Pequeño Sol (Little Sun): one of many different schools.
It has been almost 3 months now since I left Mexico (how time flies!) and there are still so many things to say about everything that happened there… and here too of course…
One of my last visits was to San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas) to a school in the middle of a forest, called Pequeño Sol (Little Sun). This school was founded 20 years ago by 5 families who were looking for something different for their children. They started off with only a few children and received financial support from Switzerland to fund the project. They are based on Waldorf education and this can be seen today in the hexagonal shape of all the adobe buildings.
Over the years, the school has grown to 300 students from nursery to secondary level. They have moved to a piece of land in the forest lent to them by the government and have been selecting what they like from every kind of education to create what they call “Pequeño Sol teaching” which has the following features:
- A social curriculum, in which they place a lot of importance on conflict resolution, both between children and adults. They have a protocol, by which they firstly try to resolve conflict between the children involved, and if they don’t manage this, they ask for support from the teacher and if they still can’t resolve it, they ask for help from management, whom they can meet with at any moment.
- Philosophy for children: a structured programme by which the children debate and explain different world philosophies from a young age.
- Centres: these are groups that are prepared in the classroom to work on challenges in many different areas. In this way each child or group of children goes through different centres of learning.
- Art: art can be found in all corners of Pequeño Sol, as influenced by Waldorf education.
- Dreams: at the start of the course, each child says what their dreams are and they work out what they have to do to reach them, both in terms of their learning and their behaviour. The teacher guides them in the process of reaching their dreams. An example of one of the children’s dreams is a ship outside the school.
- Relationship with, and respect of, the environment: being located in the middle of a forest, they are constantly in contact with nature. Each class has a vegetable patch they are in charge of. A large amount of the installations were made with recycled materials (tyres, wooden boxes etc.) and they have a recycling centre where the parents can bring and separate materials to recycle. All of this led to them winning a prize for green schools.
They also highlight and give a lot of importance to the relationships between older and younger students, as the older students often tell stories to the younger children or dye t-shirts together.
Field trips and camping trips also promote independence; the youngest spend a night at the school, and little by little they start to go on longer trips with more self-organisation, up until the point where the secondary school students are able to organise 10-day trips to the Caribbean, or take part in an exchange programme with an indigenous community.