YARN - From the (shorter) Oxford English Dictionary:

Spun fibre of cotton, silk, wool, or flax.... fibre prepared for use in weaving, knitting...a fisherman's net...any of the strands of which a rope is composed...a (usually long or rambling) story or tale, especially an implausible, fanciful, or incredible one.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lantern Walk 2011

The Story of St. Martin
Once upon a time there was a young man named Martin. He was kind and gentle. One day he was going to the city of Amien. As he walked along the country road he rejoiced at seeing the tall trees with their branches swaying in the breezes and flowers of many colours growing from the ground and at hearing birds chirping and singing.
He said, “The world is good” and felt happy to see the trees and flowers and hear the birds.
The sun shone down on him and he felt its warmth on his shoulders.
Soon he came to the gate of the city of Amien. He walked through a large archway. The sun was fading and it began to get dark so he lit his lantern. As he walked along he came upon a man crouched on the ground shivering and cold with hardly any clothes on. Martin took off his cloak, tore it in two and laid one half over the shivering man and gave him his lantern so he would have warmth and light.
Then he went on until he came to his place of rest and lay down on his bed and went to sleep. While he slept he had a dream. In his dream there was an angel who said, “Thank you for giving part of your coat to the shivering man and your lamp so he could have warmth and light. Your name shall be St. Martin.  Again and again St. Martin gave clothing to those who were cold and food to the hungry and light to those in need.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Waldorf Myths and Realities - Reading and Writing

- Waldorf kids don't learn how to read
- Waldorf kids are 'held back' or 'delayed' in acquiring core academic skills

The early childhood focus on stories that are expertly told by the teachers and often acted out with puppets or wooden or woollen toy props is not just a nice thing, it is the beginning of literacy in Waldorf education.   The children, through experience, learn what a good story sounds and feels like. They  know that there is a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. They learn how to introduce characters and develop plot. They learn by example the cadence and flow of a good story.  

For many days or even weeks the children hear a story and learn it effortlessly by heart.  Not through drills or rote memorization - through integration and interest.

In this way I have seen both of my children develop excellent (though still at times selective!) listening skills and attention spans. And now my son, in pre-kindergarten, can tell us at supper the stories he has learned at school. My daughter, in grade two will tell stories from her memory and her imagination. Now though she will also write and illustrate them in books.  

The experience of watching my daughter learn stories aurally in the Kinder and Morning Garden classes was tinged with the same fear that many parents have when they see other children of a similar age reading or using electronic devices aimed at developing literacy.  But to watch her, along with her friends and classmates, dive into literacy in grade one was a beautiful thing. They were ready and were strong out of the gates.  They learned to draw forms and structure their drawings, they learned the alphabet and began to write letters and words. Now they write sentences and paragraphs and read the stores they have written.  It all seems so effortless, so painless, so fun and natural. This speaks to the pedagogical progression and to the gifts of the teacher who gently lead the students along this path.

So, what have I learned?  I trust the process.  Waldorf kids learn to read and write for sure, but first they learn to listen and to see.  From the whole to the parts, rather than the other way around.

For your viewing pleasure I offer two videos by Eugene Schwartz on the subject of Writing and Reading in Waldorf Education.

This link will take you to another blog post on How reading is Taught in Waldorf School, from the perspective of a Waldorf trained teacher.