Living high elf and potential Ancient One, a.k.a. Tilda Swinton, has never been one to stick to convention. Though she's probably most recognizable as the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, she originally made a name for herself in experimental and arthouse films like Caravaggio and Orlando. In her personal life, she was not shy about the fact that for a while she and her partner, John Byrne, lived with another companion of hers, her current partner Sandro Kopp.
So, it should come as no surprise that when it comes to schooling her children, Swinton does things in a unique and inspiring way.
Swinton's twin children, Honor and Xavier, attend Drumduan Upper School in the Scottish Highlands. It's a school co-founded by the actress herself along with Ian Sutherland McCook, and the curriculum pairs the typical core subjects with practical and creative activities. Students between the ages of 14 and 18 years old get a holistic education, learning math, English, and science through recreation like canoeing and caramelizing onions.
Oh, and there are absolutely no tests.
My children are now 17, and they will go through this school without any tests at any time, so it's incredibly art-based, practical learning.
That's right, not only are these kids in the presence of ethereal beauty for most of their lives, they're also learning all the important academic subjects without the added stress of mastering standardized exams.
A humanistic approach
Drumduan employs the progressive Steiner educational system, which is more commonly known as Waldorf curriculum in the United States. This approach emphasizes the imagination inherent in learning, moving the kids through three specialized stages. Early childhood focuses on hands-on learning and creative play, elementary years develop artistic expression and socialization, and secondary education builds critical reasoning and empathy.
Since Drumduan Upper School is for teenagers, it's safe to assume it targets that last stage, but creativity is always a priority. Here's how Swinton puts it:
For example, they learn their science by building a Canadian canoe, or making a knife, or caramelising onions. And they're all happy 17-year-olds. I can't believe it – happy and inspired.
Honestly, judging from her account, this school sounds like an absolute dream. Instead of mastering the art of bubbling in a Scantron, these kids are learning functional skills along with all the necessary core branches of study.
One big, happy family
As co-founder of the Upper School, Tilda Swinton is exceptionally active in her kids' education, and she paints an idyllic picture of what family life is like at home. Based on her own account, her kids couldn't be farther from the Hollywood sob stories we've come to expect from celebrity children who grew up with too much money and power.
They are very balanced and very easy to be around. They are into life and are very happy children. They are at ease in the world. Which is nice.
We are a close-knit family. We laugh and enjoy each other's company. Dancing is a passion in our household and we do it as often as we can.
From my experience with friends who went to Waldorf schools, this is not an overstatement. They truly thrived by going to a place of learning like this, and they've gone on to become some of the most intelligent, caring, and impressive adults I've ever met. It seems like Tilda might just have it all figured out.