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Do gnomes exist? Have they ever?

Poll Results: Do gnomes exist? Have they ever?

Poll expired: Nov 9, 2005 This is a multiple choice poll
  • 10% (11)
    Yes, they exist.
  • 1% (2)
    Yes, they existed in the past.
  • 21% (23)
    No, gnomes are and always have been make-believe.
  • 3% (4)
    No, I do not but my child/ren do/es.
  • 5% (6)
    No, I do not, neither do my children.
  • 4% (5)
    Gnomes are a metaphor for something else (please explain).
  • 7% (8)
    I do know about what Steiner said about the existence of gnomes.
  • 5% (6)
    I did not previously know that Steiner had said anything about gnomes.
  • 12% (14)
    It does not matter whether Steiner said anything about gnomes.
  • 5% (6)
    It does matter to me whether gnomes are a part of Waldorf.
  • 5% (6)
    They teach about gnomes in our Waldorf school.
  • 1% (2)
    They do not teach about gnomes in our Waldorf school.
  • 13% (15)
    We are not in a Waldorf school.
108 Total Votes  
post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
From this forum, I have read that that Steiner said or wrote that gnomes did/do exist (I'm not sure which and I don't have a quote). Thinking about this led me to wonder if the Waldorf parents on this forum even know about this. Also, it makes me wonder whether Waldorf parents believe that gnomes have or do exist.

I have extremely fond memories of being at my best friend's house in the elementary school ages and staring at and reading over and over her large "Gnomes" book. You know, the one that was written to look like an encyclopedia or reference book about gnomes.

I also admit to spending time staring at her neighbor's front door step for weeks, because the girl who lived there told me that little people lived under the stair. One day, her mother came out and asked me what I was doing, all alone, just peering at her front step. I was honest, I told her I was waiting and looking for the little people her daughter had told me lived there. Well, she told me to go home, there were no little people, and my friend was grounded and spanked : over the incident.

Anyway, enough about my background and curiosity. Please let me know what you think! Thank you in advance!
post #2 of 33
I definitely don't believe in gnomes and don't believe they ever existed. But then, I don't believe in ghosts, spirits, or God, either. It's all equally silly to me, so I wouldn't think a person any less for believing in gnomes than I would think of a person believing in God. It wouldn't bother me if a teacher believed in gnomes. But do any really belive in them?
Janine
post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratlover
It wouldn't bother me if a teacher believed in gnomes. But do any really belive in them?
Well, that is definitely one of the things I'm wondering, too!
post #4 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratlover
It wouldn't bother me if a teacher believed in gnomes.
I just thought of something...

Would you mind if your child's teacher was teaching your child that gnomes do exist?
post #5 of 33
Given the choices given, I have to choose saying yes, gnomes exist. My preferred answer is "I can't say with certainty they don't, and as there are certainly a lot of things about life that I can't explain without considering a spiritual world in some form, I figure gnomes (or other spiritual beings) exist in some form, too."

You could say instead that they're a metaphor for concepts such as "grace", divine intervention, luck, and other unexplainable things.

Personally, I think the gnome thing is overblown. Once a child goes to the grades in a waldorf school, there aren't very many gnomes at all; mainly the ones that teach the basic arithmetic operations.

DAvid
post #6 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by canndw
Once a child goes to the grades in a waldorf school, there aren't very many gnomes at all; mainly the ones that teach the basic arithmetic operations.
Gnomes are used to teach math????!!!???

Well, you learn something new every day. I'd love it if you would elaborate. Thank you!




p.s. I'm guessing you're not talking about them as tutors, though...right? haha. Sorry... : I joke constantly in real life but I'm not sure it translates on the boards.
post #7 of 33
I don't believe that they exist and my kids are not in a Waldorf school so I don't know too much about how they are used there. It is my understanding that gnomes are part of fairy tales and pretend play (they have doll houses with little gnomes that kids can play with) and the way they use them in math isn't much different than the way regular schools use other manipulatives. Instead of those little plastic cubes that stick together (which they use in my son's public K) they use gnomes that stand for addition and subtraction and they use little gems as manipulatives. Kind of cute, and maybe more captivating for kids than the plain old plastic cubes, since there is a little story involved. Hopefully one of the Waldorf parents can elaborate

As far as teachers believing in them, I don't think it would matter to me. I'm an agnostic and I am sure that the vast majority of my kids future teachers will belive in God.
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by momsgotmilk4two
the way they use them in math isn't much different than the way regular schools use other manipulatives. Instead of those little plastic cubes that stick together (which they use in my son's public K) they use gnomes that stand for addition and subtraction and they use little gems as manipulatives.
Aaahhh...now I understand. Thank you. Math manipulatives, gotcha.

Actually, I have been looking at the cute gnomes and tree fort toys, thinking about whether my children would play with it... the holiday season is around the corner and we love showering our children with presents. I would have loved having those as a child... :LOL

Thank you for voting & elaborating!!!!
post #9 of 33
The Waldorf gnomes sure do get more than their fair share of attention

Sorry but I couldn't find a box to fit my answer.

Do gnomes exist? I don't know. I haven't seen one, I know that.

If something DOES exist, it is possible to know it, in theory anyway. Of course, it's also possible that something does exist even though we don't know it. Belief isn't required to accept the potentiality that something does exist. However, the reverse isn't true. If something doesn't exist, it's impossible to know it doesn't exist except through pure belief.



Linda
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Would you mind if your child's teacher was teaching your child that gnomes do exist?
Not really. If they were in public school I would definitely mind, but in a private school I would expect a certain belief system that I may not totally agree with or believe. If I sent my child to Catholic school I also wouldn't mind it if they said that God exists. In both cases I would think that they would learn the truth eventually from us.
Janine
post #11 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl
If something DOES exist, it is possible to know it, in theory anyway. Of course, it's also possible that something does exist even though we don't know it. Belief isn't required to accept the potentiality that something does exist. However, the reverse isn't true. If something doesn't exist, it's impossible to know it doesn't exist except through pure belief.

Linda
Do you believe that there are or ever were gnomes?

What is your definition of "gnomes"?

What is the role of "gnomes" in Waldorf education, to the best of your knowledge? I'm a little hazy on the subject myself but am very curious.
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Do you believe that there are or ever were gnomes?
I don't devote any energy to defining myself by what I do or don't "believe" in. It's just not in my nature, a kind of "I don't get it" thing. What's the big deal? Do I believe in gnomes? Ghosts? Visitors from other planets? WHY should I believe in them or not do so? What difference does it make? So I don't either way.

I've been a Waldorf parent 12 years. My children haven't been told they need to believe in them, and I've never been asked if I do. Until today--where I've found myself answering the same question twice!! Isn't life interesting?

Quote:
What is your definition of "gnomes"?
I don't really have one of my very own.

Quote:
What is the role of "gnomes" in Waldorf education, to the best of your knowledge? I'm a little hazy on the subject myself but am very curious.
The "role" of gnomes is in Waldorf ed is to serve as playful and engaging little characters to captivate the interest of children up until about age 7. It's common in education today to use characters of one kind or another, like Big Bird or the little blue dog in Blues Clues. Heymath, one of the most interesting educational enterprises to make a showing lately, uses space aliens. Gnomes aren't marketing inventions though. They have figured in the western world's imaginative consciousness for literally hundreds of years.
post #13 of 33
Gnomes are wonderful. I loved looking at that big gnome book (like Brian Froud but not Brian Froud) when I was a kid.

Gnomes at the Waldorf school are wonderful too. In kindergarten the lead teacher would sing, "I know a little dusty gnome..." and take him down from a high windowsill. He'd "whisper" a task to each child and they would go clean up. It was the signal it was time to clean up the toys for snack. She didn't give him a voice, just held him to each child's ear. They heard whatever they wanted to, I guess.

In grade one we did fat Mrs Plus and sad Mr Minus and excitable crazy Times and I forget what personification for Division. That was the extent of it. We didn't "teach" about gnomes. There wasn't even that much mention of them, really, other than that. You might not even know they were gnomes except we gave them pointy hats in the pictures.

I said it doesn't matter what Steiner said about gnomes. I like gnomes. They're just gnomes.
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by momsgotmilk4two
isn't much different than the way regular schools use other manipulatives. Instead of those little plastic cubes that stick together (which they use in my son's public K) they use gnomes that stand for addition and subtraction and they use little gems as manipulatives. Kind of cute, and maybe more captivating for kids than the plain old plastic cubes, since there is a little story involved.
This cracked me up because at my school some of the classes have little plastic dinosaurs to count for manipulatives! Given our talks about the dinosaur controversy this made me LOL.

But in defense of the cubes, they stack nicely and make it easy to compare a bar of 10 to 10 indiv. cubes etc.

But the dinos are cute cute cute!
XOXO
Beth
post #15 of 33
I love unifix cubes, too! We get them with our Calvert curriculum.

I also have plastic pattern blocks in my house. I couldn't have them in my classroom, because anything other than real wood would have been heretical (and I agree, really), but I couldn't afford wood ones for my dd. Back to gnomes, I think small children seem really to like the idea of gnomes. Even now we'll see a hole in a tree and someone will comment it's an ideal gnome home. And we are all rational more-or-less-atheist grownups or adolescents.
post #16 of 33
Riversky- I had the image of gnomes sitting there teaching math, too- with a little pointer and pointy little hat- sort of like TAs or something :LOL

I have the Oak Meadow curriculum and gnomes are used to teach Math in it also- more like the manipulatives. I am still trying to wrap my mind around it. I think I may have issues with gnomes. I started out thinking they represented something else- as in a metaphor, but now think "sometimes a gnome is just a gnome."
post #17 of 33
I never even thought of gnomes growing up in California, but now that I live in Switzerland they have become a real presence in my life. :LOL

Surrounded by mossy, shadowy forests, I can almost imagine them being real...and the very popular and omnipresent garden gnomes dotted around this part of the world suggest that others believe in them too!

Waldorf is huge here and not nearly as "alternative". Soooo many of these elements show up in the broader culture here as well. I really wouldn't be surprised if Swiss kids in public school use gnomes to learn math as well.
post #18 of 33
Gnomes are part of the unseen elementaql beings that keep the earth running smothly.if I told you all what I've seen through the years somebody would be suggesting prozac :LOL for more info read some of the books at www.steinerbooks.com
post #19 of 33
Ever seen what happens to a room full of people when a platter of plates drops and smashes?
That is the elementals (gnomes) escaping.
post #20 of 33
Like other pp, I loved the gnome books as a kid, I wanted very much to believe in them. But as time passed, I came to find them as whimsical fantasy.

I have not read Steiner's take on gnomes.

Like fairies, if my twins in their imagination choose to have them real in their lives that is fine, I will not let my 'logic' stifle them. If on the other hand they choose not to believe in them, I would hope that the Waldorf teacher will respect their view.

It will need to be explained to the twins that some children may believe in faries and gnomes and that their belief is no more superior than that of their peers.

Does this make sense?
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