Arriving in a new school was relatively daunting for me. I felt rather shy and, where I had come from, I had not felt inspired about learning and rather hopeless and that is why I had chosen to come to Stellenbosch Waldorf School. My aunt is a Waldorf teacher and she had always told me about the opportunity to have a different school experience, one where I would be encouraged to think for myself and to meet the information in a different way.
The moment I met Rein at an Open Day and Hermanus at my interview I had made my decision. I started at Stellenbosch Waldorf School in the second term of Class 9 and was promptly put on a stage and given a character to act out in a Shakespeare play. Can you believe it. I had to deal with feeling shy and reticent very quickly. It was a key experience in my life.
But the most defining factor was the acceptance I felt from my class mates. It was the strangest thing. They did not know me but they welcomed me and were interested in me. I instantly felt connected. That made all the difference. I found it easy to speak to them and I felt I could start letting go of the anxiety of being in a new school and enjoy what was coming to meet me.
And enjoy I have, the whole long and often difficult, but mostly inspiring education journey. I also loved that I could really talk to the teachers. They were not up on a pedestal, I could really engage with them.
I have just received my Cambridge exit exam results and I am overwhelmed with joy, relief and surprise as I received an A in art and a university exemption. Wow. I have been accepted at Stellenbosch University to continue to study Art.
It has all been worth it and it is absolutely due to the approach to my learning at Stellenbosch Waldorf School. I was encouraged to think outside the box. I was invited to learn through a creative lens all the time, supported by teachers who were open and not closed, which is what I had experienced in other school situations.
The school does not exclude students who feel they do not have artistic ability. The way main lessons are approached means all students are invited to participate creatively. We are not asked to narrow our learning and choose subjects, which is what my downfall would have been in another school, I think. I would not have chosen to do art. I had loved drawing my whole life, but I did not know that this is what I wanted to focus on. If I had not come to Stellenbosch Waldorf School I would have missed out on my whole future.
The main lessons are fascinating, they seem unconventional in relation to other curriculums, but they are so enlightening, particularly the ones toward the end of high school such as Architecture and Philosophy. It gives you a new perspective and invites you to see the world in a different way.
I also loved the drama I explored at the school and outside. It helped me develop and gain confidence which then supported my school work. The practical lessons such as craft helped me to develop other skills and I was able to see what I could create. My school was not only about accumulating marks, but also about growing as a person. The school and community support you right the way through until the end.
The Class 12 project was a breakthrough when I produced a stop-motion video and so many people came to me afterwards and commented and congratulated me. I was able to see myself through my teachers, my classmates and my school community. I was awe-struck that this creation could invoke excitement and inspiration in people. I want to do more of this, I thought to myself. I then realised I could do so much more.
Thank you to the teachers for pushing me and keeping me on the right track. Thank you for your guidance and belief in me. Thank you that Waldorf Schools exist – if they did not people like me would fall by the wayside. I would not have found my true path.
Vincent achieved a HESA Pass, which is equivalent to a Matric Bachelors Pass. He received an A in Art. Congratulations Vincent, who has gone on to study Art at Stellenbosch University. Vincent, please visit us often to bring us news from what is happening in the wider art world.