resilience

Coming Up in June 2019: The Rose Ceremony

Community life at Green Meadow Waldorf School is rooted in rhythm and tradition, offering the children special events to look back on and look forward to, throughout their time here. One of the most special traditions is our Rose Ceremony, which takes place every September and June.

In September, the twelfth graders welcome the first graders into the school on everyone’s first day back. With Grades 2-11 watching from the audience, the small, often nervous first graders cross the large stage in Rose Hall, usually for the first time, and meet a smiling twelfth grader in the center, where the older student presents a rose to the younger child. It is beautiful to witness the personality of each child shine through in this interaction: the way each one walks, boldly or shyly, quickly or steadily; their facial expressions when giving and receiving the rose; the way a small child might sneak a peek at a parent, teacher, or classmate, seeking reassurance; the wistful countenance of the older students watching the young ones, some remembering the day all those years ago when they received their own rose from a towering teenager.

In June, on the last day of school, the process reverses and the first graders say goodbye to the twelfth graders by presenting them with a rose. Now the first graders are bigger, stronger, more confident. Many stride across the stage, exuberant with the awesome responsibility of presenting a rose to the very same senior who gave them their rose all those months ago on their first day of first grade. The seniors often walk more slowly than they did in September and appear much more reflective on this last day of their high school career. One sees them savoring the moment; they are saying goodbye to one stage of their lives and entering another. They accept the rose with grace and a smile, and the moment imprints itself on all present.

For many parents, the Rose Ceremony articulates so much of what we love about Green Meadow Waldorf School. Our children are seen, welcomed, given time to be children, educated with love, and then sent off as confident, well-rounded young adults, gifted with a presence and a steadiness that is rare in our speedy world. As adults, we feel the honor and the privilege of gathering together as a community to celebrate these young people, at ages 6 or 7 and 18 or 19, and hundreds of times in between; we want them to remember they are surrounded by adults who know them, care for them, and will guide them, through all their years here and beyond. For we know that this is one of the best ways to insulate young people from all kinds of crisis as they enter adolescence: we help them feel they are embedded in a community, accountable, and connected and we help them build resilience. These strategies aren’t a guarantee, but we know from experience that they are protective and effective. And so, with love, intention, and the gift of our presence, we create and maintain traditions that anchor and inspire them.

Header photo: First graders at the Rose Ceremony, September 2018 by Joseph Regan ‘18 ; other photos also courtesy of Joseph Regan ‘18 

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Summer Blog Series: Principles of Waldorf Education

This Summer, we want to share some of the foundations of Waldorf Education with you.

First up: intrinsic motivation, which means doing something out of oneself, out of our own initiative, rather than out of fear, duty, obligation, shame, peer pressure, parent pressure, or another external motivator. 

Self-discipline, autonomy, independence
One of the ways that Waldorf Education develops intrinsic motivation is by strengthening the will and offering increasing autonomy and independence. Many activities that the students participate in (making main lesson books, washing dishes in Kindergarten, taking out compost in the grades, cleaning up after themselves in the classroom, being faithful to daily instrument practice, creating Handwork projects) are undertaken in part to develop the will, so that when a child wants to accomplish something, s/he has the strength of will or the discipline to do it. This autonomy culminates in high school, when many students go on an international exchange for 3-5 months in 10th or 11th grade, and when seniors take on a 3-week internship and a year-long senior project.    

Relational learning
Waldorf Education also helps students find intrinsic motivation for schoolwork by allowing them to develop a relationship to their learning: we offer a developmentally appropriate, alive, relevant curriculum that excites and engages them, which fuels their desire to learn and do. Teacher looping also helps students develop a relationship with their teacher, and the social inclusion work that we do, along with class trips and class plays, builds deep relationships between students

Competence and mastery
At Green Meadow, we offer students work that is worthy of them. No rote memorization, no standardized testing, no teaching to the test. Instead, we use story and experiential learning to help students develop visible, tangible mastery and competence in each subject, which deepens their feeling of ownership of their learning and compels them to want to do better.

Here is a terrific article from The Graduate School of Education at Harvard University about fostering intrinsic motivation in children.