I am finally coming out of my hiatus. Many changes have occured recently in our lives, and some important realisations have also been made. One of them being our methods of “education”.
I do not like using this term, as I don’t feel and don’t want to be educating my children as the word usually make it sound. I like to think of it as our way of living our lives, and influencing our young ones towards their own selves. Helping them to develop as they are meant to be, and finding who they really are, what they really like, and what they really think.
We have, for the last months or so, been living following the Waldorf ideology.
Waldorf is a wonderful pedagogy that wishes to protect the senses of the child, and makes sure that he will not be exposed to things (ex reading) before he reach a certain age, a point in developement where is should be ready,
Waldorf wants to make the mind work, the imaginary part most of all. Fairies and gnomes are important figures of the teaching, and are even used in the classroom to help learn language and maths. It is enchanting to think about it really! I am sure it would have made my math class more interesting… Down to earth, and practical things are taught too, how to knit, felt, make dolls, which I think is amazing. Cooking and the kitchen is also a turning point in a Waldorf house, where kids are encouraged to participate to the making of their meals. Rhythms, rituals, celebrations are keyword of the Waldorf education leading to special and magical moments of sharing and learning. And all this learning is made in a wonderful medium: ARTS. Arts are not taught in a waldorf school, it is used in and every day basis, in all the classes. Students have to draw their lessons, in their lesson books. And you should see those lesson books. WOW, some of them are just amazing! Watercolors, block crayons, beewax modeling, all natural materials, with rich and yet peaceful colors, wooden toys…what is there not to like about this?
But then, where is Waldorf?
We did try it. But after a few months, I have to admit that aside those values that are cherished here and have already been implemented for long before finding about Waldorf, some other things are just not fitting in. Pea and Peanut have been clearly been showing us that while some of those Waldorfian ideals are very interesting, being what they are, realistic, down to earth, cartesian, rational…they are just not able to live by something that is so imaginative. Forget about the fairies, and the gnomes, my kids much rather build a house for the squirrel that live on the other side of the street, or the bee that makes yummy honey.
My kids like to learn, learn the real and tangible things of life. When they play, they play that they are going to work, and speaking to “important people” on the phone. And this is not because we taught them to do that…
Given the choice between a toy or helping out in the house, the choice is clear, they much rather do the real life stuff, and learn about the world that surrounds them and how it work then to play with the most amazing doll house (or truck) ever.
When I see them go around, I see what Maria Montessori has described abour kids. They are interested about learning about their environement, and how it work, and contribute to that, and that is what their play is about. It is about working, and THEY LIKE IT!
I think Montessori and Waldorf have some things in common, but not that much. They both hope for a joyful, and well adjusted child that grows into the best person that can be. But I think that their interpretation of what the child is, and how he grows and what it takes to get there is totally different.
And with all that being said, I doubt that one method is better over the other. I think one method fits more for a child then the other. And this is he conclusion we are arriving to. The Montessori method is way better adapted for the kind of people we are, and most of all for the kind of people my kids are.
I have been realzing this for a while, and all that time, what I felt inside was “FOLLOW THE CHILD” Maria Montessori’s famous words. And that is what’s brigning me back to my first love. I am following my children.
Heck, I will be, and am totally influenced by many Waldorf principals, and many Waldorfy things will be applied here in our home. But I cannot deny what the evidence is showing me. My kids are Montessorians, and so am I.
SO off to a new path, one I feel I have a lot of work to do on, loads of reading, preparing and learning. But I think it will be all worth it.