Waldorf: A Slow-Cooker Education

 In All

We’ve all been there – a busy day running around with hungry children.

The benefits of getting them a quick bite to eat is obvious.
On a surface level, the end result is the same as a home cooked meal: full bellies.

What is the polar opposite of that fast-food?
A slow-cooker meal.

Time permitting, this is a wonderful homemade meal option for any family.

Experientially, children learn real life skills and appreciate the vegetables because of their involvement. Family values of connection, sustainability, and health are emphasized. The prep time allows the experience and values to flourish, while the cook time causes the full potential of the flavour to unfold and an appropriate texture results as opposed to something hardened and dry. The trifold core characteristics of experience, values and time within the process provides long-term benefits for the family unit.

Understanding this, how would you feel if your child’s education was like a microwaved or drive-through meal? There is a chance you may experience some indigestion surrounding this.
The slow-cooker meal core characteristics of experience, values and time apply to Waldorf education, where the focus is on the learning process.

Experience: The true nature of the child is embraced by engaging their active limbs and their precious hearts in real life, sensory stimulating tasks before intellectualizing the phenomena and experiences into concepts.

Values: With the learning being experiential, teachers cannot plan everything; they have to create space for the learners to co-construct their learning experiences through relationship. The curriculum emphasizes oral storytelling and the arts, which develop the social-emotional intelligence. A classroom becomes a microcosmic model of social health.

Time: In order to encompass experience and values, the teacher carefully orchestrates rhythms emphasizing deep learning. Learning is personal and meaningful rather than hardened and dry. The full potential of learning unfolds when nurturing curiosity and discovery rather than a standards driven agenda. Waldorf education consists of a variety of rhythms: the eb and flow within a single lesson, an unfolding of discovery over three days, and a cross curricular thematic approach to a single block, which is typically around one month in duration (not to mention the seasonal and annual cycles).

In opposition to the fast-paced world, there is a trending cultural response looking to ‘slow education’ for balance. Waldorf education is marking its 100th year of practicing the core characteristics of a slow-cooker meal. This is not a trending cultural response but is a response to the nature of the human child, advocating for the gifts each has to give to the world.

Cedar Bridge School is nestled between farm and forest, bringing Waldorf education to the Okanagan. In an environment of reverence and wonder, we seek to uncover the full potential of each child so they may freely carry out their lives with courage and purpose. By creating meaningful relationships with community and the environment we contribute to positive social and ecological change.

by Robyn Bonnycastle, Class 4/5 Teacher

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