Friday, January 2016
Colleen Everhart, CWS College Chair; Luke Goodwin, CWS Administrative Director; Muhammad Hana Pizi Abdullah, Chief Imam, State Government of Kelantan; Shaipolbahari Salleh, Assistant Registrar, Institute Al Quran, Terengganu; Surraya Abu Bakar, Deputy Principal, Adni Islamic School, Kuala Lumpur; Salmy Gheblawi, Translator, US Dept. of State
In the exchange of ideas about human learning and child development, Waldorf Schools benefit from an international presence in countries across the world. Waldorf schools embody a global perspective founded on universal human capacities strengthened by the diversity of communities and cultures who embrace the "Waldorf way" in education.
I like Chicago Waldorf School's focus on creativity in education. Teachers and students have the freedom to engage in creative activities and they are not stressed out. -Muhammad Hana Pizi Abdullah, Chief Imam
This past December a US Department of State sponsored delegation of Malaysian educators asked to visit Chicago Waldorf School to study our programs and discuss administrative and pedagogical practices with CWS leaders. We hosted a panel discussion with the Chief Imam from the State Government of Kelantan, the Deputy Headmistress of Sekolah Islam Adni and the Assistant Registrar of Institute Al-Quran. After a spirited exchange of cultural inquiry, sharing perspectives and discussions of best practices for administrative and pedagogical goals the delegation expressed interest in pursuing further study of the various Waldorf Schools currently established in Malaysia. We bid them farewell as they continued their tour of American cities and schools. A few days later, after they had continued on to Los Angeles and reflected on their visit to CWS, the delegates generously shared with us some of their observations about our school.
Shaipolbahari Salleh, Assistant Registrar, Institute Al Quran, in Terengganu said, "I am impressed with this school because it is not exam-oriented. The curriculum encourages students to be independent learners. I find it remarkable that the students can create their own portfolio and that they do not use textbooks in class. It also shows that they understand the subject that they are learning and that it is not rote memorization." His analysis of the Waldorf approach reflects a shared understanding of the goal to activate a student's passion for inquiry. This child-focused approach was also detailed by Ms. Surayya Abu Bakar, who commented that a strength of the Chicago Waldorf School is it's,
...emphasis on developing the child as a human being; less concerned with testing, but more about what they know and how they apply it, which is reflected in the portfolios they produce. Even though the focus is on play and creativity, at the end of the day, the students excel at their core subjects. - Surraya Abu Bakar, Deputy Principal, Adni Islamic School, Kuala Lumpur
Here is a history of WALDORF EDUCATION IN MALAYSIA:
Sandwiched between largely Buddhist Thailand, predominantly Muslim Indonesia, Hindu India and the predominantly Catholic Philippines, Malaysia is a nation that historically was subject to different religious and cultural influences, but retained its own strong identity. Although there are many old and new external influences within the country, its culturally diverse society is striving for its own way, and investing in preparing their children for the future.
Malaysian parents have met Waldorf Education with keen interest. Private institutions are frequently attended during early school age, and Waldorf kindergartens are very attractive option because they teach in several languages, have collaborative interaction as a key principle, avoid the strict state curriculum - which is mandatory from kindergarten onwards - and offer a child age-appropriate education.
The Malaysian Waldorf Movement began by the end of the 1990’s. In 1997, Junko Suzumoto and Ong Kung Wai established the first Waldorf initiative, Nania, in Penang. Through the support of the Friends of Waldorf Education this initiative grew steadily in Malaysia over the years. Expatriate families dominated early enrollment, but from 2002 onwards, interest from Malaysian parents increased. In 2004, another initiative, Taska Lin, was established in Penang. In 2008, the third initiative, Kelip-kelip, was established in Klang Valley, in the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur. And interest in play oriented pre-school education is growing. Several initiatives have emerged, some new, some incorporating Waldorf methods to their existing system.
Nania took its name from the “Narnia” stories by C. S. Lewis. Like ‘Narnia’, Junko Suzumoto wants Nania to be a place children want to visit and return to again and again; to be a school where they encounter self-development challenges and experiences that prepare them for their life's journey. The enrollment of local and foreign children, with multi-ethnic and various national and cultural backgrounds posed a challenge at the beginning. What is fitting and relevant for all? So the school adopted festivals from different cultures to facilitate nurturing moods and to establish seasonal rhythms. These festivals are celebrated as cultural events without religious overtones. By 2012 Nania reported operating at full enrollment of 52 children with a yearlong waiting list.
Another home-kindergarten project called Taska Lin is also located in Penang and was founded by Lee Swee Lin and her husband Yang. Lin got to know Waldorf Education 15 years ago through Junko Suzumoto. Her visit to Nania was so touching that Lin chose to be an assistant teacher, instead of selecting a more commercial job. In 2000 Lin took up study at Melbourne Rudolf Steiner Teacher Training College. Taska Lin, has enrolled 38 children from age 1-1/2 to 4-1/2 years. The children are from expatriate families from different countries and about 20% are Malaysian. At Taska Lin, the children play and sing in Malay, Mandarin and Japanese, as well as in English. During Family Day at a public indoor playground other visitors with young kids are often impressed with Taska Lin’s children for being so confident and playing well together.
Klang Valley, located in the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur, is the centre of the Malaysian Waldorf movement. It all began with Kelip-kelip in 2008, when the founders and married couple Da Vid and Wan Yee, graduates from Melbourne Rudolf Steiner Seminar, started out with 10 children. This all lead up to early 2011, when Da Vid started Kelip-kelip Waldorf School, the first Waldorf school in Malaysia. Kelip-kelip quickly outgrew it's facility and needed a bigger location to accommodate the children wishing to enroll. A supportive parent purchased land to build a new school. And there is a plan for the new school, to initially be built with six classrooms. Fortunately there is hope for Kelip-kelip's growth, as the interest in Waldorf education increases among the school’s community.
Two years after Kelip-kelip, two other Waldorf kindergartens started up in Klang Valley, as well as a Waldorf doll making class. In Malaysia, Waldorf education is still in an early stage of development. However the founders of Waldorf education in Malaysia believe they are on the right path, doing the best thing for the children, for society, and for the world through Waldorf education.
As reported by Ong Kung Wai,
founder of Nania Waldorf Kindergarten
Malaysian photos/historical content edited from Waldorf Worldwide.
Monday, December 2015
Teaching the Whole Child: Waldorf Schools and Exemplary Teacher Engagement
By author and student success expert, Carol J. Carter
Source article posted: 12/2/2015
Waldorf schools take an unconventionally nurturing approach to learning, making them a unique approach to education. Initially, some viewed the schools as emphasizing play over learning, but now a growing number recognize that the Waldorf model supports educational and personal habits which often go overlooked and under-appreciated in traditional schooling.
Following from a philosophy that attends to the development of human behavior, Waldorf schools help students learn and grow through uniting mind and body. Fashioned by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, the Waldorf education is one that focuses on the individual student's strengths rather than catering to a large group and assuming that all students learn in the same way.
Teachers are the main source of strength in Waldorf schools.
With a heavy focus on the importance of hands-on experience for their students, rather than standardized testing, Waldorf teachers help their students to explore curricula through diverse activities, with plenty of room to customize lesson plans. The fluidity of this approach provides extensive engagement that leads to lifelong connections with the material taught, the teachers involved and the bigger questions at the heart of each subject.
According to the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA), Waldorf schools are highly attuned to the quest to establish each child's own level of academic excellence. The International Conference on Education of the United Nations Educational and Scientific Cultural Organization endorses the Waldorf method, saying it "places the development of the individual child in the focal point, convinced that the healthy individual is a prerequisite for a healthy society."
With this mindset, Waldorf schools and educators encourage their pupils to truly thrive in a healthy environment where their opinions and differences are respected rather than stifled or rejected.
“Waldorf education...places the development of the individual child in the focal point, convinced that the healthy individual is a prerequisite for a healthy society.” – United Nations, E.&S.C.O.
A distinction of Waldorf teachers is their passion for individuality and commitment to nurturing the individual student's mind.
This philosophy also deems the relationship between Waldorf teachers and their students very much akin to that between mentors and mentees, so that involvement extends beyond the classroom.
Jeff Moore, a past Waldorf educator at the Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in New Paltz, NY, stuck with his small class through the foundational year of first grade all the way until eighth grade graduation....Since he taught the class all of the primary subjects (with the exception of foreign languages), he fostered a connection with his students that paved the way for lifelong mentorship and mutual respect. "One of the great strengths of Waldorf education is, I feel, its use of story to communicate the lesson," Moore says. He adds, "this is most evident in the earlier years of the pedagogy, when Grimm's Fairy Tales, Aesop's fables and a variety of legends and mythologies from around the world become a vehicle for presenting ideas and concepts in a living way."
Moore says his experience at Mountain Laurel is one that cannot be described briefly. The school was powerful for him and for his class due to the depths of creativity: "it requires a good deal of creative flexibility on the teacher's part, but the result is seen in the smiles and even the [open-mouthed], sometimes awestruck faces of the children during the lesson. The material resonates on deep levels. I would need several pages to begin to do justice to my experience at the school."
The effect of such educators as Moore leaves a significant mark on the future education and life choices of students.
Remy Baglieri, a Mountain Laurel graduate in 2008 and a former student of Moore's, has only positive and appreciative things to say about Moore and her Waldorf education. "Many people I know have told me they don't remember their elementary school teacher. Luckily, I don't think I myself (or anyone) could forget Jeff Moore as an educator," Baglieri says. "In a Waldorf environment, learning is expected to come naturally, and each pupil is given their own time to digest all of the knowledge. Mr. Moore knew this and followed a lesson plan, but would also interweave his love of art, stories and personal experiences in every school day. He made learning -- dare I say it -- enjoyable. He guided us in our own understanding on what it means to learn, grow and become thoughtful human beings. I don't know a man that could raise 12 kids for 8 years, but I'm extremely grateful that Jeff stuck it out for that long. I wouldn't be the person I am today if he hadn't," she adds.
Although the Waldorf approach to education has expanded to great lengths,especially in Europe,
there are some who question the seemingly test-less teaching approach. Because Steiner's philosophy incorporates the most profound understanding of human development, it can be difficult for conventional thinkers to accept the ways in which Waldorf directs students away from the standardized testing train that consumes much of K-12 education. However, according to the AWSNA, a staggering 94 percent of Waldorf graduates attend college, 89 percent expresses great satisfaction with career choices, and 90 percent place high value on the importance of tolerance of other viewpoints.
With bright, capable students and teachers wholly committed to what occurs in the classroom
and after, the Waldorf model flourishes. The immense quality of thinking and roundedness that comes from a Waldorf education is vital to today's society. ---
Article source: The Education Blog on the Huffington Post
Photo source: Images of Chicago Waldorf School students
Read more articles about Waldorf Education at chicagowaldorf.org/about/in-the-news
Monday, November 2015
Observed this past week at the CWS Halloween Assembly:
Enjoy this slide show of some of the costumes on display.
The students in first through eighth grades presented poems, songs and skits to the assembled community in this fun day of dressing up that explored thematic topics from the curriculum.
The auditorium became a giant menagerie. Odin, the "All Father," welcomed guests and introduced the assembly while other Norse Gods sat next to Political Candidates intermingled with animals of all stripes; the Bumble Bees from the Botany curriculum mixed it up with Shiva and other Gods from Eastern cultures. Roman centurions hailed Greek Maidens from across seated rows.
Meanwhile the seventh grade enacted multiple tableaus presenting Aesops Fairy Tales to the Early Child classes in the side yard. And throughout the day classes visited the sixth grade classroom--which it is rumored is haunted--and oftentimes bizarre events have been known to occur there on this unique day. Great fun brought the whole school together on this day.
Did you manage to see some of these characters around school last week?
To see enlargements, click on the image first then use the arrows on the left and right edges to navigate the slide show.
Wednesday, July 2015
A continuing stream of clinical studies and experts are finding detrimental effects on kids who are exposed to ever increasing amounts of screen time. Below is an excerpt from an article published in the New York Times on July 6, 2015 that can be found in the "Personal Health" Section.
Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children
Excessive use of computer games among young people in China appears to be taking an alarming turn and may have particular relevance for American parents whose children spend many hours a day focused on electronic screens. The documentary “Web Junkie,” to be shown next Monday on PBS, highlights the tragic effects on teenagers who become hooked on video games, playing for dozens of hours at a time often without breaks to eat, sleep or even use the bathroom. Many come to view the real world as fake.
Chinese doctors consider this phenomenon a clinical disorder and have established rehabilitation centers where afflicted youngsters are confined for months of sometimes draconian therapy, completely isolated from all media, the effectiveness of which remains to be demonstrated.
While Internet addiction is not yet considered a clinical diagnosis here, there’s no question that American youths are plugged in and tuned out of “live” action for many more hours of the day than experts consider healthy for normal development. And it starts early, often with preverbal toddlers handed their parents’ cellphones and tablets to entertain themselves when they should be observing the world around them and interacting with their caregivers.
In its 2013 policy statement on “Children, Adolescents, and the Media,” the American Academy of Pediatrics cited these shocking statistics from a Kaiser Family Foundation study in 2010: “The average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly eight hours a day with a variety of different media, and older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day.” Television, long a popular “babysitter,” remains the dominant medium, but computers, tablets and cellphones are gradually taking over.
“Many parents seem to have few rules about use of media by their children and adolescents,”
the academy stated, and two-thirds of those questioned in the Kaiser study said their parents had no rules about how much time the youngsters spent with media.
Parents, grateful for ways to calm disruptive children and keep them from interrupting their own screen activities, seem to be unaware of the potential harm from so much time spent in the virtual world.
“We’re throwing screens at children all day long, giving them distractions rather than teaching them how to self-soothe, to calm themselves down,” said Catherine Steiner-Adair, a Harvard-affiliated clinical psychologist and author...(continue reading the article at its source)
by Jane E. Brody, for the New York Times - July 6-2015
Monday, June 2015
Meeting other families at Albion Beach on Tuesdays is a great summer way to play! All are welcome!
Join the Fun; CWS remains active all summer long!
Keep active with Waldorf families at one, or all, of CWS’s summer events. Enroll in a CWS Summer Camp, march with us in Chicago’s Pride Parade, stop by the CWS booth at one of the many summer festivals listed below, or join families on Albion Beach Tuesdays. There are opportunities every week to stay connected with Waldorf families and friends in Chicago!
• 46th Annual Chicago Pride Parade
Sunday, June 28th / 11:30am -1:00 pm / Bus leaves CWS at 10:30 am
• Andersonville Midsommarfest
Saturday – Sunday, June 13th & 14th / 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
• Square Roots Festival
Saturday – Sunday, July 11th & 12th / 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
• Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival
Saturday –Sunday, August 15th & 16th / 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Tuesdays are CWS Summer Beach Days
at Albion Beach / All Summer long
Starts Tuesday June 16th / 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Get together with new, current, and alumni CWS families at Albion Beach any Tuesday this summer (weather permitting). Look for the big red CWS sun umbrella.
CWS Summer Camps
weekly camps from June 15th – August 7th
8:30 am – 3:30 pm (or EC half days til 11:45 am)
Kids Camp, EC Camp, Songwriting, Parkour, Basketball & Volleyball Camps. Choose your favorite or enroll all summer!
Enroll now in one of our many camp options at: chicagowaldorf.org/summer-camps
Apply today. The Main Office is accepting applications now!
Monday, June 2015
We present to you the graduating class of 2015!
Congratulations to our seniors who have come to the culmination of the Waldorf High School's arc. After this Winter's focus on Senior Presentations and Spring's absorbing college selections process, they have now turned to the joys of preparing Summer plans and prepping for Fall experiences in colleges, professional training and work experiences, and travel opportunities too. We wish them the best and look forward to hearing about all their accomplishments in the future!
Their next moves take the 2015 seniors far afield into varied pursuits and passions...
Here are profiles of their plans for 2015-16:
Anyah Akanni will attend Northwestern University as an Evans Scholar, a pre-med student, and biochemistry major. She is especially intrigued by nuVIBE (Northwestern University’s Ventures in Biology Education) which helps students, as early as the freshman year, to formulate research ideas, write proposals, and obtain funding for original student-initiated research. Anyah commented that there doesn’t seem to be just one type of student at Northwestern, and she appreciates the liberal arts focus in a university setting. Two clubs, Model UN and Mock Trial, also appeal to Anyah. Anyah looks forward to living on campus, but also staying close enough to visit her family.
Alex Bender-Hooper will work at Chicago ‘Tiquer, a local resale business. This will allow him to gain business experience while also allowing him to pursue old and new passions (including train collecting, cat adoption and ownership, and car restoration). In the future, Alex will consider further schooling in the areas of veterinary care or engineering.
Michael Chungbin is enthusiastic about attending the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, where he will study in their unique program in Photographic Imaging Technology. This program focuses on the engineering side of film and photography, and emphasizes the development of new products and technologies, specifically for bio-medical uses and consumer products. Michael is also considering a minor in engineering, physics or optics, and he may try out for one of the ice hockey or volleyball teams. First, however, is a summer trip to Hawaii, where he plans to make a film documentary.
Juan Correa has accepted an offer of admission to Knox College in Illinois, but will defer in order to take a gap year, as he plans to work full-time in Florida prior to attending college At Knox, Juan found that both the students and professors seemed “very real”, and diverse in many different ways. He also found the buildings on campus to be beautiful. Juan will begin at Knox in the fall of 2016, and plans to study psychology and become involved with the theater productions.
Madeleine Driscoll is excited to attend Columbia College Chicago, where she will major in fine arts with a likely focus on painting. Madeleine appreciates the openness of the Columbia curriculum; it is not as regimented as some other art schools, and she looks forward to developing her own style right from the beginning. She may minor in business or advertising. This summer Madeleine will seek an apartment in the city, and will resume her internship work with Lee Tracy, a local artist. This work will continue throughout the school year, and Madeleine will gain valuable skills in stretching canvasses, among other art-related tasks.
Lauren Dubendorf will attend Eckerd College in Florida where she is considering a major in marine biology, a particularly renowned program there. She notes that the students are enthusiastic, service-oriented, and interested in study abroad (85% of students study abroad in winter term). In addition to typical clubs, there are a number of events and traditions throughout the year, in which all participate and which help the student body to bond as a whole. A minor in art will round out Lauren’s education.
Jimmy Geraghty will enroll at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. He intends to major in Government Studies (political science) and will likely attend law school after Lawrence (which has a very good acceptance rate into graduate and professional schools). Jimmy commented that it is a picturesque campus with a thriving music scene. In addition to performances by music students, Lawrence brings in outside bands to do concerts. Jimmy may try out for the basketball team, too. As he termed it, a "quirky student body" will further add to Jimmy’s college experience.
Joe Hartz will work and attend community college in Chicago next year. He looks ahead to attending a university, where he plans to study music business and songwriting. Belmont University in Nashville is of particular interest as he would be able to combine these majors and begin a professional music career while still in college. For now, Joe wants to have the flexibility offered by community college so that he can finish editing his first novel, Synchronize, and begin writing his second novel, Distortion.
The seniors in costume from their scene work in the drama program.
Isaiah Hasselquist will attend the University of Illinois at Chicago while living at home. He likes the urban location and immediately felt at home surrounded by the city that he loves. Although some of his freshman classes will be large lectures, Isaiah notes that the lectures break up into smaller groups that meet regularly. Isaiah will major in biology, and has a special interest in wildlife biology, especially reptiles. Isaiah also hopes to take advantage of a study abroad opportunity in order to broaden his knowledge of reptiles in their native habitat.
Alex Leonard has decided on DePaul University as her home for the next four years. Alex is very interested in social justice issues; and she found the DePaul campus to be very diverse and representative of the city, as well as welcoming of women’s advocacy and LGBT groups. She especially likes that the campus itself is integrated into a city neighborhood. Even though Alex is a native Chicagoan, she looks forward to her Explore Chicago freshman class, which will be an opportunity to get acquainted with the city via a different intellectual perspective. Alex is undecided about her major, but plans to take courses in psychology and women’s studies.
Gregory Levinson is looking forward to attending Columbia College Chicago, where he has already taken the initiative to meet multiple faculty members in the Media Arts Department. His specific interests include sound design for movies and games, sound effects, and music composition. Gregory will continue to study music performance as well, and will consider auditioning for one of the Columbia jazz ensembles. He has already secured a twice-weekly gig at a local restaurant; see him at Little Bucharest on Elston & Addison! Finally, Gregory will continue to study martial arts as a lifelong pursuit.
Aja Linnet will return to Denmark after three years in the U.S., and commented that the change is both exciting and depressing. Aja will live in the small city of Espergaerde, her hometown, in a private apartment at her mom’s house. Because Aja did not attend secondary school in Denmark and take the typical Danish language classes, Aja will need to take a four-month Danish language course, in which three years of Danish are condensed into a semester of study. Upon completion, Aja can then enter university study, where she may consider a major in business.
Bianca Moreno has found her next educational home at Beloit College in Wisconsin. She wanted a small, friendly school, with many study abroad opportunities, and a welcoming environment where she could get to know her professors well. Bianca plans to study both creative writing and education. Ultimately, Bianca would like to be a special education teacher, and will likely pursue a master’s degree in that area. This summer, Bianca will resume her internship work with Lee Tracy, a local artist, as a paid employee.
Auset Muhammad will study chemistry and compete in Division I fencing at Temple University in Philadelphia. Auset has practiced with the team and immediately felt at home as it is a friendly environment with a good balance between academics and sports. It made an impression on Auset that the coach, a two-time Olympian and two-time USFA national champion, maintains a philosophy of taking athletes to their full potential in all areas of life, not just athletics. Go Auset and go Owls!
Maria Park looks forward to life in Brooklyn, NY at the Pratt Institute. She notes that Pratt has a beautifully landscaped, green, and traditional residential campus; it is a unexpected urban oasis. Pratt enjoys a top reputation in the arts, and is noted for highly ranked professors, as well as high incomes following graduation. Maria plans to study jewelry design or interior design. This summer, Maria will travel with her parents to New York, Alaska, Seattle, and then back to Korea until it is time to return to the U.S.
Jenna Rogers will attend the University of British Columbia (UBC), following a gap year in Germany in which she will live and volunteer at the Camphill Community in Hermannsberg in the southern part of the country. Jenna will depart this July, travel a bit in Germany, stay at Camphill from August through February, and will then travel to Italy in the spring with her grandmother. In the fall of 2016, Jenna will begin studies at UBC, but is undecided about her major. UBC’s highly regarded overall reputation, as well as its location right on the ocean, were key selling points for Jenna.
Sam Sendelbach has secured a full-time position at Material Development, Inc., a material science and R&D engineering company based in Evanston. Industry experience will help Sam to determine whether this type of research will be his life’s work, and what type of degree to pursue. He will also continue his own research on the sequencing of DNA as a Northwestern University Research Affiliate, a designation which gives him access to the labs. Sam also looks forward to pursuing visual art, music, poetry, and photography as a balance to his research work.
Elijah Teague has a strong interest in fashion merchandising; a passion he shared in his Senior Project. Indeed, he has already placed and sold some of his clothing designs in a local shop with great success. Elijah selected the Business in Fashion program at Richmond; The American International University in London to continue this path. He is very excited to purse his educational experience in Europe, and will investigate the intersection of fashion, culture and commerce in London, Paris, and Italy.
Augie Verciglio is eager to begin the study of mechanical engineering, in addition to business, at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. From the research opportunities available in the freshman year, the plethora of internships, the LEED certified buildings, and the new solar field (which supplies most of the campus energy needs), RIT has many programs and qualities that appeal to Augie. Beginning this year, Augie will spend his summers working at Orion Industries, the site of his internship, where he will work with engineers to build robots for manufacturing facilities.
Becca Wright will attend the College of Wooster in Ohio, a school that is nationally recognized (along with Princeton University) for an innovative curriculum, which emphasizes mentored research. Becca mentioned the three beautiful libraries, strong sense of community, and accessible professors as factors that influenced her decision. She is not sure about her major, but looks forward to taking classes in philosophy and comparative literature, and would like to study abroad. Becca has considered nursing as a career. If interested, Wooster has an arrangement with Case Western Reserve University in which students attend Wooster for three years and Case Western for four; students then graduate with a Doctorate in Nursing and are ready to become leaders in the field.
Congratulations to all 2015 Seniors:
We look forward to hearing about your future endeavours!
Thursday, June 2015
The Simpsons gave a well-crafted, comic shout out to Waldorf Education during their Season 26 finale for 2015—“Mathlete’s Feat”, which aired May 17, 2015
We are honored to have been featured in such a positive light on The Simpsons Season Finale and are anxiously awaiting further information about which writers, perhaps Waldorf parents or alumni themselves, were involved in the episode’s creation. As a thank you, and a responding shout out of sorts, Waldorf schools have been paying tribute to The Simpsons. A collective of handmade hats is being created to send to The Simpsons writers. The Waldorf School of Philadelphia is having students create beeswax figures of The Simpsons characters to share online and with The Simpsons execs. And the São Paulo, Brazil Waldorf school has done an amazing rendition of The Simpsons Theme Song, found here on YouTube, as a tribute to this mainstream recognition. Track the fun and folly on social media at #simpsonslovewaldorf.
WATCH THE EPISODE ON YOU TUBE. And here are the main details of the Waldorf-centric plot:
After a scathing math competition defeat, tech bigwigs take pity on Springfield Elementary and outfit the school with all the latest technology. But Principal Skinner’s ineptitude leads to a server farm crash and the school loses all tech, which the students had only used to watch Game of Thrones anyway.
This is when Lisa comes up with an idea that will save the school—“Learning while Doing.” Springfield Elementary becomes a Waldorf School!
From there the students learn by doing in tongue-in-cheek fashion—calculating the cubic feet of styrofoam to add to the sloppy joe mix, pouring pints of beer in fractions, wearing required sun hats, and singing songs of acceptance, love and diversity. In the end, their new Waldorf Education helps them win the mathlete rematch by transforming an M into nine non-overlapping triangles.
The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America was pleased with the level of in-depth knowledge The Simpsons writers clearly possessed about pedagogy and stereotypes associated with Waldorf Education, which made this fun caricature both lighthearted and flattering.
The Simpsons Episode's Insights Into Waldorf Education:
Math - Mathematics education is very advanced in Waldorf schools. Math is revealed to students as a useful and real part of everyday life. Numbers, processes and then mathematical concepts are introduced through doing—counting and holding, paper folding, musical interval training, and calculations to create rope and pulley systems are just a few examples of how math is taught in Waldorf schools. We are not surprised that the Springfield Waldorf School could answer such a difficult final math equation to win the math competition. The challenge of drawing the nine non-overlapping triangles mimics the lessons in form drawings taught in our curriculum—another intersection of math, art, and doing experienced in Waldorf Education.
Sun Hats - Why of course! Waldorf students are prepared for all weather, at all times. Why? Because, unlike many of their non-Waldorf peers, they still play outdoors for recess 3-4 times a day and also have classes outdooring such as science, physical education and gardening. Of course, hats for our adults are optional and they’re not required indoors. Nor is tie dye a requirement.
Technology - In the episode, Marge reads a pamphlet which says, “Waldorf Education: When you have Given up on the Modern World.” Considering the popularity of Waldorf Education among the children of Silicon Valley tech executives, this tongue-in-cheek parody is clearly not quite the case, but it had been a stereotype of the past. Waldorf Educators simply feel there are better ways, more hands on and complex ways to teach young children how to learn. Technology is introduced to secondary education children, which as Skinner notes in the episode is “Not our Problem.”
Textbooks - There are no textbooks in Waldorf Education, it’s true. But there are many, many books. They are just not the ones provided to the state by textbook companies. Instead our students are presented material by teachers from classics and mainstream books on relevant topics, where they then take notes and reflect on lessons while creating their own “Main Lesson” books. These books become both catalogs and resources for learning.
In the end, Springfield Elementay Waldorf School Mathletes go on to win the rematch competition, and who's to say if Springfield Elementary will remain a Waldorf School at the start of the new season. We'll just have to stay tuned to find out. Meanwhile, remember: You can follow more of the fun responses in social media at #simpsonslovewaldorf!
Image from “Mathlete’s Feat,” the season 26 finale, May 17, 2015
Tuesday, May 2015
The High School Drama Program and the 12th grade present:
The Lion, The Witch & the Wardrobe
Thursday−Saturday, May 21st−23rd
All evenings at 7:00 pm & Saturday matinee at 2:00 pm
Enjoy this dramatization of C.S. Lewis’s iconic children's fantasy novel, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Join the 12th grade cast as they tell the beloved adventure story of the four Pevensie children who travel to Narnia, a mystical land full of magic, mystery, and the talking lion, Aslan. The 12th grade play is traditionally the culminating event of the Waldorf drama curriculum; the acting, all stage craft (set-building, costumes and props fabrication) are handled by the seniors. Come support them and appreciate their final dramatic performance!
Free Admission (though any donations are gratefully accepted and will be applied to the 12th grade trip).
Recommended for children in 1st grade and up.
Poster Artwork by 12th grade student: Augie Verciglio