The class teacher method, or “looping” as it’s sometimes known, has been a foundational philosophy of all Waldorf schools ever since Rudolf Steiner and Emil Molt founded the very one in Germany almost 100 years ago in 1919. There are now over 1000 Waldorf Schools in 64 countries worldwide, each one still practising the class teacher method for those first critical years of formal education.
Essentially, this method describes the practice of keeping one class of children together with one teacher for between four and eight years, depending on the individual school’s philosophy. Although this practice has drawn criticism from certain quarters, and is often labelled anachronistic and unwelcomingly reminiscent of “little red schoolhouse” days, the method has overwhelming support from millions of Waldorf parents around the world, all of whom appreciate the benefits that looping offers their children.
An Alternate Family with a Class Teacher
By staying with the same class for several years, teachers assume a quasi-parental role, forming an almost familial social group with the children. In this setting, teachers get to know to know their students very well, and develop the best and most appropriate ways of helping them cope with individual challenges. Teachers also get to know the parents and siblings of their class members on a far deeper level than is usually possible, creating a level of comfort, respect and trust that doesn’t happen when you have to get used to a new parent every year.
Better Classroom Management
Teachers like to establish procedures and routines for everything, and to let the children know what the class rules are, and what is expected of them. By keeping classes together with the same teacher for several years, these routines become second nature to the children, and they don’t have to adapt to new rules and methods every year. This continual developmental loop saves time and reduces “new school year” anxiety.
If you’d like to know more about the class teacher method, or anything else about the Waldorf way, visit us on http://www.rosewaywaldorf.co.za or call +27 31 768 1424.
All children start school with different tools in their toolkits. Some have more general knowledge than others. Some are very confident, some are great at staying focused on tasks and some pick up new concepts more quickly than their peers. Many schools end up simply amplifying these differences when they should rather be trying to even them out, making sure each child has all the tools they need to learn, grow and explore the world around them.
This is what makes Roseway Waldorf school so unique – especially when it comes to teaching Maths and Science.
“The overall goal in the teaching of Maths and Science in Waldorf is to develop lifelong learners, observers, questioners,” says head teacher Michael Merle. “We teach children to know WHICH questions to ask, and why those questions matter.”
The Waldorf ethos means they have a deep reverence for the sacred process of learning. Science and Maths classes are conducted with a sense of admiration and awe at the way our world works, and the natural numbers that compose it
The realisation that numbers play a pivotal role in every aspect of life on Earth is profound and humbling. “For example, there is one sun and one moon,” says Michael. “The moon goes through eight phases. There are four seasons. Children are taught a strong sense of respect, understanding and care for natural life.”
Teaching Maths and Science is done logically and developmentally, from the observable to the abstract. Instead of sitting in a classroom for every lesson, the children might go for a walk and observe. They create their own descriptions of what they’ve seen and make their own connections.
New information is presented as an extension of what learners already know. Children are taught to draw what they observe as this helps to embed the learning in their minds. The more senses that can be engaged in the learning process, the more deeply the learning becomes embedded in children’s growing minds.
Our approach to Maths and Science is different to that of more traditional schools. If you have any questions or would like more information, please get in touch. We’d love to chat to you.
Information today is virtually infinite. The Internet makes it instantly available, and instantly updatable. There is no shortage of information – we can find out anything about anything at any time. So it’s not the amount or availability of information that’s the problem. The problem is the lack of people who can analyse, synthesise, understand and apply this information.
This is what Roseway Waldorf strives to do: To develop discernment and critical thinkers.
One of the things that makes the school successful in this endeavour is their approach to teaching, particularly in subjects such as Maths and Science.
Science is not about learning bland facts without context, it’s about a clear, intrinsic understanding of how the world works and how it all fits together. Every science experiment needs to be done. Children need to see, experience and then record these experiences. They also need time to ponder, to think about what they’ve seen, what it means, and why it matters.
Waldorf science is taught in the context of time – how long does it take for leaves to fall from trees? Or for flowers to return in Spring? Science starts with a clean, unbiased and unfiltered observation of nature. Children are not told what they should be seeing. They are taught to see what is really there, and make the connections for themselves.
As part of this journey, Waldorf children learn how to ask great questions.
This is a lifelong skill that will stand them in good stead all their lives. Waldorf learners learn to think.
The same approach is taken with the teaching of Maths. The children start by learning the four foundational mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, but all their learning comes from rich stories and hands-on exploration and play. As with Science, the strong focus – primarily in the early years – is on sensory observation. This focus continues throughout the primary school years, developing the children’s observation ability through the development of all their senses.
We’d love to show you around our school and tell you more about our unique approach to teaching – and how it benefits our children. Call us today on 031 768 1309.
They’re called originals, creatives, and innovators. They drive change, stand out and speak up. They’re the ones with new ideas, with wide-eyed Aha moments at 02:00am.
Who are they?
Business psychologist Adam Grant talks about the value of creative thinkers in our modern world with almost grudging admiration. He talks of their contribution to innovation with their original and non-linear solutions, and the value of these thinkers both in society and in business
Many people consider creative thinking as something you’re born with, much like being left or right-handed, or having red hair. However, quite the opposite is true.
Like anything, creative thinking can be taught.
Consider how a young child learns: He turns things around, tastes them, throws them, and fits pieces together. He can create a space ship or a pony out of a cardboard box, because in his incredible mind – it could be anything.
Once children enter the modern school system however, things change. They are given information, and not lessons. They are given solutions to problems and taught how to practise solving them. So many little minds rebel in the classroom because inherently, this is not how they choose to learn. Giving a child information may teach them that piece of information, but not necessarily how to implement it, what it means, or how it can be used.
On the other hand, a Waldorf education actively nurtures the developing creative minds of children, encouraging them to stretch as far as they can into new and unexplored territories. It teaches them to ask why, and to unpack information to fully grasp it.
For example, a science lesson may involve combining two compounds in a particular way, and noting the result. Conventional education systems often give the process, the result, and the reason for the experiment. However, a Waldorf science teacher may only offer the smallest piece of information – and give no solution or reason for the experiment. The science student will perform the experiment, and note down the result, after which they may spend a few days considering what this means, what exactly happened, and why.
This journey of discovery allows the child to filter through the information that they have and draw conclusions – encouraging a creative thought process. Thus innovation is born, with new ideas and thought patterns bursting through and making themselves known.
Are they likely to remember this information that they’ve discovered themselves? What do you think? How do you imagine this process could help them in their adult lives?
Many people have questions regarding the teaching methods and educational processes at Roseway Waldorf. We would love to answer your questions in full. Please feel free to contact us.