Screenagers out now



SCREENAGERS is the first feature documentary to explore the impact of screen technology on kids and to offer parents proven solutions that work.

Marin Waldorf School is hosting a showing at Unity Marin in Novato this coming Saturday, February 27. Click here for details.

Following the film, Marin Waldorf School's Aveah Brock, M. Ed., will lead a panel discussion with Screenagers' producer Lisa Tabb, among others.

Watch the trailer here and learn about hosting a showing here.

About the film
Are you watching kids scroll through life, with their rapid-fire thumbs and a six-second attention span?  Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston saw that happening with her own kids which started her on a question to delve into how it might effect their development. She learned that on average youth spend 6.5 hours a day looking at screens.  She wondered about the impact of all this time and worried about the friction occurring in homes and schools kids’ screen time was limited— she knew that friction all too well.

As with her other two award-winning documentaries on mental health, Ruston takes a deeply personal approach as she probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction. Through poignant, and unexpectedly funny stories, along with surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, SCREENAGERS reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and also offers solutions on how adults can empower their kids to best navigate the digital world to find balance.


 
Antioch University
New England




Thanks to Torin Finser for sending this along.

Thinking about becoming a teacher or deepening your present career? Just visit Antioch to learn more. 


 
Student flipping house for senior project

By Courtney H. Diener-Stokes

POTTSTOWN, PA--When Hannah Wolfram, a senior at Kimberton Waldorf School, was trying to come up with an idea upon which to base her senior project, she decided to defy expectation.

"Anything performance-based was kind of what the expectation was," Wolfram said. "I decided I'd go out on a limb and do something I had never done before that was completely unexpected."
A lover of the performing arts who enjoys contributing her singing and acting talents to the private school's theater productions, Wolfram decided she wanted to take on the challenge of flipping a house as the focus of her project.

"My parents had flipped houses before," she said. "I painted and chipped in, but not quite so hands-on." Senior projects at Kimberton Waldorf School in Kimberton, Chester County, are based on individual research and exploration of a topic over the course of the senior year.



Limited budget
After getting faculty approval to go ahead with her house flipping project, Wolfram set out with a family friend who was a real estate agent to find a property that matched her budget.

"I was working on a very limited budget," she said. "I was looking at foreclosures that needed a lot of help. My parents guided me in helping with the initial search of the properties." Around the start of the school year, she stumbled upon a property on King Street in Pottstown. "I had gone through a dozen houses before that," she said. "I made settlement Oct. 5."

Wolfram, who lives in Upper Providence Township, Montgomery County, discussed the state of the house upon purchasing it. "Everything needed to be gutted," she said. "It was an hour before settlement, and that's when I found the copper pipes missing. The police had to come because there was a break-in. I thought, 'Oh my goodness, what am I getting myself into.' I almost had a heart attack. It was a fun start."

The brick, semi-detached home is in a historic district just one block off of High Street. "It's an up-and-coming neighborhood," she said. "There is an absolutely amazing vegan place across the street called iCreate that I go to all the time."

Devoting free time
Ever since settlement, when she purchased the three-bedroom/one bathroom home for just under $30,000 with the help of an investor, she has devoted almost all of her free time to her project.

"I have spent just shy of every weekend working on the project," she said. "I spent almost every day of Christmas break working on it. I had my family there working on Christmas morning." In addition to her family, others have also chipped in, such as recently when she needed some extra hands to move the bathtub. "I have had friends who have come over to help," she said. "I've had numerous people helping me off and on, but the bulk of it has been just me."

Wolfram has been diligent about keeping track of her expenses. "It has been a lot of resource shopping, like Habitat for Humanity for new kitchen cabinets and things like that, so I'm able to do it as inexpensively as possible," she said. She shopped at Habitat's ReStore shop in West Norriton, Montgomery County, which sells new and used furniture, housewares, appliances, tools and building materials to the public at discounted rates.

Most gratifying project
The most gratifying project thus far involved work she did on a mudroom addition that had been put on the home previously. "The outer wall was rotted out," she said. "I had to redo the wall and put in a new back door. That was probably the most gratifying, just because it was start-to-finish done, and it looks so much better having it complete. A lot of the other things I've been ripping out, but not finishing yet because of where I am with my work at this point."

Despite her being allowed to hire contractors according to Kimberton's senior project rules, she has been intent on doing as much as she can herself. "I've done pretty great with the knowledge my parents have and some of my friends have that they are able to share with me, and I haven't needed to hire anyone," she said.

Recently, a family friend with plumbing experience donated his time to show her how to rerun the plumbing. "It's all connected in the basement, but it hasn't been run through the floors yet because I don't know exactly where I want them to run since I just ripped out the bathroom and kitchen," she said. She also has a plan to add a second bathroom to the house.



Life lessons
In addition to saving money by doing everything she possibly can by herself, she also sees the benefit of her gaining the experience of learning how to do it. "It's going to benefit me later in the life to have done all of this," she said, "to learn how to do it all."

Wolfram said that in addition to learning some new skills, she has learned a lot of life lessons through the project as well. "I think a lot of it is self-discipline," she said. "I know I have to get up early in the morning on the weekends, the little things to keep me moving, that motivation to keep moving even when it's cold out. I have one little heater in there, but it's not warm."

Wolfram has been documenting her project with photos to enable her to show the before and after at her senior project presentation in April. She also posts her progress on her "Hannah's Senior Project" Facebook page in addition to posting messages seeking volunteer helpers on specific days. "People have offered different bits of knowledge," she said. "They are also offering to lend a hand and general encouragement, which has been nice."

For safety measures, Wolfram has one person working with her at the house. It's of particular concern when she uses power tools. "It's more so accidents I'm alone if an accident would happen," she said.

Wolfram said she has no regrets about choosing such an ambitious project that has consumed so much of her time on top of her already-demanding schedule between school and her involvement in the high school musical. "There have been little things along the way that have made me realize, 'OK, I'm getting somewhere. This is the light at the end of the tunnel,' " she said. "When we ripped up the carpet it was all hardwood floors. That was one of those moments I was like, 'Yes, this is beautiful. All I have to do is refinish them and it will kind of tie the house together.' "



Memorable impression
The house doesn't have to be sold by project presentation time given the size of the endeavor. The requirement is that the house must reflect an increase in property value. "I think it would be lovely for any young family or young couple," Wolfram said. "The neighborhood has a slightly hipster feel to it, and I think that appeals to younger people."

After selling the property and paying back her investor, Wolfram plans to use whatever money she makes toward her college education. "I want to be a theater major in college," Wolfram said, sharing she had just paid a visit to New York City to audition at The Juilliard School. "I'm looking at Fordham, Barnard, Yale, and I just got into Ursinus."

Wolfram said she hopes to make a memorable impression when she presents her project in the spring. "I have seen senior projects in the past and there are always a few that stick out that are absolutely incredible," she said, recollecting a student who hand-carved a totem pole and another who created a clothing line and put on a fashion show. "I think it's a great opportunity to explore interests you have never been able to do before. It's a unique opportunity that I'm not going to really have the chance to do again."


Photos from the Reading Eagle. This article originally appeared in the Reading Eagle.




 
The Waldorf Music Continuum: How do we meet the developing child through music?

2016 AWME Summer Conference in Portland

Sponsored by the Association for Waldorf Music Education

For music teachers, early childhood and class teachers, parents, administrators—all are welcome!

In its 17th year, the 2016 Waldorf Summer Music Conference will offer a journey through the grades, looking more closely at what stands behind the music curriculum. Bringing ‘the right thing at the right time’ is the hallmark of Waldorf education, and the music curriculum reflects this profound pedagogy.

Our work together will explore the what, when, how, and why of what we do, and how it meets each stage of the child’s development. Included in this spectrum will be hands-on experience with the instruments we use in our curriculum, a deeper look at Rudolf Steiner’s indications for bringing music to children, alternatives to traditional ensemble work, the changing voice, and more!

There will also be sessions dedicated to questions and answers. For our own development as well as for enhancing and supporting our work in the classroom, our days will be rounded out with Werbeck vocal exercises and choral work in addition to movement and games.

Since we will be including hands-on instrumental work, we ask participants to bring Choroi interval flutes, pentatonic flutes, diatonic/C-flutes, recorders of any voicing, kinderharps, or bordun lyres, if possible. We will also have some instruments available to borrow at the school, but please bring whatever you have, and extras to share, if possible! On Thursday evening, we will have our traditional music sharing for the larger community – everyone is welcome to attend!

For this occasion, participants are invited to bring any and all instruments to make music to share with each other as well as extra copies of sheet music if you would like to prepare something with others.

This year’s facilitators are Sheila Johns and Andrea Lyman

Click here for more details and conference registration.

The Erosion of Listening: A Contemporary Crisis of Childhood


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Why kids — now more than ever — need to learn philosophy. Yes, philosophy.

"It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men"

By Steve Neumann

The idea that schoolchildren should become philosophers will be scoffed at by school boards, teachers, parents, and philosophers alike. The latter will question whether kids can even do philosophy, while the former likely have only a passing familiarity with it, if any — possibly leading them to conclude that it’s beyond useless.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, nothing could be more important to the future well-being of both our kids and society as a whole than that they learn how to be philosophers.

I don’t mean that we should teach kids philosophy the way they would encounter it in college. Adolescents don’t need to dive into dissertations on Plato’s theory of forms or Kant’s categorical imperative. (That kind of study is valuable, too, and should be included in secondary education somewhere, but that’s an argument for another day.) The kind of philosophy I have in mind helps kids become better citizens by turning the classroom into what the philosopher John Dewey called “embryonic society.”

To see why this is vital, just consider the state of discourse in the current presidential election cycle. From issues of racism, economic inequality, gun violence, domestic and foreign terrorism to climate change, the inability of the candidates and their respective parties to engage in fruitful public discourse is a manifestation of our own adult dysfunction writ large.

Consider what Pew Research Center’s series on political polarization found last year:

“Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines – and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive – than at any point in the last two decades. These trends manifest themselves in myriad ways, both in politics and in everyday life.”

I think most of us realize that society is a necessary compromise, and at least pay lip service to the idea that critical thinking and effective communication are virtues essential for its success. As we get older  many of us tend to be less open to new information, evidence, and arguments — but we can and should instill the requisite virtues in our children via K-12 education.

“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” as Frederick Douglass once said in a different context. In that spirit, then, it’s imperative that our kids become philosophers.

When people hear the word “philosophy” they might think first of something like a set of guiding principles or a general worldview. The New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick may have a coaching philosophy, for instance, while someone like the rapper Drake encourages us to have a YOLO attitude toward life. But academic philosophy is that discipline of the humanities concerned with clarifying and analyzing concepts and arguments relating to the big questions of life.

The focus is on asking questions because philosophy, as Socrates said, begins in wonder. We don’t just ask ourselves questions—we ask others, those who make up our society. It’s true that philosophy involves a lot of sittin’ and thinkin’ on one’s own, but as the late American philosopher Matthew Lipman wrote in his essay “The Educational Role of Philosophy:

“Philosophy may begin in wonder and eventuate in understanding, or even, in a few instances, in wisdom, but along the way it involves a good deal of strenuous activity. This activity generally takes the form of dialogue.”

Dialogue is key because only then will our assumptions, reasoning, and conclusions be challenged. Only then can we become better thinkers. And in the process of becoming better thinkers through intellectually rigorousdialogue, our children can become better citizens.


Detail of 'Scuola di Atene,' or the School of Athens by Raphael. Plato and Aristotle in the center.

While teaching philosophy to undergraduates at Columbia University in the 1960s, Lipman saw that his students were passionate to change the world but deficient in their ability to reason soundly and exercise good judgment. He also realized that college was a little late in life to learn to think properly, so he created the Philosophy for Children movement, known as P4C.

By the early 1980s, the results of Lipman’s new curriculum were promising and, just as important, it showed that kids took to philosophy with alacrity. For the first time, there was a proof-of-principle that children could become philosophers, in a certain sense. Kids are actually natural-born philosophers, as Stephen Law has argued. Lipman further observed in his essay:

Those who engage in philosophical dialogue about philosophical issues, even though they do not perform with the acumen of specialists, are indeed doing philosophy, even if they are very, very young, so long as their performances conform to the rules or standard practices of the discipline.

Other philosophers since Lipman have refined his original Philosophy for Children pedagogy, but the priority is always kept on dialogue. Under this model, kids go through a kind of philosophical apprenticeship where they learn by doing. The teacher’s job is to guide and inform student inquiries, helping them pay attention to the quality of their reasoning, and making sure they realize they’re meeting on terms of equality and mutual respect.

K-12 education in America can be the petri dish in which a more promising and enduring approach to living in an increasingly pluralistic society can be cultivated. Experiencing (and, yes, enjoying!) the participatory, communal manner in which philosophers argue their positions will enable our kids to evaluate the myriad issues that come up in social and political life and, to the extent possible, respectfully engage those who disagree with them.

If we fail to turn second-graders into Socrates, our kids may end up becoming expert at making a living, but they will be incompetent at creating a civil society.


This article (excerpt) originally appeared in the Washington Post in an article by Valerie Strauss. 

 
 

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