Students cover an 11 year curriculum in just 1 year !
This forest school completely redefines the word “education”
Here the children have designed, built, and decorated their entire school campus — without adult supervision ! They cover the entire high-school math curriculum in one year and get Master's degrees by the time they are seventeen. They cook their own meals, do the administrative work and write their own textbooks ! These students come and go as they please - and their parents pay no tuition fees!
Megré describes his first visit to Tekos…
“… A narrow gravel road led from the main highway into the forest, to a valley nestled amidst the mountain peaks. The road soon came to an end in front of a most unusual two-storey mansion. It was still under construction. From one of the still frameless window openings wafted the sounds of children’s voices singing a Russian folk song.
“This building was part of the vision Anastasia had showed me back in the taiga forest, but now it was an altogether real experience.
“Without a word to anyone I made my way through various construction materials to touch this mansion with my own hands.
“As I approached, I saw a little girl, about ten years old, climbing deftly down a ladder. She went over to a pile of river pebbles and began selecting and dropping stones into an old herring tin. When she started back up the ladder, I climbed up after her, in the direction of the alluring music pouring forth from above.
“There on the second floor I watched as a group of kids like her, some a little older, were taking smooth pebbles out of a box and attaching them with a cement mixture to the wall, making an amazingly beautiful pattern. Two little girls at once carefully washed off each newly attached stone with damp rags. They set about their tasks in earnest, singing as they worked. No adults were present.
“Later I found out that the whole foundation, indeed, each brick of this structure, had been laid by a child’s hand. The children had come up with the whole design by themselves, including every corner of their building.
“And this is not the only such building on the little campus. In this amazing setting children are constructing not only their buildings, their campus, but their whole future in the process.
“And they sing! Here a ten-year-old girl is capable of building a house, doing splendid drawings and cooking meals, not to mention knowing ballroom dance steps and mastering the fundamentals of Russian martial arts.3
“The children of this forest school are acquainted with Anastasia. They themselves told me about her. Three hundred pupils from different Russian cities study here.
“At this school children take but a year to master the whole ten-year public-school maths syllabus, along with studying three foreign languages. They neither recruit nor produce child prodigies. They simply give the kids a chance to discover what already lies within.
“Academician Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin’s school comes under the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Education. It charges no tuition fees. Even though the school does not advertise itself, it has no vacancies. Indeed, there is already a waiting list of 2,500 hopefuls for an unexpected opening.
“It is hard to find words to describe the joy on these children’s beaming faces… (cont'd)
Megré talks to one of the students:
“One gets the impression that each brick of your building here is filled with the bright energy of a great power.”
“Yes, that’s true,” answered an older, red-haired girl. “So much depends on the people who touch them. We have done all this with love, we are trying with our mental attitude to bring only what is good and happy to our future.”
“Who designed this building, the columns and paintings?”
“This was the result of our united, collective thinking.”
“Does that mean that while each one is outwardly working on their own individual task, in actual fact it represents a collective thought?”
“That’s right. Every evening we get together and plan out, or visualise, the day ahead. We come up with the images we want to see expressed in the design of our mansion. Some of the pupils here take on the role of architect — they give specific form to our common work, tie it all together.”
“What image is expressed in the room we’re standing in now?”
“The image of Svarog2 — the primordial element of heavenly fire. You can see him here in the symbols, in the pebble amulets.”
“Does your group recognise one of its own as a principal or superior?”
“We do have a leader, but by and large it is the collective thought that is at work here — lava, we call it.”
“Say that again — thought is lava?”
“That’s right — a state of mind, an image, a desire.”
“Do you all work with such great delight, everybody smiling, everybody with such sparkling eyes — everybody so cheerful?”
“Yes, our life is like that, since we are doing what we want, doing what we can, doing what we love to do.”
“You said each stone has its own pulse and rhythm?”
“Yes, and this pulse beats once a day — just once.”
“Is it like that with all stones, or do some beat twice a day?”
“Every stone’s pulse beats once a day.”
“Doesn’t it seem to you that your mansion is something like a temple?”
“A temple is not a form, but a state of mind. For example, the cupolas — they simply help you access a particular state of mind. The form is moulded by feeling. And it is not by chance that the form of a cupola or hipped roof came to us — they represent our aspirations for heaven and the descent of Heavenly Grace.”
“This building, where every stone is laid with a good thought, is it able to heal?”
“And does it heal?”
“Yes, it does… (cont'd)”
In the Ringing Cedars Series, Anastasia completely redefines the concept of “education”. She insists that universal knowledge is accessible to each of us — and she steers us toward an entirely new model of education whereby children are taught to look within to find their own innate questions and answers. She reveals to the author the existence of this “forest school” where children, by using the methods she describes, are accomplishing results beyond our wildest dreams.
You can read much more about this school in these books and also order an amazing DVD The School: Humanity's New Future taken at this forest school. The words and images of these children will move you to tears — and touch the very core of your being — as you are reminded of the extraordinary beauty within every human being.
1. Mikhail Petrovich Shchetinin (1944 — ) Director (principal) of the Tekos School near Gelendzhik. Originally a music teacher by profession, Mikhail Petrovich has had a long and distinguished career in experimental education. The recipient of several awards, in 1991 he was honoured with the title Akademik (Academician) by the Russian Academy of Education.