Guiding Educational Philosophies
Head, Heart, and Hands' homeschool enrichment classes blends Waldorf education with project-based learning, self-directed learning, and nature immersion. You can read more about each educational philosophy below.
Waldorf Education was developed by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist and philosopher. In April 1919, just months after the end of World War I, Steiner was asked two questions: Is there a way to educate children that will help them develop into human beings capable of bringing peace to the world? And if so, would he take on the establishment and leadership of such a school?
Within 5 months, the first Waldorf school opened. The school was called the Freie Waldorfschule, the Free Waldorf School, free because it was totally independent of all state or other outside control. It was a school in which all capacities of the child- physical, emotional, intellectual, moral, and spiritual were nurtured and developed. The school welcomed the diversity of talent, admitting all children, boys and girls, those destined for higher education as well as those destined for trades or jobs where college was unnecessary. It was a school in which art, music, and handwork were as important as reading, writing, and mathematics. Each day included activities for the intellect (head), for the hands and for the whole physical being, and for the aesthetic and emotional (heart) development. A class teacher remained with the same group of students for their eight years of elementary schooling. The Free Waldorf School's explicit purpose was to help children become creative, independent, upright individuals, able to impart meaning and purpose to their lives.
Accept the children with reverence, educate them with love, send them forth in freedom.
This quote is our goal. We will use the beauty and depth of Waldorf education to guide our learning. Designing lessons to incorporate students’ heads, hearts, and hands while taking it a step further to by giving students more responsibility in their learning. This will be done by blending project-based learning and self-directed learning into each day.
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. PBL consistently emphasizes active, student-directed learning. Why is this approach more likely than rote memorization to lead to deeper understanding? Relevance plays a big role. Projects give students a real-world context for learning, creating a strong "need to know." Motivation is another factor. Projects offer students choice and voice, personalizing the learning experience. By design, projects are open-ended. This means students need to consider and evaluate multiple solutions and, perhaps, defend their choices. All these activities engage higher-order thinking skills. Head, Heart, and Hands will use PBL to empower the children in our program to think critically about sustainability, and other important challenges within our community. Children will learn they are capable of creating change. Instead of focusing on the negative impact challenges can have, we will focus on how we can help.
Similar to PBL, Self-Directed Learning (SDL) believes the educator’s role is to be a guide, supporting students in exploring the world around them, formulating investigative questions, and testing hypotheses. SDL allows students freedom to pursue their interests and learn from a group of mixed-aged children while being guided by a teacher who helps give resources, ask questions, and facilitate learning. A powerful book that advocates for SDL is Free to Learn by Peter Gray. In Free to Learn, Gray, a developmental psychologist, outlines the history and development of compulsory education and how it was developed to control what people thought and produce conformity, why many children are failing in schools, dislike school, and why our schools seem to be failing. He examines hunter-gatherer societies and observes that the children naturally learn in multi-age groups through unstructured play. He argues that children will learn when they are inspired, interested and able to discover, especially with friends. He goes on to describe schools that try to mimic this type of learning by providing a space for children ages 5-18 to learn together based on their own interests with adult mentors helping to facilitate. Head, Hearts, and Hands will incorporate SDL in our program by offering opportunities for discovery, inspiration, multi-age collaboration, and the pursuit of interests and passions each day.
Abundant time in nature allows children the opportunity to build confidence, take healthy risks, learn responsibility, use their imagination and creativity, stay active, have sensory rich experiences, and reduce stress and anxiety. Regular time in wild spaces also helps children develop a love for nature. That love will translate into a desire to care for the earth instead of fear or anxiety about the challenges the environment is facing. Head, Heart, and Hands uses our local environment as inspiration for lessons, helping to strengthen children's connection to nature. Teaching our classes outside also helps to reduce the spread of germs and viruses.