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.
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."
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.
This article from Education Week last Springhighlights the importance of spatial skills, like the ones we foster in our Early Childhood program, for later learning.
One highlight: "We start kids too early on math and reading when they don't have these foundational skills," he said. In the earliest grades, he said, "you can't just teach reading and math to get higher reading and math skills."
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.
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."