Posts Tagged ‘Waldorf education’
The fact is, it’s not easy being a Waldorf parent. While you may not have to deal with the never ending stream of homework and tests, you have worry of a different sort.
There is the seemingly impossible balance to strike between keeping them kids in this too fast-changing world without keeping them too naive, making things as healthy and natural as possible while maintaining a certain level of convenience (for lack of a better word… I don’t even know what word I’m looking for!)
My kids are loving it at Waldorf at the moment and I am ever so thankful for that. But no doubt, I am often beset by nagging worries and questions. “Am I stunting their intellectual development? How will they stack up against other kids from traditional schools? Why isn’t she reading like a fiend the way I was at her age? Don’t they need a little more pressure?”
As much as I despise cookie cutter schools, they ARE still the norm around here. And Steiner Education in the country is still in its infancy. I’d like to see a bigger sample of graduates and see how they fare in “the real world” – whatever the heck that means!
So in the midst of thinking and over-thinking the education I’ve chosen for my kids, it’s comforting to come across a video like this where teachers and graduates (one from Harvard – yaaay!) talk quite passionately about being in a Waldorf school. Let me know what you think, Kiki.
Every year on the day before Advent Sunday, The Acacia Waldorf School holds its annual Advent Fair to usher in the Christmas season. What I so love about this event is that it is so different from other school fairs – so different.
There’s no blaring music or annoying announcements or in your face sponsors. Instead what you hear is mostly the cacophony of kids having pure fun. There are no fancy gimmicks, games or rides. Just a few simple, activities which kids of the 21st century don’t get to do often enough.
Here’s what my kids enjoyed that day.
Petting the animals…
(Well, OK maybe the Pappy enjoyed this more than this little boy who is clearly keeping a safe distance from the goat kid…)
This, I thought was just too cool. A rope course put together right on the school grounds by two dads!
Of course, a certain little girl tried it out for herself.
There were pony rides which one little boy was a bit hesitant about.
And when he eventually got on, it suddenly looked like the pony should be riding the rider…
There were carabao rides too. We need to get a wagon like this for the farm. I know seven little kids who would love taking this for a spin in Pinugay.
I forgot to take pictures of the kids’ work on display as well as the great, all-natural, organic stuff on sale. And the fabulous “pocket lady” who was all decked out in feathers and wore a huge pocketed apron. In each pocket, she had some kind of trinket which the kids could buy for P20. Lots of fun!
Oh well, there’s always next year.
There was a talk in school last week given by a Danish Waldorf teacher whose name is Anders Hoeier (whose picture I couldn’t find on the net – at least Google couldn’t ;p)
Mr. Hoeier has been teaching for over 30 years and he was kind enough to share his knowledge and wisdom with some parents and teachers at The Acacia School. Specifically, he talked about brain development.
I had a pen but no paper that day, so what follows is what remains of my mental notes!
As we know, TV for kids under two (and older!) is not such a good thing. So much so, you can get your money back from videos that claimed they could make your babies smarter. Really, the most educational thing you can do, is get down on the floor and PLAY with your kid.
But let’s not get into the TV thing because that was hardly the focus of Mr. Hoeier’s talk.
He emphasized that doing things with your hands is what sets the brain on fire – or to be literal about it, it’s what gets your neurons firing and creates those all important connections.
That is why Waldorf kids are always doing something with their hands – knitting, crocheting, sculpting, playing instruments. And natural materials are preferred because these have variable textures that are more “interesting”. It’s almost like those textures make your fingers think.
Mr. Hoeier said that a lot of people think of Waldorf schools as art schools because art and music are a big part of the children’s everyday. But he explained, the reason we do music and art is to help the kids (and teachers!) with the Main Lesson (which is your Math, Language, Science etc.) But how? What’s the “connectment” ??
Your brain looks like this:
The left is logical and linear while the right is artistic, dreamy.
Waldorf schools introduce left brain subjects in an artistic manner.
To make school more fun?
So your notebooks are prettier?
Not quite… True learning of any subject matter requires feelings. We need love, joy and appreciation for what we learn for it to be of any use to us.
Feelings are also important in decision making.
For example, when you purchase a car, you will likely make your decision based on gas consumption, engine size, airbags etc. But you would also need to choose a color. What drives that decision? Usually, feelings. (Feelings are so important, you’d even be willing to wait a few extra weeks just to get the unit in your desired color!)
So Music and Art come to play here because:
1. They require moving your fingers purposefully resulting in neurons making connections.
2. They are two things you cannot do without… feelings.
“Feelings, schmeelings… School is for learning!”, I hear someone say.
Well, what happens when you don’t have feelings? Or love? Or appreciation?
It doesn’t even have to be on such a wide scale. Did you hear about the boys who set another boy on fire?
Sorry to be so graphic but it’s true. The people who did these unspeakable things, were not in touch with their feelings, and consequently not in touch with humanity.
OK, back to the brains…
Does this music connection really work?
According to a study that Mr. Hoeier quoted (sorry, no source available from me due to afore mentioned no paper situation), some kids who were having trouble in Math were NOT just given more Math…
And yes, their math skills improved significantly. Exactly how that happened is beyond the scope of my little summary here but you get the picture.
Still on feelings, Mr. Hoeier also stressed that kids who are… well, stressed or fearful simply won’t be able to learn.
It’s like the brain just has too much to deal with and the neurons aren’t able to make to make those connections. This is why it’s so important kids are relaxed at school – and at home. Even if you don’t pressure your kids at home but they see you stressed, they could easily take on that stress. Oh great.
And the last thing I remember from the talk is this. Mr. Hoeier said, he has often seen in the past, all kids need is literally just someone standing behind them and they can do their work.
He called it “magical” – how it’s as if there is a transfer of love, energy and intent from teacher to student – just when you stand behind them. We all just need someone to believe in us – no matter how old we are.
Now are all these things as hippy and kooky as non-Waldorf folks like to imply? Methinks not.