Education can be a process of growing in the light of truth and the warmth of a community dedicated to improving our world.
Different Approach to Teaching and Learning
Our teachers teach differently – As well as teaching concepts and facts they strive consciously to find deeper ways for a child to engage with the lesson in hand. They work with personal enthusiasm, rhythm, repetition, story, colour, physical movement or games with a ‘less is more’ approach so that students are given time and opportunity to enter into the material of the lesson. A lesson book will be a rich tapestry of writing and drawing.
Differently Staged Curriculum
Steiner education observes that children learn differently at different ages. Simply put, a pre school child learns with their whole body through imitation. Our early childhood centre offers nourishment to this powerful impulse and avoids conceptual or academic work at this stage so as to allow this process to be experienced fully, establishing good health and well being.
A child from the ages of about 6 to puberty learns by forming a strong feeling and imaginative connection to the content presented. This engaged response is engendered in our curriculum by an artistic and warm classroom approach using stories, drawing and modelling, and rhythm and repetition in all subjects. We observe that this warmth in childhood provides a foundation for clear thought and moral strength later. A child in these years enjoys reliable, nurturing authority.
An adolescent begins to build a future intellectual life through questioning, testing and finally, analysing and comparing. These activities require self reflection and critical observation rather than simple immersion, and senior school work builds towards these adult skills. However they still are best achieved in an atmosphere of love, trust and continuity, surrounded by adults who can provide role models and friendship.
The Class Teacher
The primary Class Teacher takes students from class one through to class eight, and the children call the teacher by their first name. The Class Teacher strives to assist each child to reach their full potential, and this process is greatly supported by the fact that they travel with the same group of children. Along with educational continuity and the ability to truly monitor the children’s progress, there are also the inherent advantages of deepened knowing, understanding and trust.
The teacher and the children set out on the educational journey together, and the teacher is as involved in the creative learning process as the children are. Each week, each term, each year, there are new materials to explore and discoveries to make, new stories to tell, new imaginative adventures to experience, new depths to plumb.
Although the Class Teacher is the central figure in their school lives, children also have a variety of visiting Teachers – for Language, Craft, Music, Outdoor Education, Sport, Gymnastics, Farming and Eurythmy.
There are several happy by products of this long Class Teacher tenure – the possibility of deep and abiding relationships between children, teacher and families, and a wonderful sense of community.
Throughout our school, from class one to class twelve, each day begins with an extended Main Lesson of one and a half hours’ duration. For approximately three and sometimes up to five weeks, a particular subject is studied in great depth.
The objective of the Main Lesson is to ‘wake up’ the students as new ideas and dimensions are presented in a variety of ways – artistically, descriptively and academically. Such intense immersion in a topic gives every opportunity for students to become fully engaged with the subject matter at hand. It also, importantly, offers time for digestion of concepts and ideas. In this way ‘learning’ has the potential to move from pure intellect to deeper understanding.
The Main Lesson also allows for the obvious need for regular practice and rote learning of, for example, mathematics and language.
A subject unique to Steiner schools, Bothmer Gymnastics emphasizes movement appropriate to the age of the child. Modern life encourages the child to be passive, to be sedentary. The way we move our bodies’ influences the ways in which we think, feel and motivate ourselves.
Bothmer Gymnastics provides a curriculum of movement suitable for each developmental stage the child passes through. It is strengthening and appeals as much to the imaginative and emotional life of the child as it does to the physical body.
A subject unique to Steiner schools, Eurythmy is perhaps best described as “Speech made Visible.”
On the surface, Eurythmy looks like a series of movements which sometimes flow and are quite captivating to watch, but are not quite dance. In the classroom, Eurythmy is a series of movements and sound accompanied by speech, music or song.
The educational benefits of this practice include sustained concentration, poise, balance, co ordination, grace and dexterity. As well as enhancing the intellectual content of other subject streams, Eurythmy has the potential to strengthen the well being of the child through supporting their feelings and inner life.
Our school has a purpose built Eurythmy room where students meet weekly with a dedicated Eurythmy teacher. Every child participates in this subject.
Man is a form arising out of movement. Eurythmy is the continuation of Divine Movement, the Divine Form in Man. Through Eurythmy, Man comes nearer the Divine than he otherwise could.
Music is an integral part of the curriculum at all age levels. From the fluid, heartfelt singing and movement of early childhood to the conscious discipline of more formal music tuition, this is a core component of Steiner education.
It can be observed that a student who is seriously devoted to making music, alone or with a group of fellow musicians, has the ability to approach the rest of his or her work with great depth, an ability to be socially harmonious with others, and a balanced perception of self worth and of the worth of others.