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Living Thinking in a Waldorf-Inspired Environment

In the lower school, learning emphasizes the development of strong volition and emotional intelligence. After this, the ground is laid for living thinking to be developed in ages 14 – 18. In these latter years, we guide students to phenomenologically observe the world and develop clear perception. Students are then in a position to uniquely conceptualize the content of their own living experience. Living thinking is a generative process in which students discover new insights by finding patterns and relationships in the world. This manner of thinking leads to deep understanding, groundbreaking ideas, creative activity, and considerate actions, impossible to achieve by simply memorizing facts.

Evolution of Consciousness

 

This approach to education places development within the context of an evolution of consciousness. During infancy and the early years of childhood, children are deeply connected to the world around them—parents, peers, and the rhythms of the natural world. At a certain age, typically between 9 and 11 years old, each child goes through a separation process in which they begin to experience the difference between the world around them and the world within them. This can be a painful time, but also very fruitful, as this distinction between self and world lays the ground for individuation. This budding consciousness-of-self develops further through adolescence. Ideally, during ages 14-18, young adults strengthen their sense of self and upon graduation are ready to claim their rightful place in the world. They reconnect with the world, spiraling back to the sense of wholeness felt in their early years, but now with awakened capacities for clarity of thought, depth of feeling, individual presence, and moral action. There are unique perspectives and capacities that are only possible at each stage of development, and each unfolding stage depends on the prior stage as the foundation of its next step into the future.

One can regard this developmental process (which takes place across a single life span) as a repetition of the developmental process which the historical culture has traversed as a whole, revealing the dynamic holism of human development. This evolution of consciousness is a fundamental curricular and pedagogical principle.

Taking the evolution of consciousness as a curricular principle means that we organize our curriculum in such a way that ideas, art forms, scientific discoveries, cosmological theories, inventions, technologies, political systems, and religious developments are presented holistically within the historical context in which they emerged. Taking the evolution of consciousness as a pedagogical principle means that we strive to match the stages of cultural evolution with the stage of cognitive development where we find the child or adolescent.

Metamorphosis

 

This manner of unfolding the seeds of earlier development into the substance of higher cognitive development treats human development as a living process of metamorphosis, not a mechanical or digital process of information transfer or ideological replication. Curriculum and instruction embody the principle of metamorphosis in the very rhythms and methods of learning, transforming the learning of prior years into new perspectives and capacities of the future.

Academic Model

 

On a practical level, this means two things:

  1. Eastside Community School is not conceived, nor approved by Washington state, as a private high school, nor will we grant a high school diploma at the culmination of the student’s experience with us.

  2. As parents sending your students to our program, you will be participating in “home-based instruction” (in other words, you will be home-schoolers or unschoolers, whichever you prefer).

 

This does not mean that the education must take place in the home, nor does it exclusively need to be enacted by the parent. Our learning community and Home School Enrichment Program for Ages 14-18 will provide your child with a cohort of peers, teachers, tutors, daily classes, and a wide range of educational experiences, both traditional classroom-based and non-traditional/immersive. We will work with students to create a portfolio and demonstrations of their work and accomplishments and provide administrative services and education to support your new self-conception and empowerment as home-schooling parents. This is a full-day program.

Our Unique School Day

 

Each student is guided through the four years by a personal mentor from our faculty. As the students develop their moral and social sense, and as they begin to demonstrate and exercise leadership skills, they are given opportunities to make an impact on the community around them. Through projects and volunteer engagements students are prepared to contribute to society for years to come.

Example of An Organic and Seasonal Schedule: Ages 14-15

MORNING

  • Academic Blocks

    • Integrate with the practical/vocational arts in the afternoon

    • Living Thinking/Evolution of Consciousness approach

    • Can be interdisciplinary/collaborative

    • Can take any amount of time as needed

  • Skills/Academic Mentoring

AFTERNOON

  • Practical/Vocational Skills (integrate with seasons)

    • Gardening/Farming in Spring

    • Carpentry/Framing in Fall

    • Mechanics/Fine Arts in Winter

  • Can integrate with Evolution of Consciousness Curriculum

    • Indigenous Practical Arts, Tracking, Foraging

  • Internships/Practicums

  • Rhythmic Will Work

  • Independent Studies/Pursuits

  • Partnerships

    • Running Start/Public School Class

    • Learning Centers/Other Programs

Photo courtesy of Sasha Clement © All rights reserved.