Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Unusual Education

I picked this topic because I thought it would be interesting to talk about my learning styles and why I value my different phases of education.

When I was a little tot, my parents enrolled me in a alternative style preschool/kindergarten where I learned about nature and how to sew. It was a stepping stone into the direction of Waldorf school, which is where I attended first grade.

Waldorf style learning originating in Germany and is mainly a European style of teaching. It emphasizes imagination and different stages in a child's development. Creativity is valued highly and a number of nature focused stories are taught.  I have distinct memories of this one year of my life, which feels like it had to be more than a year. I learned French, Spanish, and German, mind you I was a first grader. Music classes were just as important as these language classes and I learned to play the flute; not the metal sideways flute but an upright wooden "recorder". We participated in our own Grecian Olympic games, including the javelin throw, discus, archery, and more. We dressed in togas and head wreathes to celebrate the games. We celebrated the not so Hallmark holidays. Such as dancing around the May pole on May first and putting our boots out for Saint Nicholas to bring us gold painted walnuts on December 6th. We painted often and listened to stories based on fairies and mother nature. I remember spending a lot of time outdoors and using my imagination to play. After my first grade year at this school, the school closed due to lack of funding. My parents and a few other parents rallied together and hired my teacher to become our private tutor. The new school would be in my home. For me, it was homeschooling, but not for others. At times we had up to six students, but others only two. A room of our home was dedicated to this "Windy Ridge" home school. I learned to write, in ink with a calligraphy pen. I painted with watercolors, and recited poems. On Fridays, my father would teach a cooking class in the mornings, and school was out around noon. I became very independent, not only because there were only a few students, but because I was left to my own imagination. The Waldorf style teaching does not push a student to learn things, they address different skills as the child is ready. I was just learning to read and write when was around six or seven. The testing system was also quite different than what you know. There were no set exams, but you were tested on your everyday skills.

After I completed third grade, the number of students in our small school were dwindling, and my teacher suggested that my parents look into a different school, and close our home school. I think that my parents looked into Montessori school, which is similar to Waldorf school, but for some reason they decided against it. It was decided that I would start at a public school, but that I would take third grade again because I was not as developed as some of the other students. Also my parents wanted me to be able to adjust to the social scene as well as the learning style change before I would have to take standardized tests in 4th grade. I had a hard time with friendships throughout my start of public school. I stayed very independent and made friends with the characters in books. I think I read the entire library of my classroom and spent most of my recesses deep in a book. I can definitely say that I had trouble with testing, and I think it still effects me to this day.

I continued public school until the end of my high school career. I am a hands on learner and I attribute this to my early education. I also make up little rhymes or riddles to remember things which I think is due to my Waldorf education. I chose to be a chef because I would rather be physically doing something with my hands than sitting at a desk job for my whole life, and I also think that Waldorf had an influence on this. Still today I have a filled imagination, which I am proud of. I wonder what I would be like if I had continued my Waldorf education. I think I might be brighter than I am today. Many people scoff at Waldorf schools, they think they are hippie-like or that they are too liberal. But the funny thing is- my parents are not either of these two things. I plan on asking them over Thanksgiving why they chose Waldorf school. I am really intrigued by these alternate education plans. When I have children I will definitely consider them. Although Chris is one of those private school discriminators who makes fun of me for being weird and attributes it to my Waldorf education. Maybe it is, but hey he still loves me right?  I think unique is better, I don't think kids should be exposed to so much television at a young age, I encourage myself and others to be one with nature, I enjoy the outdoors and the arts. So why not? I am thankful for my different history regarding my education.

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