“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.”
The Class Teacher
Imagine the first day of first grade. A child enters with such anticipation, eagerness, apprehension, even awe! Slowly, even painstakingly, a relationship is built up between a young child and his teacher: a relationship second only to that a child has with his parents. Receptivity to learning is nurtured by the trust born of this relationship.
This teacher comes to know the children, their “learning styles”, and their developmental needs in a comprehensive manner. That which she perceives to be a problem for a given child at the close of first grade will not simply be noted and passed on to a new second grade teacher; on the contrary, the child will continue his schooling under the careful eye of the same teacher. No time is lost ‘getting to know” a new class each year. Nor is there a need for testing to discover what material has been previously covered. This approach allows for tremendous responsiveness by the teacher for her class. A developmentally older group can move more quickly through the material; a younger group can take the time needed to truly comprehend what is being presented before continuing. Gone is the pressure to ‘push ahead’ in order to cover that year’s material regardless of the long-term consequences.
Many parents express concern over personality conflicts in such a system. “What if the Class Teacher doesn’t like my child?” They may ask. A Waldorf teacher will often respond: “You have a child. What if you don’t like your child?” This reflects the depth of the relationship developed in these years and the commitment a Waldorf Class Teacher makes to her children. The Waldorf School is tantamount to a second family life. In our age, where family is less stable than ever before, often the Class Teacher is one of the most stable features in the child’s life.
The results of these nurturing relationships developed over time have lasting effects on the child as they grow to adulthood. The young child who entered 1st grade with such anticipation, becomes the confident Middle School student ready and eager to move on to High School.