Independent schools are responsible for maintaining national curriculum and education standards, and in some cases, that means that schools using certain philosophies may have to find ways to balance those educational philosophies with the nation's learning expectations. To that end, you need to screen independent schools carefully to ensure they are in line with your educational goals and expectations for your children.
If you like the idea of Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner schools, one of the many types of independent schools in Australia, here are some tips to help you:
1. Read Rudolf Steiner books.
The Waldorf theory of education, used in many countries throughout the world, was created by Rudolf Steiner. An Australian who lived around the turn of the 20th century, Steiner wrote many books and essays about his educational beliefs. In most cases, these books are fairly easy to comprehend, without experience in education or philosophy, and if you want to ensure the school you select has practices as close as possible to what Steiner envisioned, you may want to read "The Kingdom of Childhood" or "The Education of the Child". These books are typically available in large public libraries, research institutions or through online retailers.
2. Look at the school through a Waldorf lens.
If you are looking for an independent Waldorf school, you should not look at it through the traditional education lens. These schools embrace a different approach to learning, and as a result, the educative objectives may sometimes be different. For example, some Waldorf schools believe in waiting longer for reading. As a result, very young students may have reading scores that are slightly behind socioeconomic peers in the same age group.
However, the objective behind waiting a bit is that once the children learn to read, their skills take off quickly, and these students catch up with or even surpass their peers. When comparing various independent Waldorf schools, make sure that you look at the school through a lens that is consistent with that educational philosophy, and keep in mind that may mean achieving different benchmarks at different times.
3. Insist of arts, gardening and similar aspects of Waldorf pedagogy.
The Waldorf philosophy believes that children shouldn't just learn rote facts at school. Instead, they should also learn a reverence for the world and respect for life. In many cases, this takes the form of handcraft and art instruction. For example, kids may learn to sew, quilt, or do similar arts or crafts. In addition, children may spend time outdoors. This can involve anything from nature hikes to a school garden. Make sure the school has a plan for these types of learning activities.