Bare Hand Knitting

Reviewed by Torin Finser

It has been my pleasure to read an exciting new book from Waldorf Publications: Bare Hand Knitting by Aleshanee Akin and illustrated by Elizabeth Auer. It is an incredible gem, an inspired guide to creativity and practical activities for young and old using our most precious tools: our hands!

Alishanee introduces the book with her personal story of healing with her daughter, and sets a context that goes far beyond schools and curriculum as it is usually taught. Through a sequence of chapters that include braiding and knotting, finger knitting, whip-stitching, wet-felting and more, the author communicates step by step instructions that all can understand and use. Enhancing the book immeasurably are the numerous illustrations done with grace and accuracy. Just looking at the drawings is a feast for the eyes!

I highly recommend this book for all who care about humanity and reclaiming our social mandate through our hands.  I can see it used in homes, schools, prisons (where needles and other devices are usually banned), clinics, hospitals and community centers.  It is a festival of the spirit and gives us hope for the future.

Bare Hand Knitting
Waldorf Publications
185 pp, spiral-bound
Available here at Waldorf Publications


Cooking with Wool

from Andrea Love

Click here to watch "Cooking with Wool"

Andrea Love is an independent animator and director based in Port Townsend, WA.  A life long lover of movies, Andrea received a BA from Hampshire College in 2010, with a concentration in video production and film studies. She is a self taught animator, specializing in stop motion. 

Andrea runs a full service animation studio from her basement.  She creates commercial work, as well as short narrative and documentary films. Her work has been screened at film festivals around the country including the Tribeca Film Festival and the LA Shorts Fest.


Meeting the Needs of All Children Through Waldorf Practice

February Conference at Whitefeather Ranch in Placerville, California

Lakshmi Prasanna and Katherine Lehman will lead this collaborative and hands-on training. The program will help participants build their capacity to meet the needs of all children through personal development, observation training and mindfulness practice.

Meeting the Needs of All Children embarks on a journey of seven modules to understand:

  • What is "being human"?
  • What do I do with the children before me?
  • How do I learn to “see” them and understand what they seek?
  • How do I serve them best for their own destiny and mine?
  • How can I constantly stay striving?

Through the modules we work deeply to understand:

  • The medical and physiological development of children from embryology through the various seven-year cycles of human development; the human organs and how they are mirrored, carried and reflected with the social, emotional and spiritual needs of children. with the constant background of karma and destiny.
  • Inner developmental work of teachers, their own personal journey and building their capacities to be able to write their own curriculum based on their understanding of their own children.
  • Building communities amongst teachers, parents, and schools and learning to work together.

Katherine Lehman is an early childhood teacher and Waldorf Educator with extensive teaching experience in kindergarten through seventh grade. Katherine has had over 40 years of training in movement and dance with children and adults. She teaches workshops for parents, teachers and children in Waldorf Education.

Dr. Lakshmi Prasanna is the founder and president of the Anthroposophical Medical Society in India. She is a neonatologist specializing in children with special needs & anthroposophy.

Lakshmi developed an interest in helping children with autism from a metabolic and sensory perspective based on Rudolf Steiner’s indications. She is the director of a curative center for special needs children, Saandeepani, in Hyderabad, South India. 
Dr. Lakshmi travels and works with several Steiner Schools as well as working as a trainer of various Anthroposophical students and professionals. She uses an integrated approach towards child development and treatment which includes consultation, teacher training, child development workshops for parents, and family meetings. 

Click here for more information and registration info.


The Answer for Schools Is Not More Technology. It’s Teachers and Human Connection.

By Danielle Arnold-Schwartz

A kindergarten teacher recently told me that at conference night one of her student’s parents verbally attacked her for using Chromebooks during morning meeting time. This teacher uses Chromebooks responsibly and is a wonderful teacher, but deep down I couldn’t help but cheer as I wondered, “Could it be that parents are waking up to the realization that too much screen time is part of what ails our education system?”

We sit in front of screens to do work, listen to music, play games and escape from life’s stress. We put children in front of screens at restaurants to keep them quiet, and we do the same in classrooms that may be too large or when teachers are working with small groups. Screens entertain us, help us relax and help us answer the questions we ponder as fast as we can ask them. However, the secret is out: technology alone stinks as a learning model. Education technology is in its infancy, and the appeal to entrepreneurs seems understandably insatiable. The disconnect between business and education is that entrepreneurs focus on profits, while educators focus on children and learning.

A business-minded person may think a large class with 50 students, one adult and 50 screens makes fiscal sense, and is therefore an “innovative” idea. Rocketship charter school chain relies on this type of model: “Students rotating into Learning Labs [means] employing fewer teachers,” author Richard Whitmire has written of the schools. “A school such as Rocketship Mosaic could successfully serve 630 students with only 6 teachers plus aides.”

A business person may also think that because focus groups of children demonstrate that kids like and enjoy a tech product, that it is educationally sound. Some of them think that teachers want to make their jobs easier by putting little screens in front of little eyes, but I don’t know a single person who became a teacher because they wanted an easy job.

As the year comes to a close, I urge edtech entrepreneurs to change the lens with which they view their product development. Education shouldn’t be viewed as simply a “market,” and children are certainly not “widgets.”

Education is of dire importance for a strong democracy, and we must view product development for education as an ethical obligation. Technology can and should be used with fidelity in schools, but we must balance technology use with developmental psychology, the psychology of addiction and educational psychology. We need educational technology that puts highly trained teachers at the center of product design and implementation. It is human interaction that truly engages children and inspires them. In the same way that we want our doctors and lawyers to take time to help us, children need real teachers to connect with and trust. It is only then that technology can rise to its proper place in the classroom.

Forget the efforts to appeal to fiscal reforms, my edtech friends. The time has come to open the market to “Teachnology,” and to put the teachers at the helm of their classrooms as they guide our children to exciting and unknown horizons.

Danielle Arnold-Schwartz (@DASchwartzy) is a teacher of elementary gifted students in Pennsylvania.



Prince Waldorf? Maybe in Toronto

This is an excerpt from an article in last Thursday's Daily Mail, "Where will Archie go to school? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have to choose between a traditional British education, a 'holistic' and bilingual experience in Canada or home-schooling their son". 

The Toronto Waldorf School made the short list of possible schools for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's son Archie. Although Archie is only a baby, the press is already speculating where the lad will go to school when the Sussexes move to Canada:

"Toronto Waldorf School (pictured), based in Thornhill, Ontario, is said to address the intellectual, physical, emotional and social aspects of child development

Toronto Waldorf School, based in Thornhill, Ontario, offers a curriculum that integrates academics, arts and movement.

It additionally addresses the intellectual, physical, emotional and social aspects of child development and caters for Preschool to grade 12"

Read the full article here at




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When The Vaping Industry Offers Scholarships, Is It Marketing To Teens?

By Liz Schlemmer

While policymakers and parents are wringing their hands about how to get kids not to vape, a number of e-cigarette companies are offering college scholarships to teens. Authors of a new report in the journal Tobacco Control interpret the scholarships as a possible marketing scheme.

The report looked at the prevalence of these scholarships and the types of essay questions they ask high school students. Some ask teens to write essays about vaping -- often with questions about the benefits of e-cigarettes over traditional cigarettes.

Perhaps the most openly promotional question comes from the vaping product reviewer E Cigarette Pros’ annual essay writing contest, which offers a $2,500 prize:

“‘What are the different types of e-cigarettes? And what would you recommend?’ I mean, that alone is inappropriate,” said co-author Adam Goldstein, director of Tobacco Intervention Programs at UNC Chapel Hill.

Goldstein said he’s concerned that e-cigarette industry players are using the scholarships to quietly market to teens amid a vaping epidemic.

“Over 28 percent of youth in the latest studies have shown that they are using -- and many are addicted -- to a future generation of nicotine. These are the same products that we’re trying to get kids unequivocally not to use,” Goldstein said.

Big industry names like Juul have repeatedly denied marketing to youth, despite offering candy flavored e-liquids to vape. Juul does not offer any scholarships, but some of its competitors and online reviewers do.

WUNC received responses from two e-cigarette companies that the study found used essay questions related to vaping.

Mig Vapor manager Melissa Burgos denied knowing anything about the company’s 2018-2019 scholarship and web links to the scholarship page are dead; however, internet archives show the webpage existed in March 2019.

A representative of e-cigarette distributor Vape Habitat emailed the following response:

“We offer this scholarship to students for them to learn more about vaping, smoking and their differences. We would like to lead them to a non-smoking lifestyle, with the help of vaping or without it, it's their choice. We are not asking students to buy any products whatsoever. We will publish all essays on our website with some voting options for the writers who get the most votes to get additional prizes. The main goal is to move the new generation from big tobacco killing products to a safer alternative - vaping low-nicotine e-liquids or to quit at all.”   

E Cigarette Pros did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Scholarships Offered Across the Country

Goldstein became curious about these scholarships after hearing that one was listed on Harvard's financial aid website, and added the study shows it is not an isolated incident.

“We were surprised to find out this was happening really across the country for over 20 different entities offering over 40 scholarships that youth could apply for,” Goldstein said.

As a public health professional, he said he’s worried about the ripple effect when colleges and high schools promote these scholarships as sources of financial aid.

“Because [21 scholarships] may not seem like a lot on first blush, but if it's listed everywhere then that means potentially any kid applying to any college might look at these,” Goldstein said.

Of the 21 e-cigarette makers, distributors and reviewers that offer scholarships, about half ask teens to write essays about vaping. Some ask questions about the benefits of medical marijuana.

Many students who might apply for these scholarships cannot legally use vaping products. Up until a federal rule change last month that raised the tobacco buying age to 21, the legal age to buy e-cigarettes in North Carolina was 18, but a number of scholarships didn't limit underage students from applying.

“Everyone knows that nicotine addiction for teens and developing brains is harmful. We also know that it can be a gateway to regular cigarette use,” Goldstein said. “Essays that require kids to write about potential positive benefits, from their perspective as kids, really is manipulating kids in ways that is disingenuous.”

The study found 11 companies stated on their websites that they reserve the right to use responses for purposes other than scholarship selection, such as advertising.

“We wouldn't allow beer manufacturers to market products to young kids,” Goldstein said.  “I think we should be taking the same approach now with youth that we take a hard look and say, you know, this is probably not good.”

Goldstein’s next research project will be to look at how many colleges and universities publicize the vaping industry-funded scholarships.



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