Waldorf is a way of thinking, feeling, and doing. It's a spiritual movement, not just education, as if it's not enough for a pedagogical approach to education to last over one hundred years, through world wars and catastrophic events. But, after the Covid-19 pandemic (and the ignorant government mandates), our world needs Waldorf education more than ever. And, it may come as a shock, but parents and teachers need Waldorf as much as the children.
Waldorf was founded by Rudolf Steiner, also the founder of Anthroposophy and Biodynamic Farming among other things. Steiner grew up under Nazi influence when education was reserved for the elite and only for males. As he watched the corruption, violence and destruction all around him as a young boy he felt strongly that a great change needed to occur in the education system to save human civilization. So, Waldorf education was born.
Steiner felt that both females and males should receive education and that imagination supersedes innovation. He observed children closely and watched how they moved, spoke, and played. He divided human development into seven year "epochs" and designed the curriculum to reach the child at each unique stage of development and wonder. In Steiner's observations he noted that children start in the "hands realm" and learn by doing. Then, the children move into the "heart realm" and learn through feeling. In the later epoch, the teen years, the children live in the "head realm" and can use ration, logic and critical thinking. Our goal as educators is to merge hands, heart, and head and meet the children where they are with our approach, but also with the rich sensory experiences provided in the classroom.
Rather than fill children's head with data, we invite them to think. Answers are not given- they are discovered.
All around the world, Waldorf schools are flourishing for children as young as three in kindergartens all the way through high school and even college for teacher candidates. Parents engage in anthroposophical studies to deepen their understanding of what it means to be a human and be gifted the opportunity to raise a child. But, why doesn't Bozeman have a Waldorf school when so much of the curriculum and core beliefs of Steiner's work are in line with the families attracted to this region of our world? I wish I knew the answer.
But, here we are, a few weeks shy of launching the first Waldorf inspired school for the grades in Bozeman! It has not been easy. There's been blood (literally, I'll show you scars), sweat by the gallons, and tears more often than I care to admit. If it had not been for the community rallying behind us and encouraging us to keep going, we would not have made it. In order for the school to grow to the size we know it can and to be able to offer all that we hope to this community, we need help. We dream of a K-8, or even K-12th Waldorf school in Bozeman that outlives us all. We want to look back in our old age and say, "Damn. We created something magical for the children of Bozeman!"
The dream is already coming into fruition, but help us expand on our dream by attending our "Head, Heart and Hands" fundraiser Aug 10th at Hachi at 6pm IF you're interested in learning more and supporting the program's growth. This event is open to business owners, educators, and community members who believe in the Waldorf movement and want to be a part of this effort from the beginning.