E-Newsletter August 2005

Quaker Education Workshop small group


Andrew Rutledge & Catalina Ríos, presenters: On Saturday, August 13, 2005, the Bolivian Quaker Education Fund offered a full day workshop for Bolivian Quaker teachers and administrators. The topics included an overview of Quaker history and testimonies, Quaker education, and administrative structures in U.S. Quaker schools. 70 participants representing 4 schools enjoyed a day of sharing ideas about Quaker education through PowerPoint presentations, dialogues, question and answer sessions, and small group exercises.

Participation in the sessions was focused, intense, and thoughtful. The evaluations yielded clear themes and reactions. Many participants appreciated coming together, something they have done infrequently. Engaged dialogue helped to build a sense of community. Participants discovered many new and thought-provoking ideas in the presentations. Some of the surprises included: the relationship between the Meeting and the school (especially in the realm of finances), teacher autonomy in curricular design and implementation, teacher participation on committees, and the format of silent Meeting for Worship. Many expressed enthusiasm about future workshops.

Catalina Ríos speaking.

We approached this difficult work of bridge building, sharing and service hoping to present our experiences and models, not to mandate change or agreement with our ideas. Despite the difficult social and economic conditions, the dedication and hard work of the teachers was evident in our school visits and throughout the workshop time.

Bolivian Quaker educators are very interested in continued sharing with Amigos del Norte. We were very pleased, and often surprised, at how graciously we were welcomed. We encourage our Quaker school colleagues to engage in future learning and teaching experiences with Bolivian Friends.

Bernabé Yujra, coordinator of BQE-Bo: The workshop really had a big impact, especially for the teachers, directors, and (why not?) administrators. Catalina showed how the Quaker schools function under the five principles of Quakerism. Andrew showed how Quaker schools are organized with respect to administrative matters and how administrators work. This was a new experience for those administering Quaker schools in Bolivia, and they remained surprised.

Small group work.

The teachers asked for longer workshops, focused on pedagogy, content and methods of teaching and learning, and curricular organization.

Alicia Lucasi, scholarship student and English teacher: Today August 13 I attended a workshop about Quaker education and administration, it was very interesting that now I know about Quakers' education and administration. The teachers were Catalina Rios and Andrew Rutledge; I was talking with them, too.

Emma Condori, scholarship student and English teacher: I would like to tell you that the presentation of Abington teachers was wonderful. I think my friends here and I learned many interesting things about Quakers and Quaker schools from the workshop. So we really loved the presentation and we thank God a lot for it.

Comment: It is unprecedented to have four very favorable reports on such an event in Bolivia within the first few days. This response, together with the large and varied attendance, show that Catalina and Andrew have opened the door to a new range of opportunities for strengthening fellowship between Bolivian and North American Friends.

—Newton Garver