An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

My Experience of Waldorf Schooling

In Alternative Schooling, Education on February 7, 2012 at 10:51 am

I am part of an amazing, ‘weird’ family. I grew up in Mexico, spoke English at home (to my mothers credit), and had two very strong spiritual traditions in the family. My mother has always been involved with Sufism and my father is a Budhist teacher. So, while most of my friends went to catholic school on Sundays I got to learn about totally different paths in life.

I was introduced to Waldorf schooling by actually having one when I was growing up, so let me get straight to the point: having a Waldorf Education while growing up was nothing short of amazing, I would do it all over again. I had never really questioned my schooling or thought about what a different schooling might have been like until I became a teacher and taught in foreign countries with different systems.

I remember my primary school years to be full of fun, I played the recorder, learned arts and crafts, could explore my creative side, loved learning all about history and was always in a colorful classroom. My students are in a basic white classroom and have traditional exams. There is no story telling, no painting, some of them are incredibly stressed out-and they are only 7 years old! AS a teacher in a traditional school, I am not encouraged to teach in a creative way or be to ‘out of the box’ it has taught me to also have an internal structure that must be maintained as opposed to the freedom I can experience in other aspects of my life. This is not to say that one is better than the other, I only wish to express that this brought a great amount of appreciation of the fact that I was able to be a kid during my childhood.

A few people I have met are worried that if they put their children through Waldorf Schooling they might have great difficulty in adjusting to more traditional schools later on. My family, in particular, was ‘weird’ compared to most of my friends. I must say that my mother did an amazing job with home education! We spoke a different language at home, read instead of watching tv, had normal dolls instead of Barbies and were encouraged to express ourselves artistically and practice sports. Both my brother and I then transferred to more traditional schools and adjusted very well. I went to attend Standford University and my brother went to USC. It was actually an easy adjustment to make.

Once again, I would like to stress how much I enjoyed going to a Waldorf School, it taught me to explore my inner resources and placed an emphasis on experience and learning through understanding. Last but not least, much gratitude to my amazing mom who went to the trouble of making sure it was done right.

By Casandra Gally

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  1. Cassandra, thank you. It is always heartwarming to hear someone who looks back on their schooling days with joy!

    I would love for my children to have the same feelings regarding their education. That is why I am trying to learn as much as I can on our own spiritual traditions and current alternative means of learning.

    In a Waldorf School, I hear that subjects are taught through the means of storytelling. By listening to a narrative told by a teacher, the hearts and minds of young students are activated.

    Another unique aspect of Waldorf education that I’m fascinated by is the use of sleeping as an aid to learning; the first day the students listen to a story then sleep on it. On the second day the students are taught to engage with the contents of the story by working with their will or hands through painting, modeling, building or crafting. The third day focuses on the academic aspects of the lesson. This way the whole child is addressed in the learning process.

    Was this also true to your experience of Waldorf Schooling?

  2. Wow Casandra! Thanks for sharing and thanks for the nice things you said: we had such fun! And still do!

    Asma, yes, the whole child is addressed in the learning process. Vacations are also an important time to “sleep” on what was learned during the year. Children also create their own textbooks (the 3rd day). The older kids tell stories to the younger ones, put on puppet shows for them… I could go on and on.

  3. I loved hearing of your experiences, especially that you did not feel you lost something by not being trapped at the desk between 4 white walls as a child. We live in the US but speak another language at home, have a “waldorf influenced” parenting philosophy and will send our children to a waldorf-like school in the future. If you have time in the future to share how your parents integrated spiritual paths into your lives and education, I would love to hear about that. Thank you!

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