A ground-breaking school with extraordinary results.
How do you prepare your child to thrive in a future that hasn’t been invented yet?
Strong academics – check. That’s a given at Steiner. A six-time winner of “Best School in the Berkshires” accolades, our graduates go on to public, private and elite prep schools and colleges with a key distinction: internal motivation to take full advantage of opportunity when it knocks.
A Steiner primary education includes experiential learning that allows knowledge and insight to be applied to real-life problem-solving. 21st century skills such as collaboration, empathy, creativity, adaptability, enthusiasm, perseverance and courage, so-called soft skills or emotional intelligence: these are the drivers of innovation in every field, and a more reliable predictor of success in life than IQ or SAT scores.
The Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School, one of a fast-growing network of over a thousand Waldorf schools worldwide, has been teaching the education of the future for almost 50 years. We see education not as racing through the next developmental stage, homework deadline or test. Teaching for life is more like good farming, which makes sense, considering that Dr. Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and scientist, created Waldorf education and biodynamic farming, both holistic systems that generate life, health and sustainability.
The goal of Waldorf education is freedom. Not what to think, but how to think. Curiosity to ask questions without knowing the answers. Courage to fall, or fail. Love and passion to sustain curiosity, courage and persistence for a lifetime. These are taught at Steiner every day.
Since each child is an individual, and critical to the strength of the whole, they must be encouraged to imagine, express and create their own distinctive visions. To be who they are, at the highest level they can imagine, to continue growing, daring and doing as long as they live. Because if children don’t have dreams, and the skills and stamina to carry them out, the world has no future.
How does Steiner provide rigorous academics while also growing capacities like courage and imagination?
• Stories. An effective learning delivery system for a thousand generations and across every culture. This is how human beings learn best, love and retain what they learn. Everything Steiner teachers bring to their students, from long division in second grade (“Who’s that knocking at the giant’s door?”) to Platonic solids in eighth grade, is brought as a story.
• Blackboards, not white boards. Why? Color and pictures engage and stimulate imagination. Waldorf education is not about what’s easiest, cheapest or quickest. It’s about what works best for children.
• The arts integrated throughout every subject. Learning to create with their hands, including making their own illustrated book in every subject, is practical problem-solving. Learning that inspires a child’s sense of love, beauty and justice – taken in through all the senses and integrated into muscular memory – is the opposite of teaching to the test: it is better learning because it’s knit solidly into the child’s memory by doing and making, including handwriting. These are proven tools for retention. Everything that comes later – physics, high level math, ethics – is built solidly onto that strong foundation. Deep roots, tall tree.
• Outdoor learning in the green classroom, including biodynamic gardens, where children learn to be co-creators with the Earth and enjoy the satisfaction of eating the fruits of their labor. An “all-weather school,” Steiner students are outside for recess and games at least twice a day, every day.
• Collaborative, social learning. Steiner teachers practice “looping,” staying with their classes for as long as eight years. All they teach is based on a relationship with each child, and a clear understanding of how they learn best.
Music. Spanish. Making. Hiking on the Appalachian Trail. This multi-faceted experience creates learners at the deepest and most humane level, who grow into upstanding, vibrant human beings and willing helpers, not obedient cogs in a machine. The world needs more thinkers, feelers and doers, because they will lead the future.
We don’t know the questions and challenges our children will face. We do know they will need to be smart, creative, flexible and brave problem-solvers, and those are qualities we can help them learn, so they have the will and the capacity to thrive as heroes of their own story.