Friday, March 2014
In last month's Bulletin we shared an article in the New Yorker magazine about the expansive growth of Waldorf schools in China. Now here is a second article, "The Rise of Alternative Education in China" from CNN about China's cultural shift from state-run schools to more humanist centered models of education. Here is the introduction to the artice (which you can read in full on the CNN website).
"When five-year-old Xiao Ge starts primary school in Guangzhou next year, she won't endure strict discipline and mountains of homework. Unlike the school life of most children in China, her days will be filled with art, music and creative learning at a private Waldorf school. Xiao is part of a fast-growing number of Chinese children whose parents are turning their backs on the state-run education system, which is based on rote learning and limited critical thinking. Instead, they are choosing independently-run schools that use the Waldorf, Montessori, or Reggio Emilia pedagogies.
Despite a lack of regulation over these schools, parents prefer the humanistic approach of these classrooms and the perceived softer learning environment. "Compared with studying under the public system, my daughter will get a healthier education and life here," says Xiao's mother, Lu Dan, when we met at the Hairong Waldorf School Xiao is attending in the southeastern city of Guangzhou....
...China has undeniably gained the world's attention for outstanding academic performance. Shanghai's 15-year olds lead in mathematics, science and reading, as seen in the 2013 Pisa survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, rating the performance of children across 65 regions....But the "tiger mom, wolf dad" approach to education is not without consequence. Chinese youth suffer higher levels of depression and lower self-esteem than their peers elsewhere. Last autumn, a 10-year-old boy in the city of Chengdu reportedly jumped 30 floors to his death after failing to write a 1,000-word letter of self-criticism demanded by his teacher.
“Perhaps in reaction to this phenomenon, China has seen a major expansion of alternative teaching establishments. These schools emphasize a holistic approach to education and use qualitative assessment methods, especially for kindergarten and primary school students.”
While there are no official figures for the current number of alternative schools in China, headmaster Wei estimates that some 40 schools and as many as 500 kindergartens operate across the country. His own primary school and three kindergartens in Guangzhou have about 300 students, each paying CNY40,000 (US$6,500) a year, with 300 more queuing to get in."
Click here to continue reading the article in its entirety at the CNN website, via the "On China" bureau.
Photo credit: Johan Nylander
For more articles (and videos of news coverage) on Waldorf education please visit Waldorf In the News.
Friday, March 2014
We have a very unique opportunity this Friday from the Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble. Come join us for children-focused day performances and an adult evening performance from this exceptional ensemble.
The Tide Is Turning
Friday March 28th / 7:30-9:00pm in the auditorium
This full evening program (for adults and grades 7-12 grade students) opens dramatically with a speech piece inspired by Chief Seattle calling us to awaken to our responsibility to this earth and to our fellow human beings. An accompanying tone piece, Bela Bartok in Memoriam by Gyorgy Ligeti deepens this call - and continues to develop through Sweet Honey in the Rock by E. Ethelbert Miller, music by Kurtag and ESV's pianist, Marcus Macauley and Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.
The program continues with light tone pieces, humorous pieces of poetry, and a lovely colorful piece by Dmitri Shostakovich, Op. 87 Prelude & Fugue No. 7 in A major. The program ends with an inspiring poem by Hilda Doolittle and a glorious closing with Ballade in G minor by Frederic Chopin.
- No admission fee; donations gratefully accepted at the door
Karen and Mark Lohss (alumni parents) are making the Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble performances at our school possible through a generous gift. Also come see our Waldorf alumni and faculty perform: Averi Lohss, a CWS alum, and Elsa Macauley, an Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program graduate, are both members of the company.
Friday, February 2014
More affirmation of the Waldorf approach to learning and building of “essential life skills.”
We wanted to share the Sunday Feb 22nd New York Times Op Ed Column by geopolitical critic, cultural commentator and author, Thomas Friedman. In interviewing the Senior VP of Human Resources at Google, both men expressed the growing value of “soft skills” for the 21st century, which supports the quintessential values promoted in Waldorf education. Waldorf education shares many core similarities as detailed in the article.
Below is a quoted excerpt, or you can read the entire article here.
One of the main attriburtes Google looks for, “is leadership — in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”
Waldorf education has always focused on students' capacities for self-direction and integrative thinking, through service learning and in collaboration.
Similarily in the article, both men identify that, “For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.
The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.”
How to Get a Job at Google - New York Times posted, Feb. 22, 2014
Thursday, February 2014
To all parents, students, family members, friends and CWS supporters,
You are invited to attend the
2014 Senior Project Presentations
Wed., March 5th thru Fri., March 7th in the CWS Auditorium
Come support the seniors and review their culminating artistic and academic research work. View their artistic projects on exhibition in the back of the auditorium, witness their individual topic-based presentations, and finally engage in dialogue with them in the follow-up Q&A sessions.
Come and be inspired as our seniors become the teachers and share their extensive knowledge of these independently selected and researched topics.
Class of 2014 Senior Project Presentations
Wednesday, March 5th
1:15pm Welcome to Senior Projects
1:30pm Lindsay Thompson - The Evolution of Love: From Initial Attraction to Secure Attachment (9th grade and up)
2:15pm Rebecca Lavin-Burgher - The Culture of Chocolate (3rd grade and up)
Thursday, March 6
1:30pm Malcolm Collins - Karve: A Viking Long Ship (4th grade and up)
2:15pm Adele Erickson - From Pinhole to Digital: The Art of Photography (1st grade and up)
6:00pm Mercedes Randolph - Running Dry: The Limits of Water (5th grade and up)
6:45pm Francisco Alvarez - Amplified: The Electric Guitar and the Music It Made Possible (5th Grade and up)
7:30pm Iris Pavelic - Cymatics-The Healing Aspect of Sound Frequencies (7th grade and up)
Friday, March 7
1:30pm Joseph Wendy - Creating a Franchise: The NFL from Top to Bottom (5th grade and up)
2:15pm Sarah Matthews - Cosmetics and Your Health: Making Better Choices (7th Grade and up)
6:00pm Alex Morson - 3D Modeling: A Digital Art Form (6th grade and up)
6:45pm Jeremy Marder - Digital Filmmaking: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Film (9th Grade and up)
7:30pm Talia Adams - Special Effects: The Common Deceptions of the Movie Industry (6th Grade and up)
8:15pm Cole Ruscitti - Car culture in America (All grades)
9:00pm Closing Festivities
Wednesday, February 2014
Please join us for a viewing of the film:
Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity
Monday, March 10th at 7:00pm, in the Lower Eurythmy Room
Community Event hosed by the Chicago Waldorf School’s Inclusion & Diversity Committee
A film by Shakti Butler, that asks America to talk about the causes and consequences of systemic inequity. It is designed to deepen the conversation on race. Rooted in love and justice, Cracking the Codes can provide an honest, heartfelt starting point for conversation.
“Cracking the Codes challenges us to build a world that works for everyone.”
– Van Jones, Co-Founder, Rebuilding the Dream
"Cracking the Codes is the most dignified and evidenced response possible to the blithe assertion that we now live in a “post-racial” America." – Yes magazine
Please contact Jennifer Zielinski at 773-828-8468 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Wednesday, February 2014
The New Yorker magazine published a report (Feb 3rd issue) on the rapid growth and increasing success of Waldorf schools in China. As a new education reform movement has demonstrated shifting attitudes in China, the spread of Waldorf schools offering alternatives to the standards set in government regulated schools reflect a model of the growth of Waldorf education all over the world.
Here are sources for further reading on this issue:
The source at the New Yorker and the full article in PDF format.
An accompanying slide show for the article. All photography (including above) by Carolyn Drake.
From AsiaOne News, an article on education & Waldorf schools in China
Further education articles in the New Yorker
Further articles and videos about Waldorf Education
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
• 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.