Serrano – transformative youth programmes based on EDE and developed by EDE graduates in Brazil;
  • EDE-based one-month ’epoch’ in Tallinn Waldorf-school, Estonia and 2-month programmes in Rocca al Mare Gymnasium, Tallinn, Estonia.
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Furthermore, a request is emerging from Estonia to certify one to two schools as ‘Gaia Schools’. One of these, Gaia Kool, is a young private school planning to develop a full 12-year curriculum integrated with EDE. Second institution is a state college in small town Põltsamaa which is looking into converting one parallel class into ’Gaia class’, starting with new admissions this autumn (2016).

Therefore, three strands of certification seem to be emerging for Gaia Education:

  • EDE-based programmes organised by schools for their pupils, integrated to some extent with school academic calendar;
  • EDE-based youth programmes organised by ’Gaia’ groups with participants from various locations and backgrounds;
  • giving a whole school the status of a ’Gaia School’.

First two categories are somewhat overlapping and relatively easy to certify as they are based on EDE curriculum that is to be taught and learned during a certain time period, usually from one month to one school year. These programmes should broadly, probably with some modifications, fulfil the existing certification criteria – number of contact hours, commitment to cover all four modules, skilled faculty (which calls for more teacher training EDEs), design process, appropriate environment, evaluation and reporting.

But what constitutes a Gaia School? If a certain school as institution wants acknowedgment from Gaia Education, it should integrate both core values and content of EDE into its foundation. This is probably a new territory both for schools and GE, but a very exciting and timely one. Here are some initial ideas about what makes a school a Gaia School:

    • EDE integrated into curriculum several times during student’s whole school period as project-based learning
    • Certain minimum time outside, ‘nature time’, required
    • Immersion into different cultures, in maybe building design, communication, cooperation, visits of children in different part of the world
    • Social engagement in community required
    • Embedded in national curriculum framework or if needed, has its own curriculum (like Waldorf for example)
    • Regular self-evaluation and re-certification as Gaia School required.

Gaia Education’s intention for this spring is to develop Gaia Schools certification criteria, certification pathway, monitoring and evaluation system. Soft launch of Gaia Schools certification programme is planned before summer.

Therefore, as this is new and quite fast emerging development that’s widening Gaia Education’s circle, we very much ask for your feedback and inputs in two areas:

      • Information about existing and planned EDE-based school programs, that are (have been) not certified by Gaia Education,
        but are definitely inspired by EDE
      • Reactions, ideas and feedback on certifying whole schools as Gaia Schools

Working with schools and youth has enormous potential and with first schools already knocking on Gaia Education’s door,
let’s prepare for this new exciting journey!

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Get in touch: Toomas Trapido, Gaia Schools Coordinator
toomas.trapido(at)gmail.com