Accepted Paper:

Cosmopolitan enclaves and pedagogical adaptations: the case of Waldorf education in Kenya  


Yonatan N. Gez (Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institut)
Manya Kagan (Ben Gurion University of the Negev)

Paper short abstract:

The talk will explore cosmopolitan enclaves related to international schools in Kenya. In particular, we will consider Waldorf education in Nairobi and how it foregrounds tensions between local and global pedagogical cultures.

Paper long abstract:

The expanding number of international schools in Kenya, which cater for expat and local populations alike, demonstrates the growing significance of the idea of cosmopolitanism. But while such schooling is meant to accrue an elusive cosmopolitan capital, it can also be criticized for engendering segregation in schooling and for decontextualizing and 'de-Kenyanizing' education. Indeed, while such cosmopolitan focus may or may not result in marginalization of pupils' sense of national attachment, it certainly foregrounds the privileges—real or wishful—of a globetrotting, unhindered elite: a stark difference from the limited possibilities available to most Kenyan school graduates. At the same time, Kenya's ever-expanding private education sector provides us with a diverse range of combinations of pedagogies and curricula - with schools varying in their degree of adapting Western pedagogical models to the local Kenyan context.

In this paper we will focus on the Waldorf educational model, an alternative pedagogical approach that has won considerable success in Kenya. Drawing on recent fieldwork within a Waldorf teacher training program in Nairobi, we will present data from interviews with teachers to examine how the model has been adapted to local educational culture, how it has been interpreted by teachers, and how it has been received by parents and by the wider public. Through the case of Waldorf education, we will touch on wider questions regarding the economy of aspirational futures, tensions between local and global, the deployment of strategic investment in education, and the perpetuation of privilege and the prospect of socio-economic ascension.

Panel P092
Cosmopolitan enclaves: tensions and paradoxes