Written by: In Our Schools

The Ecology of Waldorf Education at Sunrise School of Miami

Amid talk of the need for reform in education and the question of what it means to be an educated person in today’s society, the proliferation of Waldorf education has consistently turned out vibrant, enthusiastic lifelong learners since the opening of the first Waldorf School in Germany more than 100 years ago. Now with over 1,100 schools in 64 countries, Sunrise School of Miami (SSoM) continues the tradition by teaching in the Waldorf way for the past 16 years.

Traditional public and private schools boast unique programs and great accomplishments, but in close examination, their curriculums are almost universally identical, dominated by rote repetition, memorization and pressure to produce and perform. Unfortunately, in its wake is too much burnout, restlessness and unhappiness in young adults. The Waldorf method stands out in its uniqueness, in its gradual unfolding of content, in its understanding of the appropriate content at the appropriate time and in the depth of its artistic curriculum.

A prime illustration is the eighth-grade life science class at SSoM in collaboration with the Deering Estate and Miami-Dade’s Parks and Recreation. The class expresses the community values of the school by weaving together community service, earth stewardship and advanced scientific techniques. The students learn plant taxonomy and plant identification to create a useful scientific record in Miami’s beloved and imperiled habitat, the Pine Rockland habitat. The project is overseen by naturalists and environmental educators to ensure that the students’ contributions will be valuable to the scientific community at large. Biological communities model for the young minds the ability for various organisms to coexist and for each to serve a significant purpose in order for populations to survive and thrive. The seeds of this impressive feature of the students’ science education take root many years before the eighth grade.

At Sunrise School, students have been actively studying nature and its relationships from an early age. Gardening begins in kindergarten, where they learn the importance of composting and feeding the soil, propagating seeds, weeding, watering, nurturing, harvesting, cooking and eating what has come from their attentive oversight. In the later grades, the harvest becomes part of a farmers market set up on the school grounds every Friday during the season. This becomes lessons in mathematics, engagement with the community and decision-making in where best to utilize their profits.

A unique proficiency that permeates the entire curriculum puts emphasis on studying relationships. In the ecology program, students are immersed in nature’s visibly demonstrated wisdom; and our teachers skillfully guide this understanding through robust class discussion. This represents only a single minor aspect of the lively and engaging curriculum offered at our school.

History, literature, mathematics, foreign language, art, movement and music are all taught as a gradual immersion process. Another example is the teaching of geography, beginning in the early grades by first studying the school campus and later branching out to our community, state, country, hemisphere and on to the world in the upper grades.

Rather than fast-tracking children into adulthood, we celebrate the joy of being a child; and our students become curious, excited, independent thinkers. We invite you to explore all that our Sunrise School of Miami has to offer by contacting us at 305.274.6562.

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Tags: , , Last modified: March 3, 2022