Just popping back in to address a few things that I think my (very badly written by a tired mama) post brought up!
|The description of writing or making books in the kindy is astounding to me. I've been involved with several waldorf kindy's, and I can say without exception that would never happen here. Not only would it not happen, it would be discouraged.
Not sure if I gave the wrong impression-just to clarify, this wouldn't be a teacher led activity, it's something that the children initiate sometimes during their free play (they have access to paper, crayons and glue during this time). But we absolutely would never discourage it. The only things we really discourage during play are those that hurt and upset other people. We (assistants and teacher) talked about it and were expressly told not to discourage any of this sort of activity. Actually the teacher was quite horrified by the idea of that. I can't imagine how one would actively discourage this activity in a way that was consistent with the respectful way that we treat the children in the kindergarten. Clearly though, it happens elsewhere, so I guess this is one area where there is great variation. We were also told that if children ask us to write something for them we should do it with great care and creativity, to model its importance, which I think is a nice part of encouraging interest in literacy without pushing it early on. We just wouldn't then start prompting the children to copy the letters or read the letters or do workbooks or any of the other things that any interest in literacy seems to immediately lead to in mainstream settings that I have witnessed (and is encouraged by the early years curriculum in the UK).
|I would never say that free play in Kindergarten is organised fun. It is 'held' by the teachers in that a lot of work goes into setting up the environment and in keeping that order you talk about, but it is not organised. The same goes for the Class children's playtimes. They are not by any means organised. I used the term 'controlled fun' in relation to what goes on in the classroom.
Yes absolutely, sorry my post was so unclear! I think I was trying to emphasize the difference between the class years and kindergarten in this respect (although, as I said, I still know embarassingly little about the class years), so that people don't get the idea that 3 and 4 year olds are expected to 'move as a group' in the same way as older children. But the teacher is definitely holding it, although it may look like she's 'just' sat in the corner doing some sewing. Again, this is, for me, a really refreshing contrast with other settings I have seen where the staff are constantly
'poking their noses in' to children's play, asking questions so that they can guide it towards specific curriculum aims.
|But then these children are seven years old or older, not three to six which is what you get in Kindergarten -- where I think it is appropriate not to raise your voice, especially with the littlest ones. But people sometimes hear that kind of thing and get the wrong idea, like that we would sing to their eight year old if they hit somebody, or that we'd never "force" their nine year old to do any work in class... which is totally not the case!
Absolutely. I really appreciate the awareness of age appropriate approaches in Steiner education, especially regarding discipline. There are certain things that just don't work in a positive way with a 3 or 4 year old but are necessary with 8 or 9 year olds. Which seems obvious to most of us, I'm sure, but I have heard one and two year olds being spoken to like teenagers on numerous occasions in some settings (like my daughter's daycare....perhaps that is a whole other topic...
) Although I really understand what you mean about people's misconceptions. The most common response I get when I say i work at a Steiner kindergarten is "oh the kids can just do whatever they want there can't they?"...hmm, not quite..
As for Steiner teachers having no awareness of or contact with other educational theories and research (I don't know if that is exactly what has been said here, but along those lines..), there are many many exceptions to this. The teacher I work with (yes, i sort of love her you may have noticed!) is currently working on an MA in Early Childhood Studies. She is tailoring her research towards a Steiner perspective, but also obviously has to be fully aware of mainstream theories and research in this this area, as it isn't a Steiner specific degree by any means. I have met plenty of kindergarten teachers with a mainstream educational background and absolutely tons of knowledge in this area, and there are lots of people working closely with mainstream educational advisors in the UK to make sure that Steiner kindergartens can be compatible with the Early Years Foundation Stage (which is posing plenty of problems, but at least people are workign together to address them). As part of our staff study we read texts by both Steiner and Steiner influenced authors, and non-Steiner researchers of contemporary early years issues. I'm sure there are Steiner teachers who refuse to have anything to do with other theories and research, but it's not all of them by any means. And it's not as if those who do are shunned by the anthroposophical community, quite the opposite in fact. At our regional early years conference next month the keynote speaker will be a leading mainstream author who has nothing to do with the Steiner Waldorf community (although her ideas are very compatible with our approach). There are absolutely loads of kindergarten teachers from all over the UK coming, all interested in her opinions and research despite them having no grounding in anthroposophy! So, from my experience, people are plenty willing to learn from different perspectives and contemporary research rather than solely anthroposophy. I don't doubt that there are people who are too dogmatic to do so though. (and, of course, this is a UK perspective again).
Hmm I hope that was helpful, I must admit I feel a little bit out of my depth in these conversations speaking only from a few months of experience. Hopefully I will be starting the Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education degree soon (http://www.plymouth.ac.uk/courses/un...hood+Education
) and will be able to have a bit more theoretical knowledge behind me (and hopefully write interesting critical essays based on these sorts of issues-which I have been assured is strongly encouraged!)