There is a primary school in Keszthely, Hungary, that is a pure joy, where kids learn while playing games, using their creative capabilities, playing music, moving and having fun. They do it all together, but everyone follows his own pace. The school was founded in 1997 by a Japanese teacher Okuma Nobuko who had initially come to Hungary to study the Kodály method.
The Keszthely Életfa (Tree of Life) General Primary and Art School has been working as a foundation-financed educational institution for more than 20 years and is a brilliant proof to the fact that such special schools have the right to exist in the Hungarian education system. Its operation is based on two pillars: the national regulations and the foundation grants. Besides, the school is entitled to receive donations from 1% of the personal income tax.
The pedagogical concept and methodology elaborated by the founders extend the boundaries of knowledge and skills of the pupils beyond the requirements of the National Core Curriculum in a way that enables a more versatile personal development, a world-wide open thinking and a more successful self-fulfillment.
The classes are small in size, so that the teachers and educators could get a deeper knowledge of the skills, abilities, personal strengths and educational needs of the children. The learners can proceed with acquiring knowledge at a pace that genuinely fits their individuality.
Besides regular classroom activities, within the so-called ‘Circle of the Year’ projects we hold Project Days when children actively cooperate with their peers of different ages getting a better understanding of the laws and working mechanisms of the world and nature and learning many other interesting things. In this way, a cohesive multi-age community comes to being, based on the fundamental values such as acceptance, respect and appreciation of each other.
Professional awards, placements in academic competitions and an excellent rate of college entrance achieved by our pupils all testify to the high standards of the Életfa School. For years, our institution has been working in cooperation with well-known domestic educational experts. The experience of Életfa also demonstrates how a school can make itself attractive beyond the school hours, organizing exciting events, performances and other colorful programs for children and their parents.
Another specialty of the school is musical education that does not only broaden the basic educational level of the children, but also contributes to the development of their emotional intelligence. The pupils can freely choose a musical instrument they’d like to master from a broad range of classical and modern options.
The Életfa General Primary and Art School gives the children the utmost attention and equips them with values necessary to lead them all the way from the toddler age through to the challenges of secondary school. In the meantime, they can enjoy to the full the exciting experience of the primary school’s everyday life, doing this in a genuine community, getting an education in a way that best fits their personality and gathering life-long beautiful memories.
(Based on the letter by School Master Lajos Babos)