October 5, 2009

Waldorf Writing

I am fascinated by the Waldorf method for teaching writing skills. In fact, I am a little infatuated with it. It's so natural and beautiful. I do, however, have some criticisms. If you're not familiar, check this out.

So there is something enchanting about the picture introduction, the beautiful colors (which I'm convinced would be as beautiful in Crayola instead of beeswax, but whatever)and the relaxed, pressure free method of introducing each line and curve. That said, if you have followed our school adventures for long at all, you know I am an Engelmann fanatic. That approach to literacy hasn't failed me (or any of my many friends who use it, for that matter) and great importance is placed on lowercase letters first. This makes sense, as I haven't read any literature in all caps lately. But the Waldorfians, if you notice, have kids writing stories in all caps. So theoretically they can read their own stories, but no real books. Not so good. In addition, they postpone this letter learning until first grade. Their reasoning for this is, as far as I can tell, that children are naturally active and full of "joyful movement" and reading requires them to sit still. I don't believe that dick and Jane led to childhood obesity, and replicating those amazing drawings takes a bit of sitting still as well. I determine it to be just a difference in priorities. Self expression over literacy, which may have it's merits but is not quite the direction we are moving here at casa de Christison.

Hannah Jane can read, but she sure isn't sitting and reading for hours on end. She mostly reads a few pages from a book a day and a lot of nutrition and waning labels. That works for me. I can see that as she is more interested in finding things out for herself, she is more internally motivated to read. For instance, we have dissected type 2 diabetes just about every which way over the last 2 days because of those darn nutrition labels and her independent reading. Sugar is the topic of the week! But suppose her interest was peaked, but she only had the capacity to read upper case letters? Would we be discussing sugar in pasta? Probably not. She'd still be relying on me to tell her what to be interested instead of reading snipits on her own and then asking the more probing questions like "is there sugar in chicken, too?"

But these 2 major criticisms are not enough to turn me away. I am still so in love with the idea of presenting letters in this way. I will be integrating this method into our home by making the pictures for the boys to copy using lowercase letters rather than caps and doing it a bit earlier.

There's still so much Waldorf beauty to figure out, so I'm off!

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