Bringing learning to life

At Imhoff Waldorf School, our school byline is, “bringing learning to life.” This phrase emphasises one of the main strengths of Waldorf Education which is that it instills a love of learning in each learner. Imagination and creativity are fostered in many ways within the Waldorf curriculum. Imagination is seen as the capacity to conceive that which is not yet present. Creativity is imagination at work. Learners leave a Waldorf school knowing that anything is possible – this freedom is the result of an effective Waldorf education.

Waldorf education believes that the mind, body and feelings are of equal importance and that an integrated human being is able to live more consciously. Intelligence lies not only in thinking, but also in feeling and willing. Therefore Waldorf education equally values the intellect, feelings and actions of each child. All three of these aspects are continually worked with, for this reason the following subjects are considered an essential part of Waldorf education.

Handwork and Craft are an essential component of Waldorf Education that is introduced in playgroup and has its own special curriculum in relation to the development of the child. Through a variety of crafts the children develop manual dexterity, co-ordination, patience and persistence. It is a valuable way in which the creative spirit is nurtured. Children gain a sense of achievement when making things of beauty and usefulness and develop an appreciation for the natural materials that are used.

Art is considered a crucial part of everyday life in a Waldorf School. Drawing and painting accompany each subject and are specific to the developmental age of the child. Children learn specific techniques of art using various materials. Art is a non-verbal, direct link to creativity that teaches vital modes of seeing, imagining and inventing. Skills, such as visual-spatial abilities, self-reflection, the willingness to experiment, persistence and envisioning are all learnt through art. Art teaches students how to see things beyond their expectations and preconceptions. Observational drawing requires breaking away from stereotypes and seeing accurately and directly. Art also teaches children to innovate through exploration – to experiment, take risks, and freely explore to see what can be learned. Art is a tool for self-expression wherein students can process their feelings and find their own personal voice or vision.

Music is perceived as a special way to experience the world, a unique way to exercise creativity, and a way to “know” what cannot otherwise be known. Music is able to simultaneously encompass the mind, body and feeling and enhance the depth, quality and intensity of inner human experience. It provides a sense of wholeness, wellness, and satisfaction. It is soulful, spiritual and brings joy. Research has shown that the effects of music on learner’s physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health are profound. As music is seen as an essential aspect of Waldorf Education, beginning in Class 1, all children learn to play the recorder and are encouraged to learn other instruments as well. Singing forms part of the daily school experience in the younger classes.

Eurythmy is a performance art developed by Rudolf Steiner that reveals sound through movement. Eurythmy strengthens co-ordination and encourages the ability to listen with sensitivity. When children experience themselves in movement as part of a group, and have to keep a clear relationship in space with one another, a finer social awareness can result. Eurythmy is an essential part of Waldorf education and is a compulsory part of the curriculum from kindergarten.

Drama stimulates creativity in problem-solving and challenges students’ perceptions about their world and themselves. Drama can provide an outlet for emotions, thoughts and dreams as children have the opportunity to experiment with personal choices and solutions to problems they face. Drama builds a positive, confident self-image and strengthens communication skills. Children also develop their skills of working collaboratively with others and developing tolerance and empathy as new roles and characters are explored. Drama is used to enrich the curriculum and is an important part of Waldorf education, beginning in kindergarten. Young children take small non-verbal parts and delight in re-enacting stories. By Class 12 students are able to produce two major plays and present them to the public.

Woodwork begins in Class 7 and, like handwork, encourages an appreciation for hard work and for authentic handmade objects. The careful carving of a spoon, bowl or instrument provides a sense of accomplishment and pride that stays with learners throughout their lives. In the high school, learners progress to more formal woodwork in which they learn joinery and make small items of furniture. In Class 10, they also learn to use hand-held power tools such as jig saws, sanders and routers. This leads them into the practical life of our modern age.