The Waldorf Program
With over 800 Waldorf schools throughout the world, thousands of children have benefited from Waldorf education since the first school opened its doors in 1919. Based on teaching principles put forth by scientist Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf schools focus on the development of the child as a whole. Learning is through a series of unique activities that target the advancement of mind, body, and soul in whatever academic and non-academic subject taught.
Waldorf schools are unlike any other private or independent school for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school levels. In each grade, teachers instill a sense of enthusiasm for learning, allowing students to initiate and achieve greater success in their education. To facilitate the learning process, teachers use the most suitable techniques in their repertoire that consider the age of their students' physical and mental being. For example, elementary students at Waldorf Schools aged 7 to approximately 14 years old learn through artistic mediums such as drawing. Once they reach high school, the focus shifts to more direct intellectual stimulation.
The Arrowsmith Program
Barbara Arrowsmith Young, who devised the Arrowsmith program, recalls that as a child she "read everything backwards." Getting into education was a way of solving her own problems, she says, and it wasn't until she was doing her master's degree in 1978 that she came across Russian research that described her disabilities exactly.
Young's program is now used not only at her own Arrowsmith School but in two Toronto-area separate schools. There's no glossing over the fact that her approach is rigorous. The 20 children at her school, aged from six to 17, spend part of each day on computer programs designed to re-wire their brains.
If you switch on one of the computers at Arrowsmith School, Arabic appears on the screen. It's not that the children are learning Arabic, Young says. They are learning to recognize the symbols for "cat," for instance, and then to pick out those symbols in a page of Arabic writing. It's training the brain to recognize symbols independent of the lettering we see all around us.
After three or four years in the program, children return to regular schooling with the tools for learning, and Arrowsmith claims an 80 per cent success record.