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A MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN OF SCHOOL
July 25, 2014

 

Dear KWS Community,

I hope you are enjoying your summer. Life at Kimberton Waldorf School continues to be busy during the summer months as preparations are being made for next school year: the teachers preparing for classes and the maintenance crew readying the campus for the first day of school.

Earlier this summer I attended a symposium on small independent schools. I was joined by Allyn Weiser, Director of Business Operations, Mimi Koelle, our new Director of Development, and Emily Shaker, Director of Marketing and Outreach. There were a number of points from the symposium that are worth sharing. The keynote speaker pointed out that the population of school age children is dropping in the United States as the average number of children per family has dropped from 2.4 to 1.4. He expects that many independent schools will close in the next few years due to this change in demographics. Because of this pressure, he emphasized the need for schools in the future to partner with organizations in their communities (colleges, other private schools, and non-profits and businesses). The panel of speakers at this symposium included the CEO of a local corporation and the Director of Admissions for Muhlenberg College.

The perspectives of the panel members and the keynote speaker on the needs for education in the future and what they are seeing in young people today were interesting. They noted that 38% of college students fail courses or drop out. They said that when we educate to the test, we are essentially educating robots to be good at tests, but we don’t educate students for life. One of the things they focused on was the inability of young people to work with other people. They noted that the single biggest reason people get fired from their jobs is because they can’t get along with their colleagues. They stressed the need for education that helps students develop self-awareness, the ability to be flexible and to work with others, and a sense for language. In order to be successful in our world students need to be able to frame and express ideas. They said that as employers, they are looking for young people who are able to grow, learn, and develop. They observed that we are educating young people to be paper pushers, but not craftsmen or entrepreneurs. We are not educating students to make things. They see that the ability to make something, as well as to administrate, are skills critical to success in the world today.

A number of times they touched on how young people today have a sense of entitlement, equating effort with success (“I worked hard on this, why didn’t I get an A?”). They expect to be promoted quickly in their jobs. A disconnect exists between where they are and what they have to do to get to where they want to be. They are not equipped to deal with failure. The speakers felt this was caused in part by parents who limit the autonomy of their children, and attempt to clear the way for their children so that they are always successful and never experience setbacks or failure. They spoke of how parents today will even intervene in their children’s education at the college or university level, complaining to professors or administrators about grades their children are given.

Of course, my reaction to much of what they were saying was, “I wish they knew about Waldorf Education!” Education for life is central to the Waldorf pedagogical philosophy. Waldorf Education is an education that provides students with the opportunities on a daily basis to develop the capacities of self-awareness, the ability to collaborate with others, an intrinsic love of learning that is not grade or test score driven, skill with written and spoken expression, and the experience and satisfaction of making something with one’s hands. If you would like to read more articles about how Waldorf Education helps children develop capacities for life, visit our Facebook page. You can also find interesting articles about Waldorf Education at the News page of our website.

On another note, we are sad to announce that Mandy Carlson, Red Rose Kindergarten lead teacher, let us know recently that she will not be returning to teach at KWS next year. Mandy, her husband, and two children will be moving to West Virginia to be closer to family in that area. We wish Mandy and her family all the best with their move. As soon as we heard that Mandy was not returning, we opened a search for a new Red Rose Kindergarten lead teacher. We are pleased to announce that the search is over and we have hired Gwyn Linsalata as our new Red Rose Kindergarten lead teacher. Gwyn is from the Philadelphia area. She is a trained Waldorf Early Education teacher and has experience as both an assistant and lead teacher in Waldorf Kindergartens. Gwyn is also an accomplished puppeteer. She has two older children who attended the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. Please join us in welcoming Gwyn to KWS!

In the meantime, I hope you and your families continue to have an enjoyable summer.

Sincerely,
Kevin Hughes
Dean of School