Interview with Eugene Schwartz and Give Away!
I am very, very honored to introduce to you Eugene Schwartz, a longtime Waldorf teacher, Waldorf Teacher trainer, well known speaker, published author and parent, as well as our Curriculum Through the Years columnist.
In the summertime Mr. Schwartz offers Summer training for specific grade preparation and on his Millennial Child website offers a huge amount of information including the Waldorf curriculum through the grades as well as many recordings, DVDs and podcasts of his engaging, informative, and in depth talks on many aspects of teaching and parenting with Waldorf education, Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy .
Mr. Schwatrz’s lectures have brought me to a deeper understanding of the Waldorf material. I had the good fortune to spend some time with Mr. Schwartz and ask him a few questions about Waldorf education for home schoolers and parents wishing to bring Waldorf into their home life and we are very lucky to hear from him what we can do to bring Waldorf education to the children on our lives.
In addition Mr. Schwartz is generously offering TEN readers a download of a CD of their choice for free. To see the rich assortment of topics available for teacher and parent on Waldorf education click here.
What advice do you have for parents on the Waldorf homeschooling journey?
Unconditionally, my first and foremost advice is to read something of what Rudolf Steiner has to say on child development and the human being. Begin with Rudolf Steiner’s Essay, The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy. This essay is also found in Roberto Trostli’s book, Rhythms of Learning , a very good resource for Waldorf homeschooling parents to grasp an understanding of what is behind the school work in Waldorf education.
Do look ahead at the whole picture, get a picture of where they (the children) are going developmentally, do not just focus on the child’s current age. Parents need to do their due diligence and take up this material as part of their own learning journey.
If one choses to be a homeschooling parent you are going to have more work to do than just being a housekeeper or going to work in a corporation. The tricks have nothing to do with Waldorf education. Waldorf education takes place only when the teacher and child are on the learning path together.
This runs counter to what most people are hearing about Waldorf education. Shortcut is the phrase I am hearing, The parent may sigh, “I’m going to have to learn how to draw or do math.” Well it is alot of work and can take a long time. You can teach alot of things that way (with shortcuts) but with Waldorf you can’t do that.
It is a delusion to think that Waldorf education can be pulled out of the matrix of Rudolf Steiner’s work. To understand why I am taking so long to read or why we do fairly complex mineralogy in 6th grade, one cannot begin to grasp it or teach it unless one recognizes there is a developmental picture of the child and behind that there is a picture of the human being.
This is a problem with the charter schools. People won’t be afraid you are bringing something of the cult when they understand what is behind it. The teachers are begging for it, they want anthroposophy. They teach the material for a few years and they realize they should be getting more of the philosophical underpinnings, the world view in order to enliven their teaching and really bring the material creatively to the children.
My advice to parents, get to know what underlies this philosophy.
Nowadays parents give much consideration to what they are going to feed their children. They may research nutrition, learn to read labels and understand what the label “all natural” stands for. Parents take great care in what they feed their children, yet the same parents will accept the most superficial labeling that this is all natural, this is good for your children ,when it comes to Waldorf education, without having any understanding of what is behind it. Parents need to do their due diligence and research. This takes times, it may take a good year or two.
What about the pre-packaged curriculum?
On the Millennial Child Homepage, I offer a look at the curriculum, even a week by week breakdown. It can be helpful to draw on what others have done before. What works best is when the teacher understands what Rudolf Steiner has to say about child development and the picture of the human being behind that. The teacher in taking the material in, doing the research seeks how the material is going to touch upon the other, on the child, through taking it in first. It is is meant to be renewed through the teacher’s experience of taking it and bringing it to new life for the child. Yes, by all means look at what those who have gone before you have done, especially in the middle and upper grades and when new to Waldorf education.
How did you come to Waldorf Education?
In my early twenties, before I had children, I came upon the writings and teachings of Rudolf Steiner and found it compelling. It arose out of my personal interest and I did not see a Waldorf school for a couple of years. Within a few years of seeing a Waldorf school, I did have a child.
For a decade my work was not with children but with the elderly and the dying, people in their late sixties to well over one hundred years old. I came to see how wonderfully educative old age can be, not like the cemetery like nursing home. I began to give lectures. I became involved with a school for children with severe physical, developmental and psychological needs.
From there I was invited to take on a first grade class at the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Spring Valley.
How do you balance family life with work?
Not well. There is no easy way. One must be ready to make certain sacrifices and take on alot in working in a Waldorf school. While homeschoolers do not have the responsibilities of the school teacher, they do not have the support of the school community. However you cut the mustard, it’s hard work. And it’s worth it, what wonderful things you are able to do.
What about media influence from neighbors, in-laws, grandparents, former spouses, does that harm children? What can parents do about that? What about the plastic toys and video game gifts?
There’s nothing you can or should do. Life does not end with the classroom, Life has different parameters and blood is thicker than water. These gestures are made with good intentions. If someone is challenging you, make an objection to that.
As a teacher and parent, one cannot get smug and complacent. Parents may say, ” I ‘ve asked relatives again and again, at least twenty three times and still they send the plastic and the noisy toys.”
What to do? Find twenty three light, true responses to make about Waldorf education and use them all. I mean it. If you are teaching in the right way, the children will have a suit of armor, they will not be harmed by watching television with their cousins. Once we were visiting family (non Waldorf) and my daughter was watching television with her cousins and knitting while it was going on. Don’t worry. The children of Waldorf education will grow into knights and ladies; they are wearing an invisible suit of armor. Sure they will look with awe and fascination at these things, computer games, television, plastic toys, that’s normal, they’re curious and interested. There is nothing wrong with that. If you keep an open mind, you will see how they observe it and then turn away.
The situation where things can get dicey is with separation and divorce. This can be very difficult for the child.
Thank you very much Eugene Schwartz.
Today’s give away is ONE CD download of your choice from Eugene Schwatrz to each of TEN people.
To enter the give away to win a CD download of your choice from Eugene Schwartz:
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