Thursday, 10 September 2009

More pictures ...and a bit about learning and forgetting

A chalk drawing from the blackboard...the tree of life...

Here's a bit from another Steiner site about what Class Three is about

Third Grade:
After the learning personality is developed and students have learned to take responsibility for engaging it in the life of the class, their childhood in a sense ends. As mentioned previously until this point, children have for the most part experienced their feelings as only arising in response to concrete life situations, when listening to stories, and when imitating concrete life situations and stories. But now, they notice their feelings may arise in response to inner imagined situations.

The exercise of this capacity leads to a child realizing that their feeling life may be independent of their relationships with parent, peer or teacher. Before this time, a child's feelings were like garments that others gave them to wear depending on the weather. Hopefully the garments they were given always kept them warm. But now, they must chose their own garments, and they have little experience at judging the weather.

This independence of their feeling life and therefore responsibility for their feeling life causes for children anxiety and a lost of self-confidence. Though if a proper foundation as been set, students this year will conquer writing, reading and arithmetic, they will also study house building, farming and textiles. The application of these academic skills and human-craft will rebuild the self -confidence of students, and stories about leaders such as Noah, Moses and Harriet Tubman who, with an inner source of strength, lead others through difficult situations will support the resolution of rising anxieties.

Sunflowers from the school's garden decorate the notice board with stones and shells...

A piece from the story they are doing. It is the story of creation - Donna gets them to listen to the story on one day, act it out on the second, paint it on the third and then write it on the fourth. Using the learning-forgetting methodology the children are quietly learning...

Nature table with the offerings of autumn's fruit - from the earth and the woods.

The boys enjoy a pillow fight in the 'quiet' corner which Donna's made in the class.

A bit about learning and forgetting. Else, the school's mentor and guardian angel - one of the many ones that we have - gave a wonderfully inspiring talk about how children learn to parents last semester. It was incredibly inspiring and reassuring.

The talk was partly organised because Else is such a wonderful talker, but it was also done because this learning-forgetting aspect of Steiner education is so at odds with our mainstream method of education where the knowledge is constantly 'being pulled to the surface'.

Else began the talk by recalling how when she first encountered an amarylis it took such a long time before it blossomed. It seemed like it was doing nothing at all for ages and it was most frustrating and bewildering. Then finally, when it was not convinient for herself - when she was about to leave for a long journey - the flower finally opened. She said it was truly miraculous to behold its beauty - and all the growing that it had done in silence was necessary and could not be rushed.

This was the analogy for the way children learned. It has been observed that the mind and the way we develop is not a contanst upward trajectory. Like everything else in nautre - including waterfalls - development pulses. There is movement and then there is rest. (This movement of waterfalls was independantly observed by Oisin in the Mournes without any prompting from me - look at how the water beats mom, he said to me.) Even if it is infinitesimal.

Waldorf/Steiner education observes and works with this. Instead of constantly pulling the information to the surface through testing, it allows the learning to settle and work with the child. It does not insist that children learn at a particular rate either as each child is different and each child has its own gifts. What is common is the nurturing of the spirit-soul that takes place through the education.

Many parents then shared their own experience of how their children learned. This was reassuring to others who were still in the process and naturally would feel anxious if their children weren't seen to be 'progressing normally'. Wait and see, be patient, was Else's advice.

She also recounted the change from Middle to Upper school and how this was often challenging for everyone as they road out the adolescent growth spurt. "It makes me laugh every year when Lower School teachers say to Upper School teachers 'What have you done with my angels?' and Upper School teachers say to Lower School teachers 'Did you teach these children anything?' We must be patient and trust the process - one day when we least expect it, we will see this wonderful amarylis."

Here's a piece from our website taken from the Steiner curriculum handbook about learning and forgetting...enjoy :-)

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