Monday, February 2014
PTO VOICES OF THE PARENTS features school news and perspective pieces from parents in the CWS community on topics ranging from parenting issues, to personal growth and the Waldorf experience. Parents who would like to submit ideas for short reflections should contact the Parent Voices Editor, Karen Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org
PTO Shakes It Up, Rolls Out New Goals, by Karen Anderson
In January, Sarah Wellington and Karen Anderson (yours truly) joined Sally Rosenthal as co-chairs of the PTO. We have begun brainstorming and planning to create PTO goals that are meaningful to volunteers while supporting the school. Although plans are still in the early stages, many ideas are being considered.
Some proposed goals include:
• Creating a community-wide art project that will enhance our permanent campus
• Presenting a kindergarten tea room at May Fair
• Supporting school volunteers
• Providing conversation forums for parents to discuss important topics such as media management
• Staying in touch with our community
• Having fun while reaching our goals
In our discussions about our hopes and dreams for the PTO and really for the entire school, Sarah Wellington used the phrase "connecting the community." I think it describes the PTO's core mission and reminds us of why we like to volunteer in the first place. But we have only begun what we hope becomes a larger dialogue. We would love to hear your ideas and suggestions as we begin this journey together. Please contact your PTO representative or a co-chair to share your pertinent thoughts (their contact info is in the school directory).
COMMUNITY HAPPENINGS AT CWS- February 2014
Parents are invited to submit announcements of local events of interest to the Waldorf community. Submit events to Community Happenings Editor, Cat Bradley at email@example.com
• New Student Welcome!
CWS would like to welcome Alex Leonard who has joined our 11th grade class.
• BREAD IS FOR EATING: A Cuisine Camp for Winter Break
This workshop camp will include culinary instruction and demonstrations in bread-making from different cultures from around the world. Students will get to bake or sample different breads daily. Mon, Feb. 17 – Fri, Feb. 21 taught by Andrea Shaffer & Claude Driscoll, grade school faculty. Ages 6 - 12 years old. Children should bring their own bag lunches, and dress appropriately for outside play time.
Payment to ensure space reservation is due to the Main Office by Thursday Feb 13th
Please see Main Office for Camp Registration Form (1 form per child) with your payment.
Costs: $250 per child for 5 days of camp
Spaces will be filled on a first come, first served basis. No “drop-ins” available.
• The Chicago Waldorf School’s 10th Grade presents Euripides’ IPHIGENIA
Thu – Fri, Feb. 13-14, 2014 at 7:30pm in the CWS Auditorium. Euripides' tragic story of Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra is part of the saga of the mythical House of Artreus. Recommended for grades 5 and up. Admission is free. Donations at the door will support the 10th Grade's Spring Service Learning trip.
• Presented by the Inclusion & Diversity Committee- Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequality
This film asks America to talk about the causes and consequences of systemic inequality. Free screening and discussion, Mar. 10th, 2014. Lower Eurythmy Room, 7pm-9pm. This screening is open to the public, high school students, parents and friends. Follow this link for more information.
• Spring Concert Rescheduled to April 30th!
On Wed, Apr. 30, 2014 from 7pm-8:45pm instrumental ensembles from grades 5-12 will present select pieces to showcase their hard work and progress this year at the Spring Concert. We warmly invite the community to attend this exciting evening concert and experience the full scope of the Waldorf instrumental curriculum!
• Evening Workshop with Susanne Zipperlen, Therapeutic Eurythmy Teacher and Dr. Andrea Rentea
Join us Wed, Mar. 19, 2014 from 7pm-9pm to explore how therapeutic Eurythmy can support the memory forces in school aged child. Come to the Lower Eurythmy Room prepared to join in therapeutic Eurythmy movements and exercises! This event is sponsored by ATHENA (Association of Therapeutic Eurythmy in North America) and Chicago Waldorf School.
CWS Alumnus Laura Holdrege is recording her travels through Nicaragua and Mexico for the next five months in a travel diary. Read about her adventures here.
WALDORF IN THE NEWS
• China Discovers Alternative Education
Read the New Yorker article that has gone viral about Waldorf Education in China. Click here to read the article.
• Share This With All the Schools, Please
An article by a popular mommy-blogger about how violence begins with disconnection. Read it here.
Tuesday, February 2014
Above: Hand-drawn illustrations and cursive handwriting are standards in a 4th grade block book.
In Waldorf schools throughout the world, students practice handwriting, blockletters or cursive every day as they write their curriculum into their hand-made block books. This quintessential Waldorf tradition meets many cognitive, physical and developmental needs in the growing child. While changing curriculum standards for many contemporary schools are replacing cursive lessons with keyboarding and digital literacy requirements, Waldorf schools continue a firm dedication to the value of children using their own hands to create self-made text books. A new article published in the March issue of Psychology Today Magazine supports the evidence that the process of learning cursive writing has many benefits for child development.
Subtitled "Cursive Writing Makes Kids Smarter," the article--written by William R. Klemm, D.V.M, Ph.D., a Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University--goes on to extoll the virtues of the physical manipulations and cognitive processing involved in learning how to, and writing in, cursive. This process is a translation and archiving of information that aids comprehension, memory, interpretational translation and other learning processes.
Here are a few representative excerpts from the article:
…scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn “functional specialization,” that is capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking...
"…There is a whole field of research known as “haptics,” which includes the interactions of touch, hand movements, and brain function. Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual, and tactile information, and fine motor dexterity. School systems, driven by ill-informed ideologues and federal mandate, are becoming obsessed with testing knowledge at the expense of training kids to develop better capacity for acquiring knowledge.
The benefits to brain development are similar to what you get with learning to play a musical instrument. Not everybody can afford music lessons, but everybody has access to pencil and paper. Not everybody can afford a computer for their kids−maybe such kids are not as deprived as we would think....Cursive is not dead yet. Parents need to insist that cursive be maintained in their local school."
Here is the link to read the complete article:
Interested in reading more articles about Waldorf Education? Visit our Waldorf In the News media archive.
Tuesday, February 2014
An Open Invitation from the Inclusion & Diversity Committee
Did you know that there is a group of people in the school committed to celebrating the diversity that exists in our community and finding ways to celebrate, improve and strengthen each person’s unique contribution to the school? For several years this group of teachers, administrators, board members and parents have met and discussed observations, shared ideas and have increasingly been able to collaborate with school leadership on new solutions to barriers of inclusion.
Our committee works with a few basic assumptions about Inclusion and Diversity:
Diversity includes considerations of race, ethnicity, learning style, socio-economic status, religion, gender, sexual orientation, family structure, physical ability, and anything else that presents as a difference and where there is also a basis for connection
Educational equity is sought, but is not “everyone gets a shirt” but “everyone gets a shirt that fits”
Diversity is not “counting heads” but “making heads count”
All of us are diminished by a lack of diversity, or by a lack of inclusiveness, and our educational environment is less relevant for today’s world without inclusiveness
This is everyone’s work to do and there can be no passive bystanders
We are all learning how to approach this issue with sensitivity and growing awareness, but the important thing is to continue to be aware and actively ask questions and seek answers
For the first time this year comprehensive training sessions are being taken by 15 members of the CWS faculty, staff, and members of the IDC (Inclusion and Diversity committee). These sessions are led by National SEED Project Lead Trainer, Daniel Cohen, who is an educator and also a parent in our Early Childhood Program. The hope is that over time not only will all the teachers participate in this program, but also there can be a parent group that participates.
YOU CAN BE INVOLVED!
If you are interested in this topic, there are many ways you can be involved, from giving your opinions/asking questions/sharing observations, to working on projects, growing connections between the school and cultural organizations in the city, to hosting a diversity movie night in your home. Please email Andrea Shaffer IDC Co-Chair if you have questions or are interested in getting involved: firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcoming IDC Sponsored Events:
“Cracking the Codes”—free film screening and discussion
March 10th, 2014
Lower Eurythmy Room, 7pm-9pm
This screening is open to the public, parents and their friends as well as our High School students.
Tuesday, November 2013
VOICE OF THE PARENTS
Periodically we feature school news and perspective pieces from parents in the CWS community
ranging on topics from parenting issues to personal growth and the Waldorf experience.
All School Meeting Focuses on Children and Media
by Karen Anderson, parent & PTO member
The All School Meeting on Wednesday, October 23rd provided our community with a rare opportunity to explore together the questions we face as parents trying to guide our children’s media use. In addition to the signature school news updates traditionally offered at All School Meetings, this program featurde psychotherapist and trainer Kelli Underwood, LCSW, who delivered a presentation and moderated a discussion on the theme, “Toddlers to Teens: Our Children and Screens.”
The reach of media in children’s lives is powerful. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates the average child is spending seven hours a day on entertainment media including television, computers, phones and other electronic devices. And while I’m sure many families in the Waldorf school are well below that average, we are part of a society transformed by screens.
In her presentation, Ms. Underwood offered parents some practical tips on helping children to develop healthy media use habits. The community discussion part of the program provided a platform for the parents to exchange ideas and explore guidelines about screen use, including social media. The virtual social world is where many children run into problems, so a discussion with peers’ parents is priceless. Additionally, Ms. Underwood, a former adjunct faculty member at the University of Chicago’s Master’s in Social Work Program, explored topics such as games, apps and the effects of screen time exposure on young people.
The meeting program also featured its cornerstone agenda items, including all the latest breaking school news. Speakers delivered updates on our quest for a long-term permanent campus for the school, the progress of the Capital Campaign and the initiatives of the Development Committee, among other topics, including the new lunch program. ---
Parents who would like to submit ideas for short reflections to Voice of the Parents should contact Karen Anderson at email@example.com Imagery Sources: Top Image and Bottom Image
Continuing the Dialogue: sharing Parent Resources:
As a follow-up to the discussion on media and screen exposure at the All School Meeting in October, we'd like to share these perspectives on parenting strategies around the issue:
• From the Desk of Kim John Payne: Screens and Social Media- Kim John Payne published a short piece in his October e-Newsletter. Sign up for “Simplicity Parenting” to get these monthly updates.
• Why I Don't Want to Get a Cell Phone for my Kids- CLICK HERE for an interview on Conan O'Brien, where comedian, Louis CK offers--in his typically brash and honest manner--a parent's insight into the experience of his young daughters wanting to use cell phones. (Alert: the video uses some profane language ) Thanks to parent Andy Nebel for the submission.
• Waldorf Schools: Blackboards, Not Laptops- In this highly profiled and controversial New York Times article, "A Silicon Valley School that Doesn't Compute," the Waldorf approach to screens is spelled out. This article led to a profusion of media profiles on Waldorf education that interviewed some of its most unexpected champions; international tech company executives and digital CEOs.
Tuesday, November 2013
Edited by Becky Moskowitz, 3rd Grade Teacher
Illustrations by David Dozier, High School Faculty
Waldorf education adheres strongly to the belief that every student has an imagination and an artistic capacity to bring their ideas to life. As educational research continues to confirm, developing these abilities also supports the emergence of creative thinking and problem-solving skills in addition to helping students discover confidence and wonder in the inherent beauty of the world. By incorporating the arts into the general curriculum, all learning at the Chicago Waldorf School is enhanced through multi-sensory experiences of the subjects. Students also develop a deeper ownership of their course work when they put together their own lesson books, participate in activities such as drama and music productions and enhance their observational skills through their own artistic renderings.
David Dozier teaches art history, painting in oils and watercolor, drawing, calligraphy and block printing at the Chicago Waldorf School, as well as drawing skills to adults in the Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program. He has a Master's degree in Education (with a Certificate in Waldorf Education) from Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, NH, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Layton School of Art and Design in Milwaukee, WI, with academic accreditation from Marquette University. As a Chicago Waldorf School instructor, David brings his proficiency in all traditional media; oils, pastels, watercolors, drawing, printing, and sculpture, and his work ranges from paintings done from imagination to portraits, landscapes, and still life done with a spectrum palette, painting colors true to the existing light conditions.
The object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful.
-Plato (The Republic)
Over the years, David has become infamous for drawing stealth sketches of faculty members during our weekly full faculty meetings.
“I enjoy faculty meetings not only for their stated purposes, but also for the opportunity to practice drawing stealth portraits. I have known teachers who knit in meetings to help them stay focused on the topic of conversation, and drawing serves the same purpose for me. Drawing during a meeting is not a distraction for me, but a way of helping myself focus on what is being discussed, and to not becoming fidgety. It’s important to mention that the subjects aren't posing for me and are hopefully unaware that I'm drawing them specifically, even though they may be aware that I'm drawing.” − David Dozier
One of the high school art blocks that David teaches is Black and White Drawing. In this block students are shown how tones of light and dark reveal form. This course allows them to spend long periods of time drawing each other's portraits in profile, full face, and ¾ profile, drawing from imagination, and working out tonal plane relationships. Drawings are done in both charcoal and graphite on white paper, and in white chalk and pencils on black paper.
This portfolio of observational drawings made during faculty meetings shows David’s attention to detail and his ability to focus; a process which he models in assignments and drawing classes with the High School students.
Tuesday, November 2013
CWS Teacher John Trevillion is a true “renaissance man:” teacher, dramatist, playwright, director, and author. John has co-authored the book Music of the Spheres and directed the play of the script. This musical which he wrote for middle school students is a delightful adaptation of scenes from the life of Johannes Kepler. The play is an important contribution to Waldorf curriculum, integrating many fields including Science, History, Biography, Music and Drama into rich storytelling. This play is a valuable pedagogical tool and significant Waldorf curriculum module for the 8th grade block that studies revolutionary thinking and innovation in historical contexts .
You can purchase the book, “Music of the Spheres,” through the AWSNA publications website.
Tuesday, November 2013
Neuroscientist, Thomas Südhof, MD, professor of molecular and cellular physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine. Südhof graduated from the Hannover Waldorf School in Germany in 1975. Below is an excerpt from the Stanford University Report announcing his award. Or you can read the full article at its source.
"Neuroscientist Thomas Südhof, MD, professor of molecular and cellular physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He shared the prize with James Rothman, PhD, a former Stanford professor of biochemistry, and Randy Schekman, PhD, who earned his doctorate at Stanford under the late Arthur Kornberg, MD, another winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The three were awarded the prize "for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells."
"I'm absolutely surprised," said Südhof, 57, who was in the remote town of Baeza in Spain to attend a conference and give a lecture. "Every scientist dreams of this. I didn't realize there was chance I would be awarded the prize. I am stunned and really happy to share the prize with James Rothman and Randy Schekman."
Südhof noted that, although he hasn't directly worked with either of the other winners, their work was complementary and he called the Nobel committee "ingenious" in pairing the three of them. The researchers will share a prize that totals roughly $1.2 million, with about $413,600 going to each.
"Tom Südhof has done brilliant work that lays a molecular basis for neuroscience and brain chemistry," said Roger Kornberg, PhD, Stanford's Mrs. George A. Winzer Professor in Medicine. Kornberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2006. He is the son of Arthur Kornberg, in whose lab Schekman received his doctorate...."
"Thomas Südhof is a consummate citizen of science. His unrelenting curiosity, his collaborative spirit, his drive to ascertain the minute details of cellular workings, and his skill to carefully uncover these truths — taken together it's truly awe-inspiring.
- Lloyd Minor, MD, Dean of the School of Medicine, Stanford University
"We've made so many major advances during the past 50 years in this field, but there's still much more to learn," said Südhof, who in a 2010 interview with The Lancet credited his bassoon instructor as his most influential teacher for helping him to learn the discipline to practice for hours on end. "Understanding how the brain works is one of the most fundamental problems in neuroscience."
Photo Credit: Steve Fisch
Read the full article at its source in Stanford News
Wednesday, October 2013
by 3rd grade teacher, Becky Moskowitz
In 3rd grade the child experiences a new outlook; the question arises within the child’s consciousness, “Who am I?” In Waldorf education we recognize this realization of selfhood as the 9-year change. New capacities for thinking and judgment are emerging. The unity of all things experienced in earlier years gives way to an inner/outer dichotomy; “I am here, and the world is there.” This brings self-consciousness and a critical view of oneself and of others. Personal opinions and strong likes and dislikes are emerging. A new realistic view of the world is beginning to manifest itself. The 3rd grade curriculum helps the child move through this developmental stage by studying the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures, engaging in the practical arts of Farming, House-Building & Working Fibers, and practicing the mathematical skills of Measurement, Long Multiplication & Division, Exchanging Currency and Telling-Time.
I have Celebrated Shabbat for many years with other 3rd grade classes, and the reverence and peace it brings to the children is precious...
The hands-on experience of this year’s curriculum includes cooking, building, fiber arts, making transactions with money, reading clocks to tell time, preparing soil, planting, tending and harvesting in the garden. Each activity has the purpose of connecting the child in a very concrete way to the material world. In a sense, the world is demystified by the child’s growing knowledge of how-to-do-things in life – which offers a perfect antidote to the challenges of the 9-year change. Another strong remedy for children of this age is the feeling of reverence.
It’s been said that Shabbat is the most important Jewish holiday because of its weekly rhythm and its emphasis on resting!!! This also connects the students to the story of the Seven Days of Creation from the Hebrew Scriptures and it ties in the idea of rhythm and time.
Every Friday, my class goes to wash their hands and then re-enters the room in silence. I lead them through three Hebrew blessings over the candles, the wine (grape juice) and the challah bread. I have celebrated Shabbat for many years with other 3rd grade classes, and the reverence and peace it brings to the children is precious. We adults have all kinds of religious, agnostic or atheist beliefs but that is not the main purpose of this classroom activity; we celebrate Shabbat because the children need to experience devotion and reverence. I teach the children these blessings and once they have mastered them, we opened up our classroom for parents to join us. This is a wonderful way to create closure for the week and begin the weekend.