03 Jun Waldorf Education Prepares Teens for Fulfilling Lives. Here’s How.
Being a teenager is challenging.
On one hand they’re expected to be adults, to discover who they are in the myriad possibilities and support themselves physically and emotionally. Far too many teens are challenged to practically pick out a personality from a two-dimensional storefront of limited acceptance, and then cash that in for a place in the workforce.
On the other hand, they are still children, unprepared to face the demands of a fluid, ever-changing world. Their brains and bodies are nearly, but not quite developed. And their range of emotions are difficult to name, much less manage.
The stresses of this tumultuous age are many. It’s no wonder teens are so often found immersing themselves in media – video games, movies and television, social media.
It’s almost like they’re trying to drown out the world.
Where does education fit in? And how can educators help empower teens to lead more fulfilling lives? By acknowledging that every individual is a mirror of human progress throughout the ages, and endeavoring to educate each child wholly.
Our unique approach to education promotes healthy teen development intellectually, physically, and emotionally. Come see how we do it.
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Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, described the development of each individual as a reflection of the three parts of human development since the Middle Ages. To paraphrase, he illustrated personal growth as being indicative of the segments of social awareness, and prescribed these three parts be brought together in the development of a well-adjusted child.
The Waldorf education model, which is based on observations of Anthroposophy, endeavors to support the organic develop of the entire child – mind, body, and spirit. We do this, by educating each segment according to its assets, and allowing the child’s natural propensity for curiosity and exploration to bring it all together in the unique imprint that is the child’s individuality.
We endeavor to educate the child’s mind, body, and spirit, and then nurture the youth’s exploration of these concepts and the development of their true self.
Educate the mind. The mind craves facts. It seeks knowledge, and feels secure in recognition of figures and patterns. The mind is where we wield tools such as language, observation and arithmetic. Developing this attribute through exposure and challenging new concepts is how we help teens develop a strong foundation from which they may challenge all new information.
The mainstream education system is focused on superficially developing the mind, much to the detriment of the rest of the child. Waldorf educators encourage students to develop a relationship with knowledge that is greater than just memorization. We teach our students the importance of purpose, inquiry, and how to use knowledge to achieve a greater purpose.
In order to use knowledge to achieve a greater purpose, one must have a greater purpose to achieve. We’ll get to that.
Educate the body. Mainstream education treats the development of the body, often through sport, as an exercise in character development. Sometimes, physical activity is viewed as little more than a necessary chore for physiological maintenance.
Rarely does education recognize the foundational merits of movement, or the deeper importance of a healthy, active connection between body and mind.
Waldorf educators realize that there is a physical representation of all knowledge, one that can be experienced by the body and bodily senses. Furthermore, to experience that representation and become both mentally and physically aware of a concept enlivens an individual’s relationship with that concept, and enhances the observer’s holistic development.
These experiences come together to inform a richer inner life.
Educate the spirit. The spirit is the most neglected aspect of the human being. It is often overlooked in social settings, and overtly avoided in education. Where most tie the education of the spirit to a religious pretense, Waldorf educators recognize the spirit as independent of religious practice.
The spirit is the seat of empathy. It is the body by which we experience the unseen both within and between each other.
The inner life. All human beings possess an inner life. For many, the inner life is far from fulfilling. In an unhealthy individual, that life may even be damaging, rife with negativity and possessive of little else. These are the teens and adults you’ll find constantly immersed in external escapism, trying to drown out the world inside.
Those deprived of a rich inner life become dependent on external entertainment, and often find a growing need they cannot externally meet.
Conversely, a rich, healthy inner life provides an individual with a safe place to experiment with the meaning of their experiences and their place in the world. Where all the learnings come together in a unique and special way, there the teen’s true self comes alive.
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