Review: I wanted to like this book. I paid $8 for a used copy on Amazon since my library has a shockingly nonexistent collection of Waldorf reference material, a subject which I would like to learn more about. The basis for the book is fascinating. A class of twenty plus students has the same teacher for 8 years. The story of how the children and teacher both grow and develop in relation to each other and as individuals seems like it would be extremely interesting.
However, that’s not really what this book is about. The most glaring and frustrating absence from this book is the teacher’s relationship with his students. Sure he talks about his students and having to observe them and get to know them and treat them as individuals, and he does mention that every summer they collectively change, but the reader is not really given any of the details.
How the individual children grew over the 8 years or whether they developed an attachment with the author, who was a constant presence in their life, is unclear. Even though the book is written well after graduation, what became of the students in this experiment is also a mystery. Despite lacking in that area, the main reason I purchased this book was because I wanted to know more about the Waldorf teaching style, and I think I do, somewhat.
There is a curriculum (I wasn’t sure), but it seems to focus more on art and hands on creative endeavors and critical thinking skills than text book reading and worksheets. Also, instead of teaching all the subjects simultaneously, at least this author seemed to teach all the subjects in 3 or 4 week blocks. The author does describe some of the interesting and inventive things he does with the children, such as having them build forts in a forest before they learn about historical shelters or draw circles in the dirt before they are given compasses.
However, other parts of his instruction are surprisingly and unnecessarily detailed in my opinion. For a book that is supposed to focus on an 8 year journey, there are an astonishing number of pages spent re-telling ancient myths and historical events. The one really positive endorsement for Waldorf education that I took from this book was the children’s work. Their descriptions and poetry, of which he documents a great deal, is astonishing. I’m sure he choose the best pieces to include in his book, but still, their work definitely does not seem like it originated from someone under the age of 13. (Personal Rating: 6/10)