guest post: the child is the curriculum community

I am excited to share with you today a beautiful guest post today by Annie Hass, a talented artist and Waldorf homeschooling mother of 3 whom I am forunate enough to have as a friend.  She and her homeschooled son have created a beautiful endeavor that is combining so many things the homeschooling community has been wishing for – support, connection, book studies, ideas about self-care, homeschooling ideas, art tutorials, lesson plans by the block for Waldorf homeschoolers.  If you like holistic homeschooling, arts-based homeschooling or Waldorf homeschooling, I think you will love her new site!  I intend to put many homeschooling ideas over there, both for free and for sale.  Here is what Annie writes to you all:

The Child is the Curriculum:  Helping You Bravely Create Your Own Waldorf Homeschool Curriculum: A Manifesto!

Over the years online I have seen people ask so many times over “What is the best Waldorf curriculum to buy?” and a slew of varying answers would reply, all very valid and heartfelt responses. Just as often as I have seen this, I have also witnessed expressed frustration at the amount of money people have spent on various curriculum, especially when they didn’t wind up using all of it! Always in the back of my mind, I wondered why people weren’t selling curriculum by the main lesson block (the Waldorf version of a unit study). It was as if everyone was truly funneled into buying an entire year or more, or even a lifetime membership! That’s quite a commitment, especially for parents brand new to Waldorf. To many, Waldorf can seem too difficult, hard to understand, inaccessible, expensive. . . and the worst: elitist.

What makes Waldorf Education so out of reach for many? There is a multifaceted answer. The Waldorf schools themselves will cost a person $8000 – $14,000 per year. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Schools never intended it to be this way. Even with his recommendation that government should have no involvement with the Waldorf schools, he knew that the seed he planted would grow. He paralleled these recommendations with other ones for ethical banking and the economy that would make the Waldorf schools affordable for everyone called the Threefold Social Organism. Even though those recommendations were mainly ignored by society, the Waldorf schools were not. The Waldorf movement continues to grow and the demand for Waldorf inspired education grows by the hour. Even despite the cost. The cost remains high for both Waldorf Schools and curriculum, but is this necessary? Not when we remind everyone that Steiner said that Waldorf Education is a pedagogy, not a curriculum. He also said it can be applied anywhere. . . city or country, high or low income, and is not connected to circumstances. Waldorf Education at its core is a deep understanding of the human being. 

Another reason Waldorf seems out of reach for so many is the very materialism that Rudolf Steiner was trying to help us avoid. In this materialistic era, Waldorf can really seem like its all about the “stuff.” The natural toys, the supplies, and the expensive books, can be extremely tempting and make you feel like you NEED them to be truly Waldorf. You don’t. You can practice Waldorf best when you are really understanding your child. Anything else you can bring them should be there to serve this purpose! Their invisible needs should always come above and beyond the physical world. Steiner emphasized the importance of beauty and quality. . . but only it how it serves us inwardly, not for its own sake. You can give your child a sense of beauty and quality around them without giving a kidney at the same time! I will repeat the last sentence of the last paragraph: Waldorf Education at it’s core is a deep understanding of the human being.

Yet another reason Waldorf seems so out of reach is focusing on what we are doing as teachers more than who we are. We are often so consumed with bringing the “right” facts, and doing it the “right” way and feeling no confidence in ourselves to understand our children and how to bring them things. It really parallels what is going on with diet in the modern world. People long ago didn’t have to be told what to eat, they just ate. So too, have we lost our ability to spiritually understand how to educate in a meaningful way. We forget to do the inner work on ourselves. We forget that we can educate by understanding ourselves more, and seeking understanding of our children more is really what is most needed. The things that we actually do, and the specific things that we bring in a certain way only exist to serve this purpose. I will repeat the last sentence of the last two paragraphs: Waldorf Education at its core is a deep understanding of the human being.

One more reason many people just cannot fathom truly Waldorf Homeschooling, is that they think they do not have the time. When you have a peak at curriculums or a peak inside the schools and get a glimse at all that they are doing, you can get a feeling that you cannot possibly do all that it entails. It’s just too much! You may feel that you don’t have the skill, you may feel you need to overhaul your whole lifestyle, you may feel like you need to do as much in a day as a school does… complete with extra subjects!! You don’t. You can work all the necessary elements of Waldorf Education into your school year, in a way that works for your specific family. Your version of Waldorf will not look like anyone else’s, and that’s as it should be. Waldorf should mold into your life, your life shouldn’t have to mold into an outer other form of Waldorf. I will repeat the last sentence of the last three paragraphs: Waldorf Education at it’s core is a deep understanding of the human being.

I could go on, but I think I am getting the point across. So how do you create your own Waldorf curriculum? You stay at the core. Anytime you go astray from the core of what Waldorf is, you remind yourself again and again and again if you have to. If you want to truly do Waldorf at home, your time is better spent reading Steiner’s free online lectures than it is mulling over thousands of toys, hundreds of opinions, pressure to do anything that is too much, or anything that distracts you from the core. Spend time gaining a deep understanding of the human being.

One thing you will also need is some kind of support, whether it is local or online. When we speak with others on this path, it can really be reassuring and also a constant reminder to stay at the core of Waldorf! I have thought about creating a curriculum for the Waldorf Homeschool community in the past, but instead, after all I have been through, I decided to create something else instead. An extremely low cost website that helps homeschoolers create their own! A website that helps support them spiritually on their journey. The Child is the Curriculum is a Global Online Waldorf Homeschool Community and A La Carte Curriculum Source. It is just a baby now, and with lots of love and growing, members will help it blossom into a big beautiful vibrant thriving file sharing Waldorf community that supports and encourages parents of all incomes and circumstances.

Our goal for this new community is twofold. We have created a community space that is separate from social media, where homeschooling parents can come together to support one another and have a place to share their own unique gifts with the community. Also, we created a space where these resources are affordable and easily accessible. We want you to be able to both select content from other teachers/parents, and submit your own content. We want you to be able to custom curate your own curriculum while getting lots of support!

What are the benefits of a cooperative?

  • ~ Teacher Autonomy: you will no longer feel the weight of needing to do things in one specific way. Others will be sharing their unique way and it will inspire!
  • ~ Organized for Convenience: It’s organized by block and topic so you can easily find what you need as well as many who have shared their way of exploring that topic.
  • ~ Alternative to Social Media: Forums have the ability to foster lifelong friendships and make deeper connections. Social media can be a time drain, and a space for specific goals can help you stay focused and feel support.
  • ~ Book Clubs and Study Groups: Dive deeper with others by really getting at the core of Waldorf with our book club section! Let us help you study so it is more understandable.
  • ~ Book recommendations: Let us help you find books in your price range, and ones that meet what you really need so you aren’t wasting time and money.
  • ~ Downloads Feature: Upload and Download, sell or donate, your files! With a PayPal account, you can withdraw the funds you make from selling your ideas and purchase tutorials and blocks of other teachers!
  • ~ Forum Discussion and Mentorship: Receive help and discuss every grade and subject! We also have sections for caring for yourself as a parent, seasonal festivals, special needs, skill building, and so much more to help you.
  • ~ Blogging Platform: Create your own blog in our system to privately share your journey with other members. Or, link to your outer blog!
  • ~ Buy/Sell Trade: A section that allows you to swap your used Waldorf goods or buy from others
  • ~ Calendar and Events: mark seasonal festivals, plan each festival in our holiday/festival section, join us for Zoom conferences, and get updated about podcasts and webinars!
  • ~ Albums and galleries: Share your images or browse albums of others for inspiration!
  • ~ Teach a class! Use our Book Club system to teach a paying class. Charge other members a fee to come into your club and give your expertise on a subject or host one for free!
  • ~ Video tutorials: We have a video tutorial section for premium members. Share your own videos to get premium membership. Please see our website for more information!

Ultimately, this cooperative serves to remind you to stay at the core of Waldorf. The rest is there to help you feel empowered and inspired. We hope to help more homeschoolers gain the confidence they need to chart their own course! The Waldorf Homeschooling community really needs to shake things up a bit, throw off some myths and out of touch feelings, and bring everything back to being about the human being. In truth, you have already created your own curriculum. . . your very own child! 

Our community is located at www.thechildisthecurriculum.com

We hope to see you there!!!

 

Warmly,

Annie Haas

(Carrie here:  Hope to see you over there!  Many blessings and love)