“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.”
Let’s start with an overview of Waldorf education. For 30 years this small school just south of Conway has been fostering a passion for learning among local children.
Frankly, the curriculum is way ahead of it’s time.
So are the children, by the way. A child born today will be instrumental in life some 20 to 50 years from now. Most of what we know today will be obsolete by the time they are grown and leading the further development of humanity. We, as adults, are not ahead of our children: they are ahead of us and we don’t realize it. The trick is to do everything possible not to spoil what they bring with them. We can only challenge them, give them experiences that will allow them to build their own skills and capacities, and be watchful for what they are inserting into world history.
Our children are full vessels, containing lifetimes of knowledge and experience. What they want is not something old, but something new. They want to understand the world as it is today and bring to it creativity, insight and initiative. Waldorf education is designed to meet the child where they are ‘at’ in social, emotional and physical development. Beginning in early childhood the students are held in warmth and beauty. Their days are filled with nursery rhyme, color, natural fibers and home-cooked snacks such as baked rolls and butter, applesauce and rainbow rice! The children participate in making these snacks and other meaningful work throughout the day.
Outdoor play and nature are highly emphasized. Teachers and involved parents work to protect the wonder of childhood by instilling a natural rhythm to the day that provides the children with a strong sense of safety, meaning and purpose.
Entrance into the higher grades (1-8) depends upon real readiness of the individual child. There is a natural point of development when the child is ready to move forward with age appropriate tasks such as reading, writing and mathematics. The total curriculum is rich. It involves movement, color, design and form. Waldorf Education is a holistic education that appeals to brain development, physical agility, strength and moral character.
Waldorf education also includes German from Kindergarten on, music, woodworking, movement and handwork. Students learn to play the flute in first grade (and even knit cases for their flute in handwork!). By fourth grade, students are beginning to learn a stringed instrument and are sewing their own clothing. Student projects, instrument use and singing are presented at school assemblies throughout the year. There is always a celebration of life and nature, with festivals in Fall, Winter and Spring.
True education is considered what awakens the capacities within each child, the ability to think clearly and critically. By the time they graduate, Waldorf students are not only interested in learning for a lifetime… they are also of high moral character. Whatever form of higher learning the child gets, it will fully respond to.
A common misconception in our time is that education is merely the transfer of information. From the Waldorf point of view, true education also involves the awakening of capacities—the ability to think clearly and critically, to empathetically experience and understand phenomena in the world, to distinguish what is beautiful, good, and true. The class teacher walks a path of discovery with the children and guides them into an understanding of the world of meaning, rather than just the world of cause and effect. “The heart of the Waldorf method is the conviction that education is an art - it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, his heart and will must be reached - as well as his mind.”
In these articles we want to present the Waldorf philosophy and lifestyle through the words of parents, teachers and students…occasionally leaning on deep thinkers, past and present, to compliment and expand the living Waldorf message. Every two weeks a new voice will be heard; sometimes telling of a child’s experiences at the school from their parent’s perspective, perhaps a teacher relating an aspect of their own Waldorf experience through events and interactions, or a Waldorf student relating their take on certain personal, historical or current events.
We promise you interesting reading. Perhaps some of you will even contact the school for more information or source material, to increase your understanding of the school’s purpose and value.
So. We start…two weeks from now, to explore the world through Waldorf attuned eyes.