Auroville’s education pages would not be complete without mentioning Ms Heidi Watts who has been a constant guide, mentor, adviser and teacher to all involved in Auroville’s education from the early nineties onward.
When Heidi was first invited to Auroville with the support of the Foundation for World Education in 1991, she was co-chair of the Department of Education at Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire, USA. At the time, SAIIER and several Auroville teachers had asked her for workshops on human development & teaching methodology, and to serve as a consultant to the schools.
Ever since then, with continuing support from The Foundation For World Education and SAIIER, Heidi has come to Auroville for two or three months in the winter season, and worked with most of the Auroville schools at one time or another, both in the township itself as well as in its bio-region.
Heidi describes in her own words her work with the schools and the activities she initiated:
Most recently I have been involved with one of the kindergartens, seven of the nine elementary schools, and one of the three secondary schools in Auroville. I offer workshops, observe and advise teachers, assist with curriculum design, find and network resources between schools, serve as a consultant for issues as they arise in the schools and occasionally teach classes. I have been a member of the present Support Group for Aikiyam, one of the Auroville outreach schools, since its formation, and on the Board of Malachi, a boarding department for some Aikiyam students.
With other members of the Board of the Foundation for World Education we have sponsored an annual “Conversation on Integral Education”, and I have been active in trying to help Auroville both define and implement the “Integral Education” as described by Sri Aurobindo and Mother. To further an understanding of what Integral Education might look like in practice, I helped edit two teaching papers for the Education Portal in 2012: Play of Painting and Portfolio Assessment.
Auroville/Antioch University New England Partnership
In 1993 we established an exchange partnership between Auroville and Antioch University to enable students and faculty from Antioch to volunteer in Auroville and for Auroville teachers to attend classes at Antioch as unmaticulated students and to observe the teaching in local schools. More than thirty teachers from Auroville have benefited from this exchange and approximately the same number of Antioch students, alums or faculty has been to Auroville.
Awareness Through the Body
First sponsored by the AV/ANE partnership and now independently sponsored, ATB (Awareness Through the Body) workshops have been offered in New England for four summers, the first time in 2004 and the last time in 2012.
Marti, Aloka & Sala, Joan. Awareness Through the Body. (Preface) Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research, Auroville, India, 2006
Foulax, Odile. Building with Blocks in the Auroville Kindergarden. (Introduction: “Action Research Project in the Block Area”, (in press) Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research, Auroville, India, 2013
Watts, Heidi. Little By Little: the evolution of schooling in Auroville 1968-1980 – Saiier, Auroville,2005
posted in October 2012