Wow. I visited The Waldorf School over the weekend. It was really a game-altering experience for me. Their program is like nothing I had ever seen or heard of before. One of the teachers that I spoke with summed up the uniqueness in their program stating that ‘The most impoverished public school has more in common with the most well-endowed private school than we do.’ It was really true. Most schools that I have ever been exposed to follow very similar teaching approaches with minor differences. I am not sure whether the Waldorf philosophy is in any way superior or inferior, but their pedagogical philosophy is certainly very different than any other school I have visited, public or private.
For several reasons, I think that the school itself is not going to work for my family. [EDIT–Here’s why I am not elaborating on that statement]. Even so, I am very happy that I went to the open house. I am not an expert on childhood development, learning styles, or pedagogical philosophy. As a lay person, I can’t make an evaluation as to which pedagogical approach is better. What I can say is that seeing the school and hearing the teachers, students, parents, and administrators discuss their program was eye-opening. I will no longer hold steadfast to the assumptions I have about how children learn or how a school should be structured. Even if I never go back to Waldorf, my visit there will make me evaluate schools and pedagogical approaches differently than I ever would have.
What is so different about Waldorf? Well, I am not an expert in the philosophy, so here are some resources so you can read about it for yourself if you are interested.