- Strangers in Our Homes: TV and Our Children’s Mindsby Susan R. Johnson, M.D.
As a mother and a pediatrician who completed both a three-year residency in Pediatrics and a three-year subspecialty fellowship in Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics, I started to wonder: “What are we doing to our children’s growth and learning potential by allowing them to watch television and videos as well as spend endless hours playing computer games?”
- What Is The Purpose Of School?Douglas Gerwin & David Mitchell
The article, as written by authors Douglas Gerwin, Ph. D. and David Mitchell, identifies three widely held assumptions about the purpose of education and question the validity of these assumptions as reasons for attending school.
The first assumption as to why students attend school is for instruction. In this view, teachers are given the task to convey what they know to their students, often through textbooks, visual or auditory mediums. Other modes of learning are often neglected. Tests are then given to confirm the efficiency of this transfer of information.
However, teaching is not just the transfer of information, but also the drawing out of the students’ capacities. Herein lies the fundamental difference between instruction and education. If one were to look at the etymology of instruction, one would find that it has the same origins as to pour stones (Latin, structus) into an empty vessel . Education means to draw (Latin, ducere) forth or out (Latin, e). When they instruct, teachers are inserting what they know into an empty vessel (the student), whereas when teachers educate, they are drawing forth from the student what he or she in some sense already knows.
While not in the above mentioned article, I found it fascinating to learn that the etymology of words often used in education have significant origins. Knowledge, basically means “that which we are kin to.” Curriculum actually means “let’s run together.” In both these instances, everyone (students, teachers and families) has a relationship to the subjects being studied. Learning then stays fluid and alive, full of potential discovery for everyone, versus being merely a transference of data.
A second assumption for attending school rests on the idea that a chief purpose of education is to prepare students for the work force. Implicit in this view is that there is an economic motive for education. A school however, is not primarily an economic organization; it is a cultural organization. If we place schools in the service of economic goals, we begin to undermine our centers of learning. Cultural institutions or activities motivated by something other than themselves soon lose their cultural integrity. The value of a poem is in its poetic worth; cultural values remain self-reflexive. The authors suggest that a better way to prepare students for economic and political life is to develop in them capacities of judgment and discernment.
A third widely held assumption for going to school is to prepare students to be responsible citizens. This motive is really to persistently teach the values and rules of society to help students align themselves with established social/political norms.
But this assumption flies in the face of the original intention of the founding members of our country, most notably, Thomas Jefferson. Far from raising children to fit into a pre-existing order, education is intended to cultivate a generation of leaders who renew society out of their own insights, thinking and discoveries.
The overarching purpose of education, according to the authors then, is to assist human unfolding: physically, emotionally and intellectually. Schools need to serve the children, teachers and families so that capacities that make each person unique, unfold unencumbered by social, political or economic agendas.
- Working with the Older Child in the Kindergarten.(by Jennie Salyer/ former Waldorf School of Bend Kindergarten Teacher) After attending the West Coast February Conference in Duncan, Jennie documented her impressions. The focus of the conference was on “Educating the Will”. One of the early childhood workshops focused on engaging the children’s will in a mixed-age kindergarten, especially on meeting the needs of the older children. We discussed how the children begin to look at the teacher in a different way as they approach the age of six.
- How Do Waldorf Schools Teach Children to Read? by Barbara Sokolov.
. . . invariably the question arises of how and when children are taught to read in a Waldorf School. The growing anxiety in our society over declining reading skills is so pervasive that suddenly, all the wonders and beauty of a Waldorf education pale in the shadow of the reading issue. “But Waldorf schools take a laid back approach to reading,” people say. “Waldorf students are not taught to read in first grade like public school students.”
- How Do Waldorf Schools Test and Grade Students?by Jan Kees Salet
. . . In Waldorf schools, exams and quantitative assessments do play a role, but a relatively minor one. One can get results by a system of rewards (good grades) and punishments (bad grades), as one can train a circus horse to do tricks, but such results are forced and bound to be short-lived.
- Are Waldorf Schools Religious Schools? by William Ward
. . . The inspiration for Waldorf Education arises from a worldview or philosophy called Anthroposophy. This broad body of research, knowledge, and experience holds a spiritual view of human nature and development.
- Waldorf and Montessori
A comparison between the two school systems by Barbara Shell.
A list of things to do without being exposed to media.