Understanding Waldorf – How Is A Steiner School Governed?

Understanding Waldorf – How Is A Steiner School Governed?

Waldorf education is also known as Steiner education, named after Dr Rudolph Steiner, upon whose educational philosophies all Waldorf schools are based. Steiner divided child development into three distinct stages – early childhood, elementary and secondary. Each stage has different emphases and focuses, but all take into account the whole child – academically, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

The overarching goal of this type of education is to develop highly socially competent individuals who are morally responsible and fully integrated.

Although the Roseway Waldorf School is a member of the Federation of Waldorf Schools in South Africa and is run according to the educational principles outlined by Dr Steiner, we are an independent school, and our teachers have a great deal of autonomy in determining curriculum content, teaching methodology, and governance.

The Organisational Structure Of Roseway Waldorf

Roseway Waldorf has a multi-layered organisational structure which involves everyone from our teachers and other staff to parents and learners. This provides a varied number of forums through which matters can be managed and issues addressed.

The Roseway Waldorf School Association is the legal body of the school. Members are drawn from staff, parents and friends of Roseway, who then have the right to vote at the Annual General Meeting. The Association is managed by a Board of Directors, who are also responsible for all legal and financial matters pertaining to the school.

The administration of the school is the responsibility of the College of Teachers. Their duties include staffing, educational and general policies, the organisation of school activities, and standard procedures. The College of Teachers is overseen by an elected Chairperson, but all decisions are reached by consensus.

The Body of Teachers is made up of all the class teachers – full time and part time, as well as our specialist teachers. This group meets once a week as a whole body as well as individual faculties to discuss any relevant matters pertaining to school activities.

The Mandate System comprises several core groups, each with a specific focus area. One of these is the Management Mandate, which works closely with the College of Teachers, and the Board of Directors. It acts as a filter, making sure the every-day issues and concerns of parents are addressed by the relevant body.

The executive committee of the Parents’ Association coordinates and directs the efforts of parents in their support of the school’s various projects and initiatives. The Parents’ Association is also in charge of our fundraising efforts, and they meet once a month during term time to plan and review.

Finally, we have Class Representatives, who help with organising class lunches, liaise with class teachers regarding lifts for outings and camps, organise duties at markets and work closely with the Parents’ Association.

We’d welcome the opportunity to explain our system to you more fully, and to show you how it works in the day to day running of our school. Please get in touch if you’d like to see more.

What Is Critical Thinking? Why Should We Develop It In Our Children?

What Is Critical Thinking? Why Should We Develop It In Our Children?

There are times when we as adults consider decisions or paths that we may think of as minor, yet our children see them as major life issues.

This is the birth of critical thinking – a vital part of a child’s development.

What exactly is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is defined as “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.” A tall order for a small child.

However, it creates wonderful opportunities for children and allows them to learn, explore, and solve problems.  When a child is given the opportunity to investigate a matter, it allows them to develop their abilities.

Our responsibility as parents and teachers.

As parents, we can help our children to build their critical thinking abilities.  Solving problems for them, instead of allowing them to develop creative ideas for themselves, puts them at a disadvantage.

We may find that our children need different windows of opportunity to find their own balance for critical thinking –with much of this dependent on their age and level of understanding.

For instance, a Grade 2 child may experience pressure to join her friends in teasing another child; will she give in to the peer pressure or decide not to follow their bad behaviour? A pre-schooler, on the other hand, may face challenges when he wants to build sand castles that continuously fall down.

The book “Mind in the Making” by author Ellen Galinsky, rates critical thinking as an essential life skill for children.

We as adults should not rush them to come to a decision. Rather let them draw conclusions and make decisions in their own time.  By doing this, we are helping them instead of holding them back, and allowing them to buture this life skill.

At Waldorf, we believe that helping a child to learn critical thinking is empowering them to cope with the challenges that they will face later in life.

We work hard to help children develop these essential skills.  Please contact us and find out how we can help your child.

The Power of Imagination in Learning

The Power of Imagination in Learning

We all want the best for our children. We want them to be happy, successful, respected and well-liked. We want them to stand out in an increasingly competitive world and to be the very best they can possibly be. We harbour secret ambitions for their futures, and, in our quest to provide as many advantages as possible, we are often guilty of over-parenting – enrolling them in an endless stream of sports and activities designed to give them that evasive “edge” over others.

Ironically, though, by depriving our children of adequate “downtime,” we are limiting their opportunities to develop their imaginations and creativity.

Imagination is crucial for the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Our children need to be encouraged from a very young age to play, and play hard. Make a mess, explore, splash in puddles, discover all the possibilities of paint and crayons and glue. Take time to wonder at ants marching in a straight line, or at the noise a cricket makes at night in the grass. Build forts out of blankets to create other worlds where they can be other things. Pretend. Dream.

It’s so important to give our children enough opportunities to indulge in this kind of play. Watching TV or spending hours on computer games only makes them passive participants in someone else’s stories. They need the space and time to create stories of their own.

As well as fostering our children’s cognitive development, imagination also builds their social and emotional skills by allowing them to consider different outcomes to situations they encounter. This is a great confidence booster and does wonders for their self-esteem. Enhanced communication skills, wider vocabularies and adaptive learning habits are also all results of encouraging imagination.

It’s not hard to see why Albert Einstein said that, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

The passionate belief that imagination is at the very heart of learning stimulates and inspires the entire ethos of Waldorf teaching. If you’d like to know more, come and see us at the Roseway Waldorf School. We can’t wait to share our vision with you.

The Benefits Of Hands-On Learning

The Benefits Of Hands-On Learning

Have you ever doodled during a business meeting or dull presentation? Research is now showing us that this kind of activity is not a symptom of boredom or disinterest. It’s actually a representation of the “busy hands, busy brain” phenomenon, and people who doodle during meetings retain almost a third more information from those meetings than those who don’t.

Why?

Experts agree that engaging in a simple, hands-on task during a learning experience helps prevent restlessness and daydreaming, thus increasing the amount of information retained.

This is exactly the same principle applied during hands-on learning experiences in schools.

What Is Hands-On Learning?

Hands-on learning is any educational activity that involves the learner directly, by encouraging them to “learn by doing.” It’s often difficult to understand something you haven’t seen or experienced for yourself, so allowing students to directly see, touch, or feel – instead of just reading about something in a book – is a great way to not only encourage learning but also to promote independent and critical thinking.

“Kids learn through all their senses, and they like to touch and manipulate things,” says Dr Ben Mardell, a researcher at Harvard University. Author Judy Dodge agrees. “The more parts of your brain you use, the more likely you are to retain information,” she says. “If you’re only listening, you’re only activating one part of your brain, but if you’re drawing and explaining to a peer, then you’re making connections in the brain.”

Hands-on learning is particularly effective in encouraging an understanding of science. While it’s true that scientific information can definitely be retained and recalled when taught via lessons and books, a far deeper and functional understanding comes from studying the same concepts through hands-on learning.

These are just some of the benefits that have been observed in children immersed in hands-on learning:

  • Critical analysis and thinking is encouraged by having to interpret events that have been physically observed, rather than through memorising correct responses.
  • Learners realise that data can be interpreted in different ways, and this encourages them to question events and practice cause-and-effect thinking.
  • Learners rely more on practical experience in planning experiments and generating hypotheses, than on authority.

At Roseway Waldorf, we strongly believe in the principle of learning by doing, which is why our learning looks a little different to what you might be used to. If you’d like to see how effectively hands-on learning is working for our learners, please chat to us about coming for a visit. We’d love to meet you.