Friday, October 30, 2009

What I Take From Waldorf, and What I Leave Behind

First off, Waldorf purists should probably stop reading right now. I don't need anyone telling me that I have to take Waldorf as a whole or leave it completely. However, I know that people bristle when others claim a label title but aren't following the rules, so I do understand the rules ~ I'm just choosing to break them.

First off, a few things I take from Waldorf:

~ The importance of environment on the individual. I think we all do better in calm, peaceful, uncluttered environments.
~ The importance of natural materials. For me the connection is with nature and not some spiritual essence of an object, but whatever. I like how wood and stone look and feel, and I don't like plastic, but I'm not anti-Lego.
~ The block teaching method. I've seen the power of letting something sleep for awhile.
~ The three-fold cycle of input, sleep (digestion), and output. As a method it works.
~ The importance of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms; marking time is very human and I can connect with how I felt observing the rhythms of the seasons in my own childhood.
~ The importance of boundaries.
~ The focus on no screen time for children under 7 and limited screen time for older children; again, this is something I have practiced and I have seen work.
~ The importance of involving children in the work of the home; we all need to contribute and working together is a great teaching tool for people of all ages.
~ The basic curriculum through the years, because it is helpful to have a road map and because much of Steiner's observations on child development are in line with what others have found.
~ The importance of the integration of hands, heart, and head (more on this later).


Things I leave behind:

~ Anthroposophy, or spiritual science. It's hogwash in my opinion. For those who say I can't have Waldorf without anthroposophy, please remember that everything changes and evolves. Perhaps some would prefer that I say Waldorf or Enki-inspired, but Waldorf is a term that most of our home learning friends understand. Many of the people I know who have been involved with Waldorf don't know anything about anthroposophy but do think it has some religious connections, so in real life I sometimes use the phrase Secular Waldorf.

~ Any belief that I can damage my children by exposing them to the wrong subject matter at the wrong time. I believe that children are more resilient than that. No, I'm not going to show them photographs from Nazi concentration camps at age 9, but at the same time I'm not worried that they learned Greel mythology at at age 7.

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