This Special Place
This wonderful reminder of “why” Steiner Education. Suzie, is a science teacher in our High School and she shares her delight for her children. So reaffirming. Thank you Suzie.
This Special Place – by Suzie Moore
At the beginning of this year I moved my 3 children from a well-known private mainstream school to Perth Waldorf School. The school they came from has a great reputation, excellent facilities, co-curricular activities and solid ATAR results. But competition was key, art was once a fortnight, drama was lost due to budget cuts and technology was piled on earlier and earlier.
The reason for moving my children was in part because I became a teacher here in the high school and saw what education could be if the focus was centred on allowing the child to reach their potential with love and care for the world around them.
My girls are very different but all three were showing the effects of years in an education system that was rushed, formulaic and competitive. We had an academic 12-year-old who felt like she was missing out on developing her creative side, and a 6-year-old who wasn’t aware that learning could happen without a piece of technology in her hand. Then we had a 9-year-old losing sleep because of her daily hour of homework and constant pressure of standardised assessments. Her coping mechanism was to just stop communicating.
Now the girls have been at PWS for a little over a term and small changes are starting to come about. We are still in the settling-in phase, working out social groups and all of the new rhythms, still learning that it’s okay to speak, okay to express opinions and okay to get something wrong. But a lightness has come over my children that I haven’t seen before. We have lost the after school homework battles to be replaced with imaginative play, drawing and music practice. Our youngest believes in magic again, our eldest spent the Easter holidays focussing her time on nailing crochet and knitting, rather than spending time on a screen, and our 9-year-old is blessing us with slowly coming back to her creative, hilarious self.
Some of the PWS parents have asked if the girls are bored by this new style of learning. BORED?! Norse mythology? Knights of the round table? Camps? The sun King? Magical storytelling? To all the seasoned Steiner parents out there, this might seem normal, but to my kids, this has been an amazingly exciting change. Never before have they studied these parts of human history, never before have they been able to express themselves creatively throughout the day, never before have they had time to develop deep understandings of new concepts, never before have they had the time in their days to use their hands and create craft treasures from start to finish. They feel challenged in all sorts of different ways and they get to be judged on more than just the score on their paper. They have teachers who are striving to get to know them both personally and developmentally, and who are focussed on the best outcomes for the child, rather than keeping up the “business” of schooling.
So while there is nothing in life that is perfect or ideally suited to every individual, this is a little reminder that what we have at PWS is something very special. Like a lot of good things we enjoy, it is natural to take it for granted that our children are being raised in such an environment. As someone who has seen both sides of the system as both a teacher and parent, I can vouch for the fact that wonderful things happen here, and your involvement as parents, family and support people is so important to keep our PWS community flourishing.