rhythm

Senior Projects: May 2019

In early May 2019, every 12th grader at Green Meadow Waldorf School presented a Senior Project. These presentations were the culmination of a year-long inquiry into a particular topic, chosen by the students themselves.

Senior Projects are a beloved tradition at Green Meadow and take place every year. The projects offer students a chance, during a busy and often stressful senior year, to work on a project of their own choosing, to get outside the world of homework and college applications and do something, often with their hands or bodies.

Students find that Senior Projects are an “out-breath” for them; this aligns with the rhythms of a Waldorf school where, throughout their day and the school year, students are used to a balance of focused academic work (in-breath) and artistic work or movement (out-breath).

No matter the age of the child, a typical day for a Waldorf student follows a rhythm that breathes. From quietly and attentively listening to a story in the Nursery or Kindergarten to participating in a critical discussion of Dante’s Inferno in the High School, there are moments during the day where students will be applying deep focus and concentration, or breathing in. Those moments will balance to breathe out in activities like open-ended play, recess, games, and artistic classes like handwork, woodwork, metalwork, drawing, and painting. This balance optimizes learning, diminishes stress and fatigue, and allows the students to move through their day in a healthy way. 

At a Waldorf school, during Early Childhood (preschool, Nursery, and Kindergarten), learning occurs by facilitating self-initiated exploration through play. The Lower School engages the vivid imaginative nature of the child through a program where academic learning is intertwined with and supported by storytelling, the arts, music, movement, and practical activity. And the High School delivers a rigorous curriculum that fosters critical, independent thinking, artistic expression, and hands-on experience.

In the early years, an emphasis on coordinated bodies, strong imaginations, healthy social interactions, and a love of work and play lays the foundation for academic excellence as students experience the beauty of language arts and literature, the culture of the world's civilizations through history and language, and the empirical qualities of the scientific and mathematical disciplines through a lively and engaging curriculum that introduces increasingly complex and sophisticated subject matter as the students grow and mature.

When children learn in a way that honors their unfolding development (without trying to rush or speed up the process), they gain a quiet confidence, a mastery of skills, and a sustained interest in the world around them. Waldorf students experience the journey of childhood without having their curiosity and creativity extinguished. Senior projects are the capstone on this experience, and showcase the well-rounded people that a Green Meadow Waldorf School education helps produce.

This year, students presented the following projects:

Motorcycle Restoration

Digital Photography

Game Design

Writing a Novel

Building a Tiny House on Wheels

Rebuilding a Jeep

Research Paper: feminism

Reimagining Flight

Standup Comedy

Being Human: self-care and self-knowledge

Photography

Bicycle Mechanics

Biodynamic Farming

Tumbling

Dollhouse Design & Build

Kickboxing

Woodturning

Pottery on the Wheel

Poetry Book

Geneology

Meditation & Yoga

Videos of each project will be available soon; watch our blog for links!

Photo by Jordan Dyniewski: The Class of 2019 performing their class play.

Summer Blog Series: Principles of Waldorf Education

Last week, we talked Waldorf teachers having freedom in the way they bring the Waldorf curriculum to their student. In this fifth installment in our Summer blog series, we want to tell you about the core principle that outlines the methodology of teaching in a Waldorf school.

There are a few key methodological guidelines for Lower School and High School teachers. Early Childhood teachers work with these principles appropriate to the way in which the child before the age of seven learns, out of imitation rather than direct instruction:

~Artistic metamorphosis: the teacher should understand, internalize, and then present the topic in an artistic form.

~From experience to concept: the direction of the learning process should proceed from the students’ soul activities of willing, through feeling, to thinking. In the high school, the context of the experience is provided at the outset. (This is also sometimes referred to as phenomenological learning or experiential learning.)

~Holistic process: proceeding from the whole to the parts and back again, and addressing the whole human being.

~Use of rhythm and repetition.

Teaching in this way has several benefits:

  • Students develop a strong aesthetic sense and a deep appreciation for beauty and artistry. 
  • Students are engaged and connected to their learning.
  • Students learn to see complex situations and problems as a whole (systems thinking) and become expert and creative problem-solvers.
  • Students feel secure, use their bodies and brains in coordination, and are able to achieve mastery in many subjects.