Love what you are learning, says top Waldorf student

2016-12-30 08:20
Nathan Jones is the top achiever at Michael Mount Waldorf School. (Supplied)

Nathan Jones is the top achiever at Michael Mount Waldorf School. (Supplied)

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Johannesburg - Exams are so much easier if you make studying all about expanding your personal knowledge, says Nathan Jones, the top achiever at Michael Mount Waldorf School.

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A pupil at the Bryanston-based school, the unassuming Jones wrote English, isiZulu, maths, life orientation, life sciences and geography, with advanced programme maths thrown in "just to get the bigger picture".

And although there were times when he felt he was "just keeping afloat", he aced the exams with seven distinctions. In four subjects he achieved more than 90% and in the other three, more than 80%.

The school is sometimes lampooned for its unusual teaching and learning styles which blend conventional subjects of maths and science with eurythmy, carpentry and farming, and holds back on iPad and textbook-based learning until the later years.

They do not write exams three times a year like other schools, with their first big exams at the end of Grade 11.

This means matric exams tend to be unfamiliar terrain for pupils, and their teachers have to help them prepare for the time management and stress that goes with them.

'Hardest year'

Jones plans to study biomedical engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2017.

Described by deputy principal Trish Godlonton as "a humble person, with an incredible work ethic and a very inquiring mind", Jones is one of the pupils who contributed to the Independent Examinations Board's increased pass rate of 98.67%, compared with 2015's pass rate of 98.3%.

"It was definitely the hardest year in terms of the work load," said Jones. "By the middle of the year, it felt like I was just trying to stay afloat. It was assignment after assignment, and by the end I was quite sick of it.

"But you tell yourself, that it's one last push."

For Jones, the only way to cope with the workload, and putting his regular tennis and rock climbing on the back burner, was to be positive about the act of learning, and to find enjoyment in the accumulation of knowledge.

'Ask questions, be inquisitive'

His advice to next year's matriculants is to work hard in class and listen. But the edge comes with having an interest in the topics and wanting to gain knowledge just for yourself.

For example, he finds physics relevant to the world around him, and so he finds studying it interesting and enjoyable.

"Ask questions, be inquisitive, see the value of obtaining knowledge," Jones advised.

He said he did advanced programme maths for the challenge, and so that he could see more of the "bigger picture" in the field.

But even his enthusiasm was wearing thin with the pressure of exams.

"Toward the end of matric, it seems that your entire life is dictated by deadlines and exams, which isn't very pleasant. Remind yourself that you are doing something you love," he said.

He selected biomedical engineering because he loves the idea of inventing and developing new things and wants to be in a field that will be changing constantly throughout his career.

Read more on:    ieb  |  johannesburg  |  education  |  matric 2016  |  good news

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