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Waldorf News

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Goodbye to cooped-up creches: Making classrooms free-range: At the Steiner Brigit’s Hearth in Co Clare preschoolers learn from nature

A pre-school in an eco-building on the edge of a native woodland in Co Clare sounds a little like a fairytale. Yet, that is precisely what Brigit’s Hearth in Tuamgraney, near Scarriff, is: a clay-walled early learning centre within the root-range of the ancient Brian Boru oak. As a Government-funded community project, this Waldorf (Steiner) school is a model of what could be replicated throughout Ireland – where the arrivals hall for new babies is within an acorn’s drop of the departure lounge of a neighbouring nursing home, in an area of profound ecological richness. That such a place exists is down to a vibrant Spaniard named Lina Pelaez who was involved with the Steiner primary school in Tuamgraney where she realised that the children arriving at its kindergarten at age four were already set in their ways. “We know that the first three years of life are the most important,” says Pelaez, “and the children coming to me were already confused and distressed. We were getting them too late.” More »

High School Puppetry a Tradition in Orange County

At the K-12 Waldorf School of Orange County in Costa Mesa, students of all ages practice art as a way to enhance and support their academic learning. These performing experiences become markers for their grade level as well as their academic maturity. As they work toward the final goal of producing a full-length play in their senior year, the students have slowly gathered skills, through public presentations of monologues in 11th grade, poetry in 10th grade and a marionette puppet show in ninth grade. “I remember sitting in the front row when I was in first grade and watching the upper grades,” said Nadia Amirmokri, 15. “It’s a tradition that we’ve been waiting eight years for.” Students in the lower grades make and use rudimentary shadow puppets and table-top puppets during class. The more complex marionettes are introduced once they have completed courses in biology and anatomy. “The ninth-graders study the structure of the physical body,” said development director Denise Ogawa, “which makes a connection to the marionette project in art because they are creating a physical body that moves.” More »

New Video from The Lakota Waldorf School on the Pine Ridge Reservation

The Lakota Waldorf School was founded in 1993 by a group of Lakota parents committed to an alternative vision for their children’s education – one that includes traditional Lakota values. The founders of the Lakota Waldorf School recognized that for a school to succeed on the reservation it must help the Lakota children to connect with their roots and to develop skills necessary to lead healthful, fulfilling lives in the future. The video was produced and directed by James Brazel of Beautiful Life Films. It was filmed in May and was just released a few weeks ago. James would love to talk to you about a video for your school, anywhere in the US, anywhere in the world. Contact him at [email protected] See more of his work at beautifullifefilms.com. More »

Nine days in Haiti: Waldorf School students find deep meaning on service trip

They flew to Haiti to help others. They journeyed home on an odyssey of self-discovery. Four seniors at Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene prepared for months, raising funds and learning about Haiti, steeling themselves for a service project that they knew would be nothing like they have experienced before. But, really, books and videos and discussions with those who have been are mere primers. To see Haiti, to listen to Haiti — to smell Haiti — stokes a sensory overload that is common among visitors. That first anarchic drive through Port-a-Prince itself, the capital of the Caribbean nation acknowledged as the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, invariably leaves an indelible impression. “It’s hard to explain,” said Tyler Bell of Keene, four days after returning, studiously weaving through his feelings. “I see how we live now, and our surroundings, in a way I’ve never seen it before. What felt familiar before feels foreign.” More »

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The Scientists Who Make Apps Addictive

In 1930, a psychologist at Harvard University called B.F. Skinner made a box and placed a hungry rat inside it. The box had a lever on one side. As the rat moved about it would accidentally knock the lever and, when it did so, a food pellet would drop into the box. After a rat had been put in the box a few times, it learned to go straight to the lever and press it: the reward reinforced the behaviour. Skinner proposed that the same principle applied to any “operant”, rat or man. He called his device the “operant conditioning chamber”. It became known as the Skinner box. Skinner was the most prominent exponent of a school of psychology called behaviourism, the premise of which was that human behaviour is best understood as a function of incentives and rewards. Let’s not get distracted by the nebulous and impossible to observe stuff of thoughts and feelings, said the behaviourists, but focus simply on how the operant’s environment shapes what it does. Understand the box and you understand the behaviour. Design the right box and you can control behaviour. More »