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A Healing Education

 

2001

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the educational system in the country today and how this has contributed to the current crisis we’re in. Each time I do, I am so thankful that I discovered the Waldorf School.

 

My son is in his second year at the school and I cannot imagine putting him anywhere else.  I know that when he is there—with or without me—he is in capable hands.  He is with teachers who truly love and respect him as an individual and as a child.  He will not pick-up annoying, negative habits that I will have to spend time undoing. In fact, these days, it works the other way.  He usually picks up a disturbing habit or two from the household and then I bring the concern to school where his teacher helps me sort it out!  His teacher has helped me with concerns regarding behavioural changes, potty training, diet, overall health and other unexpected things that crop up in the course of parenting.  Their approach always feels right and is always, always geared towards the balanced development of my child. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to have such a community behind you. 

 

Just this afternoon, my son was busy creating a horse with some rope, a small blackboard, pieces of wood and several pieces of cotton gauze. His emerging imagination seems boundless.  He doesn’t watch television and spends hours in creative play in his sandbox. He sits still at mass and is hardly ever all over the place anywhere.  I can bring him to the supermarket and not worry about a scene over something he insists on buying.  He has asked me several times for this and that toy in a store and I have been able to tell him no.  He sometimes asks why but always accepts my decision calmly. He knows his boundaries. 

 

We are not without our difficult moments. He has had his share of tantrums but for the most part, he is calm and contained.  Yes, some of this has to do with his personality and the way we parent him, but the influence of the Waldorf school has played such a vital role in his development.

 

Let me quote a paragraph from the Waldorf Parenting Handbook. “Consider how Waldorf Education works. There is no early, forced intellectualisation; simple toys of natural materials are used to stimulate the child’s powers of fantasy and imagination.  It is a balanced education of the whole child of thinking, feeling and willing.  Teaching methods are based on the child’s natural stage of learning: imitation in the early years, a beloved trusted authority figure in the middle years, and the intellectual search for truth after puberty.  There is a natural unity of art, science and moral/spiritual values in the curriculum material.

 

Waldorf education is in harmony with Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “There is a relation between the hours of our life and the centuries of time.  The hours should be instructed by the ages and the ages explained by the hours.” This is just what the Waldorf school does: correlates the hours of the child’s life with the ages of mankind’s development.  Just as the embryo, in utero, repeats man’s biological evolution, so the growing child retraces the evolution of man’s consciousness, his spiritual odyssey.”

 

This alone told me that it was the kind of environment I wanted my child to grow-up in.  It is, finally, an educational system that sees that my child is not just a physical body and that the process of his development must be respected and allowed to unfold.

 

One of the things that attracted me most was the school’s emphasis on the three activities of the human soul—thinking, feeling and willing.  The Waldorf school aims to balance these three aspects in the developing child. Joan Almon, a Waldorf kindergarten teacher with over 20 years experience writes, “The three areas are distinct but also highly interconnected.  One cannot function without the other two, yet each brings its unique qualities to the individual.  When we speak of a well-balanced person, we usually mean that all three aspects are active and working together harmoniously. If one aspect predominates so strongly that others are suppressed, we find one-sided people.  From this condition, there arise stereotypes and caricatures.  The caricature professor, for example, lives in an ivory tower, a picture of living solely in the activity of thinking, isolated from feelings and will.  In contrast, the oversized jock, all brawn and nipo brain, lives in the will, in the limbs and in the huge amounts of food he consumes.  In between, the artist is wrapped up in the feeling life, a bohemian existence teeming with human relationships and with little connection to the practical or intellectual.  These are extremes, of course, but the pictures are helpful in understanding how one-sided we become if we do not cultivate all three aspects of our nature.”

 

Think of the businessman who is so successful but whose home life suffers. He is probably strong in thinking and willing, but obviously weak in his feeling life.  Think about your genius neighbour who is full of brilliant ideas but can’t seem to get any of them off the ground.  He is strong in thinking but weak in the will.  These are but a few examples of the kind of imbalance that the Waldorf school, in its curriculum, tries to address.

 

The other thing I appreciate about the school is the budding parent community that surrounds it.  So many of us are involved in the school and because of it, are learning so much.  The other day I was sitting with some parents in the school, discussing ways we could help the school and our children, all the while listening to the strains of violins being played by the grade school classes. It felt good to be part of such a positive, creative, soul and spirit-affirming community.

 

People have asked me what I would like my son to be and I always say the same thing.  I would like him to grow up whole and balanced in thinking, feeling and willing, able to stay true and connected to his essence and all parts of his being.  This seems like such a Herculean task but with the invaluable Waldorf education behind him, I know I am completely supported in my journey.

29 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Marie / Jan 1 2009 12:36 am

    I will have to let my sister read this — especially for her daughter.

    Thank you, Panjee, for sharing your journey! It makes life more enjoyable!

  2. Mel / Jan 11 2009 5:12 pm

    Thank your for sharing…You are a blessing.
    Is there a Waldorf/Steiner school in Cebu?
    Thanks.

    • George / May 25 2009 4:54 pm

      Mel,
      You can check Tender Minds in Liloan that’s the only Waldorf School I know in Cebu. tnx
      032- 583-4900

  3. panjeetapales / Jan 12 2009 2:02 pm

    It’s a pleasure, Mel. There is no Waldorf/Steiner school in Cebu. The closest would be Iloilo. 🙂

  4. Maria Mae / Feb 4 2009 10:50 am

    Hi Panjee,

    Thank you for being very public with your support for Waldorf Education. It helps a lot for people like us starting an initiative here in Cagayan de Oro. As a response to conventional education, my colleague and I have started a Steiner-inspired playgroup here. Things don’t come easy I tell you, but we’re hanging on.

    God bless you and keep doing what you’re doing.

    Maria Mae

    • Honey Hernan / Sep 7 2015 8:45 am

      Is there any school in CDO that is based on the Steiner Education programme? If yes, what is the name of the school and its address? 🙂

  5. panjeetapales / Feb 4 2009 3:07 pm

    Congratulations and blessings on your work, Maria Mae. No, it is not an easy path at all, whether you are a mother or teacher, but it is worth the obstacles. Keep us posted.

  6. Maria Mae / Mar 25 2009 1:09 pm

    Hi Panjee,

    I would like to use some of your articles for the Parent Orientation that I’m going to hold this coming Saturday. Would that be fine with you? There’s just two of us here in Cagayan de Oro who are talking about Waldorf Education and your articles really are an eye-opener. We hope to get parents see another perspective of child nature and why there is a need to protect their childhood. thanks a lot Panjee. I hope you will give us a YES.

    • maria mae / Mar 28 2010 7:41 am

      Hi Panjee,

      Our playgroup is trying to increase public awareness regarding Waldorf Education, child nature and how they learn. Is it okay with you if I use some articles of yours to be published in our local newspaper here in Cagayan de Oro as sort of parent testimonial? It will give our initiative the much needed boost. BTW, we’re the only Steiner/Waldorf initiative here in Northern Mindanao if not the whole of Mindanao.

      Thank you Panjee and more power.

  7. panjeetapales / Mar 25 2009 4:02 pm

    Hi Maria Mae,

    Yes you may, of course, as long as you make sure my name as author is there. Thank you.

  8. anna / Mar 27 2009 2:37 pm

    hi ms panjee,
    thanks for this eye-opener! as early as now, i am scouting for schools for my 2 yr-old son. i wanted to enroll him in a play group so i can cultivate his skills. are there any waldorf-inspired schools in the south, particularly alabang area?
    thanks and more power!

    • asia / Nov 27 2010 8:58 am

      hi Anna,
      I’m a mom in the south too. if you find anything based here, I’d love to know too. am also maybe thinking about starting a playgroup informed by the Salford system if nothing exists down here.

      cheers!
      Asia

      • Charms / Oct 2 2012 7:04 am

        I hear there is Waldorf in laguna, but it’s far from my location. If you hear Waldorf inspired school here in alabang please share. I need it for my upcoming grade3 son. Thanks.

      • panjeetapales / Nov 21 2012 7:20 pm

        Hi. It’s in Sta. Elena and it’s not far at all from Alabang. Only 30 to 40 minutes, if that. You can see the address on the sidebar of this blog.

  9. Jennifer Tuazon / Apr 21 2009 8:40 pm

    We would like to put up a Waldorf School in Cebu. How do we go about it? Who could I contact?

  10. Educational Toys / Dec 4 2009 2:46 am

    A well researched site, I’ll link to it from my site thanks

  11. Gillian / Mar 11 2010 12:10 pm

    hi! i am a mother of three. i have heard of this kind of curriculum 5 years ago, it got me interested and was looking for one here in Cebu, to no avail. how can one start up a school with a curriculum like waldorf? help is very much appreciated….

  12. maria mae / Mar 29 2010 1:59 pm

    maria mae

    Hi Panjee,

    Our playgroup is trying to increase public awareness regarding Waldorf Education, child nature and how they learn. Is it okay with you if I use some articles of yours to be published in our local newspaper here in Cagayan de Oro as sort of parent testimonial? It will give our initiative the much needed boost. BTW, we’re the only Steiner/Waldorf initiative here in Northern Mindanao if not the whole of Mindanao.

    Thank you Panjee and more power.

  13. czariwich / Apr 21 2010 1:49 pm

    Hi. I have read some comments here with regards to a Waldorf-inspired curriculum in Cagayan de Oro. Would it be possible that I get some contact details of this school? I am very much interested in sending my 3-year old son to a progressive school. Thanks and hoping to hear from you soon. You may contact me at czariwich@yahoo.com. Thanks again.

  14. maria mae / Oct 9 2010 4:26 pm

    Hi,
    Yes we have started a STeiner/Waldorf inspired early childhood initiative in cagayan de oro. Feel free to call us at (08822) 721679 or (0923)5083156 and be part of our small community.

    • asia / Nov 27 2010 9:00 am

      hi maria, I’d love to get in touch with you regarding how you got your initiative started!

  15. Vera Fe Yllana / Jun 28 2012 12:31 am

    Hi Panjee!
    Thank you for putting up this blog. This is very helpful. My daughter goes to Manila Waldorf School, they mentioned that there’s one in Alabang or somewhere in the south. Would you know the name of the school and it’s contact numbers?
    Thanks!

    • panjeetapales / Jun 28 2012 10:11 am

      Hi. Thanks for dropping by. That school is the Acacia Waldorf School and the contact details are on the front page, right column of this blog. It is in Hacienda Sta. Elena, Sta. Rosa. Thanks again.

  16. Dew @MomsterTeacher / Jun 27 2013 11:03 am

    Hi Panjee! I live in Los Banos, Laguna–a highly academic community–yet we also have a place in Sta. Rosa City. My son is just 2 years old and is going to Rainbow School, a toddler school that’s the “toddler school arm” of IRRI Brent. I love his toddler school but of course he can’t stay there forever. Brent, IMHO, is waaay too expensive.
    Yesterday I was talking to a parent who’s a client of ours. I asked where her kid goes to and she said at Acacia Waldorf. I asked about it, and it was clear that she absolutely adores her child’s school. She even volunteered to show me around.
    Anyway, I’d just like to ask whether Waldorf schools are competitive academic-wise? I gathered that it’s holistic and all yet it’s also somehow important to me that when it comes to academics my child could compete well with his contemporaries who go to traditional schools.
    Right now, I’m choosing between these schools in Sta. Rosa: Xavier, Beacon, and Waldorf.

    Thank you so much!

    • panjeetapales / Jun 27 2013 12:08 pm

      Hi. I’m not sure what you mean when you say “competitive”. Waldorf kids learn very differently. Ideally, their skill sets should be the same as their contemporaries, with the added bonus of art, music and a lot of unquantifiables, which are the main reason I put my children in this school. My teen is no longer in the Waldorf system. He is in an IB school and is doing quite well. I was expecting more of an adjustment, but he seems to have slid right in. I hope I’ve somehow painted a picture you can work with.

      In the end, the best thing is for you to look at all the schools and see what the right fit is. If you’re all about grades, achievements, reading by 5 and all that, then Waldorf wouldn’t be the school to begin with. But if you would like something more for your child, it could be. Happy hunting!

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  18. laveeir17 / Feb 10 2015 6:30 pm

    Hello you mentioned a school in Iloilo city. Where is this located?

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