Why I chose a non-trad school for my child
MANILA, Philippines - I went to regular schools, traditional in every way. We had exams and quizzes, we were given assignments. At the end of the school year, we were judged. In other words, graded: this student is better than you, you have average intelligence, you are really bad at Math, and so on.
I wore Hello Kitty shirts and carried a Voltes V bag to school. I had those magnetic pencil cases with the Japanese anime characters and I sometimes ate chichiria for merienda. My parents used to give me coins every day so I could buy candy and ice candy, alternately, from the manang behind the school gate.
I was used to competition: who had the nicer wallet, who arrived in cars, who had the biggest allowance, etcetera. I would come home dirty and sticky from all the sugar, my hair in numerous tangles.
But it was a great childhood. And I think I turned out okay, despite everything. So why — now that it’s my turn to raise a child — am I choosing non-traditional education for my only son?
The answer is simple: Times have changed.
It’s true that I used to lug around a very heavy bag in grade school. I worked through textbooks and spent a lot of time doing my homework. But as soon as my work was done, I was free. And I would bike around the neighborhood until sundown. Or I would climb the guava tree in our yard, or play with my brothers and our neighbors out on the street. Sometimes, I would spend after-school hours at my best friend’s house, reading. We liked to read, we sometimes watched horror movies, and we talked a lot.
In those days, there were plenty of opportunities for physical exercise, face-to-face interaction with people of the same age, and unplugged entertainment. Today, if a parent isn’t careful, her child could easily get sucked into his own digital world. Many kids these days can’t even sit at a restaurant without having to fiddle with his gadget. He can’t sit in the car during rush hour and not get bored in the absence of an electronic gizmo. By all appearances, many kids today have become slaves — for lack of a better term — of the media, the internet, entertainment companies, brands, Disney/Hollywood, and peer influence.
The way I see it, hyperactivity could probably be partly caused by the need for constant stimulation, because the individual has been so used to it already for a number of years. Scientists would say that the culprit, of course, would be sugar and additives. I won’t disagree with them.
I also sometimes wonder how children who are over-exposed to media (television, advertisements, internet, gaming) could possibly form their own creative thoughts, ideas, and solutions without being prompted or influenced by the concepts and symbols that they see in these channels.
I want a child who can think for himself.
When my child was 2 and a half, I was lucky enough to find a non-traditional school for him. The school was so different from the ones I attended. The kids learned to speak our local language before they were encouraged to speak in English, even if English was their language at home. They were exposed to nature, rather than television. They wore light-colored clothing and owned simple things like plain bags and unbranded shoes. They were taught to bake their own bread for snack time, sipped mint tea afterwards, and encouraged to eat healthy food even at home. Before my son turned 4, he learned how to wash his own dirty dishes and put them away.
I fell in love with many things about this school: the way the teachers talked to children, the freedom that the kids enjoyed, the gentleness in manner, and the daily rhythm that he quickly caught and helped him gain confidence and stability.
For many years we didn’t have television and watched very few movies. But since it is difficult to live in a society where everyone’s talking about the latest film or show, my child got exposed, of course, to media and entertainment. But because he grew up without them, he is never dependent on them. He’d get curious and try it out, but would not complain if you take the thing away.
This is true for toys, brands, and food as well. He grew up making his own toys and books, and rarely asks me to buy him stuff. Regarding food, he never had to have any of the fastfood treats or fad products, nor eat at any of the popular restaurants.
It may seem too good to be true for some of the parents reading this, but this is really our life. There are struggles, as with all modern families, but so far I’ve been really happy with my child’s non-traditional schooling.
I believe that all children have equal potential to become creative and original, and to excel in their chosen areas, as long as parents and teachers nurture their childhood and look at them as whole beings. There is a way to educate not only the head of the child, but also his heart and his hands. - Rappler.com
If you want to learn more about Waldorf education, please inquire through 723-2549, 710-5279, 0920-4023860 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ime Morales is a freelance writer and the founder of the Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines. She is the mother of 8-year old Bowi, a student of Kolisko Waldorf School in Quezon City.