BUSINESS QUARTERLY: Growing under the Waldorf model

  • Isadora Crane COURTESY PHOTO

For the Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/17/2023 9:01:33 AM

Having attended Waldorf school my entire childhood, from merely 3 years old to a full 18-year-old adult, I have had the privilege of seeing the positive impact this education model has had on my personal growth.

As both my mother and father attended large public schools, they wanted my sister and I to have a different experience. In search of alternative education, my parents discovered Pine Hill and High Mowing School, joint Waldorf institutions in small-town Wilton. Founded by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1900s, Waldorf is a holistic approach to education, prioritizing child development and interactive learning. In my younger years, I saw this model manifest in its promotion of creativity, artistic freedom and connection with the natural world within the core curriculum, but as I entered high school, I found Waldorf to be much more poignant toward my relationships with both my teachers and my peers. 

While I am unable to draw personal comparisons between public and private school experiences, I can confidently speak on the ways Waldorf education has provided me with a foundation of community, confidence and respect that I have taken into both my personal life and my continued education at Pitzer College in California. Through my years there, I found High Mowing to be more than simply an academic setting, but rather a microcosm cultivating qualities such as passion, cultural exchange and trust between students and faculty, as well as the wider community.

Some of the largest examples of these qualities were the presence of traditions ranging from prom, which is planned and decorated by juniors and enjoyed by the entire student body; Yule Fest, which is led by four seniors dressed as comedic “Yule Fools”; and Michaelmas, where each class competes to wear the most red! Each of these examples highlights the emphasis placed on school cohesion and the creation of a school “culture.” I believe that expanding school beyond classroom learning greatly benefited how I regard the importance of community and inspired me to both participate and encourage students' involvement in community service and town affairs. 

Although academic achievement and a positive high school experience are not always seen as synonymous, I was able to achieve both, and I largely attribute that to the strong relationships I was able to form with my teachers through the Waldorf approach. I found methods such as referring to faculty by their first name instrumental in creating a dialogical learning environment based on mutual respect. These close-knit connections motivated me to push myself to the highest degree within academic settings while providing the support I needed when struggling with lack of inspiration or burnout. 

Spending four years in an environment that encouraged my creativity, nurtured my passions and acknowledged my dedication to work, I now see firsthand how those factors have helped me thrive in my first weeks at college, and undoubtedly beyond. Waldorf has instilled the confidence in me to speak my mind and feel proud of my academic abilities while reminding me of the power gained from listening and learning from those around me. Moving forward, I am ready to utilize my strengths as an individual as well as embrace my place in a collective community, wherever that may be. 

Isadora Crane is a 2023 graduate of High Mowing School in Wilton.

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