Kathleen's son is in the 1st grade. She was wondering about the way we teach reading and how it evolves. She appreciates the imagination and creativity that her son's 1st grade teacher uses to teach letters. She mentioned how disconnected her son felt when learning to read in his public school last year. In the book, Jack Petrash gives a great example of a story for letter K (king) and letter C that makes sound k (castle's cat that appears when the king is too busy). We talked how the stories, songs, and verses we learned as children can explain very difficult concepts and stay with us our entire life. Lisa recalled a math song she learned in school that helped her to udnerstand a math concept.
Then we talked about competitiveness and how Waldorf education works with it. I mentioned that starting everything from the whole reinforces the sense of community. Being with the same group of children and the main teacher for several years also fosters the feeling of interconnectedness. Of course, competitiveness is a reality of our modern life, especially in New York. In Waldorf school, we're just showing that there are other ways to inspire learning and growing.
The question of staying in one group and having the same main teacher for up to 8 years came up next. I shared my school experience of being with the same group of children for 8 years and having the same teacher first for 4 years and then for 4 more. We talked how being in one group often teaches important social and emotional skills. Academically, seeing your friends learn and master new skills with or without struggle demonstrates the importance of patience and courage for learning.
Kathleen mentioned that her son is excited about having the same teacher next year but she is wondering what it is like to experience the same teaching style for more than two years. The children in grades school do have other subject teachers. In the 1st grade they usually have at least 6 more teachers in addition to their class teacher. In upper grades the amount of subject teachers often increases. The class teacher has to adjust her teaching style every year to meet new needs of a growing child.
Next meeting we will finish our discussion about the class teacher and will start a new one about Waldorf High School curriculum. Feel free to chare your comments and/or questions on the blog.
"The greatest scientists are artists as well. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world."