Engaging head, Heart and Hands through distance learning: staying focussed on what we are educating young people for
Steiner schools across Australia have been collaborating, sharing plans and approaches to remote learning within an ever-changing landscape. As would be expected in the Steiner context, there is a wealth of creative, thoughtful and deliberate responses to the current need for schools to provide a wholistic Steiner educational program that children and young people can access in the home.
Responses to these challenges reflect the school’s location and particular school culture. At the core of each school’s decision, however, lies the striving to continue to be in community when a call for isolation and distance dominates. This is a striving within our core educational purpose:to develop an individual’s moral capacity to impart purpose and direction to their lives out of free will. It is education as an art that balances not only our thinking but our senses, feelings and our will as well.
In these complex times, where there might be parental anxiety about their children ‘falling behind’ in work, we need to keep the broader purpose of education to the fore.
Parents can try to remember they are not (generally) teachers and they don’t need to be. Parents do, however, have the opportunity to draw on their own creativity in understanding what learning can involve. Homelife can support the very tenets of Steiner education by simple things, such as engaging with nature, bonding with family, learning civic responsibility, and focussing on well-being.
Steiner educators know what influences learning (Rawson,2020). Learning occurs optimally when the child is:
- relaxed and feeling safe,
- feeling wanted and welcome in the learning situation,
- embedded in and being able to participate in a learning community,
- feeling supported and having the tools needed to learn,
- feeling that the tasks are comprehensible,
- feeling that it makes sense to the learner to make the effort to participate,
- feeling attuned to the situation and awake in the relevant senses.
These things really matter to a child’s development and by focussing on them as much as possible in the home environment, children will emerge with increased resilience and an enduring love of learning.
Obviously remote learning is missing key elements held so dear to Steiner educators, students and parents alike: such as relationship with teachers, learning through being in a learning group, and rich direct experience. Nevertheless, Steiner schools have been amazing in their ingenuity, flexibility and depth of thought in providing the best possible ‘head, heart and hands’ learning programs and ways to keep connections going to help ensure positive, enriching outcomes for all.
Stay tuned, as we share examples of what Steiner schools are doing for remote learning and community building over the coming months.