Waldorf provides unique option to public schools 

Purposeful education available at a cost in Whistler and Squamish

Finding an alternative to the public school system used to mean significant disruption for families in the Sea to Sky corridor.

The choices were relocating to a community with more educational options, sending your child away to school or taking on home schooling.

Whistler’s Peggy Vogler and Squamish’s Christine Martin took a grassroots approach to ensuring there were viable options locally for their children’s education. These women, along with other like-mined parents, were responsible for the creation of Waldorf schools in their communities.

The dominant myth of Waldorf schooling is that it’s a free-for-all environment with children doing what they want – when they want – and emerging unprepared for the real world.

"Our students have been accepted to universities across Canada. The only place they can’t directly go to is UBC," says Vogler.

She explains that students wishing to attend UBC often take their first year of study at Capilano College, which offers a university transfer program.

While B.C.’s answer to the Ivy League may not be swinging its doors open to them, Vogler says that Waldorf graduates leave their school days with a combination of concrete skills, a creative approach to life and an appreciation of learning.

Founded in post-WWI Germany, the school was the brainchild of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher who was employed by the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory to develop an educational program for the workers’ children.

Capitalizing on a child’s natural interests as the foundation for learning, his philosophy was a simple one: "Receive the children with reverence, educate them with love, send them forth in freedom."

Steiner’s method further differentiated itself from traditional education strategies by developing a sense of continuity by having the same teacher take a class from Grade 1 through Grade 8.

The goal, as well as the practice, of Waldorf education remain the same today as it did in the early 20 th century: "to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives."

The curriculum that assists children in moving in this direction is a broad blend of academics, art and practical activities designed to reflect the child’s emotional, spiritual and intellectual developmental phases. For example, academic subjects are put on hold until a child is seven years old. In the years from preschool to Grade 2, the preferred learning methods focus on art, tactile experiences and music. In Grade 1 students learn the fundamentals of music via the recorder, in Grade 3 they are learning musical notation and by Grade 4 they are playing the violin.

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