The Casuarina school for Steiner Education is a member school of Steiner Education Australia. The Casuarina school is founded on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) and his picture of human growth and development.
To teach a child, a teacher must understand the developmental level of each year level. They must truly know the children in their care, to understand their phases of growth, physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually. Only by having a holistic understanding of child development, can teachers bring a comprehensive curriculum to each child.
Though Steiner brought his indications to the world at the beginning of the 20th century, they are even more important today, as children will grow up to be young people ready to face a world of sophisticated technology, global citizenship, significant environmental challenges and a global economy. To be able to understand the world, a child must first know him/herself, feel confident and empowered to achieve his/her potential in life. Steiner education aims to do that.
Steiner identified 3 distinct stages:
- From birth to the change of teeth at around 7, the child learns about his world through action, based upon imitation. In Early Childhood the curriculum and activities are based upon the child’s ability to imitate.
- From 7 to around 14 when a child relates to the world much more through their imagination, the pedagogy devotes itself to bringing an academic and global curriculum in an imaginative way.
- From 14 to 21 a young person learns to think rationally and critically. Teachers in the High School must be masters of their subjects to meet the needs of this age.
Out of this understanding of human development a truly comprehensive curriculum has been developed and it is delivered in over 1000 Steiner Schools world-wide.
Rudolf Steiner was a scientist, educator, philosopher, artist and ‘a universal genius in an age of specialists’. He had an unusually deep insight into human nature.
It is out of this insight that he was able to offer an artistic, academic and creative pedagogical style. A company owned by the wealthy Astor family contracted Rudolf Steiner to offer his method of education to local children in Waldorf, Germany. He wrote several books which continue to be studied for their observations of human nature and the development of self.
Rudolf Steiner called his ideas about the world and humanity Anthroposophy. He wanted to indicate the difference from his ideas and the philosophies developed by others before him. Anthroposophy has influenced agriculture, medicine, care for the disabled, the arts, architecture, banking and business and continues to be studied world wide.
Class Teacher Period – Class 1 to Class 7
One of the fundamental principles of Steiner Education is the profound importance of the class teacher and the long-term relationship between the teacher and the class. During their years together, children build very strong relationships with the children of their class and their families and their Class Teacher. Teachers come to know where each child needs further development in the academic, artistic and social spheres of their lives. The constancy of the class teacher in their lives also brings a feeling of a family group to the class. We have seen that many friendships among Steiner graduates last well into and beyond high school.
Where possible, a Class Teacher will be with his/her class for up to 7 years. During that time, relationships between teacher and students will go through different stages. The Class Teacher changes their teaching style at each year level, according to the developmental needs of the class.
When there is tension in the relationship, it can be seen as an opportunity to change, and the Class Teacher does everything possible to remedy any situation. Support is available from the College of Teachers and the Principal if needed.
Class Teachers, because of the length of time they stay with their students, have a long-term perspective – it is more like a family dynamic, where difficulties can arise between family members, but which need to be dealt with in a loving and understanding way. Additionally, during the Class Teacher journey, a real partnership develops between teacher and the families of the children, again providing a strong base for resolving differences. Sometimes however, despite all efforts, the situation cannot be healed and this must also be accepted.
At Casuarina Steiner School, there is a strong emphasis on Professional Development. The Class Teacher is the stable, enduring element in the child’s education in primary years and is also a life-long learner so keeps up to date with educational trends and requirements.
It is seen as very healthy for the class to experience a wide range of teachers and personalities on a regular basis. Casuarina currently employs specialist teachers for Gumbaynggirr Aboriginal Language, Japanese Language, Violin for Classes 3-7, and Choir. We also have extra support for students with additional needs, literacy and numeracy if needed.
Students play many types of games during recreation periods, including soccer. Casuarina Steiner School also provides a range of physical education activities as part of their lessons. In the early years, the focus is on movement, co-operative games, balance and acquiring simple ball skills. As the children develop, a larger variety of sporting activities are offered – both team sports and individual sports. The attitude to Sport however is that it is played for exercise, health, agility and enjoyment – the competitive element is not particularly stressed, but rather the co-operative element. Specialists are often called in for Gymnastics, Swimming, Surfing and Circus. There is a strong emphasis on Outdoor Education, with Class camps from Class 1 through to Class 7, leading to challenging programs with the older students.
Competition versus Co-operation
It may well be said that the only worthwhile competition is with yourself, to outgrow what you are and to strive to become what you might become. The question is not so much whether or not you are better than another but rather whether you are the best you can be. Steiner schools prefer to encourage aspiration rather than competition. How people cope in a competitive world depends on their self-esteem. If they leave school with an inner confidence in their ability to grow to meet the demands of a situation, they will be able to live their lives positively and constructively. A teacher will encourage each student to be the best that s/he can be and find many opportunities to acknowledge to the whole class achievements of individual students as they show particular strengths. Similarly, as students overcome weaknesses, the whole class celebrates their successes.
Casuarina Steiner School has a strong emphasis on Technology, starting in the younger years with wood, food and craft technologies, and using a wide variety of tools. As the children progress through the Primary years they learn about the evolution of technology.
With Information Technology they begin from the time of the earliest writings – how writing developed across the world, leading to the evolution of printing and the ever expanding world of technology today. Networked computers are installed in the senior class room, lessons are provided in their use and children use them for creative projects, research and report preparation as well as using them in a variety of ways to understand how they are used in the world. The creative element is important so students may use digital photography and other resources to combine a variety of technology into any single project.
Homework is required of children from Class 2 onwards. It is age appropriate and we have a comprehensive homework policy for parents and students to understand what is expected. The emphasis is on completion, practice and revision, and is relevant to the current class topic.
Casuarina Steiner School aims to cultivate the individual in each child and considers that this would not be supported by all children wearing the same clothes, therefore we do not have a uniform. There is a School dress code that limits the sorts of clothing worn by children so that it is safe, practical and age-appropriate. View School Guidelines.
Transition to High School
Experience shows us that our graduates successfully integrate into other schools when they enter Year 8. Many of our students have been prominent in High School awards presentations as they progress through high school and at least one has been a high school captain. Each year we conduct Class 7 Information Nights where we invite previous students to come and talk about their experiences and transition into a variety of high schools in the area. This is a wonderful opportunity for current parents to ask questions and see for themselves how self-assured, well-spoken and confident our graduates are.
The seasons and cultural festivals are celebrated to bring awareness to the children of the greater rhythms in nature and the world around them. The Harvest festival in Autumn, the mid-Winter festival on the solstice, Spring and the approach of Summer and Christmas are all celebrated with community events, songs, poems, dance, plays and food. In our busy lives today, there is often a lack of tradition, time to stop and reflect, and to be part of a wider community. These opportunities are highly valued by the children, their families and the staff and at each Festival ex-students and their families return to experience this sense of community togetherness.
The School is operated by a Cooperative, the Casuarina School for Rudolf Steiner Education Cooperative Limited, the membership of which is mostly made up of parents and teachers. There is an elected Board of 8 Directors responsible for governance of the school. There is a College of Teachers and a Principal that the Board charges with managing the education and cultural life of the school, and the Principal oversees the day-to-day operation of the school and its staff.
Our school is non-denominational. Rudolf Steiner was a Christian but the education system he developed includes lessons on many religions and no single religion is taught over an extended period. Students will learn about Old Testament stories from the Bible but will also learn about Aboriginal stories and songs, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, as well as other religions of the world.