The Wonder of Natural Sciences in Waldorf Schools

Click here to watch the natural science video

From Portland Waldorf School

A recent study by the Austrian government found that Waldorf graduates have a greater aptitude and affinity for the natural sciences than their peers. Why is that? What makes the Waldorf approach to science education so special, and so effective?

Early childhood and grades students begin their scientific exploration by observing and experiencing the whole — watching seeds grow into food, raising salmon eggs while learning about their life cycle, creating a comprehensive animal report that includes both ecological and cultural research. In these early years, the tools for this scientific study come from nature, and encourage curiosity and interest in the world around them.

By middle school, students begin to break down the phenomena they experience into questions. How do basic machines work? Why can’t I see the colors of light except through a prism? What are the chemical elements of the foods I eat every day? As they begin to explore the invisible and intangible forces at work in the world, their scientific tools become more refined.

High school students deepen their study of the individual parts and processes at work in the world, breaking them down into cells, atoms, and elements. Sophisticated learning requires sophisticated tools, so the microscope replaces the naked eye, test tubes replace bowls, and bunsen burners replace candle flames. Equipped with these tools, students are empowered to reimagine the world around them with new understanding. Infinite possibilities open up. They no longer simply accept the world the way it has been, but question the ways it could be. They learn to ask the question that has inspired the greatest human discoveries and inventions: “What if?”

Leading with Spirit

The Art of Administration and Leadership in Waldorf Schools

"Without the experience, resources and ongoing support I have had from this program, I’m not sure I would have survived the last six months. In so many ways, personally and professionally, it has helped me learn, grow and be successful.” --LL, Program participant 2017, Waldorf School Administrator.
Dear Friends,
Where can you go for inspiring, collegial in-depth experience in administration, leadership, collaboration, social development, and organizational transformation based on Rudolf Steiner’s insights and emerging current ideas worldwide?
Partnerships of Hope, Vision in Action, Theory U, Appreciative Inquiry, Holocracy, Reinventing Organizations, Servant Leadership, Organizational Integrity, The Mysteries of Social Encounter, In Search of Ethical Leadership, Republican Academies...
These are just some of the great resources and must-read books that provide a foundation - a path toward success - for those working in Waldorf School’s in Administrative and Leadership positions. The insights and tools gained from these profound authors are invaluable. But who has the time in a busy schedule to read, study and understand them?
That's why a retreat like Leading with Spirit, where you can intensively explore these ideas with colleagues and experienced guides in a relaxed setting, can be so valuable! 
In the course you will explore biography work, case studies, anthroposophical study, tools for organizational transformation, inner paths of development, group artistic activity, contemplative exercise - and more – practices that can bring new life to your work in creating, shaping and sustaining our schools, our relationships with colleagues and our own inner path of development.
The hard work you do and the long hours you put in, the hopes you have for improvement and the dynamic social situations that unfold around you all year long, will all benefit from your taking time to reflect, deepen, build new collegial relationships, and gain new insights through Leading with Spirit's summer leadership retreat. Just ask those who have been to our summer retreats in the past and who are returning this year!
Whether you are an experienced administrator or you have just joined a school in a new position, consider joining us this summer as we dive deeply into the world of organizational renewal, collaborative spiritual development, and personal and group transformation.
Email us. Give us a call. Text us. We will get back to you right away to share more about this opportunity for your personal and professional growth. 
As you already know, the world around us grows, changes and transforms in direct relationship to the work we do on ourselves. 
Come refresh, renew and recharge yourself this summer.

Check out our offerings and learn more at
Leading with Spirit is a program of the Waldorf Institute of SE Michigan

Looking forward to sharing this journey with you,
Your friends at Leading with Spirit,

Michael Soule,, 206-245-0100
Lisa Mahar,, 603-630-0700
Marti Stewart,, 612-767-1550
Mara White,, 617-489-6600

Courses this summer at both locations will focus on:
  • Understanding the Social and Spiritual Foundations of Waldorf School Administration
  • The School and the Image of the Human Being
  • The Dynamics of School Governance
  • Leadership in a Collaborative Spiritual Organization
  • The Healing Social Life: Working Together
Alkion Center, Hawthorne Valley, NY July 17-22
With Mara White, Lisa Mahar, Michael Soule and guest artists
Whidbey Island, WA, July 8-13
With Marti Stewart, Michael Soule and guest artists
Deadline for registration June 1. New participants are welcome in any week. For more information about course, leaders and fees and to register go to or just send an email to 

Faculty members include:

Michael Soule, MA: Administrator (retired), Whidbey Island Waldorf School; former AWSNA executive; school consultant; and coordinator of the online Waldorf community LeadTogether.

Lisa Mahar: School Administrator (retired), Monadnock Waldorf School, Founding Member of the Administrative Network of AWSNA (ANA), Commissioner, New England Assn. of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Mara D. White: Director of School and Teacher, Waldorf High School of Massachusetts Bay; Co-founder of DANA (now ANA); Past Leadership Representative for AWSNA; Core faculty member of Sunbridge College Administrative Training Program; and school consultant.

Marti Stewart: Administrative Director, City of Lakes Waldorf School; Great Lakes Regional ANA Coordinator; Graduate of Sunbridge Administration Training. 


Knitting should be prescribed on NHS to lower blood pressure, reduce depression and slow dementia

By Sarah Knapton

Editor's Note: The National Health Service (NHS) is the name used for each of the public health services in the United Kingdom – the National Health Service in England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland – as well as a term to describe them collectively. They were established together in 1948 as one of the major social reforms following the Second World War. The founding principles were that services should be comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery.

Prescribing knitting could save the NHS millions of pounds, a new report suggests, because it lowers blood pressure, reduces depression and slows the onset of dementia.

The organisation Knit for Peace carried out a widespread literature review looking at the health benefits of the traditional craft after receiving testimonials from their 15,000 volunteers about how the hobby had improved their lives.

They discovered that knitting is as relaxing as yoga, distracts from chronic pain, such as arthritis, boosts wellbeing, brings down blood pressure and keeps the mind sharp.

It also reduces loneliness and isolation and allows older people to feel as if they are still useful to society.

In Britain, the NHS spends more than £2 billion each year on blood pressure treatments, and around £300 million on antidepressants. Dementia costs the country £26 billion while the health service spends billions annually tackling chronic pain.

So prescribing knitting could be a cheap way to battle a host of age-related conditions, the report concludes.

“Research has shown there is a growing crisis in primary care and with GP services in particular. Now is the time to adopt more imaginative and innovative approaches,” the authors write.

“As a skilled and creative occupation, knitting has a therapeutic potential. There is an enormous amount of research showing that knitting has physical and mental health benefits.”

Knit for Peace was founded by the Charities Advisory Trust originally as an income generating projected for Hutu and Tutsi widows who had been the victims of the Rwandan genocide and civil war. Through the Good Gifts catalogue people could pay for the women to knit jumpers for orphans.

The scheme quickly spread to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan and soon British knitters asked if they could donate their own work to refugees.

Dame Hilary Blume, founder and director of the Charities Advisory Trust and Knit for Peace, said: “Knitters started coming to me asking if they could send clothing to Afghanistan. ‘We’re sending them soldiers, so why not warm jumpers?’ they said.

“Our premise always is if someone wants to help we try and facilitate that. I was expecting about three baby hats in a Jiffy bag but suddenly we had this tsunami of knitting.

“We get around 40 parcels a day, and if we didn’t send things out every single day, we wouldn’t have room to move.

“People are incredibly generous. If I had knitted an incredibly complex Fair Isle sweater, I would want to frame it, but people send them to us.

“And people would often include notes saying how knitting improved their lives, and how it made them still feel useful, so we decided to carry out a review to see what the evidence was.”

When fashion designer Raquel Guimaraes found a serious lack of knitters in Brazil, she turned to Brazil’s large captive workforce. For every three days spent knitting an inmate can earn one day off their prison sentence. Called the Flor de Lotus (“Lotus Flower”) Project, the clothes that are created are sold all over the world. Inmates find the work calming, and it gives them confidence that they can find honest work on the outside.

The new review found that knitting lowers heart rate by an average 11 beats per minute and induces ‘an enhanced state of calm’ and even the same state of ‘flow’ experienced by athletes when they are ‘in the zone’ which causes a drop in stress hormones and blood pressure.

It also helps chronic pain by switching off alarm signals in the brain, because the focus is turned elsewhere. Repetitive movement also boosts calming serotonin which lifts mood and dulls pain.

A study of over 70s by the Mayo Clinic in the US , found that knitting was associated with decreased odds of experiencing mild-cognitive impairment, which increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The process of creating an object also boosts the reward centres of the brain and can help lower depression. And many former smokers have used knitting as a way to control their cravings to reach for cigarettes, by keeping their hands busy with the needles.

“We found a surprisingly large body of research showing the health benefits of knitting. What is more surprising is how little known the research is,” added Dame Hilary.

“Knitting is often dismissed or derided as old-fashioned but it should be promoted because of its health-giving qualities.

“Every GP appointment costs around £45 but we believe knitting could help prevent people needing to visit the doctor so much, and help them feel happier, less isolated, and more healthy.”

The report also calls for knitting to be taught in schools.

From The Telegraph


ClassDojo: do we really need an app that could make classrooms overly competitive?

The app aims to encourage good behaviour and to communicate with parents, with children awarded points for working hard and perseverance

A teacher using ClassDojo. Photo: ClassDojo

By Emine Saner

For many parents, opening the ClassDojo app and looking at photographs of their child’s latest work or sending a message to the teacher will be a regular part of the school week. According to the San Francisco-based company, it has been used by 70% of schools in the UK. But the classroom app came under scrutiny this weekend – the Times raised privacy concerns, highlighting how its data was stored in the US “and, under its terms, some may be shared with the 22 third-party service providers it works with, including Facebook and Google”.

The app is used to encourage good behaviour and to communicate with parents – children are awarded points for skills such as “working hard” and “perseverance”, and deducted points for “disrespect”. The teacher can also upload photographs and videos to the service. It is used, according to the company, by 90% of US elementary and middle schools, and last year Forbes estimated it was worth $100m.

Ben Williamson, a lecturer in education at the University of Stirling and the author of Big Data in Education, became aware of it when it was introduced at his children’s school. It launched in 2011 and its behavioural monitoring has been criticised for labelling children at an early age and for making the classroom a competitive space. “What we don’t really have are detailed studies of how this is working in classrooms,” he says. “A lot of teachers seem to love it; other teachers think it’s ghastly because of this behaviourist reward system.”

The company now appears to be repositioning itself as a social media platform for schools; there is less focus on behavioural monitoring.

ClassDojo says it doesn’t share any student information with Google or Facebook, and a spokesperson said the app is “fully compliant with all UK privacy laws, is certified under the EU - US Privacy Shield and will be fully compliant with GDPR when the law goes into effect. No part of our mission requires sensitive student information, so we don’t collect any. We ask for the minimum necessary to set up the service: a student’s name (or nickname) and a randomly-assigned cartoon avatar. We also operate a ‘12-month deletion policy’: if students and parents are no longer using ClassDojo, we automatically delete students’ information after 12 months.”

Sandra Leaton Gray, a senior lecturer in education at the UCL Institute of Education and the author of Invisibly Blighted: The Digital Erosion of Childhood, says she is concerned with its potential to label children, but also its dedication to “growth mindset” – a theory of how intelligence can be encouraged and developed. She says: “Sometimes teachers latch on to terms like that and see them as a shortcut to improving outcomes without having read all the extensive research on it.”

As for what it does with the data, Williamson points out “the company doesn’t claim to have generated any profit but it has had massive venture capital investment, so presumably at some point the community needs to make a return on investment. The founders claim they would never sell children’s data for advertising but the question is what could they do with all the behavioural information reported by teachers through the app.” Next month the General Data Protection Regulation comes in, the new data protection law framework, and Williamson’s concern is that schools are really not in a position to address some of the issues that might raise. I’d like to see more governmental leadership.”

The app, Williamson says, was marketed “straight into the hands of teachers. It extended itself through word of mouth and ended up in classrooms well ahead of any wider understanding of the potential data privacy and protection risks associated with it.”

From The Guardian


New job postings

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Take Advantage of Sweet Savings for the Month of May

Register for a Summer Sound Circle Seattle Course by May 31st and take $50 off each selected course.  Use code MayDay on registration page.

Offerings at a Glance (click on the link for full information and to register)

Study of Man

The Wisdom of Fairy Tales, Storytelling and the Therapeutic Story in Early Childhood

Journey Through the Year in Verse, Song and Seasonal Activities

The Joy of Teaching Grade 1

The Joy of Teaching Grade 2

The Joy of Teaching Grade 4

The Joy of Teaching Grade 5

We invite you to join us at Sound Circle Center this summer. 

Questions? Email Kimberley Hiner, Administrator

Coursework is completed in north Seattle at the Seattle Waldorf School, High School Campus, 7777 62nd Ave NE, Seattle, 98115


Ten Reasons Middle Schoolers Don't Need Social Media

By Adrian H. Wood, PhD

1. Social media was not designed for children.A tween's underdeveloped frontal cortex can’t manage the distraction nor the temptations that come with social media use.

2. You can not teach the maturity that social media requires.
I hear parents say that they want to teach their child to use social media appropriately, but their midbrains are not developed yet. Like trying to make clothes fit that are way too big, children will use social media inappropriately until they are older and it fits them better.

3. Social media is an entertainment technology.
It does not make your child smarter or more prepared for real life or a future job.

4. It is not necessary for healthy social development.
It is entertainment attached to a marketing platform extracting personal information and preferences from your child, not to mention hours of their time and attention.

5. A tween's “more is better” mentality is a dangerous match for social media.
Social media encourages them to overdo their friend connections like they tend to overdo other things in their lives. Does anyone have thousands of friends?

6. Social media is an addictive form of screen entertainment.
Like video game addiction, early use can set up future addiction patterns and habits.

7. Social media replaces learning the hard social "work" necessary for success.
The use of social media greatly lessens opportunities requiring children to practice dealing face-to-face with their peers, a skill they need to master to be successful in real life.

8. Social media can cause teens to lose connection with family.
They view “friends” as their foundation and since the brain is still being formed, they need healthy family attachment more than with their peers. It is just as important now as when they were preschoolers.

9. Social media use represents lost potential for teens.
The teen’s brain development is operating at peak performance for learning new things. Studies show that it is nearly impossible for them to balance it all and teens waste too much time and too much of their brain in a digital world.

10. Do any of us wish we had started earlier?

From Community Today


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