Next up in our alphabet-based exploration of what makes a Waldorf education unique...L for living education. We've explored this topic in other ways throughout this alphabet, but it bears repeating. Living education happens when you offer learning through experience and discovery, when you have a strong relationship between teachers and students, and when you offer a curriculum that engages all the senses.
As members of the Madrona School community we can all think of the glimpses we have of this education in action. There are the bean bag exercises that combine mental math with rhythm and song, taking practice to perfect. There are the demonstrations of middle school science -- making sound resonance visible with a Chladni plate demonstration or studying mechanics through building simple machines. There are the 1st graders in handwork class, knitting yes, but stopping often to count their rows and look up at the shared pattern posted at the head of the room, mentally calculating and then announcing how many "mountains" remain in their project. There is the sharing of applesauce, sauerkraut and beeswax candles from 3rd grade practical arts lessons, and the understanding of a life cycle as they prepare to plant grains in our new garden space for next year's 3rd grade to harvest and study. There is the focused silence of book work in the 4th grade after an energetic and physical game of energetic sentence diagramming in language arts. Countless examples abound...
In a 2014 interview, Christof Weichert said: [A dynamic lesson] is the essence of Waldorf education. Steiner said that we teach within an artistic process…the experience is that of expansion and contraction. It is shaped by very precise use of oral qualities, visual qualities and interactive qualities, and they have to be in balance. You should always have an eye for what refreshes the children and what tires them. If the children get tired, you change into another mood or another activity so you and the children are in kind of a flow….If you are engaged—and you’ll find that in the third chapter of The Study of Man—if you engage yourself in what you do, you stay alive. You stay fresh.
—adapted from our weekly email newsletter, May 20, 2014