Tuesday, October 27, 2015

flying free

removing the training wheels of the waldorf way

Six years ago, I started the journey into Waldorf education and became a teacher at a private school in northern California. Six years ago was when I also first posted to this blog (178 blog posts!). I had shared my thoughts and experiences in Waldorf and the gems of family life. This year, I shifted my professional life away from being a full time Waldorf teacher, and it just feels right that I now close the book on The Waldorf Way.

Being on the Waldorf way was like riding a bike with training wheels. After discovering how to ride, you're supposed to take them off. The Waldorf training wheels gave me the confidence to explore interesting pathways. The transition without the trainers is exciting and I picture Rudolf Steiner as the proud parent who gives that one final steady hand and push off. He smiles as I ride away, knowing he helped me gain the confidence to find my own balance and my own path. 

This new path is being a teacher and tutor for homeschool families. It is being a consultant and instructor for public Waldorf educators. These systems of education are at the forefront of twenty-first century philosophy, and augments the myriad of choices families have in their children's education.

My own path means expanding my thinking, feeling, and doing. It means applying Waldorf beyond Waldorf. It means encompassing and embracing a holistic education perspective. It means striving to continually be adaptive and innovative, teaching and modeling for our children to become leaders not only for this modern time, but for the ageless world culture.

I have outgrown my own blog! I grow as my family grows, I grow as I discover my Self, I grow just as the Universe itself expands.

I look back warmly on The Waldorf Way blog - I was blessed for the medium to share with so many global communities, but now I look forward, and the journey from here is open and free. I chart my own course. I shift to a new blog that reflects the next evolution of my teaching and my family life. Without training wheels, one can really fly!!

Dr. Rick Tan

Thursday, September 24, 2015

water and the will

wet on wet workshop

Teaching wet on wet watercoloring is as enjoyable with children as it is with adults. Wet on wet is a medium of painting used widely in Waldorf classrooms. It allows for the development of the whole child as its lessons encompass the expression of the curriculum and the expression of the self. In comparing my instruction for children with that of the grownups, I made some observations.

Children are less bounded by self-consciousness. For them, the act of painting is truly an exploration of the moment, not tethered to pre-conceived notions of their abilities. In this regard, they dive right in, they experience the art as it unfolds in front of them, they are not subject to self-critique or comparative inner dialogue. They are less afraid. 

It is a normal part of human development: as adults, our intellectual selves intertwine with our feeling lives and our will forces. This balance helps us think, feel, and act with the right intent. And together, we move through life with the right purpose. Often, however, our thoughts actually keep us from tackling life. 

Wet on wet painting for adults is a wonderful exercise in reclaiming our will forces. The medium asks us to work with water in such a way as to not so much control it, but to make friends with it. So the process is a balanced experience of the will. For us, it gives us wiggle room to try out our will without being hyper-critical of ourselves. The relationship with water, a powerful elemental being, guides us in gently rediscovering our will forces without judgment. And this builds confidence to allow oneself to not always be guided by our hyper-intellectualized self-doubt. We discover how to have the hands of a child, experiencing the beauty of the moment.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

benner creek

a sanctuary among the pines

My wife discovered it when she was a young girl. It is not accessed by a marked trail head. It is off the beaten path used mainly by logging trucks. You walk through tall grasses on gravel and sand. You have to hurdle a fallen tree, duck under a low hanging branch. Then you hear the trickling of water, and the curtain of pine trees open up onto a clearing. There sits a mass of boulders with a mountain stream and tall trees standing guard. A cathedral fashioned by Nature's hand. A quiet place for reflection and rejuvenation. There is an automatic sense of reverence. You discover yourself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

navigator and captain

charting the college journey

I remember the day he was born. The times just watching him sleep and breathe. Dips in the pool. The first day of preschool. A love of all things dinosaurs. Homeschool. The day he accidentally deleted a saved file on GameCube and I stayed up late just to get the game back to where he left off. Gymnastics, tae kwon do, fencing.  Days on the beach. Guiding his artistic abilities and his musicianship. Talks about respect, love, relationships. Then suddenly, he graduates from high school, and in the same summer, he leaves for college.

Those eighteen years were spent shaping his person, his character, his values - often just by his simply living under the same roof with us, his family. He has a bit of me, a bit of my wife, a bit of his relationship with his siblings and birth order, a bit of his environment growing up. All of it contributed to who he is, along with the spirit of his being, the angel prior to his physical form. He journeyed with us on uncharted water, and together we sought horizons near and far.

Now he embarks on the next leg of a journey that he makes alone. In spirit, we're with him. In love, we're with him. But at eighteen, and college-bound, he tests his own decision-making processes, and he develops trust and confidence in himself. How does one learn to navigate through life without the opportunity to think, feel, and act independently?

We helped him move into his dorm room, his whole family did. He is only five hours away. I have some level of peace as I carry the image of his space, his bed, his roommate, the campus, the city, which he will call his new home, his new proving ground, his new uncharted sea.

I carry the memories of his childhood. He will not be gone long; he will return from his journey a man with new skills, new knowledge, new insights. He will continue to forge his own path as he is his own navigator and captain. And I will continue to love him.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

morning sun

first day of homeschool

From one of my first posts on the waldorf way blog in 2009:

"Thus my life flowed in two streams; I followed one as a lonely wanderer, the other in the lively companionship of people whom I had learned to love."

- excerpt from Rudolf Steiner's autobiography, Mien Lebensgang, in Hemleben's Rudolf Steiner, An Illustrated Biography.

We all need both paths. One spent in solitude. The other spent in togetherness. We learn something of ourselves as individuals and as members of a family and a community. We must give each other these moments as gifts. We grow in this learning. 

The cool morning sun of summer embraced Wilson and I in our walk together to the park on Monday. Homeschool perks - time spent in togetherness. Then a bit of dribbling practice - just Wilson, the ball, the court. Time spent in solitude, in personal growth.

Monday, February 16, 2015

first grade letters

another way to use watercolor paintings

Above the chalkboard is displayed colorful letters of the alphabet. Use watercolors to add beauty to the classroom, while at the same time giving your students a visual reference towards their learning.(There are some vowels still missing from the letter tapestry - they mysteriously appear after the students have heard a story about the letter and have printed the letter in their main lesson books.)

For classroom or home school, watercolors can be for more than just painting class. Have fun!