Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Waldorf Book Group - Steiner and SWI

From April 2017 - May 2018 a Waldorf teacher in Pennsylvania and I decided to put together a book study about Anthroposophy and Christianity. We were looking to read more about what Steiner had to say on this particular topic, and so we would choose interesting things and read them and then talk on the phone about our thoughts. This was fun and it was helpful, because it's VERY useful to have an accountability partner when it comes to reading Steiner. His work is famous for being quite dense!

From June 2018 - May 2019 I joined a Foundations study (this is the first year of Waldorf teacher training) at the Waldorf School of St. Louis and therefore was already reading and discussing lots of Steiner's work, so my former book study group wrapped up. Now I'm starting a new study with a colleague from the Portland Waldorf School. She and I are interested in looking at exactly what Steiner had to say about teaching writing, reading, and spelling. His ideas and methods are quite different from traditional public schools and are worth investigating just on their own, but we are particularly curious about the role of Structured Word Inquiry in Waldorf schools.

SWI is a way of understanding the English orthography system (aka spelling) by using the approach of the scientific method so that students are curious and active learners focused on making meaning. The approach highlights interrelating phonology, morphology, and etymology from the very beginning so that there is deep and consistent understanding.

Portland Waldorf School was certainly one of the very first, and maybe the first, in the country to have an SWI teacher on staff! I personally think the two approaches are very well aligned, but in order for this idea to get a lot more traction in the Waldorf world, the number one question we have to be prepared to answer is "What did Steiner say?"

Thus, the new book study!

We are also beginning a monthly Zoom chat with Waldorf teachers or homeschoolers who are already incorporating SWI into their classrooms and want to talk with others who are treading this same new ground. If you are in the Waldorf world and share our interest in SWI, please do join us!

I offer this to the world in a blog post in case others who are seeking the same -- or already doing the same -- find it and have thoughts to share!

So I will be updating this post as we go along.

August - October 2019

Our first reading -- available free online at the Online Waldorf Library -- was Teaching Language Arts in the Waldorf School: A Compendium of Excerpts from The Foundations of Waldorf Education by Rudolf Steiner ed. by Rudolf Trostli, who compiled all of Steiner's quotes from the 25 books of the Foundations of Waldorf Education Series which were related to the teaching of language arts and organized them by topic (handwriting, spelling, etc.).

This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

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