How well do today’s schools educate for tomorrow’s world? At Maine Coast Waldorf School we go beyond imparting knowledge and skills; we build capacities for self-reliance, independent thinking, creativity, and empathy. These qualities are inherent to our approach.
By high school, students are asking questions that have complex answers, about themselves, about their world, and about knowledge itself. A Waldorf education serves the questioning quality of teenage years well; students draw on our rich interdisciplinary studies to find multiple ways of knowing, thinking, and being to find new connections to themselves and the world. Students discover mathematical principles underlying their study of poetry and music; they consider a line of Emily Dickinson’s poetry in the light of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity; they make Aztec-inspired clay masks as they explore the encounter between the Old and New Worlds in 1492. The work is demanding, which is part of what makes it so rewarding.
Our small size, deep relationships, and culture of openness allow our teachers to conduct college seminar-style classes in a high school setting. For our teachers, writing college recommendations comes effortlessly because they know each student on multiple levels: as a learner, a creator, a community member, and an individual. We often hear that recommendations from our teachers are striking in their depth and richness, a noteworthy reflection in that the teacher recommendation is an increasingly important way to distinguish students in a highly competitive landscape.
College Admissions counselors recognize that Waldorf students come to college with exceptional problem-solving skills and the curiosity to find new problems to solve. Working for the experience rather than the grade, connecting with others, and knowing yourself as a learner are all crucial to success in college–and in life. Although MCWS students are diverse, these are traits they share by graduation day.
For students who have grown up in Waldorf schools, the high school years complete a circle: the fairy tales that nourish first graders also develop the imaginative faculties high school students rely upon when they delve into the more adult tales of Gilgamesh, Odysseus, Hamlet and Faust. Simple form drawings that second graders practice transform into explorations regarding the nature of infinity in eleventh grade projective geometry. The French and German songs they learn in the elementary school often lead to a term abroad at age 16 or 17 in Switzerland or Germany or France.
For students new to Waldorf, Maine Coast offers a welcoming environment with personal support, attention, and a range of activities for students to find new strengths and interests. They are also not alone in their transition. Approximately 15% of our high school students join us from other educational settings.
Survey of Waldorf Graduates
In recent years, the Research Institute for Waldorf Education conducted an extensive survey of graduates from Waldorf high schools throughout North America and found the following:
- 94% attended college or university
- 42% chose sciences or math as a major
- 47% chose humanities or arts as a major
- 89% are highly satisfied in their choice of occupation
- 91% are active in lifelong education
- 92% placed a high value on critical thinking
- 90% highly value tolerance of other viewpoints
Three Key Findings about Waldorf Graduates were revealed through this survey:
- Waldorf graduates think for themselves and value the opportunity to translate their new ideas into practice. They both value and practice lifelong learning and have a highly developed sense for aesthetics.
- Waldorf graduates value lasting human relationships – and they seek out opportunities to be of help to other people.
- Waldorf graduates are guided by an inner moral compass that helps them navigate the trials and temptations of professional and private life. They carry high ethical principles into their chosen professions.