Bedoeld is: antroposofie in de media. Maar ook: in de persbak van de wijngaard, met voeten getreden. Want antroposofie verwacht uitgewrongen te worden om tot haar werkelijke vrucht door te dringen. Deze weblog proeft de in de media verschijnende antroposofie op haar, veelal heerlijke, smaak, maar laat problemen en controverses niet onbesproken.

zondag 26 februari 2012

Charter school

Het wordt tijd voor een follow-up van wat ik meldde op zondag 23 oktober 2011 in ‘The New York Times’, gevolgd op donderdag 1 december 2011 in ‘NBC Nightly News’, dat bovendien terugkwam op maandag 16 januari in ‘Ecuador’. Ik bedoel de situatie van de vrijescholen in Noord-Amerika. En dan met name de belangstelling die deze krijgen als alternatief voor informatie-technologisch (ict) onderwijs, om het zo maar te noemen. Het artikel in The New York Times vindt nog altijd navolging. Neem de Huffington Post van afgelopen woensdag. John M. Eger, ‘Professor of Communications and Public Policy and Director of the Creative Economy Initiative at San Diego State University’, schreef over ‘The Techno-Savvy Favor a Non-Tech Education, at Least For Their Kids’:
‘In the age of the internet it seems odd that the techno savvy are sending their kids to The Waldorf School, where according to Matt Richtel of The New York Times the “school embraces a simple, retro look – blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.”

No so odd really.

Whether one is putting a laptop in every kid’s backpack, wiring the schools and changing the lesson plans to insure computer literacy or doing none of that – the Waldorf approach is age old. Thirty years ago Judy Caldwell, fresh out of grad school, was holding Waldorf workshops all over the state of Connecticut. Eventually she moved to California, and over the years the program morphed (they now have something called the HOT’s program which stands for Higher Order Thinking). Dr. Caldwell stayed true to her belief and did not let her own son watch television or have a computer until he was almost seven.

What is it about Waldorf?

Developed by German educator, Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf has been around since 1919. Waldorf Education is “based on a developmental approach that addresses the needs of the growing child and maturing adolescent. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child – the heart and the hands, as well as the head.”

The emphasis is on face-to-face communication and a strong personal connection between the teacher and the student. Waldorf “emphasizes creative learning with the goal of developing the child academically, emotionally and physically.” They also discourage using technology in the schools and advocate (in the home too) that “television and computers (be) strongly discouraged for younger children.”

The use of technology is not to be dismissed however, and while the evidence in favor of computers in schools is mixed, many experts believe that kids growing up in a digital world need the new tools of our age. They have computers, and cell phones and video games, Facebook, and Twitter – and who knows the apps that will demand their focus next? Thus the arguments for using technology are believed to be relevant and realistic: to reach more students, to keep more students engaged and to experiment with tools that are and will be used in today’s workplace. The arguments are compelling.

At the same time many children need, and parents want, their child to have a different experience in school where they can be assured that the “whole child” is educated, where art and music are integrated into the curriculum, and where one-on-one experiences are guaranteed. At least in Silicon Valley they say all this is worth $20,000 to $25,000 in education costs. (There is ample evidence that the Waldorf experience, maybe even Waldorf, can be offered under the public system at no additional cost. But that’s another story.)

The point you have to wonder about is whether delaying the use of technology until the 3rd or 4th grade has some merit.

Dan Fost, a writer based in San Francisco has observed that “The kids don’t need (technology), they learn the tech later, they build a great foundation for imagination and creativity, and computers are filling their brains with mindless junk that is often worse than anything we used to worry about from television.” But too much too soon also has other potential consequences according to Stephanie Brown, director of the Addictions Institute in Menlo Park, which runs an outpatient counseling and therapy program. “She’s starting to see kids as young as 10 who are hooked on digital media,” Fost says, “(and) the symptoms are strikingly similar to those of any other addiction.” Brown believes this leads to “compulsivity, cravings, irritability, sleep disorders ... these kids build their day around their engagement with technology, and over time, they need more and more and just can’t stop.”

Maybe using technology isn’t an either/or proposition. Maybe we don’t need to choose one approach over another and as we rethink the curriculum – which we say we badly need to do – we need to find ways of avoiding the one-size-fits-all, standardized approach.’
Op 21 januari schreef Molly Walsh in de ‘Burlington Free Press’ over een soortgelijk thema, ‘Shelburne’s Waldorf School philosophy is deliberately low-tech’ (deze school ligt net onder Montreal in de Verenigde Staten). Helaas was dit artikel maar een week lang in te zien – gelukkig heb ik het bewaard, zodat ik u de tekst alsnog kan aanbieden:
‘The seventh- and eighth-grade students at the private Lake Champlain Waldorf School study the usual academic subjects, carve wooden bowls, knit and sew, play string instruments, sing to the accompaniment of a piano in their classroom, sweep and take out the school trash, and spend recess outside chatting, running around in the snow or feeding the school’s chickens.

One thing they don’t do in school is log on to a computer. Their school has no computers and that’s by design. Also missing: TV screens, smart boards, video cameras and other equipment found in many public and private schools. In a nation where public school students often encounter computers in the classroom as early as kindergarten and one to one student laptop programs are increasingly popular, Waldorf isn’t having any, thank you very much.

“What we’re doing in the classroom is really trying to bring them lessons that will ignite a love of learning,” said Pam Graham, director of admissions. “So it’s very alive and engaging. The screen is just a dead way of learning. It’s just static.”

The 165 pre-school to eighth-grade students on the Waldorf Shelburne campus don’t keyboard, they use pens and paper. They write their essays and reports by hand and use white-out and correction tape to fix the mistakes — the retro way. Teachers write with chalk on blackboards and nobody worries too much if the atlas on the bookshelf is dated. Granted, many of the kids have home computers, cell phones and other technology for use outside school. And the school’s high school campus in Charlotte has a bank of computers for student use.

But the approach of Waldorf — an international independent school movement — is a decidedly low tech compared to most modern day schools. Despite this the niche continues to be popular, even in unpredictable places. A recent New York Times piece profiled a Silicon Valley Waldorf school full of children whose parents work at Apple, Google and other tech companies.

The Waldorf philosophy is that younger students learn to think more deeply and creatively without computers. Technology can generate information overload in young children and this can dampen thirst for learning and leave children too distracted to contemplate or express their own ideas, the Waldorf thinking goes.

Many Waldorf fans also believe that the absence of screens is good for children’s social development. Every hour in school that they don’t spend looking at a computer screen is an hour youths can spend talking face to face with classmates and teachers and learning to understand what some call the silent language — facial expressions, hand gestures, the sag in the shoulders that might mean someone is sad or lonely.

“That ability to read social cues, you can’t get that through a computer,” said teacher Gregory Foster, a classroom teacher at Waldorf’s Shelburne campus.

It’s time to ask what’s being sacrificed at schools that invest heavily in classroom technology and to recognize that the virtual world is not the real world, Foster added.

“Visiting a Japanese classroom through a screen is not the same as going to Japan,” he said.

Many of the students at the local Waldorf school say the only thing they know is computer-free classrooms. “I can’t even imagine having technology in school,” said 14-year-old Aidan Powell, an eighth-grader who lives in Charlotte. “It’s like no interaction, they are telling you what links to click.”

Fans of technology-rich education reject the notion that it produces passive learners. Good teaching with computers is anything but passive, they say, and can actually increase engagement, creativity and school attendance.

Aidan uses a computer at home but tries to limit it to 20 minutes a day — enough time to catch up with friends from camp on Facebook. He doesn’t watch TV or play video games and instead spends time doing sports, reading, playing violin and guitar and working on big school projects, such as the electric guitar he’s designing and building from scratch. His media consumption is much lower than most of his friends who attend non-Waldorf schools, he said. “They are really into their video games and stuff like that.”

As Waldorf kids perfect their cursive and learn to whittle, are their parents worried that their children are at risk of growing up computer illiterate? Not Tom Powell, Aidan’s dad. The lack of computers at Waldorf is a positive and not a negative, he believes. “There’s absolutely nothing about that that is a loss to us. You know, when you enter the Waldorf system you learn early on that information is acquirable anywhere and the skills you need to get it are not that complicated.”

Young children need to “wallow in their youngness” and be allowed to unfold from the inside out, he said. He believes computers have a numbing effect on younger children and disagrees with the growing investment in computers in public grade schools and middle schools. “I think it’s a cheap way out of teaching, frankly,” he said.

Powell, a psychologist, finds technology useful in his work and does not object to the computers at the Waldorf high school where Aidan’s older brother is a student. Older Waldorf students have no problem ramping up their tech skills and they do just fine when it comes time to apply to college, he said. “They go off to very nice colleges and they tend to be pretty happy.”’
Opmerkelijk is ook een artikel van Jeff DeGraff van 25 januari, ‘A Waldorf Salad’. Over zichzelf schrijft hij:
‘Jeff DeGraff is a world renowned thought leader, executive and innovation expert. His expertise has been shared globally at top innovation incubators and think tanks such as the Aspen Institute and with companies that include Eaton, GM, SPX, 3M, Apple, American Airlines, Coca-Cola, GE, Johnson & Johnson, LG, Pfizer, and Toyota. DeGraff has contributed his expert knowledge in publications such as Business Week, CIO, Fortune, USA Today, Training+Development and the Wall Street Journal. Jeff is focused on how to lead Innovation; developing the culture, capabilities, and collaborative connections that result in revenue and market growth. Jeff is the complete package.

With over twenty-five years of corporate leadership experience and as Clinical Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Jeff is the “guru to the innovation gurus” at Fortune 500 companies His advice is frequently in demand from the investment community on how to pick, manage and harvest winning ideas and business enterprises.

DeGraff offers his personal experience as a former business executive from one of the fastest growing companies in America, the credibility of being a published author and an expert resource for the media. Jeff is the Executive Director of the Innovatrium Institute for Innovation, an idea lab; Managing Partner of the Competing Values Company, a top innovation consulting firm where he is also the co-creator of the Competing Values methodology that integrates innovation with finance, strategy, management, and leadership into a robust business model that boosts the bottom-line.’
Hij publiceert op de website van ‘Business 2 Community’,
‘an independent online community focused on sharing the latest news surrounding Social Media, Marketing, Branding, Public Relations & Much More. Every day we feature the thought leadership of our open community of bloggers and aim to provide a balanced view of the business landscape based on industry news, trends and real-life experiences.’
Zijn artikel geeft de volgende achtergrondinformatie over vrijescholen:
‘Nineteenth Century social innovator, mystic and eclecticist extraordinaire Rudolf Steiner sought to synthesize the entirety of science and spirituality through a new approach he called Anthroposophy. This philosophy and accompanying methodologies posited that the integral laws of nature could be applied to just about everything imaginable from the arts to medicine to farming. He asserted that mind is really just a sense organ like our eyes or ears and believed that our personal development starts by elevating our sense of awareness and widening our experience in nature – “To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.”

In 1907 Steiner wrote The Education of the Child a somewhat radical treatise for the times that espoused principles of spiritual science, holistic learning and universal brotherhood. Given the era was the advent of the First World War and Kaiser was maneuvering to maintain control over a wider monarchy Steiner’s ideas about education were often considered seditious. In 1919 perhaps as a response to the disillusionment with the authoritative practices that lead to the decimation of Germany or maybe as a moment of enlightenment Emil Molt the owner and manager of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company in Stuttgart opened a new kind of school for the children of the factory workers that emphasized the pursuit of their unique destiny. The idea of a progressive education for all quickly spread throughout a newly democratic Europe but kept the first name of the original location – Waldorf School.

Steiner proposed that an interdisciplinary approach to education is crucial for integrating physical, emotional and intellectual growth. He suggested that aim of instruction is help the student become a free and responsible person in full possession of their unique gifts. To do so the student is cast in a number of situations that gives them direct access to their sense experiences such as excursions into nature. They are encouraged to use empirical principles to discover what is often left unseen when they trundle through the day and reflect on their insights. Critical and creative thinking are then engaged to integrate the experience into personalized knowledge of both the object, the viewed, and the subject, the viewer. The Waldorf curriculum exposes students to everything from foreign languages to rhythmic dancing to advanced mathematics. Each student creates their own illustrated summary of their coursework in dossier or book form. Both the learning experience and the learner are customized via these generative activities. Steiner believed that “each individual is a species unto him/herself.”

As if Steiner didn’t have enough to do, he designed and opened the first multimedia lab the same year as the original Waldorf School. The Goetheanum, a homage to the multifarious visionary of the German Enlightenment Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, was an innovative domed building that housed performance halls, studios, galleries and a library. It is considered an early example of Organic Functionalism an architectural movement later known for buildings that mimic nature like Buckminster Fuller’s Spaceship Earth geodesic dome that rises above the entrance of EPCOT at Disney World.

Less than five years after the opening of the Goetheanum it was destroyed by arson assumedly by those who felt threatened by Steiner’s revolutionary ideas that the church and state could not offer the freedom required for individual creativity and growth.

While today there are hundreds of Waldorf Schools around the world that continue to successfully advance the principles espoused by their founder, regrettably many critics still find the underlying idea that we can be put in charge of our own development a dangerous proposition. In the same way that Steiner’s integrative approach created the man himself to do the same is to put our own universal truth in motion.’
Meer achtergronden beschreef Holly Fortin,
‘a sixth grade teacher at the White Mountain Waldorf School in Albany. This is her 25th year at the school’,
een vrijeschool in New Hampshire, aan de oostkust van de VS, in The Conway Daily Sun op 3 februari, in ‘Sciences in middle school’:
‘In adolescence, the student’s center of gravity shifts from pictorial thinking to abstract thinking. This so called “birth of the intellect” allows the young person to begin to form independent opinions based on the experiences of life. A great interest in facts about the world emerges; a youngster wants to read the newspaper, listen to the news and discuss what they hear. Intellectual challenges become fascinating and a wide range of interests arise.

However, this newly formed intellect lacks discrimination and often the worldview a student forms is based on simply repeating statements made by others — adults, peers, and the media — with no ability to discern whether they are actually true. They attempt to make sense of the world with half-truths and undigested facts and thus their dogmatic statements often do not hold up under questioning.

Still, arguing is what the adolescent does best! They love to express opinions and though their opinion may have been accepted on the flimsiest of authority, they will permit no contradiction of it. When challenged they find it difficult to let go of an idea, no matter how absurd.

Simultaneously the young teenager is experiencing feelings with greater intensity than ever before. Strange new sensations, moods, and desires can overwhelm them, flooding in and out like waves on the beach, leaving the youngster confused and out of balance. As they oscillate between extremes — aggressive one moment, lethargic the next, indifferent one moment, hypersensitive the next – they are as much a mystery to themselves as to the adults around them.

How does Waldorf education seek to guide the adolescent through this tumultuous time?

It is the sciences that offer the best foundation from which the emerging thought life can grow. Certainly all the subjects offered support the student’s developmental phase appropriately, but it is with the youngster’s first introduction to biology, physics, chemistry, mineralogy, astronomy, human physiology and meteorology in the middle school program that this new capacity can truly blossom, while simultaneously providing ballast for the youngsters being buffeted by the winds of adolescence.

The Waldorf approach to science is different from that used in mainstream schools. There the teacher typically presents a hypothesis of cause and effect, and the students carry out an experiment to test the hypothesis. This method is linear and has predictable results.

The thinking involved is primarily a process of data acquisition and accessing.

“In a Waldorf science class, students and teacher begin with the consideration of a phenomenon. For example, a white light and a colored light are shined on an object at the same time but from different angles. The shadow from the white light is the complementary color of the colored light. The students observe carefully, internalize their observations, and then describe verbally or in writing what they perceived with their senses. The class shares, considers, and discusses the various observations, then tries to reach a conclusion. What caused the phenomenon? Where did the complementary color come from? What is the quality of the colored shadow as compared with the other visible shadow?

“In this process, the students’ thinking is active. They arrive at the concepts by thinking about what they have observed. The students discover what a Cavendish or a Priestley discovered first, but the discovery and the concept are now theirs, not something that has been given them. This ability to think actively and creatively and to base one’s thinking on observed phenomena will be of use throughout their lives. It will serve them whenever they encounter a problem, scientific or nonscientific, that requires discrimination.”

Thanks to David Mitchell for his description of the demonstration.

In our highly technical culture, learning to believe and trust our own senses is becoming increasingly difficult. Yet it is just this trust in themselves that adolescents need to develop. By giving them the opportunity to hone their powers of observation and cultivate active thinking, the science lesson can help balance the strong feeling life of the early teenager without resorting to any moralizing.’
De vraag blijft altijd of het wel werkt, deze pedagogiek. Die vraag stelde Rocky Lewis ook op de ‘Spring Garden Waldorf School Blog’, op 19 januari in Does Waldorf Work?’ Dit waren zijn bevindingen:
‘One of the big concerns Waldorf educators hear from prospective parents is about the school’s lack of testing. How will we know our children are being well educated? What if they can’t keep up with their hard-driven peers after graduation?

The underlying question is, “How do we know this theory of education works?”

Nov/Dec 2011 Harvard Education Letter reports that: “Waldorf students tend to score considerably below district peers in the early years of elementary education and equal to, or… considerably above, district peers by eighth grade.”

When it comes to alternative education with positive results, The Waldorf school system is not the only educational microcosm to study. Finnish school’s have been a popular news topic lately as U.S. educators try to tease out how their system, like Waldorf, which lacks testing and rigorous early academics, can outperform the U.S. on the very tests it seem to shun.

Findland’s average scores on 2009 PISA tests – ranks them #3 in the world. The U.S. average scores equal rank #17.

The New York Times, in a December article, discussed highlights of a lecture given at a NYC private school by Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture.

In summary, he discussed the Finnish philosophy which, according to the Times reporter Jenny Anderson, “scorns almost all standardized testing before age 16 and discourages homework, and it is seen as a violation of children’s rights for them to start school any sooner than 7.”

To Waldorf parents, these values will ring true, as will the values underpinned in Sahlberg’s quote about why tactics from the Finnish education system will not work if bolted onto U.S. public school policy.

“You know, one big difference in thinking about education and the whole discourse is that in the U.S. it’s based on a belief in competition,” Sahlberg said. “In my country, we are in education because we believe in cooperation and sharing. Cooperation is a core starting point for growth.”

This quote, from an NPR article covering the lecture at, is followed by an analysis of the key factors to Finland’s education success. The culture in Waldorf education mirrors these values:

Teachers are in charge: At Waldorf schools, teachers run the school. The same is true in Finland. “We have very carefully kept the business of education in the hands of educators,” says Sahlberg.

No tests in early grades: Children in elementary school are rarely tested in Waldorf. Sahlberg says, “Finns don’t believe you can reliably measure the essence of learning.”

Teaching is a valued profession: Waldorf schools could not exist without long-term committed teachers and the Waldorf system focuses on raising money to give staff free continuing education opportunities. Henna Virkkunen, Finland’s Minister of Education says, “In Finland, we think that teachers are key for the future and it’s a very important profession—and that’s why all of the young, talented people want to become teachers.”

Teachers are trusted to teach: Like in Waldorf schools, “Teachers in Finland can choose their own teaching methods and materials. They are experts of their own work, and they test their own pupils,” Virkkunen said.

So when parents ask if education systems like these can work, the answer is yes. But don’t take our word for it – go forth and read the research!’
De drie commentaren eronder zijn ook de moeite waard:

Finland ranks third in PISA test scores (perhaps an arbitrary method anyway?). Out of curiosity, who is first and second? How do their schools compare to Waldorf and/or US public schools?

Great questions Jamie. Here’s the list.

China and Korea were #1 and #2 in 2009. I need to do research to find out their methods.

I believe (with some facts to back this via reading experience) that the reason the U.S. is obsessed with Finnish (and to some degree other Norwegian) models is because 1) They are Western cultures (although socialist, which is a big reason why Sahlberg insists their program tenets will never work here in public schools). 2) They have consistently scored high for the last 10 years. 3) They turned their system around, which had poor scores on similar tests in the 70s.

Of course the differences are great, even beyond socialism including an ethnically and financially homogeneous population. And a small population to boot. Approx. the size of Kentucky.

So much of the debate becomes about the applicability in the U.S. public system and not even about the why these methods are effective. What Waldorf appreciates about this speculation is the why behind their success — the values of the Finnish system are alive and well in Waldorf education.

Thanks for weighing in!

Thanks for interesting post on the similarities in the finnish public school system and waldorf principles. Living in neighbor Sweden and parent to two daughters in waldorf education I wish my government could be more influenced by the educational success of Finland.

Instead in a western consensus around the need for testing, central directives and the near religious believe in IT we seem to copy Americas failures in our public education. Waldorf schools, who were among the first to operate when alternatives to public schools were introduced, can no longer decide over the use of testing or the curriculum to a point where the uniqness is threathened.

The government seems to ignore the near universal praise for finnish schools, Sir Ken Robinson, Daniel H Pink, Seth Godin et al´s convincing references to scientific findings on intrisic drive, divergent/creative thinking and neuroscience.

In Sweden (and Finland) waldorf school(or any other private school) are free to the pupils and paid by the public in a fixed allowance based on cost for local public school.

Yet we have a hard time convincing parents to learn more and choose our schools when passivly accepting the allocated public school give you the right to complaining where as an active choice makes you responsible. So we keep looking for enlighted and brave parents ;-)

Jan Bergman
Belangstelling is er in alle werelddelen. Op 15 februari 2010 bracht ik dienaangaande een bericht uit ‘Chengdu’. Nu schreef Linda Park op 3 februari over ‘Waldorf Exchange Students Share Culture Through Performance’:
‘Exchange students from China showcased their traditional talents as a gift to Sacramento Waldorf School.

Chinese foreign exchange students concluded their three-week stay at Sacramento Waldorf School by giving a special performance at the school on Thursday.

The exchange students from a Waldorf School in Chengdu, China performed a variety of traditional arts, including instrumental, dance and martial arts.

“I thought it was wonderful,” said Liz Beaven, the school’s principal. “Each one was wonderful and I loved the way our children listened to it. They were completely absorbed.”

This is the first year Sacramento Waldorf School has had this exchange program, and Beaven said she is hoping the annual exchange will continue. No students from Sacramento went to Chengdu because this was the first year that school opened.

Beaven thought opening the campus provided the opportunity for both the Chinese exchange students and her students to gain international experience and insight into another culture.

“It’s been a wonderfully rich experience,” she said. “Hopefully it will be the first of many.”

The Chengdu administrator, Zewu Li said he thought it was a good opportunity for the students because it gave the students a chance to see different scenes and experience the world.

The exchange students were already trained and ready to perform in each of their individual arts, and all have experience performing. Li said the students wanted to perform for the school because they wanted to show their appreciation and wanted to do something to give back for all of the hospitality they received from the teachers, parents and students.

Li said he and the students really enjoyed their time at the Sacramento school.

“Their work was very professional,” Li said. “The teacher’s are very attentive to their learning.”

The group’s next stop is San Francisco, where they will stay for another three weeks before heading back home to China.’
Belangstelling is er ook in Mexico, blijkens een bericht van Patzi González-Baz, een gastauteur op de interessante moslimweblog ‘TARBEYAH, An Exploration of Sacred Parenting & Education’:
‘This blog has been set up as a space to explore the spiritual dimension to parenting and education. Tarbeyah is an Arabic word which carries the connotations of nurturing the whole being, striking a chord with Educere (drawing out) in Latin. We are interested the development of the whole child as well as the state of consciousness we bring to them. Needless to say, it’s an educational process for us parent too, as we draw out qualities from within and learn to manage our inner state as the outer world becomes more demanding.

“In our Tradition there is a Hadith about the Faithful being mirrirs to the Faithful; Waldorf talks about how the child imitates everything around them. They are our best mirrors, and it’s painful when you see in them the exact replay of what you dislike most in yourself! That was always an incentive to keep on with the inner work.”’
Patzi González-Baz schreef op 28 januari ‘Sharing My love of Waldorf Education’:
‘I had never really paid attention to education until I had kids myself. I had gone through school myself, and did fairly well, so I didn’t think much about it. When I became pregnant with my first child, the kind of school we wanted her to attend suddenly became an interesting topic of conversation. Mothering Magazine published an article on Spirituality and Waldorf Education. I received a religious education, but not necessarily a spiritual one. I wrote to the Anthroposophic Society asking if there was a Waldorf School in Mexico. There wasn’t one at the time, but to make a long story short, a friend who owned and was the director of a Montessori Preschool became interested in Waldorf, did the training and turned her school into a Waldorf School. By the time my daughter started school, it had already become a Waldorf School and had been up and running for a few years. If there had been no Waldorf School, my kids would have attended a Montessori School.

I’m a Mexican, I grew up in Mexico. Even though there is a public school system in Mexico, the norm is sending your children to private schools. Private schools are not as expensive in Mexico as they are, say in Canada or the US. I know nothing about British Education. My then husband is a Zen Buddhist, I was a Naqshbandi (but had not embraced Islam yet), we were vegetarians; this is to say we were very odd.

Any educational system is only as good as teachers in it. I fell in love with Waldorf, but it may not be the best schooling for someone else. God is Beautiful and loves Beauty. Beauty is very much part of Waldorf Education. Even the colours on the classroom walls and the way teachers paint them is important. Art is an important part of the curriculum, and I love that: Children create their own school books, they learn how to play musical instruments, learn a second and sometimes a third language; they watercolour, knit, weave, bake, do carpentry as part of their classes and it is all tied in to their main class.

There is much emphasis on rhythm: a rhythm to the day, the week, the season and the year. Rituals and celebrations are important; festivals mark the transitions of seasons and birthdays are very happy occasions. Plays, poetry, singing, planting and cooking were also very much a part of school. Crayons were wax crayons with natural colours; watercolours made use of only red, blue and yellow, the young artists would then go on to develop all other shades and combinations. Children used pencils and colour pencils to write their class books, and later on –5th grade I believe—they write with fountain pens. I’m sorry I have no example of their books or watercolours with me, but you can see many examples online.

At first I wondered about the child having the same teacher for all of grade school. In practice, it worked well. My kids were young in the “BG” years, “Before Google.” We did not have a computer in the house, we did not watch television, there were no cell phones, let alone smart phones, cameras were not digital. In that sense, Waldorf and my family were a good fit. I love reading, and read to my kids up until their teen years. Yes, they do know how to read and can read on their own. I also love movies, and carefully screened the movies I allowed my children to watch. Waldorf does not encourage media usage (computers, TV, cells, etc) before High School.  I do wonder how Waldorf parents manage today.

Basically, we were all happy with the school. Our Waldorf School only went up to 6th grade. My kids then transferred to a traditional school where they did very well. They have also done well at University. They talk fondly about their Waldorf school years; they would like their children to attend a Waldorf school. They really appreciate not having had homework and having had to develop inner resources when “there was nothing to do.”

I’m happy to keep on sharing about more specific topics of Waldorf education in future posts.’
Een van de drie weblogeigenaren en een gast stellen Patzi nog enkele vragen, die helpen de situatie te verduidelijken:
Saqib Safdar says:

Many thanks Patzia,
I’m quite keen to visit a Waldorf school myself. Some see the university one attends as the most important time in a persons education. I feel it may just be those initial formative years.

Asma Shurfa says:

I’m always happy to learn from those further down the road. How fortunate that you have a Waldorf School nearby. As Waldorf kindergarten is modeled after a functional family life at home, I am keeping my children with me for as long as I can and it is developing inner resources in me I thought I never had–especially challenging when there is a no tv to rely on as a babysitter!

I am glad to hear that the education your children received taught them to become self-reliant instead of passive consumers of the entertainment world. Is not empowering our children the goal of every parent?

Thank you for sharing your love of Waldorf with us. I would gladly hear more of your experience with the school and how you adopt the principles at home.

Saqib Safdar says:

By the way, do children learn a music instrument through Waldorf?

patzia says:

Saqib: All children in Waldorf learn to play the recorder. Then the ones that are called to it, start learning other instruments. Many Waldorf schools create their own orchestra. They also sing, memorize poems, write poetry themselves and put on plays.

Asma, my children are now 28 and 25. My eldest didn’t start Kindergarden till she was almost 6. She was born in October, we did not push to have her admitted early. She was one of the oldest in her class, and it worked very well. My son, being a May baby, started school when he was 5. In Mexico most kids do start preschool at 2 or 3, so it was a challenge to keep them at home. I was fortunate to work from home and to have help.

We did a lot of crafts, a lot of storytelling, singing, watercoloring; we baked bread, had a garden and met once a week with other future Waldorf families so they could have a play group.

I made several dolls for my daughter, and tried to keep the toys as close to Waldorf as possible. I also had to make allowances for my parents who were decidedly un-Waldorfy! My mother-in-law was our neighbour and she grew up in a farm. She did not like to baby sit much, but did keep the kids every Thursday while I went to zhikr.

They did not watch TV, true, but they did have a cassette player and a lot of story tapes. Many times their father and I recorded ourselves as we told them stories, and then t hey woould listen to them. They would also record themselves telling stories, so I could listen to them.

In our Tradition there is a Hadith about the Faithful being mirrors to the Faithful; Waldorf talks about how the child imitates everything around them. They are our best mirrors, and it’s painful when you see in them the exact replay of what you dislike most in yourself! That was always an incentive to keep on with the inner work.’
Over het opzetten van een vrijeschool schreef Melinda Mawdsley op 26 januari op ‘The Daily Sentinel’ in ‘The Waldorf way. Charter school organizers emphasize method of learning through arts, nature’. Voordat ik dat weergeef, even een korte uitleg van wat ‘charter scholen’ zijn, van Anja Vink op 22 juni 2009, ‘Charter Schools: het is de schoolpopulatie!’
‘In Nederland wordt nog wel eens door politici de Charter Schools in de Verenigde Staten als voorbeeld gezien om van slechte scholen weer goede scholen te maken. Charter Schools zouden goed zijn voor een moeilijke groep leerlingen in de grote steden, lees: arme kinderen uit vaak zwarte en hispanic milieus. Charter Schools zijn zogenaamde regelvrije scholen: ze krijgen budget en hoeven alleen maar goede uitkomsten te presenteren. Hoe ze dat doen, staat ze geheel vrij. Ook Arne Duncan, de minister van Onderwijs onder Obama is, en misschien was, een groot voorstander van Charter Schools. Uit een onderzoek blijkt echter dat enkele het heel goed doen maar heel veel ook niet. Ook dit artikel draait om de hete brij heen. Wat is de samenstelling van de schoolpopulatie? En waarom lukt het die enkele school wel? Daarover volgende keer meer!’
Maar dit is voor ons even voldoende. Wij kunnen nu naar het artikel ‘The Waldorf way’ gaan:
‘This isn’t about the right or wrong way to educate children. It’s just a different way.

A local group of people are exploring the possibility of opening a Waldorf Method-inspired public charter school for kindergarten through eighth grade as soon as the 2013–14 school year.

The Waldorf Method, which started in 1919 in Germany, approaches academics through the arts and nature.

Those involved with the Grand Junction Art Based Charter School Initiative think that adapting some of the Waldorf methods for use in a public charter school setting would be an effective alternative for parents who want their children educated more through the arts and personal discovery than from textbooks.

And in an academic world impacted by regulatory testing and funding cuts to the arts, a Waldorf-inspired charter school would give educators more latitude in instruction. Since the school would be a charter, it would be accessible to everyone.

“We think this type of education would be popular with a lot of people,” said Patrick Ebel, one of the primary organizers of the local initiative and a father of two.

Ebel, who taught sixth grade for eight years, including four at Bookcliff Middle School, thinks Waldorf “is the answer to education” because the method is geared toward a child’s developmental stages.

For example, kindergartners in a Waldorf school play, sing, listen to oral stories and act them out to encourage creativity and confidence, said Jon Rizzo, who teaches at River Canyon School, a private Waldorf-inspired preschool/kindergarten that opened several years ago in the basement of Koinonia Church, 730 25 Road.

“The first seven years are formative times for a child,” Rizzo said. “They are not only creating who they are, essentially they are learning how to work with each other. It’s a young children’s job to learn how things work and move and make friends before we need to jump into their intellect.”

Unfortunately, there is no local Waldorf school for River Canyon School students to go after graduating from kindergarten, and remedying that situation is part of the impetus for the initiative, Ebel said.

Because the Waldorf Method may be such a foreign concept, and raise more than a few questions about its academic merits, the Grand Junction Art Based Charter School Initiative will host a meeting 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, at Koinonia Church.

The public is welcome to attend the meeting and participate in the dialogue that will happen as the group continues to figure out the best way to incorporate the Waldorf Method into a charter school setting.

The Grand Junction Art Based Charter School Initiative also has a Facebook wall where questions can be posted and information exchanged.

Sarah Shrader, a River Canyon School Board member, loves the education her children received at River Canyon, but also appreciates the education her eldest are getting at Scenic Elementary School.

Shrader said the Waldorf-inspired charter school would be most valuable because it would give parents, particularly parents of middle schoolers, another choice when searching for the best way to educate their children.

Shrader, who has a master’s degree in education, was introduced to Waldorf as a 24-year-old teacher in Arizona.

“I fell in love with the Waldorf education,” she said. “I think it’s really intuitive. One of the things that made me fall in love, was they teach everything through the arts and the outdoors ... Waldorf is appropriate to the physical and emotional development of a child.”

She recognized that an outsider may see a Waldorf-inspired education as lacking the academic rigor considered imperative for an American child to compete in today’s technologically intelligent world. But that is not the case, she said.

The way children learn — she assured parents that their children will learn — in a Waldorf-inspired school is just different from the traditional school setting. Students use the arts, oral stories and nontraditional methods to discover how and why things work instead of memorizing facts and figures from a textbook.

“There is so much art and such a rich base of literacy,” she said. “We can’t really measure it.”

To learn about the Waldorf Method go to or, which is run by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America.’
Als laatste van dit niet weinig lange bericht, heb ik nog een artikel van 27 december 2011 door Rosemary Shinohara in ‘Anchorage Daily News’, ‘Alaska’s Newspaper’ (je komt werkelijk in alle werelddelen), getiteld ‘Charter school becomes a success story’:
‘What does berry picking at Arctic Valley have to do with math?

Children at a public charter school on Muldoon Road know the answer – they’ve sorted berries by color, size and shape, measured and weighed them, and figured out how many there are per square foot of ground.

Turning berry picking into a math lesson is one example of an approach that is helping students at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School make remarkable gains in achievement scores.

The school is grounded in Native values and activities; it strives to make students proud of their heritage. That’s coupled with a strong academic program. The result: In just two years, scores for students’ performance on statewide tests have risen significantly, in some cases dramatically.

An impressive 95 percent of the school’s third-graders reached proficiency on state reading tests in the 2010-2011 school year, compared to 59 percent in 2009. Proficiency rates in reading, writing and math for the whole school climbed by more than 10 points over 2009.

The school is an Anchorage public school for preschoolers through seventh graders. It is open to all students but 90 percent of those enrolled are Alaska Natives. Probably a third of the 207 kindergarten-through-seventh grade students came straight from rural Alaska, said Elizabeth Hancock, the school’s administrative assistant and a founder and member of the Academic Policy Committee that helps govern the school.

School District Superintendent Carol Comeau describes the school as “one of our major success stories.” The Alaska Department of Education recently named it one of two distinguished Title I schools – those with mostly low-income students – in Alaska. Alaska Native Cultural Charter won the award for closing the achievement gap for students who as a group generally score lower than average on tests.

An old furniture store

As a charter school, Alaska Native Cultural Charter had to find and rent its own space. The school building is a remodeled furniture store that anchors a shopping mall near the north end of Muldoon Road, just before the Glenn Highway. Among the neighbors are a pawn shop, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a pizza place and a sandwich shop.

One advantage of the location is that the Alaska Native Heritage Center is nearby. The center sends over educators two days a week to teach subjects like Native dancing and music.

Another benefit is that the old furniture showroom is large enough to hold the entire student body, 15 teachers and principal and eight other staff.

Because it’s a small school, the adults and children all know one another other in a way that’s not possible in larger schools, Hancock said. You know a child’s siblings and parents, she said.

Every morning, the whole school gathers to hear a message from an elder, talk about expectations, recognize birthdays, say the Pledge of Allegiance, hear what’s new in the library.

Then it’s off to class.

On a Friday morning, kindergartners in a classroom off the big gathering space studied reading. Upstairs, where the older grades hold classes, students trained for the stick pull and weight carry – skills for the Native Youth Olympics. Students in another room carved soapstone.

Fifth grader Annabelle Snyder was creating a soapstone pyramid. She wants to stay at the school because it’s fun, she said. Meanwhile, she said, she’s really improved in reading since moving from a church school to the charter school.

Charter schools

Alaska Native Cultural Charter School is one of eight charter schools in the Anchorage School District. In Alaska, charter schools are alternative public schools that are authorized by both the state Board of Education and a local school board and operate under contracts with local school boards.

They are mostly paid for through state funding, said Mary Meade, charter schools supervisor for the district.

They are more independent than other public schools. For example, charter schools in Anchorage don’t have to use the same curriculum or teaching methods as neighborhood schools. And charter schools are governed by academic policy committees, which choose the principal.

In most states, charter schools are even more independent and are not under contract with local boards.

Among the other charter schools in Anchorage are Rilkle Schule, a German language immersion program serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade; Winterberry K-8, inspired by an arts-centered philosophy known as Waldorf; Aquarian K-6, which uses theme-based curriculum; Eagle Academy K-6, in which students are grouped by achievement level rather than grade; Highland Tech 6-12, which features standards-based instruction instead of grades-based; and two K-12 schools that build on home-schooling: Family Partnership and Frontier. Both use online classes, college classes and other community sources to supplement home-schooling.

A hard start

Though Alaska Native Cultural Charter is winning acclaim now, it got off to a challenging start in 2008.

It didn’t get as many kids as expected, which meant it received less state money than budgeted. The building wasn’t ready for the first six months, so the school had to meet in a church.

The cultural emphasis the school sought was in place and continues today, but the academic curriculum wasn’t fully developed at the start.

Diane Hoffbauer took over as principal in the fall of 2010 and bore down on the academics.

The math and reading programs were incomplete when she arrived, Hoffbauer said. She made sure all the materials were ordered, upped the staff training on teaching math, reading and writing, and set up monthly sessions to review students’ progress.

There’s still a strong emphasis on culture, seventh grade teacher Danielle Riha said. “We have to work extra hard to have both.”

“I think our success is from a purposeful balance of academics and culture,” Hoffbauer said.

Hoffbauer had lived in Barrow – she was director of curriculum and assessment for the North Slope Borough School District from 2000 to 2004 – and she knew how hard it is for rural children to come into a large urban school, she said. She was attracted to Alaska Native Cultural Charter as a way to address that problem.

Hoffbauer just won an award from the School District for her leadership at the school.

Assistant Superintendent Ed Graff said the school always had a vision of what it wanted to accomplish.

“They just fine-tuned that,” he said. “It’s taken off.”

1 opmerking:

Herman Boswijk zei

Hoi Michel,

wat hou je het allemaal goed bij voor ons, geweldig.
Nog een interessant Amerikaans artikel over het Finse onderwijs is hier te vinden.


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