Do gnomes exist? Have they ever? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Do gnomes exist? Have they ever?
Yes, they exist. 11 84.62%
Yes, they existed in the past. 2 15.38%
No, gnomes are and always have been make-believe. 23 100.00%
No, I do not but my child/ren do/es. 4 30.77%
No, I do not, neither do my children. 6 46.15%
Gnomes are a metaphor for something else (please explain). 5 38.46%
I do know about what Steiner said about the existence of gnomes. 8 61.54%
I did not previously know that Steiner had said anything about gnomes. 6 46.15%
It does not matter whether Steiner said anything about gnomes. 14 100.00%
It does matter to me whether gnomes are a part of Waldorf. 6 46.15%
They teach about gnomes in our Waldorf school. 6 46.15%
They do not teach about gnomes in our Waldorf school. 2 15.38%
We are not in a Waldorf school. 15 100.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!
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#2 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 04:06 PM
 
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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?
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#3 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!
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#4 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?
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#5 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 05:05 PM
 
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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
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#6 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#7 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 06:05 PM
 
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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.
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#8 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!!!!
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#9 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 07:18 PM
 
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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.



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#10 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 07:23 PM
 
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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.
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#11 of 33 Old 10-10-2005, 09:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#12 of 33 Old 10-11-2005, 12:47 AM
 
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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.
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#13 of 33 Old 10-11-2005, 10:32 PM
 
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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.
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#14 of 33 Old 10-11-2005, 10:53 PM
 
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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

mama to Milena Anjali (4/26/06) and Vincent Asher (4/13/09) ~ married to the love of my life since 2002.
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#15 of 33 Old 10-11-2005, 11:05 PM
 
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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.
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#16 of 33 Old 10-11-2005, 11:24 PM
 
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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."

Being right is not always fair, but being fair is always right
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#17 of 33 Old 10-12-2005, 06:09 AM
 
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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.

Blissed out mama to 3 beautiful boys love.gif LIFE IS GOOD! thumb.gif

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#18 of 33 Old 10-12-2005, 07:48 AM
 
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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
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#19 of 33 Old 10-12-2005, 10:04 AM
 
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Ever seen what happens to a room full of people when a platter of plates drops and smashes?
That is the elementals (gnomes) escaping.
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#20 of 33 Old 10-12-2005, 04:52 PM
 
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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?

Waldorf mama to 5yo b/g twins
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#21 of 33 Old 10-13-2005, 12:55 AM
 
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We're Waldorf homeschooling. I have read some of Steiner's comments on gnomes, and some of the "critical" comments on anti waldorf sites. Like many things I "take some and leave the rest behind".

Last week dd and I sewed several gnomes as an activity. When she takes them down and plays with them I think it lovely, and preferable to an interaction with a Barbie or a Dora or another tv.marketing machine.

I couldn't answer the poll for myself. For my children, yes they do exist. For me, I've never seen any but prefer to interpret the gnome "issue" as relating to a nature spirit. I think something that encourages reverence for the earth, even if it ends up being magical is a good thing. How wonderful to imagine that there may be a gnome hidden behind a tree, watching out for the forest animals; working underground nurturing the seeds through the winter.

But true/not true, real/not real, not a big deal in my book. For us it falls into the category of--the generous gift of allowing children to live in a world of childhood. That there is a difference beyond size between children and adults.
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#22 of 33 Old 10-13-2005, 09:15 AM
 
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I have not really worried about whether or not gnomes exist. I know they are very real to people in other countries in one form or another. Ireland with its Leprachans and fairy folk. Iceland with its trolls and gnomes. Iceland is very fascinating. They have building laws about not building where gnomes live. I also have Pagan friends who do believe in all of these nature sprites.

I have never seen a gnome but I did see fairies and fairy circles as a child. Were they real or my imagination? I don't know and I don't really care. They were lovely where ever they came from.

My children were really into the gnome and fairy thing in Kindergarten and somewhat in 1st and 2nd grade. By 3rd grade it is fading like Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.

I don't really care if the teachers believe in them or not. One of the things that I observed in my children's Kindergarten teachers is that they never said whether they existed or not. If a child asked, they always replied something like 'What do you think?'. The child then related their feelings on the subject and went away happy. I have used the same technique with fairy, Santa, even sex questions to find out where the child is coming from and determine what they are actually asking and determine what they really want to know. My younger child ususally just wants to be reassured while the older child wants the facts.

I'll see if I can take the poll. There seemed to be too many options.
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#23 of 33 Old 10-13-2005, 09:18 AM
 
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Also, I wouldn't say our school teaches about gnomes or fairies. The Kindergarten teachers talk about them and tell stories but like everything else, they don't come out and say yes gnomes exist. "Let's examine one for class." :LOL
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#24 of 33 Old 10-18-2005, 01:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaMonica
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
Good! I'm not the only one! Thanx, MamaMonica!
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#25 of 33 Old 10-18-2005, 01:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saintmom
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
...

Well, Saintmom, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear all of your stories. You could tell some of them here or you could start your own thread! I'd be fascinated to hear your stories, directly from you, instead of reading Steiner books, to tell you the truth. What do you say? :
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#26 of 33 Old 10-18-2005, 01:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waldorf teacher
Ever seen what happens to a room full of people when a platter of plates drops and smashes?
That is the elementals (gnomes) escaping.
Is this the equivalent of a "Confucius says"? Or a "Zen saying"? Would you call it a "Waldorfism"?

Otherwise, I have to admit I don't know waht you're saying. I'd never seen a platter of plates drop. I would imagine that either people would either step out of the way to avoid getting cut, help clean up the mess or take a peek and continue on with whatever they were doing. I'm guessing this isn't the type of thing you're referring to??
(in other words, can you explain it to me as if I'm a 3 year old? Thank you!)
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#27 of 33 Old 10-18-2005, 01:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by medeanj
Does this make sense?
Yes, I think so.
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#28 of 33 Old 10-18-2005, 01:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Instead of posting personally to every single poster, I thought I'd just write here. I have to admit that I am surprised that there are 7 voters so far who do believe in gnomes. Very interesting. I don't "not" believe in them, but I have always assumed that they are a nice sweet fairytale. Then again, that's how I feel about some possible all powerful entity, too.

Keep voting, for those who haven't already! This is fascinating!
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#29 of 33 Old 10-18-2005, 11:37 AM
 
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I think that there are many things that happen in life that are beyond my (and science for that matters) understanding. So, I figure, who am I to say that gnomes, fairies, etc don't exist just because I haven't seen one. Its like NASA saying that the only "space" there is is the "space" that they have seen. In my mind, I believe that there is just SO much more out there. And when I REALLY think about it.....I do believe in gnomes in the nature spirit way as others have said......Things like this that are maintained in cultures for so many years have some basis for being there.



Quote:
I don't really care if the teachers believe in them or not. One of the things that I observed in my children's Kindergarten teachers is that they never said whether they existed or not. If a child asked, they always replied something like 'What do you think?'. The child then related their feelings on the subject and went away happy. I have used the same technique with fairy, Santa, even sex questions to find out where the child is coming from and determine what they are actually asking and determine what they really want to know. My younger child ususally just wants to be reassured while the older child wants the facts.
Exactly!! We do the same thing to be sure as to not put our own adult opinions into the minds of our children when they aren't asking for them. When they are actually asking for them that is different....but the younger ones really seem to thrive on explaining things for themselves in their own magical way

Oh, and my son is in the kindergarden of the gnomes So in this way I know gnomes exist....my son is one


ETA...saintmom, I'd LOVE to hear your stories as well!!!!
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#30 of 33 Old 10-18-2005, 11:42 AM
 
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Man as Symphony of the Creative Word , by Steiner, says that gnomes are very real and are a part of the elemental world, very earthy, rooty, and in the mineral kingdom. The book is hard to understand but the two study groups I attended over several years helped-slightly!

Steiner also stated that if anyone views angels and gnomes, etc. as "symbolic", then they are missing the point and are basically wrong. They are literally a part of existence, and effect our moods, etc. (see Rumplestiltskin, until the princess could name him, he ruled her.)

For example, when Snow White (the human soul at age seven and untainted by earthly life) found the dwarves/gnomes' house, and fell asleep, they came home and were able to see her. The book I mentioned says they are entranced and drawn to the shining child soul and influence it.

I don't say any of this with the intention to say it is accurate or not, just that I used to study that stuff before I left the Waldorf movement...another story.
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