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GMWS Blog

On the debate about Common Core

Thank you to guest blogger & GMWS parent Beatrice Burgis for this post!

This article is an emotional first-person account by two mothers who wrestle with the effects of standardized testing on their elementary-aged children.  The Common Core standards initiative, which has been adopted by 45 states, has had its share of both supporters and critics, but mounting evidence suggests that the rigors of preparing for tests, particularly among the youngest students, may have a harmful effect on learning in the long run. 

In contrast, Waldorf® Education meets children where they are developmentally, rather than adopt a homogeneous approach that focuses more on memorization than in-depth comprehension and personal experience. One of the hundreds of comments following the article sums it up best: "I don't want a standardized child."  At every age, Waldorf students are encouraged to explore their environment with curiosity, enthusiasm, and respect, thereby fostering a life-long love of learning.  

The Documented Life

As we prepare for winter break and time with family, let's consider this opinion piece by Dr. Sherry Turkle of MIT, from The New York Times.

One of the best quotes: "It is not too late to reclaim our composure. I see the most hope in young people who have grown up with this technology and begin to see its cost. They respond when adults provide them with sacred spaces (the kitchen, the family room, the car) as device-free zones to reclaim conversation and self-reflection."

Why Are These Kindergarten Children Harvesting Potatoes?

(Photo from October 2012)

There are so many reasons...but let's start with these:

  • Because science begins with nature study and observation. They are learning how food is grown and harvested, while developing an intuitive and reverential respect for the earth and its processes and cycles.
  • Because life-long health (social, emotional, physical, spiritual, cognitive) includes being in the fresh air and sunshine, alongside friends, as we work on a cooperative project together, share opportunities to ask questions and solve problems, and build our will and our muscles.
  • Because life requires that we get involved. These children are being given an important chance to be engaged, helpful, and focused.  

Cursive Writing Makes Kids Smarter

A professor of Neuroscience at Texas A & M University, William Klemm, D.V.M., Ph.D., wrote this excellent piece that supports teaching cursive, an integral part of the Waldorf curriculum. 

Tonight! Two Important Talks (Plus a great article on play from the Alliance for Childhood)

Don't miss these two talks tonight at 7:30pm!

In the Arts Building Music Room, Early Childhood Educators Leslie Burchell-Fox, Andrea Gambardella, and Lisa Miccio discuss Child Development from Birth to Seven.  In preparation, take a look at this piece on Kindergarten and preschool education, by Joan Almon, co-founder of the Alliance for Childhood.

In the High School English Room, John Wulsin, longtime High School English and Drama Teacher, speaks on Navigating Adolescence.

These popular talks are not to be missed!

New Research on How Waldorf Students Learn

Take a look at this new study from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in Germany. A few highlights: "80% of Steiner [Waldorf] students find their learning fun (compared to 67%). 85% find the environment supportive (compared to 60%). The relationship with teachers is judged significantly better at 65% compared to 31%. [Study author Andreas] Schleicher praised the emphasis on personal responsibility and self-motivation, preparing children for the life that awaits them after graduation."

Alone Together

Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, has been on our radar for some time. A professor at MIT and one of the first academics to study the impact of emerging technology on adults' and children's behavior, her April 2012 TED talk was followed by this interview last week with Bill Moyers. Hers is an important perspective.

Here's a quote: “What concerns me as a developmental psychologist is watching children grow in this new world where being bored is something that never has to be tolerated for a moment,” Turkle tells Moyers. “Everyone is always having their attention divided between the world of people [they're] with and this ‘other’ reality.”

 

Is Music the Key to Success?

While we don't believe there's any ONE key to success, this article (from The New York Times yesterday) is certainly worth reading.

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