THE CORE ELEMENTS
Values and Assessments.
In India where tradition honors education as sacred, parents and society at large have rightfully placed the education of our children as one of life’s highest priorities.
We should not ask what does a person need to know or be able to do in order to fit into the existing social order. Instead we should ask what lives in each human being and what can be developed in him or her. Only then will it be possible to direct the new qualities of each emerging generation into society. The society will become what the young people as whole beings make out of the existing conditions. The new generation should not just be made to be what the present society wants it to become.
– Rudolf Steiner
Focus on building a well rounded personality.
Art and aesthetics, history and culture, diverse languages and enduring customs, the rhythm of life and harmony of faith, all are beautiful facets of the jewel we know as India. For centuries, India has been the nerve center of different cultures and their arts and traditions. Over time and with modernization, there have been significant changes in teaching and the learning process to the point where emphasis has shifted from the pursuit of knowledge to exam oriented study.
Young children are no longer given the opportunities to explore and learn about the world through play and there is little time to nurture a sense of wonder and imagination. The rapid accumulation of facts and accelerated intellectualization is praised as an improvement on time proven methods which honor and nurture the emerging human being, treating young children as little more than miniature adults whose worth and value are gauged by how quickly they fit into someone’s preconceived mold.
Indian toddlers in our sophisticated new age schools no longer draw on paper, but only find opportunities for creative expression on the computer screen with a mouse. With computers in the classrooms, stories are not told any longer but are shown on CD’s and human creativity is limited to a set of established and pre-approved options. With children becoming more and more reliant upon technology, they are becoming that much more isolated and have become merely consumers enchanted with self indulgent activities such as video games, TV, and iPods.
With newer interactive electronic games and the imbalanced dominance of electronic media, children are increasingly estranged from the natural world. While they have access to much greater volumes of information, they display little understanding of how those isolated facts are interconnected and woven together in the grand tapestry we call life.
In India where tradition honors education as sacred, parents and society at large have rightfully placed the education of our children as one of life’s highest priorities. The new thinking and trends place the child under excessive pressure to perform right from Nursery itself and the rapid accumulation of information is becoming more important than the child himself or the healthy development of all their capacities. Of course the child must learn and will need to face the demands of the material world but what is crucial is that this aspect of learning should come at appropriate times. The child lives in a world of limitless possibilities born out of their innate imagination and forcing them to perform, and prematurely reduce the wonders of the world to dry abstractions and intellectualized data, not only damages their creativity but they also lose something of their humanity and the precious innocence of childhood is prematurely lost forever.
In this pressure filled, fiercely competitive world, Waldorf education strives to preserve and nurture our humanity by honoring every child for their unique gifts and talents. Waldorf education certainly encourages academic excellence but our intellectual capacities and ability to retain factual data is only one part of being a human being. In our electronic world of bits and pixels, we must be on guard and preserve a place for art and music, human creativity and imagination. The Indian educational system is going through major changes which challenge our very humanity and in these congested and accelerated times, Waldorf education is like a breath of fresh air.
Eventually, every child must embrace their individual destiny and begin making independent decisions in their own life. If they have confidence in themselves, a positive self image, and trust in others as well as the world, they will make meaningful contributions no matter what they do or where they are. It is essential to create an environment for children in which they can develop and grow naturally and in their own personal ways and where they are honored and appreciated for their individual capacities whether it is academic ability, artistic skill, or kindness and warmth of heart.
This raises interesting questions: Just what is education and how is being educated different from being literate? If literacy is simply the ability to read and write, aren’t all literates educated?
Surprisingly, the answer is not necessarily, yes. Waldorf education helps the child to find meaning and nuance in life. Our focus is on comprehension and connectedness, creativity and imagination to consider the limitless possibilities of what could be. A balanced and objective understanding of self, one’s cosmic individuality, and destiny are necessary for the fuller realization of personal potential and one’s spiritual and academic goals and aspirations. Waldorf education works on time tested and proven principles of nurturing, supporting, and encouraging the humanity of every child. By encouraging creative potential, social responsibility, and clear objective thinking, Waldorf education helps in the development of human beings who are balanced in their being and make meaningful contributions to the world. We hold to the truth that education of the human will to fully engage one’s self with determination and creative effort and nurturing our feeling life to foster greater compassion, tolerance, and inclusiveness is more important for nurturing the potential in every individual than simply educating the brain.
Waldorf Schools discourage grading or any marking system until the upper grades. In place of a numerical or letter ranking system, the teacher writes a full evaluation of every child providing a thorough and comprehensive picture of the child. These evaluation reports are written in a narrative form and cover in detail, the academic, social, and artistic progress of the child and any challenges they may be facing. Interim reports are shared with parents every term during scheduled parent/teacher conferences and a comprehensive report of the entire year is provided at the close of the school year. Parent/teacher communication is strongly encouraged and meetings to discuss your child can be scheduled at any time during the year with prior appointment with the class/subject teacher.
This system of evaluation honours the whole human being and their individuality. Such reports provide parents with a full, well rounded picture of their child’s school experience and their development.
Students of Grade X write their pre-board exams in school before appearing for their final examinations conducted by the CBSE Board. Separate grading is given according to internal evaluation along with the CBSE Board results.