Many parents of children who went through the Waldorf School system worry that their children will not make it in College. I am here to put your minds at ease. First of all, here is a quick overview of some of the techniques employed by Waldorf Schools:
The Waldorf system focuses on helping students learn in a holistic manner which teaches not just academics but social skills and physical coordination as well as teaching how to love learning. Classes are not periods of sitting still and trying to do as many math problems as possible in the short amount of time given. Classes are interactive and challenging but fun for students.
When learning math, memorization is accomplished using games and exercise. Sometimes students learn to jumprope whilst reciting the times tables. Other times the students stand in a circle and pass bean bags to the beat of their own counting. It is proven that physical movement can cement learning into the brain. In this way, Waldorf graduates are prepared for learning more difficult math functions when they get to college, having built a strong base of basic math.
When learning History or practicing English skills, Waldorf students learn to listen carefully to whatever the teacher talks about, in order to know what to answer if he or she asks later. There is no note-taking in Waldorf, students simply cultivate great memories through practice. This provides a skill with which Waldorf graduates are able to play back, almost word-for-word, everything from the lecture when they get to College. This impresses professors and students, but more importantly, it solidifies what the student learned by telling it back to someone.
Waldorf students learn how to overcome public speaking through practice and normalization. Every time a new topic or skills is mastered by the class, there is an opportunity to share it in front of others. This happens on a small level in each class, such as when the teacher asks each student to read one chapter out loud from the book everyone is reading. Larger scale performances come as surprise events when teachers (almost on the spur of the moment) gather all classes together and have each group perform a song, times table or dance which students had just mastered unknowingly. Waldorf graduates in College are better able to stand up for impromptu presentations and are sometimes the first to volunteer to speak when the teacher requires interaction from students.
In Eurythmy class students learn how to run gracefully and even how to weave a figure eight without running into each other. It is all about getting exercise and learning how to navigate personal space bubbles. Although this is the most bizarre element of Waldorf education, I credit it with my life. Students learn how to navigate in a crowd and become aware of where students are in the room in relation to others. Students even learn to predict, perhaps unconsciously, where others are likely to move next. I credit my Eurythmy classes with keeping me safe when driving on the highways to and from College. The spatial dynamics learned through this class make it easier for graduates of Waldorf to work through a crowded campus and get around safely in a car in a new College city.
Lastly, Waldorf Schooling teaches students to love to learn. The classroom is not just a dreaded place where students feel either bored, or pushed to hard. The classroom is a place where surprises and wonderful things happen. Sometimes the classroom is a door to the outside world where everyone will be spontaneously sent to learn about composting! Waldorf students know how to keep an open mind and really believe that they are able to try new things. By being challenged again and again in new and strange areas of education, students become adept at starting from nothing. In a way, because of this, Waldorf kids are the best primed to go to College and learn as much as possible.
There is so much more I wish I could say to reassure everyone that Waldorf is a safe choice for schooling. I am doing well and I went to Pine Hill Waldorf School as well as High Mowing School, a Waldorf inspired high school. Now I am going to Guilford College and having some success. I know many fellow graduates who are doing well. It is okay if Waldorf curriculum is not highly competitive when it comes to tests. It teaches practical skills like crocheting and sewing and gardening and most importantly problem solving.