or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Let's talk pedagogy
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Let's talk pedagogy - Page 5

post #81 of 103
In Waldorf, children are learning about reality in a very hands on way. They learn through their free play outside in nature and inside with natural toys. The learn things from start to finish and in the higher grades they learn from whole to parts. In our Kindergarten, the children carded wool and help spin it into wool yarn. They carved knitting needles out of wood and sanded them smooth. They then learned to knit. This is what they did in their Kindergarten year before going on to first grade the next year.

Mixed in with that was lots of time for free play involving digging in the dirt and sand, swinging, climbing trees, going to the park, picking plums and other fruit, baking bread, planting spring baskets of grass, etc.

Waldorf seeks to allow children how wonderful the world and people are. I believe they grow up believing the world is a good place and that they can make it better.
post #82 of 103
Well I think Caroline and I are saying the same thing about Montessori language, phonics is included and stressed over letter names but there are also other aspects to the lessons that give the child practice with reading whole words, phrases and sentences gradually affording the child repetition with the skills of sight reading (flash cards) and whole language immersion (spoken language). It does sound easy and the child learns easily to read but not without all the repetitions. You can't take out the phonics and say that the rest is supplemental. I'd say it's like a pyramid with spoken language at the base, phonics in the middle and reading games to crown the achievement as the inspiration to do the work in the first place. Actually, the more I think about it, the sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet are so much more than just phonics as they develop muscular memory and create neurological synapsis because of their physicality. This forms a resilient and clear picture of the concept (whether language, math, music) in the mind of the child at this age. We can offer any kind of language at this time in this manner - mathematical language, musical language, foreign languages, technical languages, etc.
This touches on something I've been meaning in regards to this thread about pedagogy and learning. Basically everything in the Montessori Casa is inherently designed to allow for 3 periods of learning...first, observing the concept (someone else demonstrates) second, practicing and repeating with the material (exploration, correcting mistakes) and third success or mastery. In my experience, this offers the child a real opportunity to retain what s/he learns no matter what the subject.
Recently in my reading, I came across a few instances where Dr. M addressed the "fantasy/reality" debate in The Absorbent Mind (Chapter 17, Further Elaboration Through Culture and Imagination). She says: "Imagination has always been given a predominant place in the psychology of childhood, and all over the world people tell their children fairy stories which are enjoyed immensely as if the children wanted to exercise this great gift, as imagination undoubtedly is. Yet, when all are agreed that the child loves to imagine, why do we give him only fairy tales and toys on which to practise this great gift? If a child can imagine a fairy and fairy land, it will not be difficult for him to imagine America." There other referenes in this chapter, but I chose this quote to reflect on because I feel that in essence, what she tried to do was to offer the child a real experience as an alternative...what "the secret" she discovered is that children choose to work in the concrete (and so surprising to our prejudices about the nature of childhood). It's really not a question of limiting the child's "imaginative play" but observing that given the choice, real work is what is more developmentally satisfying to the child. I personally find that there is so much magic and wonder in the real world to explore and many fantastic creatures to learn of. But dispelling fantasy and discouraging a child's creative use of materials was not part of my training, what I was taught as Dr. M's directives: if the child is not intentionally mistreating the materials, s/he is free to use it. Usually the child tires of this and goes on to something more meaningful soon enough. We are taught to observe what needs to be presented to the child so that s/he can be successful but never to correct or punish. Easier said than done sometimes. In our school, all that we have asked is that parents should choose lunchpacks/t-shirts with other than violent super heroes (it's unusual anyway with our parent population) Otherwise, if a child wears a Whinney-the-poo shirt or tells me about her visit from Santa, this is respected as the child's family's choice/traditions.
At home, I have had a hard time perpetuating the myth of Santa this year- I don't want to keep compiling the lies. When How does he get down the chimney? came up I gave up the charade and said Santa is just the spirit of Christmas. She sounded slightly scared about the big man entering our house. I enjoyed Santa when I was young, when I discovered his "true" identity I felt like I was let in on the adult's secret. All my dd cousins are visited by Santa and I don't want her to feel like she was bad so Santa doesn't come to her. When I told her Santa wasn't real, she didn't care much as long as she would still be getting gifts. (I guess this further illustrates Caroline's point about the greediness of it all!)
Well I must say this is a stimulating thread. It is interesting to hear the Waldorf perspective, I have friends involved teaching and parenting there as well. There are many similarities such as respect for the child, offering a intimate experience with nature, having a peaceful and nurturing environment. It seems as though one of the big differences is beliefs about what the child is intellectually ready for. Can't remember the reference right now, but remember reading Dr. M saying if "typical" schools did not expect a child to read or write before 6, no less would she ever force a child to do it sooner. However, when given opportunity to observe others and developmental materials to manipulate, the child is naturally drawn to accumlating skills previously thought too advanced. Not necessarily every child will be writing at 4, s/he may be writing music, telling stories, baking bread, drawing maps instead. We place no value or judgement on the individual's preferences but give them time to develop with their own personal guide.
post #83 of 103

"Most kids WANT to believe and are only asking so you can confirm that the trouble making kid on the playground is just trying to upset them. It’s a tough one. By the time kids are in school they are exposed to so many religions that don’t even have a Santa etc. so they get that it could be their special thing and not all kids are privy to Santa’s generosity. On the other hand, those kids who know the truth are usually very mean spirited about it and call those who do believe in it babies (or worse). :"

Wow. Have you ever tried to explain to a kid, when you do not want to promote something that everyone else is doing, why they don't have it? It's like you either beat-'em or join-'em. How do you explain why poor children haven't been privy to "Santa's generosity"? We have been going along with Santa based on what our kids have brought home and expressed they believe. This is ONLY because it has been so shoved in their faces that Santa does x,y,z and since reality and fantasy are indistinguishable to children, there really is no way to explain why Santa doesn't come to our house without saying he doesn't exist, which, I don't want to say mostly because I don't want my child to offend someone else's child. I think your assessment of children being "mean spirited" overlooks the turmoil of children that know the "truth" who are dealing with the frustration and confusion of having adults corroborating what they know is not true and being treated as sour-sports for pointing out the "truth". Is that a "trouble making kid...just trying to upset them" or a perfectly fine child trying to reconcile his truth vs. what he is being basically challenged with by everyone else? Why can't parents, when their kids say "Johnny said Santa isn't real" just say "that's what he believes and you believe something else"? Why does it have to be "Oh, sweetie, that's because Johnny lives in a dark, sad world with no magic and no Santa." Obviously, I'm exagerating, but really, the whole Santa thing puts so many in a pickle. When we were collecting toys for needy children at Christmas time, my son asked me "How come Santa doesn't bring them presents?" Gulp, got a good answer for that?

I wonder, if we give our kids imaginations such importance (which I do), why don't we see what they create and come up with, rather than doing it for them? Like I said, we started going along with Santa (and the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, leprechauns, fairies, St. Nick etc.) because our son picked it up at school and I didn't want to burst his bubble. But, nothing compares to the fantasy that my kids come up with on their own, the uniquely inspired stories and beliefs that they create or observe. I would see that as much more representative of where they are developmentally than what we as adults insist on promoting.

P.S. I was that horrible child who told someone that Santa wasn't real and boy did it mess me up when the teacher said "of course Santa is real". Now, I was Jewish and wasn't being mean-spirited at all. I just thought I was saying something true and enlightening my friend. I felt pretty confused by the teachers response and the implication that I was completely wrong or "mean-spirited".

Just food for thought.
post #84 of 103
Oops. Sorry if I steered off topic, I got a little emotional.

Funny that we'd end up at a Waldorf school right? The kids are happy there.
post #85 of 103
Originally Posted by mijumom
"Oh, sweetie, that's because Johnny lives in a dark, sad world with no magic and no Santa."
Haha. That is too, too funny. I get a variation on this from my ILs...I'm apparently the grinch for not doing Santa at home, even though my kid enjoys every aspect of the winter holidays without him. Besides, is Rudolph NOT cooler than Santa? Rudolph has a glowing red nose! And he eats carrots instead of cookies! Much better role model.

I remember getting in big trouble in my very rural town for telling a classmate there was no such thing as Satan, it was just make-believe. Her mom complained to all the other parents about me...and this was at a M school!

I think we're doing very well here on the Santa issue. You should see the fights that happen over in "Parenting Issues" on the Santa/Easter Bunny business. Ugly!
post #86 of 103
Thanks. You know, I can handle the scorn of my inlaws by now . But, when I think of a child being catagorized as mean-spirited or troublemaking for being honest it really rubs me wrong. And, the implication that somehow childhood would be less magical without grown-ups making up stories and buying presents etc. really makes no sense to me. Isn't a rainbow magic? Really, we parents can be so self-important.

This is probably my biggest qualm about Waldorf these days. I wonder, wouldn't it be more in sync with the notion of protecting their imaginations to refrain from interjecting? I mean even my kids' versions of Santa (Easter Bunny etc.) are more interesting than the common versions. Slowly, it becomes less about imagination and more about expectations (not just of gifts but of what will happen).

As far as arguing about what people do in there own homes, that's not for me. I used to be adament about not "lying" and now, I just can't bring myself to leave my son easter-basket-less when he believes.

It does seem logical to me though, that without our stories and sort of white lies, they would absolutely create what they need as far as imagination. We would just have to pay more attention and be less commited to our own pleasure in doing these things.
post #87 of 103
Here is an article on this topic that we're talking about. I'm sort of ambivalent about the author's final stance, but it's very interesting nonetheless.

Seeing Elves
post #88 of 103
Wow. That sure messed with my head. But, it sure clarifies the issue. I guess that's why we've stayed at our Waldorf school and gone along with these things because it feels right. I must say though that my son went from a non-believer pragmatist to a believer within a few months of being at a Waldorf school. Is that an improvement or not? I don't know. He certainly didn't lack imagination before, he was just in charge of and led what the stories would be. Parenting is too hard. My mantra..."I don't know."
post #89 of 103
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mijumom
I wonder, if we give our kids imaginations such importance (which I do), why don't we see what they create and come up with, rather than doing it for them? Like I said, we started going along with Santa (and the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, leprechauns, fairies, St. Nick etc.) because our son picked it up at school and I didn't want to burst his bubble. But, nothing compares to the fantasy that my kids come up with on their own, the uniquely inspired stories and beliefs that they create or observe. I would see that as much more representative of where they are developmentally than what we as adults insist on promoting.
post #90 of 103
I loved the “Seeing Elves” article!

I think the quote “Two children with two different needs. As always, I had to weigh the two needs. Whose need would be met, and whose would be short-changed?” really sums up my position on the issue with OTHER people’s children. It’s not my place to confirm or deny the existence of Santa in a school setting. When asked a direct question by a child who respects and trusts me my best response has been to be neutral and stick to the concept of believing in him = gifts. All kids get that, whether they believe in Santa or not.

Mijumom, I feel compelled to reply to your comments that children who spill the beans are entitled to do so. I disagree. I think whatever you choose to teach and practice within your family is your right, but to inflict that belief system on others is unfair. Adults have a hard enough time having civil conversations about their diametrically opposed views, have you ever seen a pack of children who disagree? It gets nasty very quickly. In my experience, the children who even start the conversation have a bone to pick, are aggressive and want to appear grown up or knowledgeable in front of their peers (not so different from some argumentative adults!) IMO parents who want their children to know the truth, but are sending them to a school that encourages the fantasy of Santa (which is pretty rare to tell the truth...most schools just ignore the whole thing these days) have a responsibility to let the child know that it is a special belief that some children have and is no less important to their family then some religious beliefs or practices that may seem arcane or ridiculous to others. Meaning: Leave It Alone!

At the end of the day, I don’t really know where I stand on the issue for my own family. I love the magic of Christmas and the concept of Santa was important to me as a child. My previous posts were written with my teacher hat on, which inevitably has a whole different set of rules and standards to follow. You all have some really good points and I don't disagree with many of them, but I do think that children have to be taught to respect the belief systems of others... regardless of how silly they may seem.
post #91 of 103
I have to say that there are several types of children out there who do not believe in Santa, etc. There are those that are of another faith or culture and there are those who use the knowledge to bully other children and there are others of course in different situations.

My children totally understand that not everyone believes in Santa or the tooth fairy. They get that it is a cultural thing. Their friends from Mexico are visited by the tooth mouse who swims the Rio Grande to get to Seattle while they themselves are visited by the Tooth Fairy. Their Jewish friends are not visited by Santa or by St. Nicholas but they have the fun of Hannakuh and Purim. My children as well as these children have been taught to be respectful of other children's beliefs and culture.

We have run into to children, who use the knowledge of no Santa as a form of bullying. Usually, they themselves were bullied out of the belief. They ususally call other children babies and crow about their higher level.
post #92 of 103
Originally Posted by newmom22
You all have some really good points and I don't disagree with many of them, but I do think that children have to be taught to respect the belief systems of others... regardless of how silly they may seem.
I do agree. We've always told our daughter that Santa is important to other children and not to tell them he's not real, any more than other religious icons that aren't real for our family. She hasn't said anything so far (she's six), so I think that's pretty good. I found out that Santa wasn't real from an evangelical christian girl whose family thought Christmas was pagan. Therefore, the whole Santa/Satan debate between the two of us. Hmmm, if you rearrange the letters...well whoda thunk it...
post #93 of 103
newmom22- Ok. I'm going to be honest and tell you that you're really hitting a nerve. I went to a Jewish school and while it was inclusive of other cultures, my parents never anticipated that I would be in that position. Also, to label a six year old in the way you have is so judgemental and I hope that as a teacher, if you ever face one of these rotten children, you will neglect your bias and treat that child with compassion and not so much emotion. All you have to say is "you both believe something different". When my son wasn't doing the "Santa" thing we did discuss other kids and their parents' desires to have them believe so we would not say anything to ruin it. Still, you can't always know when and how kids will discover or explore the truth. As an educater of children, I would hope that you would be a little less shallow about what all of the kids are experiencing deeper down. Also, now that my son has chosen to believe in Santa, I don't really know what he actually believes as fact and what he is going along with with a wink and a nod. I hope if he ever has a conversation representing either position someone will neutrally validate both kids' beliefs (pretty easy to do without all the hoopla and labeling).

I expect that our Waldorf school will honor the beliefs and practices of all students as much as any other "non-religious" school. It is wrong to discredit children's beliefs whether they are believing in or not believing in mythical creatures. What are you teaching the children who do believe about these kids that have a different pov? That they are mean and nasty. I wasn't, I just couldn't believe that this kid believed an actual fat guy came down her chimney. So, I suppose I was a nasty, cold-hearted non-believer, right?

Sheesh, please, please tell me you're not a Waldorf teacher. I also can't believe that some people think that kids have to be "talked out" of believing. If you don't create the illusion for them and make things magically appear that you say came from Santa (thus providing "evidence") then why would they buy it? And, come on, are the cultures that choose not to do Santa just providing miserable magicless childhoods for their young. Come on. Talk about know-it-all.

Hey, how about telling the kids who do believe up front that some kids don't believe so if anyone ever says something they can just smile and move on rather than fight about it (not that they're sad, mean, nasty, dark children). I don't even worry about it with my kids. If someone says the tooth-fairy isn't real, I'll just say "what do you think"? I will not make this the be-all-end-all and infuse so much symbolism and project so much neurosis around the significance in one thing or another. If he chooses not to believe, or listens to someone else, he'll believe in something else. I don't think I'm in charge of his imagination. i certainly don't want him to crumble just because someone has a different opinion from his.

Sorry, the judgement and emotional investment on the parts of parents and educators on behalf of Santa and his ilk seems to border on irrational and I definitely have taken offense. My mom probably should have told me not too be soooo sensitive (actually she did).
post #94 of 103
Originally Posted by newmom22
When asked a direct question by a child who respects and trusts me my best response has been to be neutral and stick to the concept of believing in him = gifts. All kids get that, whether they believe in Santa or not.
And oh hey, explain this for me? So basically, using Santa as a material goods deliverer? Kids who don't believe in Santa don't get presents? Come again? Poor Jewish Jeffrey, he doesn't get presents because he doesn't believe in Santa...poor guy. Hmm.

She gets presents at Grandma's from "Santa" even though she doesn't believe in Santa. But we have strongly deemphasized the gift aspect of christmas in our family in any case...the family, crafts, and togetherness aspects are far more important.
post #95 of 103
Originally Posted by newmom22
"When asked a direct question by a child who respects and trusts me my best response has been to be neutral and stick to the concept of believing in him = gifts. All kids get that, whether they believe in Santa or not."

Wow, I didn't even catch that. How could you possibly say that as a statement of fact? Neutral would be "You believe this and you believe that" without any of your beliefs interjected. Many parents would object to Santa being tied so brazenly to an expectation of gifts. Other parents would object to their kids who don't believe being coerced into believing for fear that their gifts won't come if they don't. For every Christmas my kids have gotten one special gift under the tree on Christmas morning, no from Santa note, no explanation, when they ask, I've just shrugged, "well what do you think"? Some years my older has concluded they're from Santa while others he just tears them open and says thank you! I would never want him to think those presents won't be there if he doesn't believe in Santa.

I'm so sorry if it seems I'm picking on you. I'm just having such a hard time comprehending your rationale and that you think that's neutral.

I'm curious if you are a Waldorf teacher. I have never considered discussing this issue with my kids teachers but maybe I should. They seem to do a wonderful job at staying neutral in most situation, I wonder if they maintain that composure when questions of "belief" come up.

I'd love anyone's input on that.
post #96 of 103
I thought it was a great article, but I'm not sure mom fully thought through the message she sent her daughter. I think I get what she was trying to say, but the message, 'your brother needs to believe in Santa' a) is unlikely to work in getting big sis to back off and b) isn't respectful of the child's belief so much as it is giving in to his immaturity or eccentricity. I think all of us as parents struggle to hit the perfect note every time--I don't have fabulous success at it either.

I agree with Lilianna that it doesn't quite feel right to keep adding lie after lie to preserve the 'magic'. As I said, I never really told my children Santa was a real person, so perhaps I inadvertently sidestepped much in the way of responsibility for my children's belief in him. I didn't find it that hard to do while being truthful for the most part. If they had questions like 'how does Santa come to so many houses in one night", I'd give them answers such as, "I think Santa must have many helpers". Our children sort of transitioned from the joy of 'believing in Santa' to the belief in the joy of 'being Santa'. (though I'm not sure that my youngest has made this transition)

In one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, there is a very tender chapter about how Ma handled her children's questions about Santa. And I'm still hopeless sap for the New York Sun piece, "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus". I'm more comfortable with that kind of Santa than I am playing Santa as some kind of hoax pulled on little children, like crop circles or something.

post #97 of 103
I love the story of Mr. Edwards meeting Santa in the blizzard and bringing the gifts to Laura and Mary. What a sweet man he was.
post #98 of 103
Oh for heaven’s sake! I had no idea this would get so personal!

Seriously though, I can be a good sport about it and appreciate that if we all the same opinion there wouldn’t be much of a conversation now would there?

To clarify, I am a public school teacher (at least I was before having my son. I am a SAHM for the time being) but also taught in a private school and did my graduate studies in Pedagogy so I have a fairly good understanding of Waldorf, Montessori etc. (which I use a great deal of in my own teaching practice.)

I spent considerably more time exploring and teaching the values and traditions of other religions winter holidays in my classrooms because I thought it was prudent to avoid the emotionally wrought Santa issue and to ensure that all children have some holiday perspective beyond the man in the big red suit. In fact my favourite holiday activity was to have the children write out their wish list that money CAN'T buy. Almost all the kids would have some variation on the “ I wish my parents got along better” theme. Now if only I could get Santa to read those letters!

A few points I want to make:

1. Knowledge = power. If you are going to share knowledge with your child that their peer group, as a whole, is not privy to then you need to teach them that there is some responsibility that comes along with that power. Put it this way. Whenever one of these dreaded conversations starts it’s usually not “I had the most enlightened conversation with my mother last night and you’d never guess what I learned...” It usually goes something like this: “ I know something you don’t know, nah, nah..” I’m not saying that I side with one child or the other and I’m not saying that your darling children are the ones ruining a special belief for other children. There have been times when the conversation has come up in a civil and respectful way, but in those cases my intervention was not required because no name calling ensued. An exchange of information on the playground between friends is one thing. It’s the method by which these aforementioned children discover the truth that I find disheartening and I’m not going to be the one to confirm or deny the existence of Santa. Yes, it is commercialised. Yes, it is a culture of greed, but the fact remains that Santa does mean presents for many children so I’m not sure what your point is.

I have tried the “You believe one thing and they believe another” but it just doesn’t cut it. They want to know what I believe (meaning YOU the adult in front of me right now... what do YOU believe?) and my response has always worked to put out the fire and that is really all my position allows for. Please don’t throw stones until you’ve been in that position.

2. Mijumom: you’ve concocted a lot of comments that I have not made and I would appreciate it if you used quotes rather then your own interpretations of what I am saying. My specific examples of what my experience has been are not a blanket statement for my feelings towards all children in general. I love teaching and I love working with children. We are having a specific conversation about a very murky topic and it is unfair to paint my whole career with one comment about a controversial subject.

3. It is simply impossible to cater to every religious and cultural belief in a public school. I feel for the family that has to pull their child from school one afternoon because of Ramadan and the rest of the kids are cooking latkas for Hanukkah. Does Ramadan trump Hanukkah? And what’s with the Jewish Jeffery comment? All I ever got from Santa was a stocking with small gifts in it. All my Jewish friends got WAY more STUFF then we ever did. A gift a day if I remember correctly.

So... to change the topic to a more happy one...

Did anyone see Oprah this week and her special on Schools in Crisis? It was so interesting!
post #99 of 103
Sorry, I guess I was directing some of my comments to you and addressing other posts as well.

I don't want to argue. If my posts didn't make sense to you, I probably won't find the right words to convey my thoughts.

But, I'm going to try to be clearer. My main point is that it is not up to a teacher to define Santa for anyone and regardless of what the kids want from you, you can keep yourself out of it and address the name-calling and bullying directly.

I also think it is in the best interest to convey to believers and non-believers alike that others may have an opposing view and to be prepared for that.

I would not want you telling my Jewish child what Hannukah is or isn't either. Still, Jewish kids may get a bunch of toys that they know come from their parents. But, some don't get a visit from Santa which is a very magical concept that can elicit a sense of "well he comes to those kids houses but not mine". Again, my kids have Santa so it would be innacurate for you to try to define these details to a group of children.

I have two kids going bonkers right now so it's hard to concentrate. Rainy day.

As far as throwing stones, I know what I think is appropriate from a teacher and you are obviously entitled to disagree.

The behavior of children (name-calling etc.) is what you should address, not your version of what Santa means.

I hope you will at least take from this a little more empathy for the children and parents who are conflicted and don't really want the conventional, commercial interpretation of Santa promoted to their children.

Waldorf teachers are particularly adept at refusing to answer questions directly that they think are either above the kids' heads or too contraversial. It can be done with love and respect and a little authority.

I wish you luck as I'm sure it's a daunting task to accomodate all the varying expectations of parents like me.

post #100 of 103
Is this tread just for discussing the way Waldorf and Montessori deal with fantasy or can we also discuss other aspects ?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Learning at School
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Let's talk pedagogy