I attended Constantia Waldorf from 2005 to 2007 (I transferred from Michael Oak when they finished in grade 10 and did grade 11, 12 and 13 at Constantia).
Coming to Constantia from Michael Oak I felt that suddenly my world had massively expanded. While Constantia felt a lot “bigger”, looking back I still appreciate the attention that teachers put into each student (even when we fought them a bit). I had some incredible teachers, biology, science, English, subjects which came alive with teachers making great efforts to ensure that we felt the relevance of the academic content. Making cheese in biology taught my more about ecosystems than the many hours pouring over textbooks did, and it ensured that I stayed invested in the work. I will always appreciate the Waldorf focus on head, heart and will.
It’s hard for me to say what impact Waldorf had on me as I have nothing to compare it to, but certainly Waldorf education has shaped me into who I am. I have always been quite headstrong and I found the fact that teachers encouraged learning by making it seem meaningful to be very important to me. Since leaving Constantia I have come across some fairly repressive teaching styles and it has made me aware of how lucky I am to have had such enabling teachers. They ensured I never lost my passion for learning, something which has served me well up till today.
The Class 12 plays and the Class 12 projects helped me to grow my confidence, as only a focus on achieving things in practice really can. At university I quickly realized how much more confident I felt asking questions or raising concerns in class. I also sense that where many people focus on the instrumental value of school or work, I tend to focus on the intrinsic value of work. I believe that the fact that learning always felt meaningful for me has impacted my approach to life, and has set me on a path where I focus on doing things which I believe are important. I quite like the quote “If you do what you love then you’ll never work a day in your life”, this is what Waldorf education exemplifies to me.
After school I went on to study Social Work at UCT, and I graduated in 2012. Since then I started work at the South African Education and Environment Project doing social work. I developed and co-ordinated a career guidance project which was run at 5 high schools in Philippi with Life Orientation Teachers. Since then I’ve moved on to managing a small department within the organization, focusing on educational research and monitoring and evaluating the impact of the projects we work on. That’s what I’m currently busy with. I also facilitate an education discussion group and I am the secretary of the board of a student development society on UCT (Ubunye).
A highlight this year was being nominated as one of the Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans in the education category, which is fairly humbling, though I feel I still need to prove that the nomination was deserved.