Saturday, May 24, 2008

Living with myself

Today was one of those days when just getting one or two things was a great and amazing day. Sometimes I feel like I am swimming up stream – just pushing against the current. Days like this used to be the norm not the exception as they are now. I think it’s just a matter of staying organized so that I can see the diffirance in my work from my effort.

Really though it is a matter of prospective - I did all mater of great things – including – completely rebooting my word press blog – a scary and difficult procedure that I completed entirely by myself thank-you. I wrote stuff – talked to people – but in the end I did not work off a list – witch as I have written before is a big mistake.

The simple reality is that my emotional lens for looking at how I work is distorted by years of behaviour medifcation teacing. If the behavior is not by choice, but due to physical ability – what do you think the impact of deniing recess to eight year old boy who is behined in his school work would be?

It’s time to have somebody come in again and organize my office. I just try to remember what David Allen said there are two kinds of people – people who admit they need to write things down and people who don’t and would be better of if they did.

On another note….

I question the value of all of these social networking sites – many of them mean well – but for a guy like me who can only write so many words a day – it’s overwhelming. I am member of a professionalstoryteller.ning – and Facebook – I tested out Myspace and friendster – I am thinking that my personal experience with Facebook has been so good that I will continue placing all my energy there. Myspace may have more members – but the quality of the links and the conversations has not been so good.

Please take minute and join in my Facebook empire if your interested in such things – or have the passion for the storytelling bug…..

Monday, May 12, 2008

Standing on the Mountain Top

I have been to the Mountain I have seen the perfect school. You can read all about it in a book - From the Children of a Child Centered School by Don Wallis.

A school that believes in child centered education and practices that belief in the classroom. Yes -- School can be good. Imagine a classroom where the teachers are not monarch's but instead facilitators, not bureaucrats - but leaders of the child centered environment.

Here is a chapter form the book

On Trust

A group discussion of the teachers of the Antoich school.
Ann Guthrie, Nursery
Jeanie Felker, Kindergarden
Kit Crawford, Younger Group
Chris Powell. Older Group
Brian Bragan, Arts/Sceince
Facilitating the discussion is Don Wallis (Author.)

Trust is essential to all that we do here.
Jeanie: Everything revolves around trust.
Don: Trust in the child.
Chris: And the children's trust in themselves.
Ann: And their trust in each other. The group.
Don Essentially what is it you trust?
Jeannie: In the child's ability to learn and to change and to grow. Their perpetual forward movement as human beings. I really have trust in that.
Chris: We all have trust is that. We see it and we respect it.
Don: You see it?
Jeannie: In my experience year after year, child after child, I see it. That's how I can trust it. I see it's real, over and over and over again. Differ int child after different child, different group after different group...
Ann: All those individuals within the group, all the different places where each child is. And where they all are, together.
Chris: And we trust that children are on their own time frame, their own developmental schedule. That each child had an individual clock for learning and growing.
Kit: They proceed when they are ready. That's so important!
Chris: And there might be a pause in a child's understanding of some things, or desire to understand some things; a pause in the progress of their development. But in the grade scheme of things; we know from seeing it, over and over; there will be that development. So when there's a pause, there's not a panic, like Oh this, child will never learn. We the teacher's trust that the child will and they do.
Jeannie: The pauses are important in their own right.
Chris: Some major progress, some growth may be going on there.
Ann: The children will pause. and internalize, and ruminate and digest; and come up with the next question they are going to ask. Then they go on with their learning. Each child has her own way of doing this. We know that here, and we trust in it. We allow it to happen.
Kit: The children expect each other to treat each other well. And they do. If a child does something out there that's risky, like really working hard on the unicycle, for example, the other children will manage to tell that child who is taking a risk, Good job!
Chris: I see this happen all the time.
Brian: It happened today, in the Arts/Science room. Henery was grousing about his art work, saying he was going to give up art, he didn't want to be in artist anymore. And Jade said, Henery, what are you saying? You are one of the best artists I have ever met. And Henery head that, you know. He said, Yeah I'm just having a bad day. I'm pretty sure Henery will be back painting tomorrow.
Kit: Henery thrives on that kind of support, he really does.
Brian: I think the children are inspired by each others successes, as opposed to being jealous of each other's successes. And that's a product of trust , I think. Trusting yourself , trusting that you are okay enough to appreciate some one else's triumph.
Don: So, trust is intentional here. It's part of the curriculum, so to speak. It's part of what you teach.

From the Children of a Child Centered School by Don Wallis and the children and teacher of The Antioch School From pages 19-20. 2005

Used by permission of the Author.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

In the shadow of the Valley.

Waldorf education has been around for a long time. But if you read the newspapers you won’t find a mention of it in the NY Times very often. If you do find a it mentioned, the comments are usually incredulous or at least lukewarm in there appraisal of the philosophies and educational practices.

Waldorf education was begun in Germany in the beginning of the 20th century at the waldorf factory. Mr. Waldorf was a successful German business man who wanted to provide a decent grade school for his employees children. He founded the first Waldorf school with the help of teachers inspired by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.

Steiner was a spiritual theorist who believed that it was possible to apply scientific principals to an internal investigation of the spiritual world. A brilliant man his ideas caused a renascence in physical application of spiritual principals in multiple fields including politics, arts, education, agriculture (biodynamic) and retirement communities. Each of these separate fields have developed over the past hundred years until today where there common roots remain hidden for many people.

In education Steiner asked the question – how does the soul grow in the body over the first 21 years of life and what form of education would support the full growth of soul in to the body of a child? (My words not his.) He rejected and current Waldorf schools still reject the philosophy that the mind should be the primary target of a grade school education and he instead set about creating a community of students and staff that worked together to help children have a full experience of childhood.

Some adults are turned off by the repetitive nature of the Waldorf classes, but grade school children find the repetition soothing and a very safe environment. Most of all I have found that Waldorf children make the best listeners – I can perform almost any level of complexity material for a waldorf audience and they will take it in with relish while your average pubic school audience would have been talking in there seats with out my simple connection and constant management.

On visiting a Waldorf school as a dyslexic person the first thing I noticed is that Waldorf school does not punish the slow reader – most children learn to read by fourth grade with out any pressure in a Waldorf school environment. As some one who learned to read in fourth grade with LOTS of pressure – I would like to tell no pressure is a much better system emotionally speaking. (Said the nail to the hammer.)

Waldorf school are part of the public school system in Germany – but here in the U.S. there ideas are to radical for public acceptance and they remain privet with all the problems associated with private schools. Cost – elitist associations in potential families minds – poorly paid teachers etc…

If you live close to one such school –
Investigate as a possible place for your student to enroll full time.

If your home schooling your LDS or dyslexic child. Waldorf exercises can be very soothing and helpful to integrate the left – right brain stuff that just seems to break down in us – “gifted” individuals.

Good Luck

Eric Wolf

Here is one small piece of the study conducted on Waldorf Graduates...

Comparison of Waldorf and US Population
Declared Majors General US Population (GUSP) vs Waldorf Graduates from 1991–2002
Arts & Humanities GUSP - 14.6% Waldorf Graduates - 39.8%
Social & Behavioral Sciences GUSP - 10.9% Waldorf Graduates - 29.9%
Life Sciences GUSP - 6.2% Waldorf Graduates - 9.9%
Physical Sciences & Math GUSP - 2.0% Waldorf Graduates - 2.8%
Engineering GUSP - 6.4% Waldorf Graduates - 1.8%
Computer & Information Sciences 6.1% Waldorf Graduates - 2.5%
Education GUSP - 7.3% Waldorf Graduates - 2.1%
Business & Management GUSP - 19.3% Waldorf Graduates - 4.6%
Health GUSP - 11.6% Waldorf Graduates - 5.6%
Other Technical & Professional GUSP - 9.7% Waldorf Graduates - 0.4%
Vocational , Technical, & Other GUSP - 5.9% Waldorf Graduates - 0.6%