Getting to Yes, And

Carol Triggiano: Chicago Waldorf School


Carol Triggiano

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Longtime Chicago Waldorf teacher Carol Triggiano sits down with Kelly to explore how the Waldorf curriculum is focused on the whole, developing child and their plans for a new outdoor space named after Kelly's daughter Nora.

Tell us about Waldorf Schools and how they might differ from other schools.

“Waldorf education started in Germany in 1919 and it is the fastest growing independent school movement in the world. Waldorf education in a nutshell is about giving the child not just a very strong sort of academic education, but also there's this really great emphasis on the development of imagination and creativity. And I think a lot of schools have this sort of obsession with testing and really tend to focus a lot on information. You know, how many facts can get into a child's head? And while information is certainly important, we know that in the age we live, that information changes. So what we really try to emphasize is this learning that social scientists are now calling soft skills. So things like perseverance and initiative and a sense of responsibility, and something you're [Kelly] super interested in like collaboration, you know, how do we prepare them to not step into hierarchical situations, but how do we learn to help them? How do we help them really learn to work together in a collaborative way?”

And although we call them soft skills, these skills are pretty hard.

“I think one of the other skills that we're really looking at is resilience, right? This ability to fall down. ‘You're going to be okay, get up and keep going.’ Right? Don't feel like you're going to be toppled in one way or the other. I think that's another part of a strong world. The Waldorf curriculum is like you have a lot of responsibility and all the joys that come with directing how you're going to learn in any kind of situation. And so, absolutely, we understand the importance of boundaries and giving children things to kind of bump up against, push yourself a bit, jump for the bar a little bit higher.”

Do you remember the first time you met Nora?

“I do remember when I first met her. I know she was not in my class yet. She was younger and she was running around on the playground, headscarf on, and she came up to me, I remember this, she came up to me to complain about one of the kids in my class who was older than she was, who was giving her a hard time. And I remember kind of taking her very seriously, but inwardly just being like, ‘Oh my God, who is this adorable little Elfin person?’ Because she spoke so directly to me and she didn't really know me. You know, I was a teacher of the big kids and, and yet she was like, ‘Oh, no, you, you better handle this.’ And I'm like, ‘Miss Eleanor, I will handle this. I will take care of it.’ It was the beginning of a great relationship.”

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