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Waldorf News

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How to Parent Like a German: An American mom finds some surprising habits

The first time I went to a playground in Berlin, I freaked. All the German parents were huddled together, drinking coffee, not paying attention to their children who were hanging off a wooden dragon 20 feet above a sand pit. Where were the piles of soft padded foam? The liability notices? The personal injury lawyers? “Achtung! Nein!” I cried in my bad German. Both kids and parents ignored me. Contrary to stereotypes, most German parents I’ve met are the opposite of strict. They place a high value on independence and responsibility. Those parents at the park weren’t ignoring their children; they were trusting them. Berlin doesn’t need a “free range parenting” movement because free range is the norm. More »

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Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system

For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy. Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success. Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”. “This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning,” said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki – the capital city at the forefront of the reform programme. More »

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Nepal Waldorf Schools - Earthquake Report

This is Meyrav Mor, the founder of the Tashi Waldorf school. As it was Saturday the school was not in session. It is difficult to get people on the phone as the networks are very busy and collapse but I managed to speak on the phone to Rajen and Chandra who are teachers at the school and they said that all the teachers have not been hurt in the earthquake. It is not possible to know at this moment in time whether any of the children are hurt as the phone list is at school and not all the children anyway have a phone. It's not easy to travel to the school but those who live near the school said that only the brick wall the surrounds the school's property collapsed. The building is ok. As there is a state of emergency in the country all schools are closed for another week. There is no electricity and as a result people cannot pump water which means no water either. Everyone is sleeping outside by the side of the road as they are too scared to sleep inside. Rajen said that he and his family are sleeping in a tent in another school ground (he lives about an hour drive away from the Tashi school) and that they have not managed to sleep as there have been many aftershocks during the night) he said that they were unable to cook any food and are managing to eat dry food. He said that the situation outside of Kathmandu is worse and the number of dead people is very high and in one case one village has been completely destroyed. It is not very easy to get news as to what is happening outside Kathmandu due to communication. They do not have internet or TV at the moment as everything is down. This big earthquake was something that we all knew was coming for a long time and it is watching our worst nightmare coming true. It is all very chaotic and it is hard to know at the moment whether all the children and their families are ok. My fear is that as most of the children come from very poor families they live in houses that are very poorly constructed. Now more than ever we need the international Waldorf community to help the Tashi school as we have not began to realise the devastation the children are experiencing and the trauma that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. It is a very sad, worrying and terrifying time for the people in Nepal and they will need all the help and support to be able to recover from this terrible disaster. More »

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High Mowing School in Wilton, NH is Now Heated with Biomass!

High Mowing School had a strong desire to eliminate its use of fossil fuels by switching to a local green fuel. However their dream of installing biomass boilers would take a big investment with lots of ongoing maintenance. Then Xylogen, a Keene-based company, gave them an exciting “turn-key” proposal. Opportunity was knocking! The solution was fairly simple: The school agreed to a 20-year service agreement for a set annual fee where Xylogen promised to provide, install and maintain a central biomass boiler system that would heat all nine of the core campus buildings. Even though Xylogen provides all fuel needed on campus for the duration, the agreement encourages conservation. Should the campus or Xylogen find ways to cut back on their use of heat, their annual fee is also reduced. That made sense to everyone. More »

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Finding a Way: My Year at the Multicultural Waldorf Kindergarten in Hamburg-Wilhemsburg

Never before have I experienced so much as during my voluntary service. However, I must confess that I did not like Hamburg initially, because I would rather have lived in a smaller town, with narrow streets, half-timbered houses and a cosy historical part of town. Hamburg, however, is big with plenty of water and a huge port… But as time passed I began to like Hamburg with its metropolitan feeling of freedom and boundlessness. From the first day my host family was very helpful and I do not want to imagine how it would have worked out had they not supported me with good advice. I felt at home: every now and then they took me on a tour, or we would watch a movie or the series “Tatort”. Simply having dinner together every day gave me a sense of being part of the family. The main focus of my volunteer service, however, was my work at the Waldorf kindergarten. My task was to take care of the children between the ages of twelve months and three years. It is a special feeling when a child makes its first step and says his first word when you are there. With the help of the children I learned German and now know many animal species and can distinguish between digger, tractor, truck and crane. More »