It’s quarter of 12. I’ve had a long, full day that began at 0600. I’ve done a bunch. I just got back from a parent meeting at our son’s school. And I’m stoked, pumped, awake.
Because I’m thrilled that he’s enjoying school, being nurtured in the environment he’s in, surrounded by families who are as engaged in their children’s education and upbringing as we are.
Big G attends The Waldorf School of Atlanta — a granola-eatin’, tree-huggin’, nature-lovin’ kinda place. So that means a First Grade parent’s meeting involves not how the kids are performing on state proficiency tests nor how many sheets of simple addition they’ve done this week. It involves talk of … different things: the daily rhythms of the classroom (and the respect and peace it engenders), reducing/eliminating media at home (and how that improves concentration), and, of course, building beeswax boats (and how that develops motor skills).
It’s different, yeah. Perhaps “dumb” in some people’s books. And all this may be at best “interesting” on some intellectual level, perhaps for many of you, regardless of how you feel about it. But here’s the kicker, and perhaps what got me excited: I realized that some of the lessons our kids are learning now — now, at age 7 — are lessons it’s taken (it’s taking) me years to grasp.
Case in point: media. Many of us grew up with “I want my MTV!” in our heads. (And if you remember those commercials, maybe we should ask ourselves why they’re still in our heads 20-30 years later.) TV is normal, right? In Waldorf, we’re taught that it’s best for our kids to avoid “screen time” (TV, computers, etc.) for a number of reasons that I won’t go into here. Again, that can be considered dumb according to, well, most of the civilized world. (Do we see a trend?)
“How can you deprive your child like that?” is a compliant I’ve heard with some regularity. But what’s brilliant is this: our kids are faced with that reality and have to face it. “I’m raised one way, but my friends are raised another way. What do I do?”
What do they do?
Most of them learn — with the help of supportive parents, teachers, and the greater Waldorf community — to understand why we do things like we do, and then (and here’s where the magic happens) have faith even when the world doesn’t dig you or your Birkenstock-wearin’ parents.*
They learn some of those important lessons:
- It’s OK to be different.
- You don’t live for others’ approval.
- It’s important to be accepting of others’ beliefs.
Wait a sec … a minute ago, we were talking about MTV. (And that’s “mmm” TV, not “em.”) How’d we end up on profound life lessons? Easy. Most lessons that we need the most can be learned at a very early age, by educating the whole child — through Head, Heart, and Hands — and respecting their natural development.
The Waldorf way of education is one of many such paths out there that see children as so much more than statistics on a government chart. I’m just amped that we’re a part of it.
*Disclaimer: I don’t own a pair of Birks, but my wife does.