Other schools are trying to reduce class sizes. Why do you intentionally strive for elementary class sizes of 25-30?
Waldorf education is a social education, and our students are taught to work in groups from early childhood on. They do their math problems together, they take nature walks together, they paint together, they do science experiments together, they act in plays together–even to the point of learning all of each others’ lines. Invaluable yet hard-to-measure lessons are learned from this kind of togetherness. Because everybody does everything, students come to celebrate and appreciate each other’s strengths in different areas. Teachers often look to the students who are ahead in one area to assist those who need extra help. Students are taught to support each other and share what they have learned. In a class of 25-30, there is a healthy mix of personalities, and students must learn to resolve conflicts with those unlike themselves. The temperaments (choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, and sanguine) play a decisive role in the makeup of a healthy Waldorf class. Classes that are too small in size may be dominated by a few strong children. In a larger class, on the other hand, every child has the opportunity to learn how to function respectfully within a group–a skill that Rudolf Steiner thought was essential to creating change in society. Because a Waldorf class teacher stays with a class from year to year, he or she comes to know each student extremely well. It is easier, then, for a Waldorf teacher to work with a class of 25-30 than it might be for a teacher in another school who typically has the same students for only one year.