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Embracing Wholeness in Education: A Personal Journey of Transformation

This article was originally published on Linkedin on the 19.09.2023.

maelys de rudder, sitting at table

In 2007, I founded Bloom School in the forest surrounding the city of Sarajevo. We established the Montessori approach as our foundation and, over the ensuing years, enriched it with our own holistic education practices.

With over 1500 students who have passed through our doors, we can confidently declare that we have succeeded in nurturing emotionally and socially developed individuals who also achieve outstanding academic success.

I believe that now is the perfect moment to take another significant stride forward and initiate a conversation about the limitations of the traditional education system. It's time to explore the possibilities of transforming education from the factory model to one centered on nurturing wholeness.

In this article, you can delve into my personal journey in education, my motivation to challenge the outdated traditional education system, and gain insight into what to anticipate in the forthcoming articles.

My early educational journey

Between the ages of 5 and 11, I attended what I consider to be the best school in the world! A recent opportunity to revisit this cherished place with my old classmates filled me with nostalgia. As we walked through the well-kept, lovely old mansion, memories came rushing back—the cheerful classrooms, the beautiful garden, and the wonderful playground. However, I couldn't help but notice the limitations of their now, traditional setup, with tiny classrooms lacking educational materials and creative spaces.

On that special day, we reminisced about the wonderful memories we shared, like the Roman feast, dressing up in togas, lazing around, and indulging in grapes and honey-filled treats. We also recalled the joy of bringing guinea pigs home from a farm and the excitement of having our musical instruments at all times for performances. The school transformed everything we learned into creative activities, fostering a spirit of celebration for any reason.

Our teachers, each unique in their own way, genuinely cared about our feelings, behaviour, and individual learning needs, leaving a lasting impact on us. Back then, we didn't focus on grades or future academic achievements; instead, we cherished what made each of us special and unique.

Those years were the foundation of my development and offered me my greatest experience of growth. The school provided a safe and caring environment where I could explore and experience myself in various ways, fostering a feeling of completeness and connection that guided me through life's journey afterwards.

Jane Fonda's words, "We are not meant to be perfect. We're meant to be whole," resonate with my experiences in that beautiful school. The moments of wholeness I experienced continue to support and inspire me today.

Entering the traditional education system

I believe that true educators, share a vision of education as an opportunity for children to experience wholeness—identity, meaning, and purpose through connections to people, the natural world, and spiritual values like compassion and peace. We believe education has the power to reveal the treasures within each individual, enriching humanity as a whole.

However, as I pursued my education in other establishments, the memory of those glorious days faded, replaced by sadness, boredom, fear, and insecurity. I experienced different educational systems in various European cites, all sharing similar traits. While achieving good results, I felt like the creative, joyful, curious, and free-spirited young girl I once was progressively vanished.

At 21, I graduated from law school with strong credentials, yet I felt directionless and lacked passion for anything specific.

However, everything changed when I became a mother—to five children. My personal experiences with the education system sparked a profound desire to provide my children with a more meaningful and enriching educational journey.

Being the change we must embrace

As a result, I embarked on a new path and created Bloom, a Montessori school in the forest surrounding Sarajevo, catering to children ages 3 to 19. My own journey as a parent and educator, reflected upon my personal experiences, and became the new driver of my own development. As I educated my children and contemplated what education should look like in today's world, Bloom became an extension of my quest for a more holistic and transformative approach to Human development.

Here I would like to engage in a conversation through a series of articles revolving around two main themes.

The first is a call to Let go of the Traditional Educational system, in which I will explore the following topics:

  1. The Factory School Model – A Breakthrough of the Past, A challenge of the Present

  2. Embracing Educational Transformation: The Imperative for Change

  3. Embracing Educational Transformation: The limitations of the Factory model

  4. Embracing Educational Transformation: The General Roots of Resistance

  5. Embracing Educational Transformation: Challenges for teachers

  6. Embracing Education Transformation: A Journey of Educational Discovery

The second is my vision for the Education of the Future, a starting point to invite you to imagine this transformative model of education with me. 

Welcome to this engaging exchange.

It is my sincere hope that these articles will provide you with insights, answer some of your pressing questions, and perhaps even spark new inquiries.

Stay tuned for the first article in the series! 

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