Imagine an education where singing, drawing, painting, craft and drama are a regular part of school life embedded in the curriculum, where students have one teacher for their primary years, where spending time in nature and the outdoors is a regular part of instruction, where all children learn at least one foreign language from the earliest years, where play is seen as children’s work, children don’t begin formal classroom learning in literacy and numeracy until age 7 and still reach standards of excellence on later school life, and where assessment is not based on mass standardised testing but on daily teacher observation.
Although the education system referred to here is in Finland, it could equally describe the education offered by Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School, Australia’s oldest Steiner school.
Finland is the country which for many years has scored highest on the PISA tests which assess Year 9 students in OECD countries, tests at which Australia does only middling well. As a country Australia has much to learn from Finland. Many of the principles of Steiner education derive from the traditions of northern Europe, traditions on which Dr Rudolf Steiner built when he developed the core principles of the first Steiner school in Germany in 1919.
Like Dr Steiner, Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School is and always has been ahead of its time.
When the school began in 1957, its founding teacher, Sylvia Brose OAM, talked about the importance of imagination and the arts, about emotional growth, about looking for the positive in every student, about school as a community, and about building a sustainable relationship with the natural environment.
The school’s vision of education is actually a blend of the best of tradition and an innovative future. This vision stems from the classical tradition of the Greeks and their values (Goodness, Beauty, Truth), refashioned in the European Renaissance through the Humanist tradition of the balanced human being, and reformulated as an education for the future by Dr Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the 20th century.
So what does the Glenaeon school journey look like?
Students grow through a series of developmental stages, starting in what Dr Steiner called the Kingdom of Childhood in Kindergarten. Here lie the roots of their creativity and imagination.
Glenaeon creates an environment where children can move toward learning and away from the noise around them.
The school offers a curriculum which gives children back their childhood. It heals while it teaches – offering imaginative stories, learning immersed in the creative arts and lots of playtime, all of which eases them along their natural path of development.
One of the biggest challenge facing teachers today, particularly in the infant and primary years, is the inability of children to sit still.
Young children now come to school flooded with images and impressions from an increasingly chaotic external environment, and teachers find it difficult to educate them as a result.
At Glenaeon, the teachers slow down the world for the children and by extension, for themselves. The children learn deeply, not by memorising yet more facts, but by developing a relationship to and interest in the world around them.
And it works.
In just a short time, teachers notice their students settle into the rhythm of their days and on to their own path of discovery.
At Glenaeon teachers work hard to honour the traditions of childhood, ensuring a joyful, nourishing and imaginatively rich foundation to life. The primary years are a time of journey in a secure relationship with the same Class Teacher, enjoying the imaginative unfolding of the human story.
In Middle and Senior School, students will be academically challenged to perform at their absolute best, their learning infused with a rich cultural aesthetic.
The 21st century is asking for new qualities in our graduates: a blend of professional rigour and creativity, imagination, emotional intelligence and a compassionate sense of what it is to be human in this increasingly digital age.
Glenaeon’s students are well educated, to start to find out who they are so that when they step into the world they will be equipped to find their own meaning and purpose, and to add something of value to the great human story.
Glenaeon is not a cookie-cutter school: it is a school producing individuals, who can think creatively, act ethically, and express themselves culturally. The task of the school is to give students a rich and nourishing environment that will inspire them to be their individual best.
For over 60 years, Glenaeon has produced individuals who think creatively, act ethically, and express themselves culturally. Their graduating high school classes consistently place in the top 12% of NSW high schools based on HSC results.
To book a discovery tour at one of their three campuses on Sydney’s lower north shore, visit their website to book a tour and find out why a Glenaeon education might be just what you’ve been looking for.