The Bulletin

How do Finnish Schools Excel? A Comparison to Waldorf Education


Chicago Waldorf School long-time veteran grade school teacher, Carol Triggiano, reflects on some of the similarities between the core principles of Waldorf Education and the Finnish educational system that makes them such vibrant, successful and widely respected educational models. In her article, she writes,

"I recently heard Pasi Sahlberg, director general of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation in Finland’s Ministry of Education, speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival about why Finland ranks first with the best school system in the world. His best-selling book, Finnish Lessons, has inspired educators and parents to reevaluate how we educate children and has prompted discussion on how we can institute change. While Sahlberg’s ideas seem radical in the light of American standards, they reaffirmed to me the value of a Waldorf education.

Sahlberg compared the Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM) to a cancerous virus that has spread worldwide. Over the last forty years schools have operated on a philosophy that promotes ideas such as, competition, standardization, test based accountability and education as an industry.

That approach has netted us an overall decrease in skills, a huge jump in the ADHD diagnoses, children on medication and an alarming increase in adolescent suicide. Something clearly is not working.

Sahlberg went on to describe how the “Finnish way” has transformed their educational system into the pinnacle of success. I would like to compare how Waldorf education has been following most of these key principles for almost one hundred years..."


Triggiano goes on to catalogue about 10 commonly held core values that have been essential to Waldorf education since its founding in 1917. To read her perspective in its entirety SEE THE PDF linked above.

Experience Waldorf Education in our April 10th Open House

New to Waldorf?
Interested individuals are welcome to visit and see our class curriculum firsthand.

All are welcome to attend this opportunity to see the students and teachers engaged in morning lessons; observe High School topics classes, world language and handwork classes. You can visit your child's classroom or see other grades to get a full sense of the scope of the Waldorf curriculum arc. Its a great way to see the social interactions and unique aspects of Waldorf education in action!

Chicago Waldorf School's Open House

Thursday April 10th  -  8:00am - noon

Please RSVP to reserve your seat now (spaces are limited).


Here is the schedule of lesson plans you can visit:

GRADE SCHOOL Morning Lessons (8:00 - 10:00am)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
1st Chris Kuck Arithmetic
2nd Megan Rotko Arithmetic
3rd Becky Moskowitz Play Practice, Hebrew Scriptures
4th Nancy Szymanski Local Geography and History
5th Carol Triggiano Ancient Greece
6th John Trevillion Astronomy
7th Karen Hartz Treasure Island Play Practice
8th Lauri Sullivan Modern History





HIGH SCHOOL Topics Classes (7:55 - 9:35am)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
9th Michael Holdrege Geology
10th Barbara Huckabay Classical History
11th John Denman Astronomy
12th David Massie Transcendentalists
12th Jim Kotz Biochemistry



GRADE SCHOOL World Language Classes (10:30 - 11:15am)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
2nd Ashley Gambill German
3rd Ileana Valencia Spanish


GRADE SCHOOL Handwork Classes (11:15 - Noon)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
2nd Patricia Holdrege Handwork
8th Ashley Gambill German


RSVP by Friday, April 4th

to Jeremiah Davis in the Main Office or 773.465.2662

Event Registration Details:
• Space is limited—first come, first served. 12 visitors per class. (EXCEPT FOR 1ST GRADE—LIMIT IS 8)
• Arrive by 7:45am, sign in at the Main Entrance and receive your room assignment
• Parents & Guests may observe any 1st-12th grade morning lesson, but can only choose one.
• Parents may stay and observe a world language and/or handwork class following the morning lessons
• Parents must be able to stay for the entire lesson. We ask that you not leave mid-lesson.
• Early Childhood classes are NOT open for visitors, but we strongly encourage Early Childhood parents to observe a grade or high school class

Reserve Your Seats Now!  Limited seating is available.

CWS Alumna, Laura Holdrege, Travels in Nicaragua & Mexico

For those of you who know Laura Holdrege (CWS class of 2011), it will come as no surprise that she is spending many months in adventure, travel, collaboration and work in Latin America. She spent her time volunteering and studying at the Mariposa Spanish Language School in San Juan, Masaya, Nicaragua before pursuing further travels. But you may not know that she is also authoring a web travelogue to chronicle her journey. Follow her blog to see one Waldorf alumna's experiences post-graduation. In her introduction to her web journal, she says :

"I will be exploring Nicaragua and Mexico for the next five months and thought I would share some of my experiences along the way. I will spend three weeks at a Spanish Language School outside of Managua, Nicaragua and from there will travel to Cuernavaca, Mexico where I will spend the semester studying social work in a Latin American context."

CLICK HERE to read more about Laura's travels and see photos in her travelogue, Adventuring.

Waldorf Schools Expand in China’s Shift to “Softer Education”


In last month's Bulletin we shared an article in the New Yorker magazine about the expansive growth of Waldorf schools in China. Now here is a second article, "The Rise of Alternative Education in China" from CNN about China's cultural shift from state-run schools to more humanist centered models of education. Here is the introduction to the artice (which you can read in full on the CNN website).

"When five-year-old Xiao Ge starts primary school in Guangzhou next year, she won't endure strict discipline and mountains of homework. Unlike the school life of most children in China, her days will be filled with art, music and creative learning at a private Waldorf school. Xiao is part of a fast-growing number of Chinese children whose parents are turning their backs on the state-run education system, which is based on rote learning and limited critical thinking. Instead, they are choosing independently-run schools that use the Waldorf, Montessori, or Reggio Emilia pedagogies.

Despite a lack of regulation over these schools, parents prefer the humanistic approach of these classrooms and the perceived softer learning environment. "Compared with studying under the public system, my daughter will get a healthier education and life here," says Xiao's mother, Lu Dan, when we met at the Hairong Waldorf School Xiao is attending in the southeastern city of Guangzhou....

...China has undeniably gained the world's attention for outstanding academic performance. Shanghai's 15-year olds lead in mathematics, science and reading, as seen in the 2013 Pisa survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, rating the performance of children across 65 regions....But the "tiger mom, wolf dad" approach to education is not without consequence. Chinese youth suffer higher levels of depression and lower self-esteem than their peers elsewhere. Last autumn, a 10-year-old boy in the city of Chengdu reportedly jumped 30 floors to his death after failing to write a 1,000-word letter of self-criticism demanded by his teacher.

“Perhaps in reaction to this phenomenon, China has seen a major expansion of alternative teaching establishments. These schools emphasize a holistic approach to education and use qualitative assessment methods, especially for kindergarten and primary school students.”

While there are no official figures for the current number of alternative schools in China, headmaster Wei estimates that some 40 schools and as many as 500 kindergartens operate across the country. His own primary school and three kindergartens in Guangzhou have about 300 students, each paying CNY40,000 (US$6,500) a year, with 300 more queuing to get in."

Click here to continue reading the article in its entirety at the CNN website, via the "On China" bureau. 
Photo credit: Johan Nylander

For more articles (and videos of news coverage) on Waldorf education please visit Waldorf In the News.



Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble Performs at CWS

We have a very unique opportunity this Friday from the Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble. Come join us for children-focused day performances and an adult evening performance from this exceptional ensemble.


The Tide Is Turning
Friday March 28th    /   7:30-9:00pm        in the auditorium 

This full evening program (for adults and grades 7-12 grade students) opens dramatically with a speech piece inspired by Chief Seattle calling us to awaken to our responsibility to this earth and to our fellow human beings. An accompanying tone piece, Bela Bartok in Memoriam by Gyorgy Ligeti deepens this call - and continues to develop through Sweet Honey in the Rock by E. Ethelbert Miller, music by Kurtag and ESV's pianist, Marcus Macauley and Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.

The program continues with light tone pieces, humorous pieces of poetry, and a lovely colorful piece by Dmitri Shostakovich, Op. 87 Prelude & Fugue No. 7 in A major. The program ends with an inspiring poem by Hilda Doolittle and a glorious closing with Ballade in G minor by Frederic Chopin.
             -  No admission fee; donations gratefully accepted at the door

Karen and Mark Lohss (alumni parents) are making the Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble performances at our school possible through a generous gift.  Also come see our Waldorf alumni and faculty perform: Averi Lohss, a CWS alum, and Elsa Macauley, an Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program graduate, are both members of the company.