“I am confident that the education they have received will make them individuals who can and will take the time to think for themselves and inspire and lead others.”
Reflections of a Waldorf Alumni
A firm handshake heralds the school day. The teacher greets each student individually, meeting the eyes and engaging with each, displaying genuine interest; a crucial element of engagement that sets the precedent for the day. Within the classroom itself, soft colors blended into the walls are interrupted only by a blackboard and natural adornments. Soft blue carpeting (grudgingly cleaned during student chores) is free of clutter and dirt, leaving the freedom of space, and the opportunity for activity that comes with it. Wooden desks, hand-crafted and personalized, sit in neat rows, each housing the artistic supplies and necessities of a student who is encouraged to create and express, not simply copy and regurgitate. Art is everywhere. It resides on the ceilings, walls, and on the blackboard, where the lesson plan has been displayed through careful cursive and painstakingly vivid pastel murals. The day has yet to begin, but already a “learning environment”, in its most vivid definition, has been established.
The relationship between art and Waldorf education is what allows for this fully immersive opportunity for education. Rather than consulting the web or mimicking other texts we created our own textbooks from oral lessons and informative imagery, crafting pages of cursive writing and colorful diagrams. Rather than simply being lectured on the history and culture of the ancient Greeks, we participated in (and sometimes wrote) school-wide theater productions, each student engaged and excited to memorize their lines and bring to life each character. Rather than abandoning the arts to the confines of a single class, we spent days filled with painting in all techniques, singing in harmony, and learning instruments as part of the core curriculum, not just an activity to be explored at home.
This is not to say that Waldorf was without structure or lessons on more practical matters, such as math or science. These were just taught in a different manner, still stressing the core concepts, but arriving there in a more fluid and creative way. In fact, my transition from Waldorf to public high school here at Kennett was effortless, and in many areas, I felt more prepared than those from other backgrounds. Waldorf taught the essentials effectively, but in a process rich with the vitamins of artistic importance, community engagement, and environmental awareness. Because of this focus, school was exciting. An eagerness to arrive early each day was never lost as the grades wore on, and the anti-school stigma that could be found in many others our age was simply absent. As I was lucky enough to experience myself, Waldorf is a fulfillment of the cliché goal to “inspire a love of learning”.
Waldorf is an opportunity, a chance at a different perspective. It’s an opportunity that isn’t measured by a few intimate hours with a standardized test booklet. While many other forms of education are carved through mechanical strokes with a graphite pencil, Waldorf is a fluid compilation of artistic and creative expression, a spectrum of pastel paints in contrast with the dull grey the characterizes far too many education options.
Written by: James Gaudreault
White Mountain Waldorf Alumni
Senior at Kennett High School