Origins of My Dedication to Learning

Attending the Green Mountain Waldorf School from pre-school through eighth grade had a very profound impact on me and remains a strong influence on the person I am today. Because of the unique Waldorf educational experience, I developed a strong dedication to learning, deep community values and a self-motivated curiosity.

The further I've gotten into the college application process, the more I have realized that my experiences before ninth grade were in many ways more important to my development than the years spent in high school. The way I learn, think and apply myself today seems to originate from my years at the Waldorf School.

One distinguishing feature of the Waldorf philosophy that has greatly influenced me is the absence of grades (numerical evaluation). Along with my years at Burke Mountain Academy, I have had a grade-free education for nearly my whole life. In my early years of school, my imagination and spirit of curiosity were allowed to grow free from externally imposed motivation. This environment fostered an intrinsic love of learning, inspiring self-motivation as my path towards achievement. Today, I continue to approach school in this way, as something that I embrace, not as an obligation or requirement.

The Waldorf curriculum I followed was arts-based and holistic. Movement, handwork, music, art, drama and age-appropriate academics combined to form a learning environment that helped lay the foundation for creative thinking. It also led to many of my hobbies today, such as knitting, sewing, violin, painting and drawing which are still important to me as a means of growth and expression.

In congruence with a curriculum that "nurtures the whole child," the recommendation in Waldorf Schools is to limit the exposure to pop media for young children. For me, this meant an absence of any kind of television in my home during those years. This allowed my childhood to be filled with books, unstructured play, telling stories, reading and my own activities and imagination. Even today, I still do not regularly watch television.

Perhaps the most lasting influence of my Waldorf years was my teacher. As in most Waldorf schools, my teacher remained with the class for all eight grades and moved up with us each year. Waldorf teachers are trained to understand children in what Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner called their "three-fold nature – mind, body and spirit." Because of this, she developed a closeness to me that allowed us to profoundly understand each other. Instead of being just an instructor whose job was to feed me information, she became a true mentor and partner in learning and growing. She remains close to me today as the person who, other than my parents, has quite possibly influenced me the most in my life.

— By Elle Anderson

Elle Anderson attended the former Green Mountain Waldorf School in Wolcott, which was home to 25 percent of OVS's current families and 40 percent of our current faculty/staff. She plans to attend Dartmouth College in September and submitted this reflection as part of her college application.