Frequently Asked Questions for prospective parents, students and friends of the school:
What is Steiner Education?
Steiner or Waldorf Education was first developed by Rudolf Steiner a century ago in response to calls for a healthy alternative to modern mainstream schooling. Steiner Education aims to educate towards the healthy development of the whole child – the head, the heart and the hands. It is one of the fastest growing educational movements worldwide.
The aim of the journey at Sophia Mundi is the formation of creative, inspired and positive young adults who can think, judge and act freely and responsibly. We work towards the development of a young person nourished not only by the intellectual content of academic learning, but also emotionally by artistic learning and practically by “hands on” learning. We strive towards a human excellence that shines in the students’ sense of goodness, their sense of belonging and the clarity of their thinking. Ultimately we dedicate ourselves to values not usually prioritized in modern education systems because we want a student who can not only succeed at school or in a particular field of work, but in life as an emotionally healthy and responsible individual.
Is Steiner Education religious?
This is not a religious education, but neither does it espouse merely materialistic values. We do not teach religious doctrine or engage children in church practices. Whatever elements of traditional religion that are taught in our classrooms are taught strictly from a historical and/or cultural framework (for instance, Greek mythology, Hebraic stories, Australian Dreaming stories). But with this said, we do commit ourselves to a spiritually rich and inspired life for ourselves, our students and our community.
Rudolf Steiner had a great deal to say about spiritual life, and he explained his understandings in enormous detail. A cursory glance over his many books and lectures will show that he covered many topics related to both Western and Eastern spiritual practices and beliefs. It is important to note that these aspects of Steiner’s lectures have no explicit relevance to the education we offer. These aspects for Steiner’s work are strictly for adults, and entirely up to the adult individual to seek out or not. Steiner’s spiritual insights are not for children and though they may inspire our teaching, we do not teach the content of his spirituality in our lessons.
What we are committed to nurturing at our school is far more simple. The spirituality we embrace is one entirely in keeping with a modern, scientific world and the challenges we face today. A love of life, of people and the Earth; a sense of truth, beauty and goodness; a faith in the individual’s potential think, judge and act freely; we understand these values as the pillars on which a modern spiritual life is created.
Why do some children learn to read later?
It is true that children in Steiner schools learn to read around two years later than in most other schools. Firstly, this is because children begin schooling in Steiner education at an older age than mainstream schools (in their seventh year). Secondly, reading is not understood as a separate skill to be developed independently for its own sake, but rather as an integrated part of the child’s learning and development. Understood this way, reading is one part of an integrated fabric of learning that includes the child’s kinetic skills, emotional skills and social skills (especially their listening and aural comprehension). We are committed that if a child develops in these ways at an early stage they will better be able to develop higher literary skills in subsequent years. And so it is in our school. Pupils start formal learning, such as the alphabet and numbers, between the sixth and seventh birthday when we believe children are ready and can approach this challenge with ease and with great enthusiasm. Having had their foundational learning skills nurtured students rapidly develop in their reading and writing skills over the next years. By middle primary they are engaging with the great ancient literatures of the world and by class 8 they and learning Chaucer and performing Shakespeare. Steiner education takes things slow, allows the foundations of literacy to develop, but it is anything but an alternative to literacy and literature. It is a highly literate curriculum.
Why is Sophia Mundi offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma for years 11 and 12?
Sophia Mundi Steiner School is committed to fostering a learning community with an international standard of excellence and is determined to provide graduating pathways that can reflect the essence of Steiner education in a Senior College. Sophia Mundi is attracted by the International curriculum focus, academic rigour and development of analytical and critical thinking skills development across all disciplines and the continuation of student involvement in the community, creative pursuits and activity which the IB Diploma Programme brings. The Diploma Programme continues to work in a threefold manner (thinking, feeling and willing) that we value so highly in Steiner education.
The International Baccalaureate Organization’s philosophy supports that of Sophia Mundi’s mission statement to educate towards freedom.
The balance of the Diploma Programme and Vocational pathways is particularly beneficial to the education of our students with universities becoming increasingly concerned with the narrow focus of most students’ educational contexts.
How much does it cost?
Our Fee Policy and current fee schedule are provided on our Parent Handbook and Policies page.
What is the school vision?
The school vision is described in our Governance page.
What have prior students done?
Past students from Sophia Mundi have gone on to a range of tertiary courses and employment types. Graduates of Sophia Mundi have been offered tertiary places in a range of courses including: Arts (Photography), Applied Design, Social Sciences, Social Work, Emergency Medicine, Architectural Drafting, Outdoor Education, Resort Management, Liberal Arts, Homeopathy, Sound Engineering, Nursing, Marketing, Multimedia Arts. Others have gone on to apprenticeships and other workplaces that suit their talents.
How big is the school? What are class sizes?
Sophia Mundi has one class in each year level from Prep to year 12. Average class sizes are 16-22 pupils. In some cases our senior school class sizes are smaller. We have approximately 200 students.
How can I help the school?
As a parent, staff member, student, past member or other friend of the school there’s lots that you can become involved in. Some of the groups that operate within the school include:
Working bees: we have a working bee roughly once a term – gardening, maintaining and building playground equipment, spring cleaning – as well as joining in coffee cake and BBQs. Please feel free to join us or help the committee with organisation of the working bees.
Canteen: we have a very dedicated team of canteen volunteers who provide lunches on a regular basis. They would love a hand!
Spring Fair: we have an annual fair in October/ November which is organised and run by volunteers. It’s a great day out made even better by helping out.
These and other groups, with contact details, are listed towards the back of the Parents Handbook page.
How can I find out more?
Contact the School Principal through the office on 03 9419 9229