Friday, February 8, 2013

from Dornach

a visit from Christof Weichert

Christof Weichert and I

This week, Davis Waldorf School hosted Christof Weichert to share his insights with parents and faculty regarding the Waldorf Movement. Mr. Weichert has served as the head of the Pedagogical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. He travels the world to inspire Waldorf educators with his insightful and humorous lectures.

I personally had not heard of him until his visit with us. It was not until he decided to come and visit our classroom early in the week to watch us practice our eighth grade play "A Hunch about Munch," that I experienced his warmth, kindness, and joy of teaching. Somehow, we ended up having dinner together. Over sweet and sour pork and spring rolls, we talked about family, teaching, and Waldorf. He revealed to me that he had penned many of his plays for his upper grades students when he was a teacher; and it was from this history that he enjoyed the script I had written for my students. His positive feedback was encouraging. He told me that in Waldorf, the curriculum was embedded in art. "We do art," he stated. 

I asked him what he thought was universal in terms of Waldorf throughout the world - what do people derive from the philosophy of Steiner, regardless of whether a Waldorf school was in the Philippines, or China, or the US, or Europe?

"That's easy," he said. "The development of the child. Every child wants to learn, every child wants to grow. Every child wants to be loved."

Christof had to leave at the end of the week, and he made it a point to visit our classroom one last time. He gave the students some final words about their play practice, and I gave him a copy of our play at his request. The picture above was taken in our classroom on this day. He reminded me to keep in touch.

Safe travels back to Dornach, Mr. Weichert.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

open house

a night at Davis Waldorf School

my chalk drawing of a Canadian national park

Mrs. Kost, our strings teacher, leads an ensemble

Davis Waldorf School welcomed families of current students and the outer community to experience the spirit of Waldorf at our annual Open House. Each grade and teacher showcased the curriculum in  their classrooms. While parents invariably start at their own students' classrooms, families are encouraged to begin in the early childhood and work their way up the grades. The progression of how the curriculum meets the developing child becomes artfully and thoughtfully demonstrated.

The early childhood classrooms, softly lit, swathed in hand-dyed silks, the smell of fresh-baked bread in the oven, resemble your favorite aunt's home, with welcoming rugs, pine furniture, and nature's toys of branches, pine cones, and felted wool. Guests will sense that these spaces were designed to embrace the young child in a warm, loving hug.

The lower grades' classrooms begin to show signs of academic work - the core language mechanics of the alphabet and phonics, and math skills introduced through stories, imagery, creativity, and demonstrations by the teacher. Chalkboards are filled with drawings and meticulously rendered lettering and numbering. Students' main lesson pages show how the curriculum is artistically and lovingly delivered. 

In the upper grades, guests will sense that the classroom spaces begin to support a more academic rigor as the students take on ancient civilizations, Buddhism, the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, and the Revolutionary War. Written work and higher level artistic techniques and mediums are showcased.

In the eighth grade classroom, the breadth of our curriculum was on display: a full-sized skeleton and main lesson pages with pen-and-ink cross-hatching for human anatomy, pajamas sewn with a machine in handwork, stools from woodwork, main lesson pages resembling newspaper headlines from the Industrial Revolution, chalk drawings from art class, our strings ensemble performed a couple of pieces, picketing signs with "Women's Right to Vote!" for our eighth grade play.

Our Open House allowed families to walk the journey that our students make each and every day at Davis Waldorf School.