By the time our son was in pre-school, we already knew that we didn’t want to send him to a regular public school. My husband grew up in the Israeli school system and didn’t like the way it had evolved over the years and I, who had grown up in an idyllic small town in Upstate New York, was disturbed by the prospect of turning my son over to a seemingly problematic educational system that I could hardly relate to at all. We examined our local options with increasing dismay; when someone mentioned Rimon, a young, growing Waldorf school about 15 minutes’ drive away, we jumped at the opportunity to check it out.
We didn’t know anything about the Waldorf philosophy (which draws on Anthroposophy) when we started, and while we were skeptical of certain aspects, there were others that resonated right from the start – the strong emphasis on creativity, learning through art and music, the connection to nature and an appreciation for spiritual values, to name just a few. I have fond memories of the art and music classes that were an integral part of the elementary school I attended, and Rimon seemed to present a curriculum that touched on the best parts of the public school education I’d received. I’d be lying if I said we were completely sold, but given that the pros (including the fact that our local elementary school had approximately 40 children in each first grade class as opposed to the less than 30 students we could expect at Rimon) far outweighed the cons, we decided to go for it.
And the leap of faith we took when we chose a Waldorf school just over three years ago (and in Israel, sending one’s children to an “alternative” school such as a Waldorf or Democratic school is often perceived as such) was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. At a time when so many of today’s educators sound tired and burned out, I’m so grateful for the dedication shown to my son and his friends, the enthusiasm they share and the incredible environment they’ve created. I love that my son is inspired to be the best him that he can be, that time is spent nurturing both his mind and his soul and that his teachers strive to instill a thirst for learning as something joyous instead of a singular fast and furious need to fill his head with dry facts to be spewed on tests. I love that the number of cell phones among the entire student body can probably be counted on less than two hands and use of technology such as computers, tablets and the like is generally frowned upon. Children are encouraged to exercise their imaginations to the fullest, and I can see that reflected in the way my son often chooses to spend his free time drawing and creating.
No less important is what Rimon has given us as a family, though. In the three years that we’ve been there, we’ve discovered a warm, welcoming community. I’ve found wonderful friends, people with whom I enjoy spending time both inside and outside of the school framework. As parents, we take an active role in the direction that our school will take, participating in different groups and committees that enable us to move forward and grow. As a community, we come together for school celebrations and other activities. And as friends, we meet up for parties and to cool off during hot summer days at a local swimming pool (while awaiting notice of a possible date for a pub night…). I love the friendly connections that I have with members of the teaching staff and their families (especially my son’s class teacher – I can’t believe how blessed we are), some of whom, have shown a keen interest in joining us for said pub night… After living in our town for more than 15 years, I can finally say that I feel like I’m part of a community.
I realize that it may sound strange to display such strong feelings about a school. Quite honestly, when we met with a friend whose children also attend Rimon prior to enrolling our son, some of what he told us sounded… well… weird. His talk about “the community” struck us as being odd, and we wondered – not without some trepidation – what we were getting ourselves into. And yet here I am, three years later, feeling very much a part of that same community and grateful that we’ve been able to give our son such an amazing educational and life opportunity. How lucky are we?
This entry was posted in Daily life, Education, Family, Friendships, Parenting, Self-Reflection and tagged Anthroposophy, community, Education, Pardes Hannah, Rimon, Rudolf Steiner, school, Waldorf, אנתרופוסופיה, בית ספר, וולדורף, חינוך, ישראל, פרדס חנה, רימון by Liza Rosenberg