As often as I find it, I will post a new homeschool philosophy, curriculum, or teaching methodology. As with any new thing, my critique is neither a recommendation nor a condemnation, merely an opportunity for us all to explore a new discovery.
I found Waldorf while doing some research on Montessori. They do seem remarkably similar in philosophy, but there are some differences. For instance, I don’t think Montessori advocates waiting to read as long as this particular philosophy. Have you used Waldorf or are currently using Waldorf? Tell me what you think of it so far….
Waldorf and Learning to Read
Reading is not required in Waldorf schools until the end of grade 3. The Waldorf curriculum is based on the developmental interests of children, rather than skill levels, and does not require reading in the early grades. Material is presented by the teacher in dramatic, interesting ways and the children make use of the material in their play and hands-on dramatic and artistic activities.
Waldorf on Science
by Barbara Dewey
Western culture has created a powerful wealth of scientific knowledge, based on total objectivity. This objectivity means that the observer must be isolated from the observation. It also means that we must ignore, as scientists, a humanly meaningful occurrence such as “a warm smile.” To measure it instrumentally would be ludicrous, because all meaning would be drained from it. For this reason, humanists in our culture have given up any claim of “knowledge.” And science gives up the meaning of being human. As Stephen Edelglas states in The Marriage of Sense and Thought (a book I suggest all parents read), “If we systematically think of a world in which human beings don’t exist, we should not be surprised to find ourselves creating a world in which they can’t exist.”
A Waldorf Perspective on Math
Math with Musical Notation by David Darcy, ddarcy.com
(David’s website includes a blog with lots of information about Waldorf homeschooling)
The following activity is an unorthodox way of using musical notation, but it might be a fun challenge for students who are familiar with note values (e.g. whole note = four beats, half note = two beats, etc.) and who like to solve puzzles. It requires that students decipher a code as they solve a math problem. If you are homeschooling, I suggest that after introducing the idea, you let your student create more of these puzzles and exchange them with friends.
The game is to write out math problems using notes as “code” for ones, twos, threes, fours and halves, or to solve such a problem. (Answers should just be written as numbers.) Since this typing program doesn’t allow me to write out notes, I will write w for whole notes, h for half notes, q for quarter notes and 1/8 for eighth notes. I also need to use / for division.
Please note: Since eighth notes get half a beat, 1/8 is code for _. The code for writing 3 is a dotted half note, which I will write h(d). Problems must be solved from left to right regardless of the “priority of operations” which is used in mathematics.
Below are examples of math problems written in numbers and in “musical notation code.”
4 / 2 + 3 = 5
w / h + h(d) = 5
h(d) q x w q = 7
3 1 x 4 1 = 7
q + h + w x h + h / w = 4
1 + 2 + 4 x 2 + 2 / 4 = 4
And this one is a bit of a doozy:
2 x 3 x 4 / 2 x 4 + 2 / 2 3 2 / 4 = 5
h x h(d) x w / h x w + h / h h(d) h / w = 5
David is willing to email scanned copies of his latest pentatonic recorder songs (Mr. Squirrel, Playing in the Rain, A Winter’s Fire) to anyone who writes him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Free Waldorf Curriculum and Related Websites!
Here are sites for information and online books in tune with the Waldorf curriculum.
http://www.mainlesson.com This is a part of the Baldwin Project, to bring classical children’s literature to today’s children. Many of these old books are out of copyright and can appear online in their entirety. It is organized according to the Waldorf curriculum, by grade. Some are for sale, but most are free. A great resource!
http://www.amblesideonline.org/ This is an adaptation of the Charlotte Mason Curriculum, which is very close to Waldorf. It is also covered at mainlesson.com.