My boys have all attended a Waldorf school for their first 8 years. The older 2 have chosen public high school, and all their teachers feel they have been well-prepared in what they needed to be successful. Aside from academic preparation, I have always appreciated the spiritual/soul/character side of the education. The school is not affiliated with any religion, but it does recognize that part of being a well-rounded adult is taking care to nurture the side of yourself that chooses good over evil, right over wrong, helps others and becomes a strong contributor to the world.
The 6th grade year is the year to study the middle ages. It is also the year that kids become tweens and begin to have social squabbles and differences. So the Waldorf school meets this development with a tie in to the middle ages and the idea of Knighthood.
All year these 6th graders worked on achieving their knighthood. They had to document a contribution to society through volunteerism. Our son worked at Seeds for several weekends:
SEEDS teaches respect for life, for the earth and for each other through gardening and growing food. Located in the heart of Durham, we promote principles of sustainable agriculture, organic gardening, food security and environmental stewardship through a variety of garden-based programs. We hope you’ll visit us in our urban sanctuary!”
He also organized the 8th grade handwork class to make Medical Play Dolls for Striving for More. He got materials donated and they ended up with 30 dolls to provide for pediatric cancer patients.
And he helped out his grandparents with yard work and housework.
The students had to create a sword in their woodwork class, and a coat of arms. They had to work on building relationships in the class, honoring their parents, keeping up with their classwork. It was a yearlong process of chivalry and striving to improve oneself.
At the end of the year, those that completed the criteria, were knighted. The ceremony was held in our church, again, not affiliated with the school but looking sufficiently suitable for a medieval ceremony. Each student presented their sword to the king and queen, had their accomplishments read aloud, and were knighted in the name of God, St. George, and St. Micheal – they were knighted Knights of Their Life.
May he always remember the lessons he has learned about good and evil, about doing the right thing, about helping his fellow community members. Those are the keystones of education that he needs to retain, long after the quadratic formula has faded from his mind.