Teaching Sensible Science in the Northwest
Register now - starting in March

Of the many subjects taught in a class teacher’s eight-year cycle, few are more challenging than the science main lessons of the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, presented to students at a time when they develop a much stronger ability to perceive the world as being separate from them, a capacity crucial for scientific inquiry.

To cultivate in students these powers of perception in a healthy way, Waldorf teachers approach science by means of a “phenomena-centered” method rather than testing and application of theories. While most Waldorf teachers have heard of this approach, few have experienced it themselves as students, and many have made a fleeting acquaintance only during their teacher training. As a result, teaching science in Waldorf grade school classes is not always sufficiently strong or rigorous to satisfy the needs of young adolescents.

This part-time course will be offered in Seattle, beginning in the spring of 2013, to support you in developing a deeper understanding and experience of phenomena-based science so you can feel confident using this method in your own classrooms.

“The Teaching Sensible Science course has revolutionized my consciousness of how the world reveals itself to my senses, and this in turn has thoroughly enlivened my work in the classroom as well as my personal development… As with all quality courses in teaching, this course gives both practical tools and methods for the classroom and stimulating food for our own inner growth and education.” -Tim Morrissey, Olympia Waldorf School, Class teacher, former engineer

Course Includes:
  • Workshops and discussions: On the foundations of a phenomenological approach to science – primarily the physical sciences.
  • Practical sessions: With experienced class teachers who demonstrate these methods and help participants prepare class experiments and demonstrations for use in their own classrooms
  • Artistic classes: Drawing for the main lesson book, eurythmy
  • Daily question and answer sessions: To review the day’s work
The course’s intention is to kindle teachers’ necessary enthusiasm, understanding of, and interest in a living connection to science, which they can then share in their work with students.

Teaching Sensible Science is a three-week professional development course for new and experienced Waldorf educators who wish to deepen their practice and understanding of teaching science in the sixth through eighth grades.

“The course has been meaningful to me in terms of how I teach, yet more importantly, how I perceive the world around me. Although I consider what I have gained thus far to be a life-long practice, I have on many occasions enjoyed the keen insights that have come to me, and the lack of assumptions I would normally create in my less-than-awake thinking. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with fellow colleagues from many regions of the country, as we grappled with new ways of seeing the world, as well as growing in our other sense faculties. I highly recommend this course for those seeking to expand their awareness of the world around them, and hoping to facilitate the same level of growth and awareness in their students.” -Gail Lescher, Live Oak Waldorf School, Class teacher

Click here or on any of the Sensible Science images for more information and registration details.

Make Way for Reading

Great Books for Kindergarten

through Grade 8

For many years in Waldorf schools, whenever someone would ask, "Do you know a good book that my class could read?" or "My daughter is looking for a book about ..." invariably the answer was "just look in the little purple book." More like a brochure than a book, the "little purple book" was The Waldorf Student Reading List and was a lifeline for teachers and parents to find just the right book.

That was thirteen years ago.

Karen Latimer and Pamela J. Fenner decided to update and expand that little purple book. Michaelmas Press has published this new and greatly-expanded reading list entitled Make Way for Reading: Great Books for Kindergarten through Grade 8.

The result is truly a labor of love and a gift for a generation of parents and teachers.

Over 300 pages, it's a treasury of recommended reading for families and teachers. The comprehensive foreward by Eugene Schwartz emphasizes the developmental importance of reading:

"Books can have a powerful effect on the changing consciousness of the child, and can serve as instruments of initiating him or her into successive stages of life... With this guide, parents and teachers are given gentle and sensible suggestions on finding the best book for the right age." -Eugene Schwartz

Chapters include:
  • Picture Books
  • Grades 1-3, 4-5, 6-8
  • Biographies
  • Mythology, Legends and Folklore
  • Celebrations, Games, Music, Crafts and Other Activities
  • Comprehensive Appendices and Indexes
It's very helpful, and a great improvement, to have the books arranged by age groups, instead of by single grades. The last chapter of the book "Celebrations, Games, Music, Crafts and Other Activities" is a tremendous resource for families and includes books for all ages covering a vast number of activities.

Highly recommended and not to be missed, "Make Way for Reading" is an essential companion on the path for teachers and families.

To learn more about "Make Way for Reading" and other books by Michaelmas Press, click here.


Caring for each other


Candlemas – February 2nd – comes exactly 40 days after Christmas and marks the end of Epiphany.   It is more commonly known as Groundhog Day, when good weather foretells severe winter conditions still to come. "If Candlemas day is clear and bright, winter will have another bite.” Folklore tells us that not only groundhogs but also bears and wolves emerge from hibernation to inspect the weather. If they find sunshine, they will not venture out for at least another 40 days.

Let us concentrate on the warmer aspects of Candlemas. This is the day of the presentation of the Christ Child in the temple, also called the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin. From the Gospel of Luke: old man Simeon has been promised by God that “he should not see death before he had looked upon the face of Christ.” You can only imagine his smile as he called this child “a light for revelation to the nations.” The ‘light’ is symbolized in the tradition of blessing the church candles on this day that are then used throughout the year.

What is the significance of 40 days? Forty has long been a spiritual number both in the Bible and in many other religions: the 40 days of Lent, Christ's 40 days in the desert, 40 days of mourning after death, 40 days of rain before the dove was sent out from Noah's ark. It takes 40 days to mend broken bones or to recover from surgery. In the days of worldwide plague, the quarantine period was 40 days. It takes 40 days to master a new skill.

Rudolf Steiner indicates that it is this holy period of time, 40 days, for the child’s soul and spirit to be comfortable in its new body. Anthroposophical doctors recommend that the mother needs this time to reclaim her own physical body and for the whole family to begin adjusting to the new constellation.  

In our work in early childhood, we want to regain awareness of this sacred time, not only for the protection of the mother’s etheric forces but also to protect the child.  In the book The Red Tent by Anita Diamant there is a wonderful description of how the new mother and child are cared for by the women in the community. The mother is fed and waited on so that she can give her complete attention to healing herself and focusing on the needs of her child. It also supports the child's gradual and peaceful awakening to the world.  Joan Salter's book The Incarnating Child has some lovely examples of the essential conditions needed for a new-born child to feel protected during this transition.
Some Waldorf communities have adopted this custom by creating their own “40-day network.”  The aim is to offer support to new families. Baking, shopping, cleaning, arranging play dates for older siblings, or car pooling are some of the ways to help – particularly for newcomers and those without extended families. But it is also a wonderful way to build awareness of what a family needs to make this a special time.

The end of the 40-day period is celebrated by the baby’s first true smile, an indication that the individual ego has reached the first milestone in her journey of incarnation.

Jan Patterson, Director of Early Childhood Teacher Education Rudolf Steiner Center Toronto, completed her Foundation Studies at Emerson College and her early childhood training with Margret Meyerkort at Wynstones, England. She has taught for over 17 years in England, the USA, and Canada. She has served on the WECAN Board and is an active mentor and consultant in Waldorf schools in Ontario.  


Teaching and Learning in Today's World

A working colloquium

"During the first week of July 2012 the Center for Contextual Studies (CCS) launched its first teachers' colloquium for the public. Our way of working shifted away from a model where knowledge was transmitted from experienced colleagues, towards a method of approaching shared understanding collaboratively. The week was markedly different from other kinds of conferences, workshops, or colloquia.

"One of the highlights was noting how participation was possible and valuable both from those with tremendous teaching experience and equally so from those with almost none. We felt that we had been able, to some degree, to enact an emerging picture of teaching and learning: the kind of engaged, meaningful, content-filled experience that we would wish our students’ education to be.  Encouraged by this work, the Center for Contextual Studies is offering a weekend colloquium for teachers and colleagues interested in deepening their understanding of Rudolf Steiner’s second lecture from Study of Man." -Michele Starr

From March 1-3, 2013, the Center for Contextual Studies will host a working colloquium at the Hartsbrook School in Hadley, MA focusing on the second lecture of Rudolf Steiner’s Study of Man. Although the colloquium is open to anyone, we would request that those choosing to participate take the time to (re) familiarize themselves with the lecture. In this lecture, Rudolf Steiner develops the basic ideas of a new approach to educational psychology. This approach takes into account the presence of the spiritual dimension of human development in the learning process.

The goal of this colloquium is to gain a deeper understanding of the lecture through a collaborative approach, combining study and artistic deepening in a dialogical setting. We will also set aside some time to reflect on our work together and explore ways to bring this kind of study alive in a faculty. Opportunities will be offered for participants to work actively with the questions we face in our schools. Colloquium facilitators include Jon McAlice, Barbara Richardson and Jan Kees Saltet.

Click here for more information.


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Job Seeker: Preschool Assistant, Anywhere if the place is right

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