Joy and Purpose in Education

The following remarks are excerpted from an introduction our Administrative Director, Marti Stewart, recently gave to Grandparents and Special Friends of our students, welcoming them to our school and to Waldorf Education.

Good morning! My name is Marti Stewart and I have the privilege of serving as the administrative director here at City of Lakes Waldorf School. I am delighted to welcome you today on behalf of the whole school community; our teachers, staff, parents and students. We are so happy that you have come, and we look forward to sharing this special morning with you.

For those of you who are newer to Waldorf education, you will get a glimpse today of some of the activities that are a part of each day at our school – where artistic work such as music, poetry, speech, theater and visual arts are integrated into the teaching of traditional academic subjects providing a lively and very memorable learning experience. Perhaps most of you can still remember a poem, or a song or recitation, a line from a play that you learned in elementary school? Or perhaps you recall a favorite teacher or close friend?

We all understand through our own experience how incredibly formative the years of our childhood are. The positive experiences and relationships of childhood are dear to us and serve as anchors for our memory; those early role models often have an impact on us for our whole life.

The Waldorf educational philosophy respects the important nature of childhood—and the developing body, brain and spirit—and it is based on a developmental approach. We seek to bring to children the right educational nourishment at the right time, so as not to cause them indigestion (!), but rather to build their internal strength and to maximize each child’s learning experience. You could say that we believe that the tortoise does indeed win the race! That to go far, you need to go slow – and that children who are given the opportunity to unfold in a natural or developmentally appropriate way—and to grow their imaginative capacities along with their critical thinking capacities—are, in the long game, healthier, happier and have the ability to follow their dreams and to go the distance.

None of us can quite imagine what it is like to be born into these times. As adults, many of us experience a high level of overwhelm under the constant onslaught of news and the seemingly ever-increasing speed of the world we live in. The rapid development of technology and the instant access that technology gives us to every corner of the world—in all of its beauty, glory, hardship and horror—make it easy to constantly vacillate between hope and despair. We are all striving for balance and we daily summon our inner resources to meet the challenges we and our world face. This balance, and the development of inner resources through the careful unfolding of the thinking, feeling and willing capacities (or head, heart and hands as we often say) is what Waldorf education is designed to bring to our students: your grandchild or special friend.

We hope that you are able to get a sense for how that happens during your visit today, and that you encounter the joy in education and strong community that is truly alive here—and how this provides an important context for the learning experience.

And so now, the bulk of our program today will be presented by our students, in grades two through eight, who have prepared something to share with you. We hope you enjoy the morning, and that you will come back soon!

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