I attended a workshop today given by Melisa Nielsen of A Little Garden Flower (www.alittlegardenflower.com) . It was excellent, and I hope all of you get a chance to hear her at some point in your Waldorf homeschooling journey.
She made many wonderful points and provided so many examples and practical, real-life ideas from topics as diverse as chores in the home to dealing with media to Waldorf second grade to Waldorf homeschooling multiple ages of children.
One thing she brought up at the very beginning of her workshop that I thought was excellent is her idea to get comfortable talking about “the Source” – whatever that means to you, whether this is the Universe, God, a deity, a higher being. She talked about the importance of a family, including Dads, connecting in the morning by lighting a candle and either saying a verse together or praying together before the day begins. She talked about the idea of getting comfortable with talking about Saints, not because Waldorf teaches them within the context of the Catholic Church, but because Waldorf teaches them within in the context of the Saints being other-worldly people who did extraordinary things. She talked about exploring your own ideas of faith and spirituality because as things come up through the grades in Waldorf, you need to know how you feel about things to guide your child. Are you and your husband on the same page spiritually? What virtues does your family live by? What are you so uncomfortable about and why? Perhaps you need to explore that, so you can be clear with your child as he or she progresses throughout the curriculum and studies – the Waldorf curriculum studies the teachings of nearly all the major world religions and religious/spiritual figures. She outlined resources and suggestions for inner work throughout the grades and provided many examples of her own spiritual work.
I brought up to her that in the past I have had atheists ask me if they could work with Waldorf education at home. My answer has always been that Waldorf is based upon the acknowledgement that the child is a spiritual being on a spiritual journey in this earthly place. I think if one does not believe in the spiritual dimension of human beings, this would be a difficult curriculum to work with. Melisa brought up that if a family is drawn to Waldorf but has no professed spiritual beliefs at all, perhaps that family should examine why they are being drawn to Waldorf education. Many families that are drawn to the Waldorf curriculum have been hurt by organized religion in the past, which is unfortunate, and Melisa pointed out the great capacity of Waldorf education to heal the whole family. We talked about how our religious baggage should not be passed on to our children.
For those of you contemplating the role of religion on the Waldorf curriculum, the best article I have seen regarding this was from Renewal. At first I could not find the article, but then I finally tracked down a copy of it here on Donna Simmons’ website: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/article_is_waldorf_education_christian.htm
There were many other thought-provoking discussions at this conference. There will be an audiotape of this four-hour workshop in Atlanta available for sale through Melisa’s website at some point. I highly recommend you all get it and listen to it as she tackled so many important subjects that will truly influence how you parent your children, take care of your husband, and set the tone in your home.
More to come,