Posts Tagged ‘Waldorf Education’

Resources by Approach

If you have taken my quiz to find your homeschooling style, you are now wondering what to do with that information. Where do you begin? Well, simply put, you read, read anything and everything you can find about any approaches that seem to be a good fit for you or which just intrigue you. To help you in that endeavor, I am providing below a resource list for each approach to get you started.

Homeschooling Resources, by Approach

Robinson Curriculum

The Robinson Curriculum was designed by one man, Dr. Art Robinson, in the 1990s. As such, there is pretty much one place to find out about it, his website:

http://www.robinsoncurriculum.com

Moore Method Homeschooling

The Moore Method was developed by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, also, I believe, in the 90s. (It is not to be confused with another Moore Method used in universities and developed by Robert Lee Moore.) The Bible (if you’ll pardon the expression) for this method is their book:

The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore

You can also find them online at:

http://www.moorefoundation.com (seems to be identical to http://www.moorehomeschooling.com)

Ruth Beechick’s Approach to Homeschooling

Ruth Beechick has been writing about education since at least the early 1980s and has many books including You Can Teach Your Child Successfully, The Three R’s and A Biblical Home Education.

Advocates of her approach can be found online at:

http://www.homehearts.com

“Ruth Beechick 101” by Sarah MacKenzie at http://www.amongstlovelythings.com

Unit Studies

Unit Studies is more of a way to do schooling that can be combined with other approaches, notably Ruth Beechick’s and the Moore Method. I do think it has its own presuppositions, though, so I include it among my list of approaches. If you Google “unit studies,” you will get a long list of sites with unit studies prepared for you. If you want to read more about the how and why of unit studies, try these:

http://www.unitstudy.com

“The Joy and Ease of Learning Through Child-Led Unit Studies” by Kandi Chong at http://www.besthomeschooling.org

You can read my thoughts in unit studies here and here.

Montessori

Maria Montessori was an educator in the very early 1900s. You will still find many Montessori schools today, particularly for the elementary years. She wrote a couple of books: Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook, The Montessori Method,  and The Absorbent Mind.

Other books on her approach include Teach Me to Do It Myself by Pat Thomas and How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin.

Some of the resources I made use of when learning about the Montessori approach are:

Montessori Education” from Wikipedia

Montessori FAQ’s” from http://www.michaelolaf.net

Montessori Homeschooling” from http://www.montessori.edu

You can also read my post on Montessori education here.

Waldorf

Waldorf education was created in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner. Christopherus Homeschooling identifies itself as “Waldorf-inspired” and Oak Meadow, another curriculum which can be used independently or as a distance learning option, also has some roots in the Waldorf approach.

Books on Waldorf include:

Understanding Waldorf Education by Jack Petrash

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa Ross

The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook by Donna Ashton

Websites:

“Oak Meadow and Waldorf” from http://www.oakmeadow.com

An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling” by Donna Simmons from www.ChristopherusHomeschooling.org

http://www.waldorfworks.org

http://www.waldorfanswers.com

Enki

Enki is an offshoot of Waldorf, with some Montessori elements as well, which was developed by Beth Sutton in 1989.

It can be found at:

www.enkieducation.org

Enki Education” from http://www.treeoflifehomeschool.blogspot.com

Classical/Great Books

When we speak of “classical” education, we are really talking abut the modern classical movement (how’s that for an oxymoron?). Based upon the  classical education on the Middle Ages, it was resurrected by Dorothy Sayers in 1948 in her essay “The Lost Tools of Learning.” The main expositions of it (in its secular form) are the Core Knowledge Foundation created by E. D. Hirsch and the “Great Books” movement of Mortimer Adler.

Books and articles on classical education:

The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy L. Sayers (and my review here)

The False Promise of Classical Education” by Lisa VanDamme at http://www.theobjectivestandard.com

Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus by Mortimer Adler, as well as many other books

The very-popular-among-homeschoolers series What Your …. Grader Needs to Know is actually put out by E.D. Hirsch of the Core Knowledge Foundation. Hirsch also has other books including The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.

Websites:

http://www.coreknowledge.org

http://www.thegreatideas.org

My post on modern classical education can be found here.

Christian Classical

The go-to book for the modern Christian classical movement, which also finds its origins in Sayers’ article, is The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.

Other books:

The Case for Christian Classical Education by Douglas Wilson

The Liberal Arts Tradition by Ravi Jain and Kevin Clark

Websites:

http://www.circeinstitute.org

http://www.triviumpursuit.com

http://www.accsedu.org

http://www.veritaspress.com

biblicalhomeschooling.org/classical

My article on Christian classical is here.

Charlotte Mason

If you want to truly understand Charlotte Mason’s approach, you need to read her 6 volume series on Home Education. It can be found online here.

Having said which, Charlotte’s writing can be a little hard to comprhened initially if you are not sued to reading her more dense late-19th century style. I recommend beginnign with one or more of the following books:

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levinson

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola

After getting this introduction, try one of Charlotte’s books. Many recommend starting with the sixth volume. I disagree. I think that Charlotte has reached a different point by her 6th volume. It is written after WWI and her sense of urgency has increased. I recommend reading volumes 1, 2 and 3 in order. Volume 4 is a wonderful, wonderful book all people should read, but it is not inherently about educating children. It is more like an owner’s manual for your mind. Volume 5 is a collection of different sorts of essays, with a more practical twist than most of her books, and can also be left by the wayside initially.

Websites:

http://www.simplycharlottemason.com – free curriculum guides, discussion forums, articles and more

http://www.amblesideonline.com – also a free curriculum guide, Ambleside is a little more intense than SCM

http://www.charlottemasonhelp.com

and, of course, this blog 🙂

Thomas Jefferson Education

TJEd is the brain-child of Oliver DeMille, created in the 1990s. He has a number of books including A Thomas Jefferson Education and A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion.

George Wyeth University uses the principles of TJEd; their website is gw.edu.

Websites:

http://www.tjed.org

http://www.tjed-mothers.com

My post on TJEd is here.

Biblical Principle Approach

The Principle Approach, or Biblical Principle Approach (BPA), is the work of the Foundation for American Christian Education. Their curriculum is called the Noah Plan.

Websites:

http://www.face.net

The Principle Approach” from http://www.homehearts.com

Find my initial post on BPA here.

Reggio Emilia

Reggio Emilia is an approach which developed in Italy after WWII.

Books:

Working in the Reggio Way by Julianne Wurm and Celia Genishi

The Hundred Languages of Children by Carolyn Edwards and Lella Gandini

Bringing Reggio Emilia Home by Louise Boyd Cadwell and Lella Gandini

Websites:

http://www.aneverydaystory.com

http://www.reggioalliance.org

Accelerated Learning

AL is an approach was is used for adults in business and other areas but has also been applied to homeschooling.

Books:

Accelerated Learning Techniques for Students by Joe McCullough

The Accelerated Learning  Handbook by David Meier

Websites:

http://www.acceleratedlearning.com

http://www.alcenter.com

http://www.newhorizons.org

http://www.superlearning.com

Unschooling

John Holt is the original guru of unschooling. His books include How Children Learn and Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling.

Other Books:

The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith

Big Book of Unschooling by Sandra Dodd

Free to Learn by Peter Gray (and my reactions to it here and here)

Websites:

http://www.unschooling.org

http://www.unschooling.com

http://www.johnholtgrows.com

“What is Unschooling?” by Earl Stevens at http://www.naturalchild.org

My post on Unschooling is here.

Quiz: Find Your Homeschooling Style

Dear Reader,

One of the pieces of advice I always give new homeschoolers is to think about what your approach is. To aid in this endeavor, I have developed the quiz below.

Why should you take this quiz?

  • Ideas have consequences. Even if you have ever thought about how learning happens or what your goals for your child are, the person who wrote your curriculum has. Those ideas will play out in what is taught and how it is taught. This quiz will help you make sure that what you are using fits your personal philosophy (even if you didn’t know you had one).
  • You are more likely to hit your goal if you know what it is and use the right tool for the job.  If you haven’t thought about what your goals are, this quiz will help you start down that road.
  • You’ll be a more confident homeschooler (and better able to fend off attacks by well-meaning friends and relatives) if you know what you are doing and why. And when your kids some day ask why they need to learn (grammar, algebra, . . . you fill in the blank) you’ll have an answer for them.
  • Your friend’s, sister-in-law’s, neighbor’s goals might not be yours. Never take curriculum advice if you don’t know the approach of the person giving it.
  • There are oodles of homeschooling materials out there. They may be published by lovely homeschooling families (or not), but they are still businesses trying to earn your money. If you are a new homeschooler, this quiz will help you narrow down your choices. If you are a veteran, it will help you make sure you are on the road that is best for you. You may even find approaches you have never heard of or be led to consider new ideas.

How is this quiz different from other ones?

  • I have included no less than 16 approaches to education. (Find them all listed in this Google doc.)
  • I look at not just what is learned and how but also at the big ideas behind each approach — what do they say about human nature?

How do I use the quiz?

  • First, print out the quiz (link opens a Google doc; the quiz questions can also be found below) and circle your answers. With the exception of the last question, you should try to pick the one answer that best fits your ideas.
  • Then print out my list of approaches to homeschooling (again, found in this Google doc). This will be your score sheet.
  • Now read through the answers (answers can be found at the end of this post or in this google doc). For each one make a tally mark or check next to the philosophies that matched your answers.
  • Look back at your score sheet. Are there clear winners and losers? Now is the time to narrow down your choices. Pick a few that seem to be your best matches or that you find intriguing and read up on them.

Finding resources:

One way to start is to look back through all the answers to the quiz. If, for example, Reggio Emilia showed up as a good fit for you, skim back through and see how that approach would answer each question. You can also use the quiz to compare philosophies — if this one fits you for one question, but that one does for another, ask yourself which is most important to you. Many homeschoolers, consciously or unconsciously, combine approaches — is there a way your favorites can be combined?

For a quick overview of each philosophy, check out my bullet points post here. I also have a series covering the philosophies behind many of these approaches which you can find here (I’ll warn you though, I am biased as a reformed Christian and an aficionado of Charlotte Mason’s methods, but hopefully my posts can still give you a start even if you don’t agree with my underlying assumptions).

Want to know more? Check out this resources post which lists websites and books on each philosophy. And if you are looking for even more questions to help develop a philosophy of education, check out this post (but fair warning — it may make your head spin!).

IMG_1066

Questions? Problems?

This document is a work in progress and I expect to emend it over time. Have I missed an approach? Misrepresented one? Do you just not know what to make of your results? Leave a comment or contact me. I am happy to help or to explain why I think a philosophy fits in one category or another.

And now, without further ado . . .

 

Homeschooling Quiz: What’s Your Philosophy?

Questions for new (or not so new) homeschoolers

Part I: What We Learn

Is there a core body of knowledge everyone needs?

A. Absolutely, naming the Presidents in order, reciting the periodic table, and/or knowing the classics of western literature — those are goals I have for my kids.

B. They need a basic foundation (basic math, reading and writing skills), but beyond those education should be more individualized.

C. Not at all.

D. I don’t think there is one core body of knowledge, but some books/art/music/etc. are certainly more valuable than others.

What shall we study?

A. I’m looking for a fairly traditional curriculum, possibly something that lines up with the schools.

B. I’m in favor of a balanced, broad-based education with an emphasis on the liberal arts (history, literature).

C. We need to study the foundations of our civilization — the good books, speeches, etc. of our past.

D. STEM is where it’s at today.

E. The arts are our main emphasis.

F. I don’t have an agenda.

The role of the arts in education is  . . .

A. Optional or non-essential.

B. Secondary.

C. As a core subject

D. As the cornerstone of education.

Hands-on or Hands-off?

A. Handicrafts, physical education, kinetic activities are all great — after our real work is done.

B. Hands-on activities, manipulatives, and physical activities are secondary.

C. Yes, please. Hands-on and/or physical activities are vital for learning.

D. Children learn through free play.

E. Real work is a complement to schoolwork.

Part II: How We Learn

How do you measure learning?

A. Grades and/or standardized tests help me know what my child is learning or needs to learn.

B. I prefer a non-standardized measure at the end of every unit or every year (think broad essay questions at the end of a term, not multiple choice tests).

C. Big projects at the end of a unit or a year help consolidate learning.

D. Learning can’t be measured and doesn’t need to be.

How do you motivate them?

A. Bottom line — schoolwork has to be done, liking it is a bonus but is not necessary.

B. Motivation needs to be internal. The desire to learn should be cultivated.

C. The desire to learn comes naturally to children.

D. Kids learn better when they enjoy their schooling. I try to make schoolwork enjoyable or even fun.

E. I don’t motivate; I inspire.

Learning should be . . .

A. Teacher-directed: Parent/teacher knows best

B. Curriculum-directed : The material to learn is provided but the student works more independently

C. Child-led: Let them follow their interests

D. A blend: the teacher provides a framework within which the student has freedom to choose.

The role of the teacher . . .

A. Is to impart knowledge.

B. Is to select the best materials.

C. Is to be a mentor.

D. Is to be a guide or facilitator.

E. Is to be an example.

F. Is to help find resources.

G. Is to create the right environment for learning.

H. Is to present the materials in the best way.

I. Is minimal. You can’t force learning.

What parts of the personality/person are involved in education?

A. Primarily the mind

B. Hands with mind: the creative side must be appealed to as well as the mind

C. Whole body- mind, physical body, feelings and senses

Early childhood education?

A. Absolutely. Let’s get going here.

B. No. Delay formal learning.

What’s on your homeschool bookshelf?

A. I like textbooks and worksheets. They help me know what my kid is learning and that he is learning.

B. Living/great books all the way.

C. Books? I think there are some propping up the laptop.

D. Hands-on materials, manipulatives, etc.

Now close your eyes and peek into the door of your ideal classroom. Who’s in there?

A. A teacher standing up in front of a class of students

B. One teacher and one student

C. A group with multiple students interacting

D. A teacher sitting amid a small group of students (think a rabbi and his disciples)

E. A true community with multiple adults and children

F. The student alone

G. Classroom? What classroom?

Part III: Who We Are

Ages and Stages

A. Children go through different developmental stages as they grow into adulthood and their education should change with them.

B. There are different stages — but it is more than growth. Children are fundamentally different from adults and evolve into what they will be.

C. Children are “born persons”; they are whole people and how we educate does not need to change as they age.

Encountering the Real World:

A. Part of the reason we homeschool is to protect our kids. No, they are not locked in their rooms, but it’s our job to protect their innocence as long as we can.

B. The best environment takes real things and puts them in kid-sizes and contexts.

C. Children need to experience the real world and interact with real things, with some consideration for what’s age-appropriate.

Choosing the Good and Rejecting the Evil

(The Bible uses this phrase to describe the age at which a child has discernment. We can think of when and if a child knows right from wrong on a moral level but also of when he is able to tell good from bad in other ways — Does he know what is edible or does he put everything in his mouth? Can he choose what is right or best for him or should the choice be trusted to those who care for him?)

A. It’s a parent’s job to train up their children in the way they should go. It’s ultimately our responsibility to make sure they get what they need.

B. The child has a natural taste for the good but is not inherently good.

C. The parent/teacher’s role is to help mold or shape the personality.

D. I don’t impose my will on my kids. They will gravitate towards what they need.

E. My children are evolving into who they should be.

F. Given the right environment, children will develop rightly.

The Nature of Children and What They Will Become:

A. Children are little adults in the making, something like apprentices. I have a picture in mind of what they should be and/or what they should know, and we move towards that goal.

B. “Children are born persons.” They grow in wisdom and knowledge but they are inherently whole people.

C. There is something fundamentally different about children. Childhood is a magical, special time of life.

Part IV: Why We Learn

Let’s talk goals. Finish this sentence: “I want my kids to . . . ” (Pick as many as you like; bonus points if you rank them):

A. Meet academic goals/be equipped for employment or higher education/have success.

B. Contribute to society.

C. Be leaders/make their mark on the world.

D. Be virtuous.

E. Have a love of learning.

F. Care.

G. Have lots of different interests or relationships.

H. Be responsible.

I. Find themselves.

J. Find their interests/passion.

K. Have meaningful lives.

L. Find (and fulfill) their calling.

M. Develop their potential.

N. Learn to think/learn how to learn.

O. Have wholeness.

P. To know God


Homeschooling Quiz: What’s Your Philosophy? (Answer Key)

 Evaluating Your Answers

Okay, now, are you all set? Have you done your best to answer all the questions? Good. Now the next step is to print out your score sheet and read through the comments below. (See the “how to take this quiz” section above.)

A few notes: Not every approach will come up for every question; sometimes an approach just doesn’t address a topic or I don’t have a good enough idea of what they would say for it. I have tried to go with the best, most representative answer for each one, but sometimes an approach will fall into more than one category.

Part I: What We Learn

Is there a core body of knowledge everyone needs?

A. Absolutely, naming the Presidents in order, reciting the periodic table, and/or knowing the classics of western literature — those are goals I have for my kids. Classical, school-at-home, Robinson curriculum, online/distance learning

B. They need a basic foundation (basic math, reading and writing skills) but beyond those education should be more individualized. Ruth Beechick’s approach, Moore

C. Not at all. Unschooling, Reggio Emilia, possibly AL

D. I don’t think there is one core body of knowledge, but some books/art/music/etc. are certainly more valuable than others. Charlotte Mason (CM), the Biblical Principle Approach (BPA), Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd)

What shall we study?

A. I’m looking for a fairly traditional curriculum, possibly something that lines up with the schools. School-at-home, Robinson, online/distance, possibly Moore

B. I’m in favor of a balanced, broad-based education with an emphasis on the liberal arts (history, literature). CM, Classical, TJEd, Robinson, Waldorf (for high school level)

C. We need to study the foundations of our civilization — the good books, speeches, etc. of our past. TJEd, BPA, possibly Classical

D. STEM is where it’s at today. Possibly online/distance

E. The arts are our main emphasis. Enki

F. I don’t have an agenda. Unschool, possibly Reggio Emilia and AL

The role of the arts in education is  . . .

A. Optional or non-essential. School-at-home, online/distance, Robinson

B. Secondary. Possibly Classical

C. As a core subject. CM, Waldorf, Accelerated Learning (AL), possibly Montessori, Reggio Emilia

D. As the cornerstone of education. Enki

Hands-on or Hands-off?

A. Handicrafts, physical education, kinetic activities are all great — after our real work is done. School-at-home, online/distance, possibly CM or Classical (see below), Robinson

B. Hands-on activities, manipulatives, and physical activities are secondary. Possibly CM or Classical. CM advocates handicrafts and physical exercise, but does not use hands-on projects as a part of learning. Classical does not require a hands-on approach, but my experience is that many use hands-on activities (filling in maps, creating lapbooks, etc.) as tools to learning.

C. Yes, please. Hands-on and/or physical activities are vital for learning. Montessori, Waldorf, Enki, Reggio Emilia, AL, possibly Unit Studies and Beechick

D. Children learn through free play. Unschool; CM also sees the value of free play (called “masterly inactivity”) in addition to more formal schooling.

E. Real work is a complement to schoolwork. Moore

Part II: How We Learn

How do you measure learning?

A. Grades and/or standardized tests help me know what my child is learning or needs to learn. School-at-home, Classical, Robinson Curriculum, often online/distance, possibly Moore

B. I prefer a non-standardized measure at the end of every unit or every year (think broad essay questions at the end of a term, not multiple choice tests). CM

C. Big projects at the end of a unit or a year help consolidate learning. Waldorf, Beechick, Reggio Emilia, Enki, BPA, possibly TJEd

D. Learning can’t be measured and doesn’t need to be. Unschooling

How do you motivate them?

A. Bottom line — schoolwork has to be done, liking it is a bonus but is not necessary. School-at-home, online/distance, Classical

B. Motivation needs to be internal. The desire to learn should be cultivated. TJEd, Moore Method, Robinson

C. The desire to learn occurs naturally in children. CM, Unschool

D.  Kids learn better when they enjoy their schooling. I try to make schoolwork enjoyable or even fun. Unit Studies, Beechick

E. I don’t motivate; I inspire. Montessori, to a lesser extent TJEd

Learning should be . . .

A. Teacher-directed: Parent/teacher knows best School-at-home, Classical, possibly Unit studies

B. Curriculum-directed : The material to learn is provided but the student works more independently Online/distance, Robinson  

C. Child-led: Let them follow their interests Unschooling, Reggio Emilia; many allow some degree of following one’s interests including Beechick, Waldorf (in high  school), BPA, AL, Moore; Unit Studies can be done in a child-led way

D. A blend: the teacher provides a framework within which the student has freedom to choose. CM, TJEd, Montessori, Waldorf, Moore (though these approaches may view the framework in very different ways)

The role of the teacher . . .

A. Is to impart knowledge. School-at-home, Classical, possibly Online/distance depending  the program

B. Is to select the best materials. CM, Robinson

C. Is to be a mentor. TJEd, BPA, possibly Unit Studies

D. Is to be a guide or facilitator. Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf (in the later years)

E. Is to be an example. Enki, Waldorf (in the early years), Moore

F. Is to help find resources. Reggio Emilia, Unschooling, possibly Unit Studies

G. Is to create the right environment for learning. Montessori, Beechick, AL, Robinson

H. Is to present the materials in the best way. Unit Studies

I. Is minimal. You can’t force learning.  Unschooling, Robinson, CM, possibly AL

What parts of the personality/person are involved in education?

A. Primarily the mind School-at-home, online/distance, Classical, CM (though handicrafts and PE are secondary), Moore (but with a practical work component as well), BPA, TJEd, Robinson

B. Hands with mind: the creative side must be appealed to as well as the mind Montessori, Unit Studies, Beechick, possibly Reggio Emilia

C. Whole body- mind, physical body, feelings and senses Waldorf, Enki, AL, possibly Reggio Emilia

Early childhood education?

A. Absolutely. Let’s get going here. School-at-home, Classical, and Robinson have provisions for early learning (before age 7 or 8).  Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf, and Enki all have learning at early ages but do not use what I would call “formal learning.”

B. No. Delay formal learning. CM delays formal learning till age 6 or 7. TJEd and Moore Method delay till age 8 (or later). Ruth Beechick omits pre-K and K. And, of course, unschooling never has (forced) formal learning.

What’s on your homeschool bookshelf?

A. I like textbooks and worksheets. They help me know what my kid is learning and that he is learning. School-at-home; Moore method and Classical may both use worksheets and textbooks, but in a limited way

B. Living/great books all the way. Classical (but may use textbooks and worksheets), CM, Beechick (but don’t be too “bookish”), BPA, TJEd, Robinson, Waldorf (in later years)

C. Books? I think there are some propping up the laptop. Online/distance

D. Hands-on materials, manipulatives, etc. Montessori, Waldorf (in early years), Enki, AL, Reggio Emilia, often Unit Studies

Now close your eyes and peek into the door of your ideal classroom. Who’s in there?

A. A teacher standing up in front of a class of students. Okay, this is hard to  achieve at home, but if it is your ideal, you may have a school-at-home mindset. Classical could work here too and they often have coops that provide a classroom setting. CM was also designed for a school setting as was Enki.

B. One teacher and one student. TJEd, Moore, and Beechick emphasize the one-on-one. In a homeschool setting, CM, classical and Enki can work this way. Many approaches will end up one-on-one or with a small group of students, depending on how many children you have.

C. A group with multiple students interacting AL

D. A teacher sitting amid a small group of students (think a rabbi and his disciples) BPA; I think Waldorf, Montessori, and Enki would also fit here.

E. A true community with multiple adults and children. Homeschoolers often pride themselves on being out among all different ages and kinds of people, but Reggio Emilia specifically emphasizes learning within the community.

F. The student alone. Online/distance and Robinson adapt well to this, whether your student wants to or has to work alone (due to other familial constraints). Moore has a slightly larger role for the parent but also a fair amount of working on one’s own.

G. Classroom? What classroom? Unschool

Part III: Who We Are

Ages and Stages

A. Children go through different developmental stages as they grow into adulthood and their education should change with them. Classical, TJEd, Montessori

B. There are different stages — but it is more than growth. Children are fundamentally different from adults and evolve into what they will be. Waldorf, Enki; I’m not sure if Reggio Emilia sees children as evolving into adults, but they also view them as unique, different creatures who “speak a hundred languages.”

C. Children are “born persons”; they are whole people and how we educate does not need to change as they age. Unschooling, CM

Encountering the Real World:

A. Part of the reason we homeschool is to protect our kids. No, they are not locked in their rooms, but it’s our job to protect their innocence as long as we can. Enki; Moore advocates being in the real world on some levels but is also very strongly family-centric

B. The best environment takes real things and puts them in kid-sizes and contexts. Montessori, possibly Waldorf for the early years

C. Children need to experience the real world and interact with real things, with some consideration for what’s age-appropriate. CM, AL, Moore (but see note on A above); Unschooling, as usual, can vary a lot from family to family but my feeling is that in principle it fits best here

Choosing the Good and Rejecting the Evil 

A. It’s a parent’s job to train up their children in the way they should go. It’s ultimately our responsibility to make sure they get what they need. School-at-home, Classical; possibly Unit Studies, Moore, BPA and Robinson

B. The child has a natural taste for the good but is not inherently good. CM

C. The parent/teacher’s role is to help mold or shape the personality. TJEd (though the role of the teacher is more to inspire or model than mold), Beechick; possibly Unit Studies, Moore and BPA

D. I don’t impose my will on my kids. They will gravitate towards what they need. Unschooling; my sense is that Reggio Emilia also fits best here — it has a very high view of the child as a “knowledge bearer”

E. My children evolving into who they should be. Enki, Waldorf, possibly Reggio Emilia

F. Given the right environment, children will develop rightly. Montessori, possibly AL

The Nature of Children and What They Will Become:

A. Children are little adults in the making, something like apprentices. I have a picture in mind of what they should be and/or what they should know, and we move towards that goal. School-at-home, Classical, Montessori, Moore, TJEd, probably Robinson and BPA

B. “Children are born persons.” They grow in wisdom and knowledge but they are inherently whole people. Unschool, CM, AL, possibly BPA and Robinson

C. There is something fundamentally different about children. Childhood is a magical, special time of life. Enki, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia

Part IV: Why We Learn

Let’s talk goals. Finish this sentence: “I want my kids to . . . ” (Pick as many as you like; bonus points if you rank them):

A. Meet academic goals/be equipped for employment or higher education/have success. School-at-home, online/distance, Moore, Robinson, AL, BPA, Classical

B. Contribute to society. Montessori, Enki, Classical, TJEd

C. Be leaders/make their mark on the world. TJEd, Montessori, BPA

D. Be virtuous. Christian Classical, TJEd, BPA

E. Have a love of learning. TJEd; to some extent CM and Moore

F. Care. CM, Enki

G. Have lots of different interests or relationships. CM, Enki; possibly also Waldorf

H. Be responsible. Moore

I. Find themselves. Unschool

J. Find their interests/passion. Beechick, Waldorf, Unschool

K. Have meaningful lives. Waldorf

L. Find (and fulfill) their calling. Waldorf, BPA

M. Develop their potential. AL, Reggio Emilia, Montessori

N. Learn to think/learn how to learn. Beechick, Robinson

O. Have wholeness. Enki

P. To know God. CM (I am sure other Christian homeschoolers might say the same but I am encouraged to include this as a specific goal CM had by this recent article)

 

 

 

 

 

Approaches to Homeschool: Waldorf

Dear Reader,

This post is part of my continuing series on different approaches to homeschool (see these posts on Unit Studies, Classical Ed, Christian classical ed, Charlotte Mason, Thomas Jefferson Education, Unschooling, the Puritans’ Home School curriculum, Montessori, and the Principle Approach). I am asking four questions of each of these approaches. They are:

1. What do they assume about how learning works?

2. How do they view children?

3. How do they view human nature?

4. What do they believe is the goal of education?

The Waldorf method of education was created by Rudolf Steiner in 1919. Steiner was a proponent of a philosophy called anthroposophy. He was also involved in many other areas like architecture and botany. He was asked specifically to form a school for the children of some factory workers and so Waldorf Education came about.

With regard to the first question, how learning works, Waldorf says that children are whole beings. They have minds but also senses, feelings, and a will:

“Steiner viewed human beings as consisting of three spheres of activity—the head, the heart, and the will—that manifest through thoughts, feelings, and physical actions. To educate children to be complete and balanced human beings, we must attend to the needs of all three aspects of a child’s being.” [Lawrence Williams, “Oak Meadow and Waldorf,” Oak Meadow.com]

So we must not educate to the mind only but include these other aspects. So Waldorf schools include a lot of arts as well as specialized kinds of movement.

In the younger years, especially before age 7 or 8, Waldorf says that children learn primarily through imitation. Thus what the teacher or parent does is important. If the mother gardens, for example, the children will learn by coming alongside her and doing what she does. It is easy for me to see how this is true with young children in particular. The Waldorf approach also uses stories and songs and fingerplays extensively in the early years. As they grow, art is added and finally in the teen years a more intellectual type of learning  is introduced along with the arts. The Waldorf method is opposed to traditional book-learning for younger children and does not introduce reading till age 7 or 8:

“Waldorf education is not anti-intellectual. It is, however, anti-early intellectual. At heart, Waldorf education aims to be therapeutic and its goal is to foster the development of healthy well-balanced individuals. It is deeply felt in Waldorf circles that premature intellectualism can drain and deplete a child.” [Donna Simmons, “An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling,” Christopherus Homeschooling .org]

Even in later years, the physical aspect is still important. They say that “Activity always precedes ‘head work’.”

When children reach the age of more organized schooling, their lessons take about 2 hours. One subject is done at a  time for  a period of a few weeks. This has been compared to a unit studies approach to education. They do not use textbooks but instead have the children create their own course books as they learn which reflect their own knowledge. This is similar to Charlotte Mason’s  approach or the Principle Approach in that the child cements their knowledge by recording their learning in some way:

“During these years and throughout high school, topics from the curriculum are taught in 3 – 6 week Main Lesson blocks. The first two hours of each morning is devoted to in-depth study of the topic at hand: this is when Good Books (also known as Main Lesson Books) are created. This is something like the Unit Study approach favored by many homeschoolers.” [Donna Simmons, “An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling,” Christopherus Homeschooling .org]

While parents may be the teachers in early years, traditional Waldorf education says that they should not be after a certain point (I think it is around age 8 again). The Oak Meadow Curriculum which calls itself Waldorf-inspired says:

“First, although Waldorf schools recognize that parents serve as valuable role models and teachers for their children when they are young, they traditionally believe that parents should not serve as the primary teachers of their children beyond the change of teeth. They feel that the proper development of the child’s individuality requires someone other than the parent to act as the primary teacher. ”  [Lawrence Williams, “Oak Meadow and Waldorf“]

In the middle years, one teacher will stay with the student for a number of years. However, in the teen years, different teachers are required for the different subjects.

I have already alluded to some of the answers to questions 2 and 3, about the child’s nature and human nature in general. People are seen as spiritual beings. This belief is based in anthroposophy which you will  recall was the belief system of its founder, Rudolf Steiner. There seems to be some debate as to how important anthroposophy is to Waldorf education today. There can be no doubt, however, that it forms the philosophical basis of this educational theory:

“The anthroposophical view of child development forms the philosophical basis for the educational theory, methodology of teaching and curriculum. Anthroposophy includes the belief that humans possess an innate spirit which, having passed through previous lives, in the current life works to fulfill a chosen purpose in a karmically determined environment. After death, the spiritual individuality returns to the spirit world where it will prepare for a future reincarnation. Waldorf pedagogy views the teacher as having ‘a sacred task in helping each child’s soul and spirit grow.’ Anthroposophy itself, however, is explicitly not part of the Waldorf curriculum.”   [“Waldorf Education,” Wikipedia]

I would think that one could follow a Waldorf model without believing in anthroposophy but not without some sense of the child as a spiritual being.

The individuality of the child is also appreciated (so much so that the parent is not seen as a fit teacher). There is a sense of specific purpose in the life of each one, an idea that we have also seen in other methods as well:

“Waldorf schools recognize the essential divinity within each human being and seek to instill within the child a sense of wonder and reverence for the divine purpose that expresses itself through all creation. They accomplish this through fairy tales, legends, and myths that reveal the divine pattern, through music, art, and dance that open the heart to the beauty of creation, and through the reverence that the teacher brings to the learning process itself.”  [Lawrence Williams, “Oak Meadow and Waldorf“]

As I have alluded to above, Waldorf education sees three stages in the child’s development. We have seen such staged views in many other methods of education (Classical jumps to mind first). Waldorf educators see a distinction, however. In their view, it is not just that children are not yet developed but that they are somehow fundamentally different from adults:

“One key difference here is that though all these other educators of course also recognize distinct stages of child development, for them what this means is very different than what it means to a Waldorf person.  One could (somewhat crudely) summarize Dewey, Holt and Montessori as saying they have an “apprentice” view of childhood. Children are younger, less experienced – but in essence not much different than adults. Therefore, it is simply a question of creating the optimal environment, opportunities for learning. Children should be allowed to lead in their educations as, through the act of learning, they will learn what they need to know.

Quite different from this is  an anthroposophical or Waldorf  point of view, the key element being that little children have a totally different consciousness than adults – even than older children. It is not simply a matter of being less experienced. It is about the little child having a totally different perception of life – and in part, this has to do with the strong spiritual connection little children have – their sense of oneness – the natural religious state of the little child that Steiner refers to. So for a Waldorf person, it is not just that children have less experience – it is that their experience of life is different from an adult’s – and part of an adult’s job is to guide them toward their next stage of life, as their development naturally unfolds. And some of that guidance definitely involves teaching.” [“The Waldorf View on Teaching,” Christopherus Homeschool .com]

The three stages, from the Waldorf point of view, are described as follows:

“The threefold nature of the child manifests through consistent developmental stages, and education is most effective when it approaches the child through the attributes of each developmental stage. These stages are not based upon arbitrary theoretical concepts, but upon observable phenomena in a child’s life. According to Dr. Steiner, The first stage begins at birth and continues to the change of teeth, and during this stage the will, expressing itself through physical growth and movement, is the predominant force in the child’s life. The second stage begins at the change of teeth and progresses through the onset of puberty, with the focus upon the child’s emotional nature. In the third stage, the faculty of thinking predominates, and the child begins to explore the world of thought and become an independent human being. ” [Lawrence Williams, “Oak Meadow and Waldorf“]

These stages are tied to specific developmental milestones such as the losing of baby teeth. Another example would be a change they see around age 9 at which point the child becomes more independent of their parents. These stages are then tied to specific curricula.  For instance:

“In Waldorf schools, Third Graders study Building and Farming, two practical Main Lesson blocks which, on a subtle level, can really speak to the inner experiences of a child who is ‘creating her own self’. Likewise, the Third Grade block on Old Testament stories, with its themes of right and wrong and man’s relationship to God’s authority, is a subject that most 9 year-olds can really relate to (if only subconsciously). ” [Donna Simmons, “An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling“]

This leads us naturally to the question of goals. If the child has a divine element and yet is in a different stage of life, then the goal is to develop them, to move them along on this path. Although children are seen to have unique calling, the goal of Waldorf education is a broad-based one. It is to give a good foundation rather than to help the child specialize:

“An almost Renaissance approach to education: a true liberal arts education where all children take all subjects and do not work only in areas in which they excel.” [Donna Simmons, “An Introduction to Waldorf Homeschooling“]

Put another way:

” . . . one’s early education should give one a palette of experience from which to choose the particular colors that one’s interests, capacities, and life circumstances allow. In a Waldorf high school, older students pursue special projects and elective subjects and activities, nevertheless, the goal remains: each subject studied should contribute to the development of a well-balanced individual.” [“Curriculum,” Why Waldorf Works .org]

The goals then, while broad-based, also relate first of all to the individual:

“The best overall statement on what is unique about Waldorf education is to be found in the stated goals of the schooling: “to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives”. [“Waldorf FAQ, ” Waldorf Answers .com]

There is also a more public component. Waldorf contains a strong emphasis on social responsibility:

“Waldorf schools seek to cultivate pupils’ sense of social responsibility, respect, and compassion; to develop their cooperative capacities; and to enable them to contribute to societal and cultural renewal.”    [“Waldorf Education,” Wikipedia]

This gets us back, perhaps, to where we started, the role of anthroposophy in Waldorf education. While some sites I read would say that you can make use of Waldorf without its original philosophical basis, others hold that the two cannot be divorced. The Christopherus Homeschool Curriculum, another Waldorf based approach, holds that “it is really not possible to separate anthroposophy from Waldorf education at essence” (“The Waldorf View on Teaching“).

So I guess for myself, as I look at this approach, I want to know to what degree anthroposophy really affects is. Where is this philosophy seen in the educational methods? How does it play out? How did it shape this approach and make it different from others  I have looked at?

I am not sure of the answers to all these questions. There is a lot about the philosophy in particular that I cannot wrap my head around. What I have got so far is that anthroposophy says that the spiritual world can be known and understood just like the physical world. I can see how this would have educational implications. If we can know the spiritual world, we should also be teaching it to our children, not confining them to just more physically tangible subjects. But there is also an element of evolution added into this. That is, as physical beings have evolved, so too there is believed to be spiritual evolution. From what I have read, this evolution is believed to have come not gradually but in larger steps. The great religious thinkers of history (as they would call them) represent new levels in human spiritual development. Buddha and Christ are two prime examples of this:

“Another piece of all this is the importance of the Christ in the evolution – spiritual evolution – of humankind. Just as the Buddha brought His great gift of Compassion to humanity, the Christ brought His great gift of Love.” [“Anthroposophy, Religion and Waldorf,” Christopherus Homeschool]

I am not sure how to answer my own questions about how this plays out. But what I think I see is that there is a kind of evolution of the individual. That is, children are one kind of being that must be educated along to become fully developed adults as hopefully we are. But there is also a grander spiritual evolution of humanity, and we should also educate our children so that they can play a part in it. That is where the emphasis on social responsibility would come in. Our goals are not just for the individual but also for the role they can play in the larger scheme of things.

As a side note, I don’t get how reincarnation fits into this. It sounds like every re-birth would be a step backwards since the soul has to begin again as a child and be re-educated. I do see how a belief in reincarnation would lead to a respect for the child who may indeed be an older soul than you or I (but of course it is not a belief I subscribe to).

Waldorf education seems to me to be a product of its age. It came at a time after Darwin’s theory of evolution when people were wrestling with how this idea of evolution might apply to the religious or spiritual side of life. For some of course, there was a conflict and they rejected the idea of human evolution on religious grounds (and still do). For others, like Steiner seems to have, the idea was not rejected but expanded to encompass more than the physical universe.

Personally, while there are statements in the Waldorf approach that I would agree with, like that children are spiritual beings, I cannot as a Christian accept it for its philosophical underpinnings. I do not think that we can use our scientific principles to know the spiritual world. Nor do I think that there is the kind of spiritual evolution that Steiner saw or that Christ is merely one cog in such an evolution. As a Christian, I believe rather that he is the turning point and climax of all of history.

Nebby