Our educational approach is grounded in the understanding of human development as expressed by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner.
Waldorf EducationSM addresses three distinct yet integrated facets of learning—thinking, feeling and doing. While SWS high school teaches subjects similar to those of other high schools, our approach departs from that of conventional education in several important ways.
We value different learning styles, and the opportunities they provide in our students’ social environment. All students receive a well-rounded education in which each have an opportunity to shine, and also to experience humility and tolerance. From world languages and math to farming and theater, each student finds their place as a leader, and as a learner.
Our school is not an art school. However, we fully integrate the arts into our curriculum. Through art, students connect to their work in a deep and thougtful way. For example, our students will deepen their understanding of sciences by creating their own illustrated textbooks. By doing so, students learn at a pace natural to them, deepen their connection to the subject matter, and develop their artistic capacities.
All of our students study four sciences over four years (Earth Science, Life Science, Physical Science, and Chemistry). Through a phenomenological approach to teaching science, students cultivate a keen sense of observation and a living enthusiasm for sciences. A 2007 research study found that, compared to their non-Waldorf educated peers, up to twice as many Waldorf students go on to study science in college. Furthermore, our math curriculum includes four years of college preparatory math encompassing Algebra, Permutations and Combinations, Geometry (and Projective Geometry), Practical Trigonometry, and Calculus.
As confident and competent people in today’s world, young adults need to understand the role of technology and media in our world. While our students use calculators and computers, and watch political debates, historic films and documentaries, they also encounter technology as a tool, created by human imagination, in service of evolution. Our use of technology is consciously limited to that purpose, with a primary emphasis on the mastery of human capacities.
Our curricula often appeals to students who may not be as successful where standard tests are the primary tool for assessment. We often encounter students with certain learning challenges who possess extraordinary capacities in others areas. Our educational support teacher works closely with students who benefit from additional support. In some cases, students may benefit from additional assessment or academic assistance, and our advisors support families in identifying adequate services.
Waldorf education and SWS high school, acknowledge a spiritual dimension to life—that there is more to the world than we perceive—yet do not espouse a particular religious belief and work towards mutual understanding and acceptance of all religious affiliations and sensibilities. Waldorf families come from a broad spectrum of religious traditions and interests.
Many graduates say their Waldorf education prepared them for the transition to college. When asked to rate the influence that Waldorf education had on other aspects of life besides school, graduates noted that their education helped them to develop creative capacities, love for learning, self-expression, interest in different points of view, and the ability to work with others. Research study.
Waldorf education speaks to each developmental stage, and a common thread runs through grades one through twelve: the development of our students’ physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual capacities. As students grow and change through the years, so do their Waldorf classes and environment. High school students are increasingly more engaged in the world, and both their course of study and the high school culture reflect this evolution. High school students experience an expansion of both freedom and responsibility in all areas: personal, academic, and social. Collaboration and individual expression is deepened and strengthened, and individual initiative is encouraged and valued. The physical classroom environment, technology, and equipment depart from the grade school’s warm and homey style to move towards a more adult environment.
Our small size, collaborative environment, and inclusive school culture enable students to integrate into our school culture easily. A period of transition is to be expected, ranging from a few days to a few weeks depending on the student and his or her previous experience. Advisors are available to students and their families, and guidance from all teachers is provided to ensure a pleasant experience for all.