"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
-William Butler Yeats
This past week we joyously enrolled our children in the local Waldorf school for the coming school year. It has been an arduous path, wrought with twists and turns, and we are so very happy to have arrived where we set out to be, and at the beginning of a new journey.
My discovery of Waldorf education has it's roots way back in my own public school education. As far as the public education system goes, I consider myself one dissatisfied customer. I learned, I advanced, I did really well academically, but it many ways it was just plain awful. I still feel surly just thinking about it. And this was all before "No child left behind" came into play. In my humble opinion, our education system is not getting the support it needs, and it shows. While I was pregnant, my husband and I agreed that our children would not go to public school. We talked about homeschooling, but as they got to be preschoolers, I realized it wasn't going to be a good fit for us. Our various preschool experiences ranged from really bad to just frustrating. For a while the kids attended a Montessori preschool that we really liked, but it worked out well for my daughter and not my son, and we only lived there long enough for her to go a few months. Then, one day, we attended the Winter Light Faire at our local Waldorf school. I felt like I had stepped into a magical kingdom of childhood. Every where I looked, beauty and inspiration were plentiful. Even the walls were painted in soft, cloud-like hues. Amazing art hung on the walls outside the classrooms. There was great intention behind everything, and great love that shone. I knew, right then, with certainty that this was where I wanted my children to learn. But how? We were a young family with one income, and this was private school. It seemed impossible, and I shelved the dream away.
It was just not the same. It was wonderful in many ways, and they both had the wonderful teacher our son had in first grade, but we missed the Waldorf school. Our daughter missed her teacher (in Waldorf they keep the same teacher through eighth grade), we missed the community, and we just had this feeling that the Waldorf school was where our family was supposed to be, but we weren't there. So, we decided to take a huge leap of faith and apply again. This time, both children got in! And, with the help of tuition assistance and scholarship programs, sending them there would be possible!
And this is where we are now. My dreams for my children are coming true with a lot of work and persistence, and some leaps of faith. We are all excited for the coming school year, and the years to come. My kids are excited to continue their educational journey together. I'm not kidding myself, making private education happen for the next six years is going to be hard. It's going to take some sacrifices and some doing without. But, we're good at living simply, and I know with certainty that it will be worth it. So you see, it is very important to follow the path of your dreams when it beckons. Even when it seems too challenging, or altogether impossible, working and hoping towards your dreams is not in vain.