Rudolf Steiner School New York City The First Waldorf School in North America
The Bulletin APRIL/MAY 2014
4TH GRADE WOODWORKING
7TH GRADE PHYSICS
2 THE BULLETIN April/May 2014
A WELCOMING CHANGE By Dr. William Macatee
A publication of Rudolf Steiner School We are pleased to receive ideas and submissions for consideration that relate to Steiner and Waldorf philosophy. We reserve the editorial rights, including the right to edit and decline materials that we believe are not ideal for The Bulletin. Guidelines for submissions: All submissions are due by the deadline, e-mailed to Director of Marketing and Communications Brian Kaplan at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make every effort to include submissions. Advertising: (width x height) 1/2 pg (7.375” x 4.725”)..............$125 1/3 sq (4.875” x 4.725”)...............$100 1/3 vert / 1 col (2.25” x 9.65”)...$90 1/2 col (2.25” x 4.725”)................$60 Insert (8” x 10.5”)..........................$200 Classified (per word)..................$1.00 Ad sizes are approximate and can be modified to fit our layout. To advertise, contact Brian Kaplan at the above e-mail address. All money received for advertising will be used for future marketing projects for the school that assist our students and their families, such as DVD reproduction. The next issue of The Bulletin is scheduled for week of June 13.
“To truly know the world, look deeply within your own being; to truly know yourself, take real interest in the world.” -- Rudolf Steiner
he cold of winter is now behind us and the first signs of spring have appeared in Central Park and the shop windows along the avenues. New Yorkers have been quick to throw off the clothes of winter welcoming the new colors of spring in anticipation of the full bloom of summer and the beauty in this renewal. For my part, I am celebrating this change of season as a new member of the Rudolf Steiner community. In these few short weeks, I have discovered the awesome beauty of this learning community. From the youngest student to the most senior faculty member, Steiner is a community on a shared journey of enlightenment where questions are shared and answers are discovered in the challenges of life. Our youngest students are discovering that the world around them is good and filled with exciting and wonderful others! Together, these little ones are finding themselves as they watch and imitate the wonder seen in the eyes of their teachers and friends. In the grades, the students are beginning to pose questions about the world around them as they learn to respectfully manipulate their environments taking an active role in the formation of the classroom community. In the secondary school questions of justice and integrity are leading to the deepening of attitudes of inclusivity and respect for the diversity that fills our daily experience. What a rich and inviting community. I am sure that I will meet many of you at the start of school each morning and will quickly schedule some morning and evening gatherings so that we can get to know one another better. I hope that you will share your stories with me to make sure that I hear all of the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, the sweet and sour, that flavors our blossoming community. And now, as we all begin this new season as members of the Rudolf Steiner community, I want to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of those men and woman who have led the community in the absence of a permanent administrative director. I especially want to single out Ms. Marilyn Ruppart, who accepted the enormous responsibility of acting administrative director and skillfully shared the responsibilities with her talented colleagues. I extend my thanks, and that of the entire Board of Trustees, to Ms. Ruppart. I look forward to a long and successful life as a member of the Rudolf Steiner School. Warm regards, William D. Macatee, Ed.D. Administrative Director
All submissions are due May 23.
Letter from the Administrative Director
A Rolling Pin’s Journey Home
Social Action Committee
A Sort of Homecoming / Claudia Mahler
Community Building / Parent Council
Page 6-7 The Spiral Curriculum / Carol Bärtges
Page 10 A Festival of Orchestras at Carnegie Hall
Page 11 A Life of Bridges / Whitni McDonald
Rudolf Steiner School Lower School Campus 15 East 79th Street New York, NY 10075 Upper School Campus 15 East 78th Street New York, NY 10075
Little Women / Upper School Drama Club Production
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A ROLLING PIN’S JOURNEY HOME
By Anke Scheinfeld
he daily joy of purposeful work in our early childhood classrooms is revealed in the eager and bright eyes of our children as they enthusiastically engage in “real work.” It is most satisfying for child and teacher to work together, keeping rooms neat and clean, repairing broken toys and classroom items, preparing shared meals, setting and cleaning tables. We create our own world, our own “gardens” and “kingdoms.” Together we take responsibility and feel deep satisfaction and pride for work well done. How can we make our work together even more enriching, so that it envelops and nourishes our children beyond the classroom? This question becomes even more paramount in an urban environment where life for all can easily become disconnected. I would like to share a simple woodwork project that naturally flourished, weaving its way lovingly from the classroom into the home, enriching both. During an exchange of ideas on the subject of “real work” in the classroom, a colleague suggested making rolling pins from poplar dowels. Woodwork is a treasured activity in our mixed-age kindergarten. We enjoy using our strength and skill to saw thick branches gathered from Central Park. We next each sand a segment of wood until it is so smooth that delicate year rings are magically revealed. Creating something out of wood that could be used in the kitchen was an exciting prospect. Work began in autumn. We obtained several five-foot-long and 1.5-inch-thick poplar dowels. Their arrival in class was met with much curiosity. We sawed them into ten-inch segments. As we usually work with wood gathered in the park, the long, evenly-shaped poplar dowels evinced a very different mood. The older boys were soon sharing knowledge of the major construction projects they pass daily in their Manhattan neighborhoods. The fledgling architects and engineers began in earnest to build tall apartment buildings using play stands, planks, large blocks, chairs and tables. We then began the will-shaping, physically challenging work of sanding the dowels. The children were familiar with the process from prior woodwork. As we used first rough and then fine sandpaper, the pieces gradually became smooth. Sanding the ends of the dowels was especially satisfying. Working with vigor, the children held the dowel in one hand, keeping the sanding paper in place on the table with the other. Then we worked with fine sandpaper, rounding edges and smoothing the long sides of the rolling pin. These tasks required a summoning of strength, will and perseverance. The children would often approach the teacher while rubbing their piece of wood against a rosy cheek, inquiring “Is it smooth enough?” The answer of “Just a little more” was met with further effort to make it smooth all around. During the entire process the children were unaware of the purpose of their evolving creation. This engaged their imaginations as many answers bubbled to the surface: a block, tree, trunk, sword…As Advent had arrived, it was time to bake our ritual cookies. On this special day we rolled the cookie dough not only using the big old rolling pin but also our new little ones. A moment of joyous revelation: We had made our own rolling pins! How could this wonderful moment be best shared with our parents and imprinted in the loving memories of our children? How could the rolling pins journey home and find their place in the kitchens and daily lives of our families? Could they avoid the toy cradle and gathering dust? The theme of practical work in the kindergarten and at home is so important for the development of the young child and a healthy home environment. One of our central responsibilities is to help parents experience and understand the significance of what we do in our early childhood classrooms. Our success rests on the fulfillment of this responsibility. With this in mind I decided to devote an upcoming parent evening to our newly forged rolling pins. We began our parent evening by baking together in the same way we bake with our children in the morning. Measuring ingredients, kneading and then rolling dough with their child’s own rolling pin, cutting out cookies of different shapes, and finally baking them created a warm, home-like atmosphere. Wonderful conversations arose, often centering on childhood memories recalled by a room filled with the sweet smell of home baked treats. During the following study and discussion these initial threads were taken up and woven into an enriched tapestry. When the children took their rolling pin and a little star cookie cutter home the next day, they took with them the joy of our work in the kindergarten and the happy anticipation of using their own rolling pin at home. The parents were prepared, and many homes were filled with the delightful smell of cookies baking in the oven and the nurturing warmth arising from families lovingly engaging in practical work on a cold winter afternoon. Dr. Anke Scheinfeld has been an early childhood educator at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City for the last eight years, where she teaches in the mixed-age kindergarten. Prior to teaching, Anke worked as a physician and researcher in Germany and in the USA. She received her Masters in Early Childhood Waldorf Education from Sunbridge College. Anke’s main interest is in working to align the healing impulse of Waldorf education with preventive medicine to best serve students and the school community.
This article was originally written for Gateways Magazine, the official newsletter of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, in spring 2012. We are reprinting with the permission from the publisher.
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Protecting Values: Social Action Committee
By Noah K, 11th grade
ocial Action Committee, also known as SAC, is a group of highly dedicated high school students who help other students in the Lower, Middle, and Upper School with social problems, including teasing and bullying. Over the past year, SAC has been most active with the fifth and sixth grades, which have grappled with class issues such as Internet safety. We meet every Wednesday and discuss strategies on how to deal with issues and share our observations based on the grades that we have visited. When we work in the classroom, we begin each situation by asking the students to trust us before we can help them. Letting the kids know that we are on their side and here to help them is an important first step. We need to befriend them before we can make progress. They would not trust outsiders stepping in. Members of SAC speak with kids in the lower grades, not about problems in the class, but about their days and what they are learning in school. Once we build that friendship and trust, we begin discussing their problems. SAC confidentially resolves problems by having whole class and No Blame Meetings. When a teacher comes to SAC with a class problem, we meet with the students in a circle and began with a game, which takes them out of their comfort zone. We ask questions such as, “Have you ever been verbally or physically bullied?” By asking these questions, we begin a dialogue that allows them to share their experiences so the group understands each other’s feelings, exploring resolutions of the specific problem. This type of meeting offers a proactive setting and does not target anyone because they are not allowed to use names. It also provides an overview of the class rather than issues between specific students. No Blame Meetings address issues head-on. Students, who are involved, sit alone with SAC member, and discuss their side of the story before having a formal meeting. In the meeting, which is facilitated by an Inclusion adult leader, the SAC students sit with those involved, acting as advisors for them to express their side. This discussion moves toward mutual understanding of the issues and points toward resolutions. Paths toward improvement of the situation are agreed upon and committed to implementation. We schedule a follow up meeting in two weeks and set up review procedures to recognize how interactions shift toward a healthier balance. SAC has been received with a great response from students and teachers. It has morphed from being a group of teenagers, who help solve problems, into a group of upper schoolers, who have gained the trust of elementary and middle school students by providing wise guidance and friendship. Continuing to strengthen conversation between SAC and the student body at Steiner is very important because it instills a sense of trust that we are there to help everybody achieve what they need, and an assurance that is built on the possibility of intervention when needed.
A Sort of Homecoming
By Claudia Mahler
f course we are rushing. In New York, one always rushes it seems. The traffic and the noise are a bombardment. We are not used to it after having had a break from this frenzy for the past four years in Switzerland. But we want to get to school, and be on time, but most of all, we want to be back. We jump up the steps, waving to Ms. Panepinto, and trying to open the heavy iron entrance door (some things never change). We’ve arrived. The sweet smell of freshly baked bread cascades from the first floor classrooms. The soothing sounds of piano luring through halls. Nursery children eagerly, yet patiently lining up for outdoor time. I sigh with the deepest gratitude – not only because we made it on time, but also because we are back at Rudolf Steiner School – a place we so very sadly had to say farewell to in 2009. And now, rather unexpectedly, we’ve returned. Our soon to be fourth grader visits his potential new class today, and we will need to re-interview with Mrs. Mantel in her happy, little office. All is familiar and soothing. We are a Steiner alumni family, of sorts. In 2004, we came from Berlin to New York, and stayed here until we returned to Zurich in 2009. Vincent, our older son, went to Steiner from first through fifth grade, and Victor, our younger one, had a year in the Upstairs Kindergarten. We were an active Steiner family; my husband on the Dad’s committee while I participated in the Parent Council, as well as a number of committees. We made several lifelong friends. We gave a lot to and received a lot from this small, at times intense, but always thoughtful and warm community. Those years nurtured all of us in different ways. In full disclosure, our boys also had a great time at the International School in Zurich. Having to adjust to technology, different rhythms, unexpected teaching and learning methods, poor quality music ensembles and outrageously bad cuisine was certainly a huge culture shock. But, looking back, our kids thrived there as well. They mastered the new – in many ways because of their Waldorf education. They were blessed with their Steiner years: an experience of depth and individuality, a development of a calm self-confidence, a thoughtful curiosity, a playful creativity and a mindful accuracy. That is a gift for life! Once we knew we would be returning to New York, there was no doubt that we would apply to Steiner again. Our older son decided on a different high school, which he is enjoying. But his Steiner years and the friends he made here will always be a part of him. Our fourth grader started in the fall. His transition from the International School, where he went from Kindergarten through third grade, was not without bumps and tears, and a load of guilt on our side. But all went well, as we trusted it would. In my personal experience as a mother, Waldorf pedagogy, without dogma and a narrow mindset, is simply a wonderful way for a child to grow into life. At our school, a child’s soul is truly respected and warmly nurtured. I would consider it one of the last oases where a child still can be a child. At Steiner, a child is granted time; it learns not to rush, even in a city like New York. This is a school that feels safe and sound through steady rhythms; it finds its balance in handwork, woodwork and non-competitive physical education. Children sing, sharpening their minds by playing music, and understanding the world in a thankfully more reduced, yet so much richer, way. It is good to be home again.
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he Spring Gala returns on Friday, May 16 following a year off. Guastavino’s will once again host us for dancing, dining and ways to win trips, classes and wonderful items. The evening promises to be a wonderful celebration of our community while raising necessary funds to support the School. Steiner music faculty will kick off the gala by providing lively jazz to entertain the guests. Mingle and bid on eye-popping items, including a one-week stay at a fourbedroom home in Jackson Hole, WY or a jungle safari. Join friends and meet members of the community. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner and dancing with a fab DJ before our Christie’s auctioneer introduces the main event. Our previous Gala was a huge success! 300 attendees helped raise more than $140,000 for Steiner scholarships and necessities. The Spring Gala, which supports scholarships and necessary programs, offers enjoyable entertainment and fun with friends. Come celebrate the Steiner community and meet many special people throughout the night!
Click Here to RSVP or Visit Steiner.edu Seating is limited.
Celebrating Your Community with Parent Council
By Sam Sutton
arent Council kicked off the year with four weekly “Coffee on the Terrace” events, followed by the always popular Apple-Picking Trip. We donated a great deal of the apples that were picked to City Harvest.
We welcomed the winter season with our first Annual Coat Drive for NY Cares in November. With the assistance of our eighth graders, who made up signs, and Mrs. Panepinto, who helped collect the coats and spread the word, the coat drive was a huge success. By the time we departed for winter break, we had collected 650 coats – many thanks to a very generous donation of 500 coats from the Mehta Family, who have a son in the Upstairs Kindergarten. Bravo to the Steiner community for making such a Herculean effort! Since January, a group of enthusiastic knitters, ranging from beginners to experienced, have met every Thursday in the cafeteria between drop-off and 10:30 AM. Parent Council joined forces with Jennifer Strent and Felicia Larsson, who ran the Fall Fair knitting workshops, to continue hosting a meet-up where parents could knit and socialize. Our goal was to knit snails for the welcome baskets, which are presented to new families in September. We welcome new additions throughout the year. Jennifer and Felicia are always happy to assist. On February 27, Parent Council hosted its second annual square dance at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem. This was once again a fun-filled evening with excellent attendance, and even more important, almost everybody dancing by the end. After a feast of delicious food, we were led in the dancing by the vivacious Pat Canon, accompanied by two live musicians. There was a wonderful sense of community spirit and cross-divisional representation from nursery through grade 12. On March 6, we hosted an event for high school parents and parents of rising ninth graders. Ecco Adler from Moore Bros provided wine tasting and information about the represented selections. We had an excellent representation of parents from grades eight through 12, with many parents meeting one another for the first time. It was a wonderful mix of wine, cheese, conversation and music, so we anticipate this becoming a regular community event. In May, Parent Council will hold elections for the 2014-15 school year. Keep an eye out for nominations. Parents need two nominations, including self-nomination, to stand as a candidate. Parent Council meets once a month after drop-off and is an enthusiastic and dedicated group of parents, who bring varying areas of expertise to our mission, which is to “cultivate school spirit, foster involvement within the parent body, and encourage communication among families, teachers, and our diverse Waldorf community.” Please consider standing or nominating fellow parents – it really is a hands-on and rewarding way to be involved.
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THE JOURNEY IN, THE JOURNEY OUT:
BY BRIAN KAPLAN AN EVENING PRESENTATION ON THE WALDORF CURRICULUM
The Journey In, the Journey Out The Waldorf Elementary and High School Curricula By CArOl BärTges
The Waldorf elementary or lower school (grades one through eight) and the Waldorf high school (grades nine through twelve) comprise an organic whole. The curricula of the lower school and of the high school work together to foster the healthy development of the student through adolescence. Carol Bärtges has had an unusually varied experience of the Waldorf curriculum. She was a Waldorf student from kindergarten through twelfth grade, has served as a class teacher, middle school English teacher, and, currently, a high school English and drama teacher—all in her long career at the Rudolf Steiner School of New York. In this article Carol describes the relationship between the lower school and high school curricula and urges her fellow Waldorf teachers—class and high school—to be informed about what is happening on the other side of the great eighth-grade divide. —r. e. K.
“W hat have they been doing in the elementary school?”
sometimes when we Waldorf high school teachers talk about the lower school, we ask the right question but use the wrong intonation. We can sound impatient or skeptical. But we can ask this question another way, and our disposition then becomes one of curiosity and reverence. The Waldorf curriculum of the lower grades plants in the children capacities that are like a golden seed. These capacities germinate during the lower school years, and then the high school curriculum, with the teachers’ guidance and nurture, brings them to maturity and fruition. Noted Waldorf educator Douglas gerwin has depicted the two curricula graphically as interlocking spirals, one red, one blue, moving in opposition from different, initial starting points. The red spiral is the path from kindergarten to the eighth grade, from the higher world of spirit from which the child descends, into the world of matter. It culminates at about the age of fourteen, when the eighth-grade student is most deeply connected to the physical world and his or her physical body. The contracting center of the red spiral symbolizes the place of greatest density, where the budding adolescent is
eagerly (and noisily) immersed in matter, in the contemporary world of the here and now. This center point is the culmination of the first eight years of elementary school life. From this point, the blue spiral of the high school curriculum moves outward into the broader world. The Waldorf elementary school curriculum, leading the child ever more deeply into an active engagement with the material world, guides the physical and emotional development of the student to reach this center moment in eighth grade. For example, the major narratives of the elementary school humanities curriculum can all be found along the inwardly circling, red spiral. At its outermost edge are the stories told in kindergarten and the early grades, stories of no time or place, which connect the child to eternal truths that exist beyond him/ her and which gently lead the child into the world of causality. In the early grades these include the fairy tales, myths, and fables from around the world. In the third grade come the epic Old Testament stories and Native American creation myths, the last moment in which the mood of unquestioned divine authority reigns. In fourth grade, however, comes a change: with the Norse myths, portraits of unredeemable deceit and disappointment begin to appear.
udolf Steiner’s indications suggest that teaching must begin from the perspective of real life, of experiential learning, not through dry, abstract concepts that often lead young students to become disengaged; the child’s encounters in real life is where inspiration takes it stand. For the young child, Steiner advised against teaching from textbooks and testing; rather, he had the foresight to recognize that his philosophy of human development, exemplified in the Waldorf® curriculum, could reach children in more subtle and effective ways. This was the basis for the talk that Carol Ann Bärtges gave on March 11 before a standingroom only crowd that gathered in the Lower School Assembly Room at 15 East 79th Street. Based on The Journey In, The Journey Out (left), an article that Bärtges, an alumna and our current high school comparative literature teacher wrote for the Waldorf education magazine, Renewal in 2011. Ms. Bärtges’ talk focused on the nature of the “spiraling relationships” inherent in the Waldorf curriculum from nursery through grade twelve (see poster on adjoining page). During her talk, she made it clear that she was focusing solely on themes represented by the humanities curriculum, suggesting that one could look at the twelve years of Waldorf education as a double spiral; the first eight years spiraling into the center of the form, and then the high school curriculum doubling back to spiral from the center out. The Renewal article and current Spiral “talk” originated from a presentation given at an AWSNA (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America) symposium for Waldorf high school English teachers, in which Ms. Bärtges wished to inspire high school Humanities teachers to better understand the richness of the Waldorf elementary school curriculum. “What the Waldorf high school teacher inherits is like a golden seed that has been so lovingly planted in the lower grades,” says Ms. Bärtges. “The final blossoming of that seed is only visible in the high school, where teachers are tasked with being the final gardeners of this flowering plant.”
the audience, “What qualities do you want to see cultivated in your children?” “Confidence, curiosity, happiness, consideration, compassion, inspiration, intellectualism,” peppered out from the parents at varying tempos. “That’s right,” said the English teacher. “Steiner felt the same way. He said, “Don’t teach children through dead concepts and textbooks. Children need confidence, happiness, consideration and compassion in order to learn and grow.” Waldorf teachers strive to create an environment where the imagination and feelings of the child are nourished.” Rudolf Steiner recognized that children undergo arcs of development, and devised a curriculum that could effectively fit into those arcs: from birth to seven-years old, seven- to 14-years old, and 14- to 21-years old. Waldorf teachers appreciate that they are working within this framework and that students need to be engaged in different ways in each of these seven-year periods. She explained, for example, that Waldorf teachers engage and teach the kindergarten age child through imitation; in elementary school, the loving authority of the class teacher guides the development of the years between seven and 14. In high school, teachers direct the students to the phenomena and themes being studied – their role is to inspire the students to make their own authentic connection to the subjects studied. Throughout these journeys, Waldorf teachers ask, “What do I need to develop in myself? How can I improve? What do I know about this child over the past several years?” They see education as a privilege in how they may help the blossoming of intelligence, dedication and ability in their students.
One of the evening’s objectives was to present a visual display of the themes being discussed, a demonstration that took parents on the children’s “journey in and the journey out.” Artwork from the Humanities curriculum was displayed from grades one through twelve (left) in which Ms. Bärtges showed the thematic parallels between the main lessons of various grades and also how these themes evolve over the Ms. Bärtges’ roots in Waldorf education run twelve year curriculum. The artwork ultimately deep. She was a student here from Kindergarten represented how the subjects in the lower through twelfth grade, then returned to teach and upper school form a kind of double spiral. after college and graduate school. She has served as a class teacher for grades one through six, Beginning in first grade, at the point where the taught English in the middle school, and for over spiral moves from the realm of eternal truths and twenty years has taught in the high school as a timelessness to the center point of current time, Drama, Speech and English teacher. Having also children are led through a rich curriculum that served over the years as the college chair, the high feeds the inner questions they are unconsciously school chair, the high school admissions director asking at a given age. Ms. Bärtges reviewed and college guidance counselor, she likes to joke the movement from first to eighth grade by that the only role she has not yet inhabited here pointing out how in each grade, the humanities is Business Manager. Ms. Bärtges’“Spiral” talk has curriculum meets the children where they are in grown exponentially in its second year. Last year, order to teach the skills of reading and writing. she geared her talk toward parents with children From the archetypes of the fairy tale in first in grades six through eight, in preparation for grade, to the polarities of the animal fable and their journey to the high school. This year, legends of saints and heroes in second grade, there were prospective and current parents the child is brought from the realm of allegory representing early childhood, elementary and myth into present time and real history. and middle school grades in attendance. Ms. Bärtges began her discussion by asking In discussing the third grade curriculum, for
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example, Ms. Bärtges pointed out how the main lesson on housing affords implicit opportunities for building capacities of tolerance and inclusion. In constructing a clay model, or a teepee or sukkah together, students must learn to be patient, to appreciate their different gifts and talents; they must work as a unified team to finish a project that they will then share with the entire school. “The activity of working together, and that constant engagement with artistic work, is what builds tolerance, patience, consideration, curiosity, inspiration and design,” Ms. Bärtges stated. The housing block in third grade addresses the fact that our first real home is our body. Just as we must make a building strong and sound, we must make our bodies the same way. Students learn the laws of the physical world: if I do not build this structure the correct way, it will fall down; if I don’t measure things correctly, parts will not meet. As a polar experience, third graders also hear the stories from the Old Testament. Thus, building on the second grade in which polarities of fable and legend are presented, Ms. Bärtges pointed out that the third grade polarity contrasts the laws of God with the laws of the human world. Ms. Bärtges continued her trajectory through the ages and indicated that by the time the students reach the eighth and ninth grades, the students’ experiences have moved to the very center of this spiral form. As elementary school students leave the world of myth and legend to study the causal effects of history in real time, the humanities curriculum ends in eighth grade with the lessons of revolutions, immigrations and protest: a fitting theme for the young adolescent. The ninth grade mirrors the eighth grade curriculum in many ways: students have black and white drawing once again; students study physiology as they have done in eighth grade. These topics address the polarities of inner and outer growth and the extremes in feeling that we witness in the 14- and 15-year old. Now, in high school, however, the perspective changes – the polarities studied in the ninth grade, the Tragedy and Comedy block, or the economic realities of the ninth grade blocks on the Atlantic Trade World offer the students a more panoramic view of similar themes. The goals of social renewal are at the heart of the high school history blocks, which recapitulate many of the time periods and topics of the elementary school Humanities curriculum in this conscious and evolving manner. By the time students arrive at 12th grade, the phenomena studied moves from the world of the physical and observable in a course such as sixth grade physics and moves to the realm
of the invisible, in a block such as 12th grade Optics. The high school senior is engaged with the invisible world of thought and theory. As the spiral leads back out into the world, the 12th grade year often ends its literature work with a block that brings the students full circle: the study of the fairy tale. The students end where they began, with an understanding on a different level of the timeless, eternal quality of human experience represented in the fairy tale. This year, the seniors recently presented a printed book of their original fairy tales along with illustrations to their first grade “buddies” as a Valentines’ Day present. Thus, the high school student has moved out along the spiral form from the questions of the early years, “What do I see in the world,” “What do I feel?” to the questions of “What will I be in the world?” and “What will I do?” Ms. Bärtges concluded her talk by noting that the curriculum of a Waldorf school shares many qualities with that of other fine schools. However, the deeper value is the way the program addresses the spiritual reality of the students at different ages and the fact there is an invisible thread that connects and unites the children from their earliest years in kindergarten through their very last months as high school seniors. The curriculum is always developing; each generation of teachers in each age must focus on the specific realities of the present. Rudolf Steiner did not proscribe specifics as much as indicate the spiritual nature of the growing human being as a way of discerning what the academic content needs to be in age-appropriate lessons for every grade. There is irrefutably more content to teach in contemporary times. We have become a global and multicultural society and must find within the themes of the curriculum new ways to approach the various subjects that are taught. The Waldorf curriculum is a living thing that can grow and transform through the diversity of modern experience. That is why it is so innovative and why the Waldorf movement has proliferated throughout the world. The recent article in the New Yorker pointed to the more than two hundred Waldorf schools that have blossomed in China in recent years. While the child’s arc of inner experience that Rudolf Steiner offered almost one hundred years ago may stay the same, Ms. Bärtges suggested that if Steiner were here today, he would welcome the new realities of technology and global community. He would undoubtedly ask, first and foremost, is the child at his or her particular age in this contemporary world truly seen and understood, and is our teaching a living activity, built around what the child is presently experiencing? After recognizing this, he would appreciate the state of today’s realities.
the spiral curriculum for waldorf humanities
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TO SUPPORT THE ANNUAL FUND, CLICK THIS LINK TO VISIT THE ANNUAL FUND PAGE ON THE SCHOOL WEBSITE OR READ THE GIVING SECTION ON STEINER.EDU
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Upper School Drama Club Presents...
E L T T I L MEN WO
we highlighted the most positive situations. However, we did not want to do a play that was geared toward children. Rather, we wanted to produce a play that enabled children to rise to the levels of the literature.”
A senior had before going
Luca took his final shot at acting on the Steiner stage and was very convincing. At the end of the play, the packed houses even received a special acting guest: Musical Director Mr. Yagupsky made a cameo and donned a garment portraying the girls’ convalescing father, Mr. March.
One of the greatest gifts for a theatre director is the discovery of a surprising actress. This was the case with several cast members, including ninth grader Jenna, a new student requently, directors need to wait this year to Rudolf Steiner. Her character, Beth, for the right constellation of actors was certainly one of the unsung heroes of the “My goal is to expose theatre to as many before deciding to produce a play. That book, and Mrs. Venho saw that spark in her eye. students as possible,” stated Mrs. Venho. was the case for Clio Venho. She always “It’s important for them to have that wanted the High School Drama Club to Another fan favorite was Aunt March, played outlet and they absolutely showed it do Little Women, the Louisa May Alcott by 11th grader Carola. While not a major role, with Little Women. Everybody was so novella from 1868, which could be argued her falsetto voice and larger-than-life entrances supportive of one another. The production was a precursor to Gone With The Wind. had the “little children” laughing quite heartedly team is the true unsung heroes, ranging through the performances. She channeled an from Russell, the production stageAlcott fashioned a new variation of entirely different part than who she is offstage. manager, to Shannon, who meticulously literature by combining romantic Acting perpetually requires an ability handled hair and make-up to the stage crew.” children’s novels with the American family, to stay in character and not lose focus living during the Civil War, and how four sisters grow up and mature into women.
For Mrs. Venho to delve into the lives of four sisters, she knew that she needed four strong actresses to demonstrate this character-driven piece. “The characters are very accessible and interesting,” said Venho. “Alcott allowed the girls to make mistakes. In many ways, they were the nonheroes. We see a lot of their strengths and weaknesses – being in the home, their relationships with each other.” When auditions started before winter break, Mrs. Venho did not know which actresses would fit into specific roles, but she quickly recognized that she had talented students to choose from. She also accepted two eighth graders into the production, an unusual opportunity for the middle schoolers, because they fit the roles of two younger sisters, Meg and Amy, and could offer the entire Steiner community a play that was relatable for young children.
Many of the Little Women actors were required to do exactly that at times. “We had to hold the curtains a couple times and there were rehearsal conflicts because of our sports teams, but it’s an amazing The rehearsals began with the cast process,” said 11th grader Annabelle, who reading the play together and discussing owned her character, the confident and each character. After examining the rebellious Jo. “It evolves into a different world.” ARTWORK CREATED BY MEMBERS OF THE CAST setting during the Civil War and what life was like back then, the students inspired Jenna agreed: “Some the design of the piece. The subject was performers are in Jazz taken directly from our theatre pedagogy. Band as well as Drama It was like a living art piece. Students Club, so it was very hectic ultimately drew detailed pictures and at times. Last night, helped with the setting and costumes. people arrived 10 min before the play began. The constellation of a prodigious cast came together. Ranging from the shy Several newcomers and gentle sister Beth, to the strong and also showed great willful sister Jo, Little Women brought the merit in their abilities. ideal characters out and even discovered a few acting surprises along the way. “There was a lot of singing over and over again,” said “Periodically, it’s good for the entire new ninth grader Marlon, community to see these kinds of who played the part of productions,” says Mrs. Venho. We Mr. Brooke. “It was a really used to do that with the senior plays bonding experience for a more often, and since I always wanted newcomer to the school.” A PLAY WITHIN THE PLAY to do this one for the community,
hile a handful of families took the N train to 57th Street on Sunday, January 26, most Steiner students took the path that requires commitment and teamwork, and as the adage says, practiced their way onto the greatest stage in the world. It was for A Festival of Orchestras, a triannual concert at the Stern Auditorium/ Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall in its twelfth year that features six New York City private schools. Steiner students were prepared for their moment in the spotlight – a daunting task being that Tchaikovsky, Bernstein and Toscanini graced the same stage. A Festival of Orchestras is produced every three-years since it began in 2002 when it was previously held at Alice Tully Hall. In 2005, the concert was brought to Carnegie Hall. Several music teachers, including Annabel Gordon, a cello teacher at the Brearley School, and a former alum of Steiner, have helped coordinate the show for the past several years. The Band, conducted by Jeff Venho, Steiner’s Band Director, performed Earthdance, an artsy piece by Michael Sweeney, that begins with the trumpets blowing through their mouthpieces to create the sound of wind followed by snapping fingers to produce the sound of raindrops. From the first time that Venho heard Earthdance, he knew the acoustics of Carnegie Hall would accentuate this piece. “I knew it was going to be different,” Venho says. “It had pop elements that the students would relate to and a “feel good” theme at the end that brought it all together. By starting off mysterious and ending with a major chord, I knew it would go over well with the students. As the conductor, I had a sense that the audience was mystified, but I had to go on what I saw with the children because I couldn’t see the faces of anybody behind me.” For first-time students playing at Carnegie Hall, a sense of excitement mixed with a few jitters. “I’ve seen people perform here, but it’s a whole different experience to be on stage,” said eighth grader trumpeter Preston. “This is a great experience, and I plan on continuing to study music and maybe play in college.” Preston’s classmate Tristan, an alto sax player, agreed: “Carnegie Hall is such an interesting place to see a performance, but it is an entirely different experience to play on this stage.” Katya Ignatova, a member of Steiner’s faculty, conducted two pieces for the 25-member Orchestra: a romantic and expressive Norwegian piece, “She’s like a
C arnegie H all
Presents A Festival of Orchestras Swallow” by Cara Dillon and Sam Lakeman, followed by “Pizzicato Polka” by Johann and Joseph Strauss, which was performed last year. However, Ignatovia created a new arrangement in order to keep the students engaged. This piece was very challenging because it was not played with bows.
after giving it some thought, the music faculty decided to challenge the abilities of its younger students with
having them play school students.
Steiner teachers stress high standards of playing from the students for them to work in unison and hold a consistent note together. “Students create a sense of commitment to the music and to each other,” says Venho. “They are responsible for being on time and providing teamwork. Coordinating 55 children, ages 11 through 16, requires serious commitment.” Music is part of the curriculum at Steiner in a way that is different from most private schools.
Maeve, Noa, Greta and Ruby, all first violins, were excited but nervous as they “Every student at a Waldorf school plays an prepared to perform on the grand stage. instrument and sings,” says Jeff Spade, Rudolf Steiner’s Music Director. “Our [music] pedagogy Isaac, a tenth grader who was playing both is built on the philosophy of developing the violin and viola in the two pieces, seemed mind of the child and addressing the entire poised and ready to have fun on stage. “I human being. Music touches on the intellectual have played here twice before, so I am not side: thinking, reading and finding the notes; the as worried as others. I just do it for fun.” feeling life (art and being emotional) and the will of a person. Hence, Head, Hands and Heart.” One new feature with this year’s concert was the combination of grades 6 to 12 for the Band The Steiner School has always had a formidable wind instruments. Previously, this section was music program and it has grown and developed only held by sixth through eighth graders, but in recent years. The faculty and teachers, all working musicians, compete with talented individuals for freelance opportunities. This is something they want the students to understand. “These opportunities are created through great perseverance, and the teachers want the students to drink in this experience,” Venho proudly exclaims. “We want them to walk out on stage, and look up about six stories high to the back row, and be in awe. We are preparing them for that – to have very high standards, musically. After all, Steiner has a reputation for being one of the better musical groups, so we tell the students to uphold this reputation.” The great violinist Isaac Stern once said: “Everywhere in the world, music enhances a hall, with one exception: Carnegie Hall enhances the music.”
While attending the NYSAIS conference for school librarians and technologists, NEIT 2014 (NYSAIS Education and Information Technology), in New Paltz, NY this past January, I was struck by a common recurring theme. The keynote speaker, Ian Jukes, confounded the audience with his pronouncement that today’s students would hold an average of seventeen different careers over the course of their lifetimes. Seventeen seems outlandish, and Mr. Juke’s slides provided little in the way of citation (an unwise oversight in the midst of so many librarians). The whole idea being marketed was that educators are at a critical risk of failing to properly prepare students for this tumultuous new age. In positive terms, the question was being bandied: How can educators build stronger bridges for students between their studies and the various roles they will play in life? I think it is an important question to ask. So, in preparation for my February high school assembly presentation, I went on grappling with it. I did some research on my own, and found nothing to verify the “seventeen careers” statistic, but I did find an article by Rebecca Radcliff in The Guardian, published September 2013, in which James Darley, director of the U.K.’s “Teach First” program states: “The hot terminology at the moment is ‘portfolio careers.’ Many in the field feel that young people will have seven different careers in their lifetime rather than just one or two, as their parents did.” Seven seems more likely to me, and the idea was striking. I knew I wanted to address our students about the adventures that await them in today’s non-linear era. But I was torn because I had also been eager to share my fascination with the life of Frederick Law Olmsted. I’d been itching to recount his experiences ever since I finished reading his biography, Frederick Law Olmsted: Genius of Place by Justin Martin, in October. Luckily, I figured out a way to do both. As I revisited my notes on Olmsted, I remembered how struck I had been by his “jack-of-all-trades” route through life. I could relate to Olmsted’s interest in multiple fields, and his passion to explore and try out different projects and experiences. Here was a visionary I could get behind—and so could our students. I shared with the high school assembly the trends and lingo about the “new era” of the portfolio career model, and challenged them to turn to history and books, as we are trained to do in a Waldorf School, to discover what certain people have done with their lives, even over one century ago. Olmsted, for
example, may be most famous for his landscape architecture, particularly his design, along with the architect Calvert Vaux, of Central Park. But he held many different
Gifford Pinchot, according to the Char Miller biography, Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism, and the birth of our National Forest Service.
full-fledged careers over the course of his journey, both before Central Park, and afterward. Olmsted was a merchant seaman, “scientific” farmer, traveler to Europe and the American antebellum South, New York Times journalist (correspondent on his impressions of the southern states, leading up to the Civil War), author, publisher of The Nation literary magazine, passionate social reformer, General Secretary of the United States Sanitary Commission (forerunner of the Red Cross), manager of the Mariposa Mining Company goldmine in California, and explorer conservationist instrumental in the creation of Yosemite National Park. Only after returning from California to New York to complete Prospect Park with
I realized all of this mobility might seem a little “pie in the sky” to the
A Life of Bridges By Whitni McDonald Upper School Librarian
Vaux, was Olmsted’s reputation as the foremost pioneer of American landscape architecture fully realized. Like Olmsted’s life, bridges mark both Prospect and Central Parks. Olmsted loved bridges, and Vaux designed lovely arches to span pathways and waterways throughout Olmsted’s landscapes. In addressing the students, I stressed the fact that Olmsted was able to accomplish so much in so many diverse fields by building and maintaining strong bridges of personal connections and experience. Even as a young farmer on Staten Island, Olmsted was able to work on a project for his neighbor, William Vanderbilt, whose heir, George Vanderbilt later commissioned Olmsted to design his estate in Asheville, North Carolina: The Biltmore House. Olmsted considered this project his crowning achievement, and beyond the estate’s own lovely grounds, Olmsted’s vision and legacy for the property extended to a partnership with
high school students, so I didn’t leave out Olmsted’s struggle, and his methods for continuing on, pressing through each hardship. Olmsted’s life was marked with tragic loss. He lost his mentor, Harry Codman, and closest collaborator, Calvert Vaux, to drowning. His closest friend was his brother, John, who died prematurely in Italy of tuberculosis. And, he also mourned the loss of his firstborn son, who died in infancy. Through each wave of grief, Olmsted managed to adapt to hardship through frequent correspondence with friends. Students may have been impressed to learn how well Olmsted managed to stay in constant touch with his family and dearest friends throughout his busy life, even without the convenience of e-mail, Facebook, Instagram or texting. His letters bear witness to a wellconnected life: a life of strong bridges, both professional and personal. I hope the students were inspired by Olmsted’s persistent sense of mission, purpose, and curiosity about the world. My goal was to impress upon the students that even in an age with few linear trajectories, we can see the prospect of multiple careers as an opportunity to get out there, discover the world, and forge strong connections with many different people and places. The bigger question for educators to contemplate may be: How can we inspire students to courageously construct bridges of understanding and discovery throughout their lives? I’m so grateful to teach in a school of bridge builders. We may not teach and learn in the most cut and dry, easily-defined, prepackaged way, but even if our methods entail the extra effort of connecting different learning methods and curricula to each developing child, we find our bridging work fun and interesting. Here at the Rudolf Steiner School, both the teachers and students draw on their talents, interests, and connections everyday to expand their understanding of the world, facing it boldly, as Olmsted did, with a spirit of service and gratitude.
THE BULLETIN April / May
June Days 2014 Nursery June Days for the Nursery is open to all children currently enrolled in our Nursery classes. They will be joining the Kindergarten June Days group during its morning hours. Your child can be enrolled in one or both sessions. Daily dismissal for the Nursery program is 12:00 PM. DATES and TUITION
Session I Session II
Monday, June 16 – Friday, June 20 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM $300.00 Monday, June 23 – Friday, June 27 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM $300.00
Kindergarten June Days offers a rhythmically modified version of our traditional Early Childhood program. At the end of the school year, currently enrolled Kindergarten students are invited to participate in an engaging week of exploration and fun in Central Park. DATES and TUITION
Session I Session II
Monday, June 16 – Friday, June 20 from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM $575.00 Monday, June 23 – Friday, June 27 from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM $575.00
For questions about the nursery or kindergarten programs contact Laura Donkel: 212-535-2130 ext. 203 or email@example.com
Grades 1-4 Currently enrolled elementary students are welcome to participate in engaging excursions in Central Park and nearby destinations. Previously, students have visited Central Park’s Carousel, the Zoo and museums followed by picnics and ice-cream excursions. Arts and crafts at the school and splashing in the water at the Three Bears Fountain round out each day. DATES and TUITION
Session I Session II
Monday, June 16 – Friday, June 20 from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM Monday, June 23 – Friday, June 27 from 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
For questions about the Grades 1-4 program contact Marilyn Ruppart: 212-535-2130 ext. 220 or firstname.lastname@example.org * Children may sign up for one or both sessions. * Payment is due in full at the time of registration. Advance registration is required. Space is limited and available on a first-come basis.
CLICK HERE OR VISIT STEINER.EDU TO ORDER A YEARBOOK FOR YOUR CHILD TODAY.
THE BULLETIN April / May 2014 13
Rudolf Steiner School New York City The First Waldorf School in North America
The Bulletin APRIL/MAY 2014 early childhood through high school