High School

We must strive to educate in such a way that the intellect, which awakens at puberty, can then find its nourishment in the child’s own nature. If during the child’s earlier school years s/he has stored up an inner treasury of riches through imitation, through her deep feeling for the [beloved teacher’s] authority, and from the pictorial character of what she has been taught, then at puberty these inner riches can be transmuted into intellectual content. [The teen] will now be faced with the task of thinking what up until now he has willed and felt and we must take the very greatest care that this intellectual thinking does not appear too early. For a human being can only come to an experience of freedom if his or her intellectuality awakens from within of itself. But it must not awaken in poverty of soul.

-Rudolf Steiner

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Dear friends,

I spent many years working with teens, as a teacher and as a youth worker. I developed a very flowing and spontaneous method of teaching. Firmly grounded in the anthroposophical picture of the developing teen, this approach allowed me to really meet the needs of the students I worked with. I could adapt my teaching style and take quite a creative and broad view of what was possible academically for each youth. This worked extremely well and I was able to, on the one hand, challenge those who excelled academically, and on the other hand, tailor expectations so that those who struggled could succeed.

When I launched my Christopherus distance programs for teens, I took this same approach. A year later I see that while this works wonderfully in person, it has not worked so well at a distance. Parent and student expectations, for the most part, do not allow for the rather spontaneous and flowing method I described. When I worked within a school (or through charter and homeschool classes) the structure helped form parental and student expectations. And, most critically, because we were together, because we had human relationships not mediated by technology, we could take risks, bend rules, and foster the love and trust needed to really develop a meaningful teacher-student relationship. And parents could see the value in that. I could teach in the way that I excel in—and students could reap the benefits.

And so, with reluctance and sadness, I need to let folks know that Christopherus will not be pursuing any distance learning programs with teens. I had considered webinars with older students (16—19) but for me to work in the way I need to, deep trust based on good relationships needs to be created. Several really painful experiences this past year have showed me that such relationships need to be in person. And even when the classes have gone well, because we are at a distance, I simply cannot teach in the way my heart requires. I simply cannot standardize my teaching–but that is exactly what technology and distance learning demands.



Preparing for Ninth Grade:
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“I have collaborated with Donna in various editing roles over the last five years and have been impressed with her skills as a writer and editor. She has the rare capacity to see how a piece of writing could be improved allied with the interest in discovering what the author really wants to say, not converting the piece into something she would have written herself. She brought her talent to bear both in editing Perspectives,(English-language journal of the Christian Community, the church inspired by the work of R Steiner) and in a writing project I was completing, where her help was invaluable in bringing a vast amount of material and ideas into a readable form (see Tom Ravetz, The Incarnation)”

-Tom Ravetz, priest and regional coordinator of the Christian Community in Great Britain and Ireland

I just wanted to say that I really appreciate all that you’ve done for me. I feel like I’m a better writer thanks to you because you set the bar high for my work and always encouraged me. I loved the way you taught history by looking at the big picture and the similarities between the different cultures. I really learned a lot from that. I’m extremely grateful that you were my teacher this year, and I loved being in your class.

Thank you, Soumia H, Florida

A decade ago you helped us on our homeschool journey in Sydney, Australia, and I will always be grateful for the beautiful education Christopherus helped us build for our son. Today he drove himself to University to study engineering. Christopherus played in a part in that, so thank you for bringing peace, beauty and courage to our journey. DW, Australia

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© 2023 Donna Simmons

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