Discovering Waldorf – ‘A Waldorf Alumni”

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Discovering Waldorf is a weekly series of articles written by ‘everyday’ Waldorf families. The contributors to this series share their ‘real-life’ insights and inspirations on all kinds of Waldorf topics. This series is not meant to be Waldorf philosophy in its purest form, but rather a snapshot of how we can all incorporate Waldorf ideas into our lives to help nurture and encourage the magic that is in our children. If you have a topic you wish to learn more about (or want to share) on Discovering Waldorf, send me an email at vined(at)ymail(dot)com.

Nadia Tan is a Waldorf Alumni. She is in her mid-twenties and, as you will soon see from Nadia’s words and photos, she is a fantastically creative young soul. I asked her to share her story with us. I’m sure I’m not alone in constantly needing to validate, to myself and others, our schooling choices for our children. I think that any parent, or even person, who deviates from the norm, needs to ask important questions of themselves and often reevaluate their decisions. For me, Nadia Tan is a wonderfully motivating snapshot of what Waldorf education offers our children. Welcome, Nadia…

* * *

I had a dream a little while ago that a wise old elephant took me by the hand and led me into the wilderness of space. Standing there in the emptiness, I witnessed the most beautiful landscapes I had ever seen, some recognizably from this earth, and others from foreign galaxies, each more breathtaking than the next. When this beautiful display ended, the elephant asked me in his deep and gentle voice: “What was the lesson?” and I whispered, “Awe.”

* * *

I was a Waldorf “lifer” – I attended from kindergarten to Grade 12. Now in my mid-twenties, living and working in the “real world”, I look back and sometimes it seems like a bit of a dream.
After graduating from high school, I went straight to university where I studied Film Production. I can’t really recall my decision to study film, but I remember that it seemed like an obvious choice. Most people expected me to go into visual arts, but it was my obsession with the camera lens, with seeing things from a different perspective, that drew me to filmmaking.
During my final years of study, I took a more serious interest and specialized in film editing. For those who don’t know, editing is the process of selecting takes from vast amounts of footage, choosing the right moments and placing them in a particular order. It is the editor’s job to establish the rhythm and pacing of the film, to work with images, dialogue, music, and actor’s performances to tell a story.
I can directly link my interest in storytelling back to my lower-school teacher, Ms. Hartford (I had the same homeroom teacher from Grade 1-8). She was a master storyteller, spinning tales based on her childhood while we worked on our main-lesson books, painted with watercolors or worked on various crafts.

History lessons were really story time, we learned about the Middle Ages through the stories of knights questing for the Holy Grail; we learned about Ireland through The King of Ireland’s Son; we learned about Finland through the epic Kalevala; we learned about India through the Mahabharata and the Ramayana; we learned about Ancient Mesopotamia through the Epic of Gilgamesh.
She never read to us. She would tell these stories to us without the aid of text, bringing them to life right before our eyes, filling us all with a sense of wonder. These stories were epic sagas, full of danger, romance and adventure.

* * *

Working as a freelance film editor, there is usually a bit of downtime between jobs. During this time, I tend to get restless, and an urge to create things begins to take hold. I like to work on little art projects, drawing, painting, knitting, sewing, sculpting.

To me, it is important to create a balance between the more cerebral activity of editing stories, and the more tactile process of using my hands to create things.

I suppose I seem to lead a bit of a double life, working in the film industry, and working on my art projects (for which I’ve recently opened a brand new online shop!), but only by other people’s standards – it’s a perfect balance for me.

* * *

I know many Waldorf parents worry about how their child will cope in the “real world” which is such a harsh environment compared with the gentle Waldorf classroom. But I think that Waldorf education – while it is not perfect, as no education system really is – creates an environment for children to develop into whole individuals, educated through head, heart and hands. And who better to face this harsh world than a human being who is strong and whole?

And I suppose I am also very grateful that there is an entire industry based solely on telling stories, and that people are willing to pay to watch these stories, and that I am paid to edit them.

* * *

Though my school years are becoming a bit of a distant memory, I am very grateful that I was able to attend a school with such an intelligent education system.
Waldorf was my elephant, guiding me to see things from a unique perspective, inspiring me with wonder and awe, so that nothing in this world is ordinary, and everything is extraordinary.

* * *

I need to say nothing more than I am in awe of you, Nadia. Thank you for sharing such beautiful insights into the gifts your Waldorf education helped you find.

Nadia has a blog, Little Projectiles, and Etsy shop, Little Projectiles, and a website. Visit them all to see what this inspirational artist is up to.

Here are the other article in the Discovering Waldorf series.

Blessings and magic,


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4 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I love to read success stories like this. It really does validate some of the decisions I make for my children.

  2. Wow! I’m teary now. SO nice to hear from a Waldorf alumni. Makes me think I’m pretty happy with my Waldorf homeschooling choice.

    What a beautiful dream, so meaningful. Thank you Nadia for sharing!

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