Waldorf or Montessori School? Where Do Celebrities Send Their Kids?
Are you considering a learning style that will be best for your child? Waldorf and Montessori are both great choices and it may be hard to decide between the two.
Waldorf Education follows an imitation approach. It is believed that children are master imitators and will imitate their teacher. The teacher stays at the front of the classroom and teaches primarily by focusing on classic literature. In the early years fairy tales are read to children in their original form. By doing this children are exposed to a rich vocabulary, storyline and morals. This method encourages both listening as well as imagination skills which have been greatly eroded in today's visual media driven society.
Early childhood classrooms have a warm homelike feel. Rhythm and movement play a large role in the student's day. During the elementary school years lessons are presented in a lively pictoral way, it is believed that at this age, children learn best through imaginative thought. In the high school years learning focuses more on analysis. Students remain with the same teacher through grades 1-8 to allow a strong bond to develop between teacher, child and classmates. This philosophy focuses on developing the whole child by teaching the mind to think clearly, the heart to feel and the body to act purposefully.
Children excelling in this learning environment would be artistic and good at imitation.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” -Albert Einstein
When approached by the news media and asked the question, "What did Waldorf education do for you?," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg replied, "It encouraged me to always strive to become a better human being."
The Montessori style is geared toward the individual. The student proceeds at their own pace. Students learn in a step by step approach with an emphasis on materials. The curriculum includes respect for others as well as a global knowledge and awareness. Children learn about the world, continents and cultures from pre school age, and this is built upon year after year. Students can excel quickly and move on or can stay on a subject in which they may need more assistance given this individual learning approach. Classrooms have mixed grades, thus facilitating learning by teaching from the older to the younger students in addition to mixed grade socialization.
This method of education works best for a child who works well independently.
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” -Maria Montessori
"Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey (American Philosopher, Psychologist and Educator, 1859-1952)
Both Montessori and Waldorf use a hands-on-learning approach where children are physically engaged with their environment. The education philosopher, John Dewey believed that children learn by doing and both methods follow this theory. It has also been found that movement, especially for boys, is of great benefit in thinking as well as retaining what has been learned. Both methods also take careful consideration of child development but approach curriculum in different ways.
Waldorf feels like a more feminine environment with great attention paid to beautiful materials and art while the Montessori atmosphere feels masculine with its focus on manipulatives.
Positive influences on the Home
Another positive aspect of having your children attend these schools is that they have a great influence on the home. Waldorf Education brings a sense of peace and rhythm to the home. Montessori, which stresses independence, gives children a strong sense of self sufficiency and the ability to concentrate while staying on task for extended periods of time. In light of the current generation of media induced ADD, the ability to concentrate becomes more vital to learning than ever before.
Schools of Tomorrow
A great deal of discussion is generated today among educators and in the education community around the world regarding just what education in the future will look like. Technology is driving and unalterably influencing the world at such a rapid pace that current industrial based methods of education are no longer suitable for today's world or tomorrow. Rote learning and knowledge become less and less relevant with the dominance of increasingly sophisticated computers and media, while critical thinking and self awareness become more and more valuable. Both Montessori and Waldorf classrooms encourage cognition in children as necessary preparation for a demanding and ever evolving future.
Well Known Waldorf Alumni
- Actors Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel, Jennifer Aniston and Sandra Bullock
- Kenneth Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express, was former Waldorf student (Waldorf School of Garden City, NY)
- Many Celebrities chose to send their children to Waldorf schools including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, James Taylor and Carly Simon, George Lucas, Paul Newman, Rosie O'Donnell, Glen Fry from the Eagles and John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin
Well Known Montessori Alumni
- Jeff Bezos, financial analyst, founder Amazon.com
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Cofounders of Google.com
- T. Berry Brazelton, noted pediatrician and author
- Julia Child, famous chef, star of many TV cooking shows and author of numerous cookbook
- Kami Cotler, actress (youngest child on long-running series The Waltons)
- Katherine Graham, owner/editor of the Washington Post
- Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, editor, former first lady (John F. Kennedy)
- Elizabeth Berridge, actress (Constanze in Amadeus)
- Prince William and Prince Harry, English royal family
- Anne Frank, famous diarist from world war II
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel Prize winner for Literature
- Melissa and Sarah Gilbert, actors
Based on this information which school would you send your child to?
© 2011 Tracy Lynn Conway