Happy Thriving Children
Our children are growing up in a world that is in constant motion, bringing with it constant change.
You only need to briefly glance at the news feeds to know the tension this has led to in society.
We rely on technology more every day, with novel apps and social media providing new distractions daily and as a nation, we spend less time outside than ever. Even before the pandemic, a 2018 study showed that the average Brit spends 22 hours indoors equating to around 90% of their day (Opinium.com — 1.).
In this ever changing world, children aren’t only inside more and using technology more, but are in constant competition with their peers. UK national schooling assesses children from the age of 6 and from then on children are constantly evaluated and compared to their peers. Teachers are also assessed and compared in a similar way.
Because of this constant pressure on evaluation, many schools prioritise academia, to the detriment of life skills, social skills and social development which they need now more than ever.
Creative subjects such as art and music are often minimised to make room for even more academic lessons too. In the UK the government just approved a 50% funding cut for arts and design courses in 2021/22 (The Art Newspaper — 2.).
This can lead to a profound effect on our children. Dealing with the world today requires confidence and the ability to change, but unfortunately children are dealing with shame, criticism, guilt and threat; factors that contribute to poor mental health and increase vulnerability to psychological disorders.
A study last year showed that 78% of young people said that school had made their mental health worse (Mind — 3.).
Because of these major issues, parents are starting to wonder whether the national education system is giving kids the tools to be able to feel comfortable and thrive in life.
As of December 2021, approximately 29 percent of people in Great Britain thought that our national education was bad, and 28 percent not sure (Statista — 4.).
It’s not surprising then, that parents are looking for alternatives to mainstream education, including sending their children to schools such as Alder Bridge Steiner-Waldorf School in Berkshire.
The Waldorf Way
At Alder Bridge, factual knowledge, homework and test scores receive less attention.
Experimentation and storytelling replace the typical textbook style of teaching, with a curriculum rich in mathematics, literature, history, science and the arts.
A major difference of Steiner-Waldorf education is its unique project-based approach to almost all main academic subjects. Instead of repetitive schedules, a specific subject, such as history, maths, science or even gardening dominates the first two hours in the morning for a period of 4–6 weeks. After that, a new subject gets the main focus.
Students learn about our connection to the planet through farming and learn two foreign languages, which in the first years are taught through songs, storytelling, and conversations.
As the children get older, the entire class develops a classical drama that they perform in front of their parents and friends.
Hands on with Music and Art
Getting hands on is a big part of the Waldorf approach, with younger students painting, knitting, weaving and sculpting with wax. Older children get to explore making patterns, writing books, pottery and even sculpting in stone.
And everybody at Alder Bridge learns music. First, all play the flute, then some play string instruments and others join the choir.
Tech Comes Later
At Alder Bridge, students are given the opportunity to observe and later describe scientific concepts in their own words and drawings. This allows the students to understand these mechanisms instead of just learning the concepts from a textbook. For this reason, computers are introduced to children just as they reach their teens, after they have mastered fundamental, time-honoured ways of discovering information and learning.
In the spirit of personal development and empathy, competition and grades are avoided. Instead, the teachers of Alder Bridge assess the student’s individual growth as a whole. Test scores and grades are only slowly introduced to older students as they prepare for higher education and entrance exams.
Results That Speak for Themselves
Through this style of education, we are able to develop free, but morally responsible individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence and creative capabilities. Students go on to follow their dreams, with the confidence to thrive in today’s chaotic world. Below are some quotes from Steiner-Waldorf students around the UK.
“Steiner education has taught me to study for the sake of studying rather than to pass exams; the difference is crucial.”
Name: Dr. Christian Byrnes
Post-doctoral research student (Cosmology), CERNE laboratory, Switzerland.
“If I was to sum up in brief what Steiner gave me: it was attitude. I believe this to be the MOST important thing as you take it everywhere with you and it underpins everything you do. The courage to dream big and to follow those dreams with courage, passion and integrity.”
Name: Yanto Barker
“One of the reasons I was given a place on a largely academic and theoretical degree course at University was because I had been to a Steiner school. The self belief of a Steiner pupil is not one of ‘groomed for greatness’ or ‘deservedness’ but more an innocent and uncorrupted strong will that can be applied to any chosen career.”
Name: William Whipple
(Steiner-Waldorf.org — Former UK Scholars — 5.)
Come and see for yourself!
Alder Bridge School welcomes everyone, so please reach out to the school to arrange a visit, or pop in to one of their open day events to see what Alder Bridge has to offer, they are always eager to hear from new families.
As a parent of 2 children who attend Alder Bridge Steiner-Waldorf School in Berkshire, UK, I wrote this article as I wanted to share some of my thoughts and research on the benefits of this alternative style of education and why I believe it’s more important to consider Waldorf Schooling than ever. (All views my own and not that of the school)
(1) Opinium — Brits spend 90% of their time indoors (https://www.opinium.com/brits-spend-90-of-their-time-indoors/)
(2) The Art Newspaper — UK Government approves 50% funding cut for Arts and Design (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2021/07/22/uk-government-approves-50percent-funding-cut-for-arts-and-design-courses)
(3) Mind — Improving mental health support for young people (https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/campaigns/children-and-young-peoples-mental-health/improving-mental-health-support-for-young-people/#problem)
(4) Statista — Perception on education in Britain (https://www.statista.com/statistics/1265541/perception-on-education-in-britain/)
(5) Steiner-Waldorf.org — Former UK Scholars (https://www.steinerwaldorf.org/steiner-education/does-it-work/former-uk-scholars/)