Outside of my window, the third, fourth, and fifth graders are learning a Hebrew folk dance as they prepare for the Michaelmas festival that will be held next Tuesday. There has been a dragon practicing its ability to be menacing, dance music being learned by an orchestra, and shooting stars learning how to run in and out of a spiral.
These moments are special in any community; these places where time is absolutely present, and yet can spill so easily into the past and the future. During the Rose Ceremony, for instance, a senior presents a rose to a first grader; this is a unique moment for both students, and for those who are watching in the audience. But, simultaneously, there is a parallel world of prediction and memory, as the first grader wonders perhaps to whom he will give his rose in twelfth grade? And the twelfth grader remembers who gave a rose to her years before. The entire school community is woven in these threads of past and future, with the strong, bright thread of the present running through.
One day, the shooting stars will be the dragon, and the dragon looks back with nostalgia at the flight of the shooting stars.
The story of Michael and the dragon is one that has lived very strongly in the Waldorf schools since their foundation. The feast day is not one that is widely celebrated – Michaelmas is something that I only came across in Victorian novels – but the symbolism of the story is what draws the interest of the teachers of the school.
In the story that the school is working with in their play, a dragon has come into a community and is causing havoc: eating sheep and burning crops. The people don’t know what to do, and ask for help. Michael answers with inspiration, sending heavenly iron down to the people to form weapons to fight the dragon. The nobles confront the dragon and subdue it. It will begin a new employment of helping to grind corn and be useful in the community.
It is easy to imagine the story on a personal level, or even on a community level. What are our dragons? How does this dragon destroy or make difficult what we wish to accomplish in our lives? And what does it mean to not destroy the dragon, but to defeat it, to transform its energy into positive good in our lives?
And there is something about inspiration. Michael does not defeat the dragon, but sends the inspiration and courage to the people to join together and subdue it through their own initiative. Sometimes, when faced with a problem, if we take a moment to ask for help from a friend or colleague, if we step out of the problem for a moment to see it from a different angle, inspiration comes that helps to solve the problem.
The Michaelmas celebration will be at 2:10 this coming Tuesday on the Whitetop. I hope to see you there!
Lower School Chair
Photo courtesy of Fernando Lopez
on Friday September 25
The entire school, especially the Class of 2016, welcomed the Class of 2027 on Tuesday at our Rose Ceremony, which opens and closes every school year. We are delighted to share the pictures below with you, marking this special day.
Look for an article in the upcoming September/October issue of The Bulletin about the meaning and significance of the Rose Ceremony in Waldorf Schools. Welcome back to school, everyone!
Sheep to Slippers: children make their own beautiful wool slippers
Weeks of July 27 and August 3 (two-week program)
9:00am to 2:00pm
Support your child’s creativity through this two-week summer offering! Children will explore the magical nature of wool, our gift from the sheep, as they design and felt their very own wool slippers. Days will be spent washing and carding wool, collecting flowers and cutting vegetables to create dye baths, and observing the transformation of the fibers into a beautiful rainbow of natural hues. Each child will design and fashion an individual pair of felted wool slippers, and by the end of the two weeks everyone will have their own pair, hand-made to fit their own feet.
In addition, there will be ample time for circle, story, and puppet plays, as well as walks along our many acres of beautiful wooded trails and romps through the sprinkler in the play yard.
Children will enjoy healthy organic snacks made at Green Meadow and bring a picnic lunch from home each day.
This offering is led by Early Childhood Educator Nell Rowland and takes place at the Green Meadow Waldorf School Kindergarten Building. For more information or to register, please email Mrs. Rowland at firstname.lastname@example.org. $750 for two-week program, includes snacks and all materials.
This New York Times article, published on May 16, 2015, details how the increasing push towards early academics is well-intentioned, but misguided. Children's potential might actually be hampered in the long run by academic instruction that doesn't match the child's development.
Per the experts, play based learning is the best approach for children under the age of 7 or 8. “Play is often perceived as immature behavior that doesn’t achieve anything,” says David Whitebread, a psychologist at Cambridge University who has studied the topic for decades. “But it’s essential to their development. They need to learn to persevere, to control attention, to control emotions. Kids learn these things through playing.”