Two Waldorf educators have been invited to speak at TEDX events — Jack Petrash and Lori Kran — each discussing not Waldorf education per se, but what they believe to be the essentials of education reform.
Petrash spoke in his video, Educating Children for the Journey, on the importance of teaching children the skills they need for an unknowable future. After giving an example of his scientific learning 40 years before about “Asbestos, The Miracle Fiber,” he went on to relate the limits of subjects and facts. It is his belief that the focus needs to be on teaching capacities.
According to Petrash, there are three essential capacities we need to teach children:
- A capacity for focus and willpower, which he calls “the strength to do what needs to be done.” He goes on to describe immersion as a characteristic of genius and of play in children. Teach children to focus at play, and you teach them how to be immersed in an experience.
- A capacity for a deep and rich emotional life. Petrash believes children can be taught emotional intelligence and resilience through art, and he believes that integrating art into each subject helps children identify as artists and reinforces immersion and emotional connections to topics.
- A capacity for lively, curious, and dynamic thinking. He calls it “playful thinking” and relates it to a future of playing with ideas and asking important questions. Basically, “playful thinking” helps future adults become problem solvers, so that they can solve the unknown future world’s problems.
In the end of the video, he expounds on the idea that our children deserve more than just left brain academics, and that the world will be a better place when education teaches children they way they want and deserve to be taught.
Lori Kran begins her segment, The Heart of Education, with a Steiner quote: “The most important thing is to establish an education through which human beings learn, once again, how to live with one another.”
This leads to her primary takeaway that when academic subjects are taught imaginatively, through experiential learning, children become connected to topics and, through this, become independent, creative thinkers.
Kran believes this emotional connection is key to a bright global future, saying, “The world needs people with heartfelt thinking who are connected to their community and are motivated to do good work.”
Watch Lori’s Video HERE: The Heart of Education
Watch Jack’s Video HERE: Educating Children for the Journey
Cordell and Joanna Caley: Thanks for always being willing to help and for the significant contributions in IT, development, yearbook, and class plays!
Holly Christensen and Max Thomas: Holly has been a part of the school for many years, four of her kids have attended SGWS. Thanks especially for your support in the office and help with field trips! Max, thanks for your help with the camping trip!
Firouz and Kristen Daneshgari: Thanks for always being willing to lend a hand when asked. We so appreciate your help in the school store, SGWS Board, Personnel committee, and Capital Campaign Committee!
Greg and Meredith Hansen: Meredith, words cannot express our gratitude for your leadership and commitment to the school store. Greg, thanks for your help with the class auction projects for 8 years.
Dina Harley: Thanks for being one of our best referral parents and for your help with field trips, massage donations, and dying t-shirts!
Frank and Patti Wagner: The Wagners have sent three kids to SGWS and been a part of our community for 18 years. Thanks especially with your support with fundraising by coordinating Acme receipts and Entertainment books!
by Hazel Emery, M.Ed
Last week, athletes in Grades Six and Seven competed in their Championship Meet on Sunday, May 17, at Hudson High School. Nearly all of our athletes set new personal bests in their events, and nearly all returned with a ribbon or medal for their performances. The coaches were extremely proud of the work and effort put forth by all the athletes.
Grade Eight athletes had a preliminary meet on May 16 in Independence, where most of them set personal bests. It was a very rewarding day. At this preliminary meet, the top four finishers in each event went on to the Championship Meet on Thursday, May 21, at Brecksville/Broadview Heights High School. As noted last week, Sarah Caley qualified in the 400m run, and Hayden Matias qualified in shot-put and discus. Both Sarah and Hayden set new personal bests, with Sarah placing sixth and Hayden placing fourth in both his events.
Congratulations to all our athletes for continuing to improve throughout the season and for performing so well at the meets. Many of our athletes finished in the Top 10 for the Akron area and the Cleveland area in the CYO league. Spring Garden had two athletes in the State of Ohio Top 10: Hayden Matias in the shot put and Catherine Greer in the 200 hurdles.
As always, Coach Stewart and her assistants are grateful to parents’ continued support of the SGWS Track and Field team.
Waldorf-centric Plot Summary:
After a scathing math competition defeat, tech bigwigs take pity on Springfield Elementary and outfit the school with all the latest technology. But Principal Skinner’s ineptitude leads to a server farm crash and the school loses all tech, which the students only used to watch Game of Thrones. This is when Lisa comes up with an idea that will save the school — “Learning while Doing.” Springfield Elementary becomes a Waldorf School!
From there the students learn by doing in tongue-in-cheek fashion — calculating the cubic feet of styrofoam to add to the sloppy joe mix, pouring pints of beer in fractions, wearing required sun hats, and singing songs of acceptance, love and diversity. In the end, their new Waldorf Education helps them win the mathlete rematch by transforming an M into nine non-overlapping triangles.
The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America was pleased with the level of in-depth knowledge The Simpsons writers clearly possessed about pedagogy and stereotypes associated with Waldorf Education, which made this fun caricature both lighthearted and flattering.
Watch The Video:
The Simpsons Writer Insight:
Math – Mathematics education is very advanced in Waldorf schools. Math is revealed to students as a useful and real part of everyday life. Numbers, processes and then mathematical concepts are introduced through doing — counting and holding, paper folding, musical interval training, and calculations to create rope and pulley systems are just a few examples of how math is taught in Waldorf schools. We are not surprised that the Springfield Waldorf School could answer such a difficult final math equation to win the math competition. The challenge of drawing the nine non-overlapping triangles mimics the lessons in form drawings taught in our curriculum — another intersection of math, art, and doing experienced in Waldorf Education.
Sun Hats – Why of course! Waldorf students are prepared for all weather, at all times. Why? Because, unlike many of their non-Waldorf peers, they still play outdoors for recess 3-4 times a day and also have classes outdooring such as science, physical education and gardening. Of course, hats for our adults are optional and they’re not required indoors. Nor is tie dye a requirement.
Technology – In the episode, Marge reads a pamphlet which says, “Waldorf Education: When you have Given up on the Modern World.” Considering the popularity of Waldorf Education among the children of Silicon Valley tech executives, this is clearly not quite the case, but it had been a stereotype of the past. Waldorf Educators simply feel there are better ways, more hands on and complex ways to teach young children how to learn. Technology is introduced to secondary education children, which as Skinner notes in the episode is “Not our Problem.”
Textbooks – There are no textbooks in Waldorf Education, it’s true. But there are many, many books. They are just not the ones provided to the state by textbook companies. Instead our students are presented material by teachers from classics and mainstream books on relevant topics, where they then take notes and reflect on lessons while creating their own “Main Lesson” books. These books become both catalogs and resources for learning.
We are honored to have been featured in such a positive light on The Simpsons Season Finale and are anxiously awaiting further information about which writers, perhaps Waldorf parents or alumni themselves, were involved in the episode’s creation. As a thank you, and a responding shout out of sorts, our schools have been paying tribute to The Simpsons. A collective of handmade hats is being created to send to The Simpsons writers. The Waldorf School of Philadelphia is having students create beeswax figures of The Simpsons characters to share online and with The Simpsons execs. And the São Paulo, Brazil Waldorf school has done an amazing rendition of The Simpsons Theme Song as a tribute to this mainstream recognition.
Do you have questions about this latest press coverage of Waldorf Education or about Waldorf Education in general? Contact Amy Hecky at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 330-666-0574. Learn more about our school at http://www.sgws.org.
We are also in need of extra buckets and rags, as well as boxes to pack up teachers’ classroom materials. You can drop them off in the office anytime during the last week of school.
SCHEDULE FOR COMMUNITY MOVING DAY
End-of-the-year Potluck at The Lake (formerly Loyal Oak Lake), hosted by Lerryn Campbell (details to follow — the entire community is invited, but this is not an SGWS-sponsored event)
Have an amazing summer — and THANK YOU for all you do!
What does it mean when we say, in Waldorf, that children learn through their “head, heart and hands?” It references multidisciplinary teaching and the balance built into Waldorf education curriculum. Why do we focus on a balanced education?
Our world thrives on balance — ecosystems, economies, and governments all perform most optimally when things are allowed to ebb and flow yet stay ultimately centered, not through force but through compromise. This balance is key to stable growth and transformation.
Education is transformation of a generation and an individual. The task at hand is to guide young people as they grow and change, so that they may contribute meaningfully to a growing and changing world. This is no small task. When you consider the vital role that education plays within society and within the individual, then you can understand why balance in education is so essential. In order for the world to thrive, it needs to be filled with balanced individuals.
Waldorf education’s founder, Rudolph Steiner, a philosopher in the early 20th century, understood balanced education to mean the integration of the arts across the curriculum, the inclusion of movement and nature in everyday learning, and a focus on more subjects than just “the three Rs.”
Here in the 21st century, the comprehensive approach of Waldorf education has been supported by modern science. One might notice how Waldorf schools focus on fostering each of the multiple intelligences Howard Gardner identifies in his book Frames of Mind. Gardner, a developmental psychologist and professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, addresses the need to teach children thoroughly in each of these intelligences: verbal / linguistic, logical / mathematical, body / kinesthetic, visual / spatial, musical / rhythmic, interpersonal / intrapersonal. and naturalistic.
He, like Ken Robinson in this popular TED talk on education, argues against judging children’s intelligence on only one or two of these areas — a philosophy embodied in this Einstein quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Children who enter adulthood understanding their strengths, having been shown them through a balanced education, can contribute to the world in a fulfilling and meaningful way.
How do we realize balance within Waldorf education? Here are some examples:
Verbal / Linguistic – Teachers tell story, myth, and history by reciting poems, singing songs, and playing games. The complex vocabulary and imagery found in these oral activities bring verbal language to life and give depth to a child’s understanding of and desire to engage with written material. Children also make their own textbooks as an alternative to Chalk and talk note taking. And students begin to learn foreign languages beginning in first grade, when their brains are most primed to absorb this information.
Logical / Mathematical – Waldorf students learn math in many ways — intervals through music, geometry and measurement through woodworking and drawing, and math facts through holding and counting items. Logic is ever-present in the immediate apprehension of cause and effect inherent in science, music, and nature.
Body / Kinesthetic – Developing this intelligence goes beyond gym class for Waldorf students, who constantly learn through movement. Examples include time outside for recess, nature walks, gardening, the study of movement in eurhythmy and dance, and in-class movement through acting out stories, tapping sticks to math, or throwing balls while reciting multiplication tables.
Visual / Spatial – Whether it is creating a diorama of an animal, knitting and other handwork, sculpting with beeswax or clay, or taking a year to turn a log into a chair, Waldorf students learn much in the visual and spatial realm in their woodwork, handwork, gardening, and main lesson classrooms.
Musical / Rhythmic – Music is part of each day and each subject in Waldorf school. Song and rhythm are integral parts of the young child’s classroom. Layered onto this ever-present choral influence are musical instruments: flutes and recorders are introduced in younger grades, violins and other strings for students in the middle grades, and finally instruments of a child’s choice in the upper grades.
Interpersonal / Intrapersonal – Social skills are not left to chance in Waldorf education. Teachers spend much of their time in the early years helping children develop their interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. One of the most important contributors to cultivating these two intelligences is the structure of the main lesson classroom, where students remain with the same teacher throughout all eight grades. Learning to work together as a whole is not optional, but essential and teachers focus on developing a harmonious and balanced classroom through providing time and structure for social interactions as well as time for reflection.
Naturalistic – Unlike many of their public school peers, Waldorf students still get recess, so they are out in nature, many times a day and in all seasons. They are also taught many academic lessons outdoors, such as botany and geology through nature walks and gardening. Older children often have main lesson class time outdoors, and gym class is held outside when weather permits.
Though developed by Steiner nearly a century ago, current research demonstrates Waldorf education’s ability to educate children intellectually, creativity and socially, prepares them to make meaningful contributions to our ever-changing world throughout the course of their lives.