The Bulletin

“The Third Metric”: Teaching Joy & Creativity in Math

Monday, April 2014

Lisa Babinet, a Waldorf High School Math teacher from the California Waldorf School of the Peninsula has published a reflection, "Teaching Math and the Third Metric," on the distinctive aspect of teaching and learning Joy in the classroom. Here is an excerpt from her article:

"I teach high school math, which by most accounts is a rather intellectual subject. However, in my latest three-week block teaching conic sections (the curves formed when one slices a cone with a plane) I assigned my students a project where the primary criterion was to create something that brought them joy. Yes, the primary criterion was joy! It did not take them long to come up with projects involving art, air soft guns, cooking and even the space-time continuum.

I think an open-ended project that focuses on joy is important for many reasons. First it helps the students engage in their own learning. I find much of what is asked of high school students these days feels to them like hoop jumping for a grade. Learning is an inherently satisfying activity, and when the students can bring their own interests and unique perspective to learning they are more engaged and joyful.

Second, I teach a diverse group of students, both in ability and interest wise, but enjoyment is something they all share; it is the common denominator in the classroom -- they all can participate equally. Third, I want them to practice being creative and take risks in their thinking and doing. I want to encourage them to connect dots that no one has connected before and think of the world in a new way -- in their own way.

Even after more than 30 years of teaching, I hear questions from my students about math that I have never thought about, making the class more alive and engaging for everyone. With this assignment, I have had students take on explorations where there were no conics to be found (fire spinning and the earth illumination map) and we celebrated those explorations. I do not want my students to play it safe just to "get a good grade" but daring to ask outrageous questions to see what they can find out.

I realize that I am blessed with the freedom to do this as I teach in a Waldorf school, and I am grateful for its philosophy designed to develop independent and creative thinkers. If you don't know much about Waldorf Education, you're not alone. Even though Waldorf schools have been in existence for almost 100 years and are found in almost 100 countries around the world, until recently they were not well known...

Last month while watching the Wisdom 2.0 conference, I was especially inspired by Arianna Huffington's talk about the third metric. The third metric adds another dimension to the traditional definitions of success -- money and power. Money and power are like two legs on a three-legged stool.


To truly thrive, we need a third leg -- a metric for defining success that encompasses our well-being,
our ability to draw in our intuition and inner wisdom,
our sense of wonder and our capacity for compassion and giving.

In her talk, Arianna emphasized the role women must play in developing the third metric; I believe that teachers need to embody that role as well as we plant the seeds of how students themselves will define success. In the classroom, we can value joy and well being in addition to academic performance, practicing being present so that we don't miss the moment when true engagement and learning occur. Her talk both inspired me and reminded me of what I strive for as a teacher: preparing the students for a life of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving."

Click here to read the FULL article at its source on Huffington Post.

Click here to see a 17 minute video on Waldorf Education.

Author, Lisa Babinet, PhD is a founding high school teacher at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Silicon Valley where she loves to teach math. She lives in Redwood City, CA with her husband and two teenage children.  Photo credit: OJO Images via HuffPost via Getty Images

How do Finnish Schools Excel? A Comparison to Waldorf Education

Monday, March 2014


Chicago Waldorf School long-time veteran grade school teacher, Carol Triggiano, reflects on some of the similarities between the core principles of Waldorf Education and the Finnish educational system that makes them such vibrant, successful and widely respected educational models. In her article, she writes,

"I recently heard Pasi Sahlberg, director general of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation in Finland’s Ministry of Education, speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival about why Finland ranks first with the best school system in the world. His best-selling book, Finnish Lessons, has inspired educators and parents to reevaluate how we educate children and has prompted discussion on how we can institute change. While Sahlberg’s ideas seem radical in the light of American standards, they reaffirmed to me the value of a Waldorf education.

Sahlberg compared the Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM) to a cancerous virus that has spread worldwide. Over the last forty years schools have operated on a philosophy that promotes ideas such as, competition, standardization, test based accountability and education as an industry.

That approach has netted us an overall decrease in skills, a huge jump in the ADHD diagnoses, children on medication and an alarming increase in adolescent suicide. Something clearly is not working.

Sahlberg went on to describe how the “Finnish way” has transformed their educational system into the pinnacle of success. I would like to compare how Waldorf education has been following most of these key principles for almost one hundred years..."


Triggiano goes on to catalogue about 10 commonly held core values that have been essential to Waldorf education since its founding in 1917. To read her perspective in its entirety SEE THE PDF linked above.

Experience Waldorf Education in our April 10th Open House

Monday, March 2014

New to Waldorf?
Interested individuals are welcome to visit and see our class curriculum firsthand.

All are welcome to attend this opportunity to see the students and teachers engaged in morning lessons; observe High School topics classes, world language and handwork classes. You can visit your child's classroom or see other grades to get a full sense of the scope of the Waldorf curriculum arc. Its a great way to see the social interactions and unique aspects of Waldorf education in action!

Chicago Waldorf School's Open House

Thursday April 10th  -  8:00am - noon

Please RSVP to reserve your seat now (spaces are limited).


Here is the schedule of lesson plans you can visit:

GRADE SCHOOL Morning Lessons (8:00 - 10:00am)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
1st Chris Kuck Arithmetic
2nd Megan Rotko Arithmetic
3rd Becky Moskowitz Play Practice, Hebrew Scriptures
4th Nancy Szymanski Local Geography and History
5th Carol Triggiano Ancient Greece
6th John Trevillion Astronomy
7th Karen Hartz Treasure Island Play Practice
8th Lauri Sullivan Modern History





HIGH SCHOOL Topics Classes (7:55 - 9:35am)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
9th Michael Holdrege Geology
10th Barbara Huckabay Classical History
11th John Denman Astronomy
12th David Massie Transcendentalists
12th Jim Kotz Biochemistry



GRADE SCHOOL World Language Classes (10:30 - 11:15am)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
2nd Ashley Gambill German
3rd Ileana Valencia Spanish


GRADE SCHOOL Handwork Classes (11:15 - Noon)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
2nd Patricia Holdrege Handwork
8th Ashley Gambill German


RSVP by Friday, April 4th

to Jeremiah Davis in the Main Office or 773.465.2662

Event Registration Details:
• Space is limited—first come, first served. 12 visitors per class. (EXCEPT FOR 1ST GRADE—LIMIT IS 8)
• Arrive by 7:45am, sign in at the Main Entrance and receive your room assignment
• Parents & Guests may observe any 1st-12th grade morning lesson, but can only choose one.
• Parents may stay and observe a world language and/or handwork class following the morning lessons
• Parents must be able to stay for the entire lesson. We ask that you not leave mid-lesson.
• Early Childhood classes are NOT open for visitors, but we strongly encourage Early Childhood parents to observe a grade or high school class

Reserve Your Seats Now!  Limited seating is available.

CWS Alumna, Laura Holdrege, Travels in Nicaragua & Mexico

Sunday, March 2014

For those of you who know Laura Holdrege (CWS class of 2011), it will come as no surprise that she is spending many months in adventure, travel, collaboration and work in Latin America. She spent her time volunteering and studying at the Mariposa Spanish Language School in San Juan, Masaya, Nicaragua before pursuing further travels. But you may not know that she is also authoring a web travelogue to chronicle her journey. Follow her blog to see one Waldorf alumna's experiences post-graduation. In her introduction to her web journal, she says :

"I will be exploring Nicaragua and Mexico for the next five months and thought I would share some of my experiences along the way. I will spend three weeks at a Spanish Language School outside of Managua, Nicaragua and from there will travel to Cuernavaca, Mexico where I will spend the semester studying social work in a Latin American context."

CLICK HERE to read more about Laura's travels and see photos in her travelogue, Adventuring.

Waldorf Schools Expand in China’s Shift to “Softer Education”

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.



Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble Performs at CWS

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.

Thomas Friedman Stresses “Soft Skills” in NY Times

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

2014 Senior Project Presentations

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

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