Site Navigation

Detail Mentor Profile: BETH SUTTON

The Transformative Learning Foundation


Beth Sutton

Antioch University, New England, M.Ed. 1990

Enki Education was designed by Beth Sutton, Director of Enki Education. Beth is a certified teacher in several states and is also certified in Waldorf Education. She has been a teacher and director of schools and camps over the last thirty-seven years and is experienced in Traditional, Experiential, and Integrated Day methods. She has taught in both Waldorf Schools and Waldorf-inspired programs. She is the mother of three grown children and the grandmother of one.


  • Loretto Heights College, B.A. 1984


SDGI Courses

SD 512 Ecosystems of Education (3 credits)

Education, like all other aspects of life, functions as an ecosystem with each aspect impacting all others. This is true whether we attend to it or not; the only issue is whether we work consciously with it so the child’s whole experience is in service of our educational goals and we all have a sustainable and healthy experience.

In this course learners explore the Enki Education Web, the underlying structure of the Enki ecosystem, as a tool to look at educational ecosystems in general. Each week students engage in short exercises at home that give them a personal experience of the particular “web thread” or principle in focus as well as specific reading on the topic. These “web threads” or principles include environment; rhythms; unity and diversity; body, heart, and mind; developmental mirror; activity of learning; teacher health; adult models; essential energy; family and community; and wisdom and vitality. In class we debrief this “field application” and reflect on the web principle from the vantage point of direct experience. In this way, the learners each have their own personal experience of each of the principles, which they then bring together in a collaboratively designed final project.


  • Education Depends on Integration of Self and World



Enki Education

An Alternative Education

Developmental Immersion-Mastery:

Enki is an alternative education, for both the homeschool and the classroom, in which many rich and diverse elements are carefully woven together to support and nurture our fundamental premise – that educational excellence is fostered through the integration of body, heart, and mind. This is the key to cultivating competence, confidence, and a sense of belonging. Enki’s unique approach fosters:

  • Connected Confidence: The strength of our connection to ourselves and the world gives us true confidence – NOT a confidence dependent on comparison to another, but one that fosters compassion.
  • Flexible Competence: A strong base in the active process of learning gives us both the knowledge and the flexibility to adapt to the changing demands of the modern world.
  • Commitment to Community & Environment: Working together to care for and enjoy the com- munities of classroom, neighborhood, and city, fosters delight in and commitment to the world we share.

At all grade levels, whether in classroom or homeschool programs using this alternative education, we develop academic excellence while nurturing the whole child, weaving together specific academics, skills, arts, and movement to bring about integration. This builds a strong foundation of skill and understanding which enables the students to meet the world head-on, in a compassionate, flexible, and creative manner.

Continued at:


THE TEACHERS, whether in the classroom or homeschool. are the cornerstones of the child’s education, Each teacher stands before the children as an example of human potential, human decency, and human striving. In the Enki approach, teachers are committed to their own development and to deepening their insight into themselves, their students, and the world.

In the elementary classroom, there are two core teachers who stay with the class for several grades. These two teachers work as a team, sometimes teaching together, sometimes separately. In this way they provide the students with a model for working together through the challenges and triumphs life presents. Both teachers oversee the learning and development of all the students in their class. They meet together frequently to share and discuss insights, ideas, feedback, and concerns. This provides stability and security for the child to open and develop naturally, in the context of a deep and growing relationship.

Continued at:

The Developmental Thread

The child develops through a series of distinct stages, like the metamorphosis of caterpillar to chrysalis and then into butterfly. While each child is clearly a unique individual, growing at his own pace, we find that there are certain developmental principles and themes common to a given age group. The feisty autonomy of the “terrible twos” is one, commonly recognized, expression of a developmental principle. At each stage the child experiences the world in a unique way. Throughout the school years, the curriculum content and teaching methods are chosen to mirror themes common to each stage. We find that by addressing these themes in our curriculum, each child has the opportunity to take from the material those parts which best nurture her.

In this way, whether she is studying math, science, humanities, arts or foreign language, her own questions and processes can enliven all her work. For example, the third grader is awakening to a new interest in the world. She longs to experience the unchangeable, unconditional realities of life. She is annoyed by the lack of dependability she sees in the human world – particularly the foibles of her parents and teachers. She turns her attention to the natural world, to the wetness of water, the solidity of earth, the heat of fire, etc. To meet this keen interest, in the context of studies of ancient cultures, third graders begin the study of children’s archery. Study of this discipline begins with a trip to the woods where the students cut their own bows, precisely measured to fit each child. Over a number of days, they take this hand-cut bough through soaking, bending, sanding and stringing until it is ready for their personal “fire marking.” At each step the children work directly with the natural elements; their ability to do so determines how their bows turn out. After a similar process to make arrows, the children learn to shoot. Drawing the bow and loosing the arrow provides immediate and direct feedback from the world. If you push the arrow it doesn’t fly; if you pull too far, the bow cracks; if you’re not steady, firmly planted on the earth, you cannot aim. There are no opinions here, it just is.

Continued at:

Arts Integrated Education

Teaching Academics through the Arts

The arts invite the students to make an active and personal relationship with their learning. Therefore, ALL academics are introduced and explored first through the arts. Many traditional peoples have seen art as inseparable from life, saying, “We have no art, we just do everything as well as we can.” The original Native American languages had no separate words for art and music; these were just expressions of a culture of reverence. So too, Enki is an arts integrated education in which the arts are a part of all learning, as well as a study in their own right.

In our Developmental Immersion-Mastery method, all academic content is introduced and first worked with through immersion in movement, story, music and visual arts. For example, in this arts integrated education, first grades might hear a story of the great king who gave “an equal share to every hand,” to bring them a lively understanding of division. The second grader might begin the study of the changing seasons by reciting the Pima poem, “The Black Snake Wind,” followed by a walk to see the spring winds cut a path through ice and snow, then painting what they have seen. A third grader understands measurement more fully as she hears stories of ancient kings, each making a ruler according to his own foot. The fourth grader learns the history and culture of her own country as she sings Black spirituals, joins in square dancing and learns Native American songs and dances. The fifth grader might begin botany class by recreating the harmony of nature in a Japanese flower arrangement. Whether studying math or history or science or anything else, Enki is a fully arts integrated education.

Continued at:

Multicultural Education

The Enki Global Cultures Curriculum

At the heart of Enki is a commitment tomulticultural education. For us, multicultural education grows from the understanding that fundamental human decency and dignity, courage, and compassion are inherent in all people. We believe that it is important for each family to support the child’s connection to and pride in her own heritage in the course of family life, but that it is the role of education, whether in a homeschool or classroom program, to help her develop meaningful connections to the larger world. In this context, we believe that students are best nurtured when they see their own strengths and struggles reflected in all mankind and can experience human greatness in any nationality, race, or religion. Therefore, in both the Enki classroom and homeschooling curriculum, all students are immersed in literature, drama, music, arts, and ideas from around the world.
Excerpt of a Writing Project  from a 6th Grade Study of Africa Sunu Rao*: the homeland

Like their fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers for generations beyond counting, the people of Africa lived free, mom-sa-bop*, under hot sun and thick shade trees Moan, groan, I paced by the nigunach•, my home. Inside my wife was giving birth. A son was born. I saw my son, Samba, grow and grow. Finally, my son was taken by the men of our tribe. My wife wailed. My heart beat faster and faster. Fump, thump, fump, thump. He was going to the leul•, the initiation. All around quieted. *From the Wolof language of West Africa

Experiential Education

In Enki Education, learning is seen as the highest goal. Becoming a life long learner requires a strong and supple ability to learn from the unknown – this is the core of real intelligence. Therefore, in all we do in the Enki approach, we strive to ignite and nurture the ACTIVITY of learning in each child –experiential education becomes critical.

In our approach to experiential education we begin all studies with a deep and rich immersion in the particular subject matter. Then the children are given ample time to engage with the new material through the arts and open-ended exploration of manipulatives. Finally, prior to any formal introduction of formulae or mechanics, children are given tasks, questions, or problems to tackle. These carefully structured tasks, coupled with ample time for personal discovery, are designed to help the children uncover underlying principles and formulae on their own. From here, concepts and skills bloom with real understanding.

For example, in this holistic approach, first graders might hear a story about children who are always giving their things away, and then do some drawings of the generous Mini-Minus and the all fair Dominick Divide. With the introductory story and arts aspects complete, when they are ready to work with simple division, the first graders might find something new in their counting bags – where each bag previously contained twelve stones, now suddenly each bag has a different number of candies. The desire to even the shares arises in the children naturally. After a few random tries at evening out the shares, some among them will realize that they can methodically give one to each classmate or family member, then a second, and so on, all the while chanting about King Dominick’s “equal share for every hand.” In the process they discover the underlying principles and mechanics of division.

Continued at:


Enki Education

Enki Homeschooling