Library Lady's Corner

Book Review: Handbook of Research on Waldorf Education — Jost Schieren, Ed. August 25 2023

Here, at long last, is a book which identifies the scientific underpinnings of Waldorf Education!!

Published by Routledge, the internationally acclaimed academic publisher, this book defines the exclusion of Waldorf Education for 100 years from circles on educational science, missing the opportunities for mutual stimulation and collaboration.

Book Review: Louis Braille - A Blind Boy Invents Braille July 24 2023

How can we stand firm in love and gratitude when misfortune descends upon us? Trust in the purposefulness of all that comes our way is a difficult skill to master! Louis Braille demonstrates to us a humbling answer to this challenging question and to mastering the demanding skill of trust.

This latest release from Waldorf Publications has us excited like never before. Louis Braille, a Blind Boy Invents Braille is another masterful telling of a story by Jakob Streit, made possible by the Streit Family Foundation in Switzerland and by Nina Kuettel, the fine translator.

The Pentathlon: Crown Jewel of Grade Five in a Waldorf School! June 19 2023

May is the month of new life, of spring, dancing, and tag sales in upstate New York, Waldorf Publications’s home. In Waldorf Schools around the world, it is the month of the Pentathlon, a poetic re-rendering of an athletic ritual from ancient Greece. It is a rite of passage significant in the lives of eleven-year-olds lucky enough to attend a Waldorf school.

The Poetic Meaning of End of Year Reports in Waldorf Schools May 16 2023

Children, students, everywhere strive for excellence. All children who have not been traumatized by extraordinary experiences or abused by adults one way or another, want to learn, to be smart, to understand this large and confusing world into which they have been born. Some children hide this yearning. If they find out early that those delivering education, in whatever form, have decided they are not excellent, or have not met invisible expectations, they might become seemingly insouciant, uncaring, indifferent to what is happening in a learning environment. Some children crumble and dissolve into confusion, striking out at whatever they can identify that might be “right.”

Wesak - one of the most important days in the Buddhist calendar! May 05 2023

Wesak, also known as Vesak, is one of the most important days in the Buddhist calendar and is celebrated by millions of Buddhists worldwide. Wesak commemorates Gautama Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death as the founder of Buddhism. Wesak's origins can be traced back to ancient India, where Gautama Buddha was born and spent most of his life. The event recalls the day Buddha attained Nirvana, or enlightenment, under the Bodhi tree. According to Buddhist scriptures, Buddha attained enlightenment after several years of meditation and self-reflection. Depending on the lunar calendar, it is celebrated on the full moon day of May or June.

Just in time for Earth Day! The Green Curriculum in Waldorf Schools April 21 2023

A Twelve Part Series
From Roots to Bloom

A few years ago on AWSNA’s “Green Pages” Sarah Hearn, Waldorf graduate from the New York City Rudolf Steiner School, with help from a class teacher or two, wrote a series of short articles on the many ways in which the curriculum in our schools connects a child to the Earth, awakens a devoted love of Nature and grows environmentalists who carry a passion for caring for the Earth and all its gifts. Sarah has agreed to have these little articles republished as a guest blogger here. She called her series “From Roots to Bloom,” to emphasize the growth in a human being as reflected in the plant kingdom. We are delighted about Sarah’s giving us permission as this overview of the “green curriculum” bears repeating many times. Embedded as it is in all that’s done in Waldorf schools, it’s wonderful to see it teased out for a minute to reveal some of its better parts!

Holi — The Hindu Festival of Colors, India March 08 2023

Water balloons, powders of vibrant colors, feasting, music, dancing; the festival of Holi is celebrated in March in the Hindu calendar during the full moon. It celebrates the coming of spring and the triumph of good over evil.

This festival, dating back to the 4th century CE, memorializes the story of Vishnu, the god who comes to earth in one of his several incarnations as a human being — this time as Narasimha— and is the celebration of his defeat of the demon twins, Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha.

Homework (or the lack of it) in Waldorf Schools March 05 2023

Over the last decade or so homework has taken center stage in many child development debates and research projects.

Imbolc, Groundhog Day, St. Brigid’s Day, Candlemas Day and the Celtic Calendar of Celebrations February 01 2023

By the ancient Celtic calendar, the year was divided into four seasons. The mighty passage of the sun through these periods signaled the change of seasons—as it does for us today. These days and times vary slightly from year-to-year. For 2023 the dates for the Northern Hemisphere are:

The Summer Solstice (June 21) marks the longest day of the year when there is more daylight than on any other day of the year.
The Autumnal Equinox (September 22) marks the day in fall when there is an exact equality of daylight and darkness.

Yearning for Light in the Darkness: The Many Holidays Embracing the Winter Solstice December 19 2022

Are you afraid of the dark?  Many people are, and many children are. Children come from the light-filled world of the stars and must adjust to an earth-life that alternates between light and darkness: day and night; peace and turmoil; love and hatred. These are all the extremes that come with living a human life.

Saint Nicholas and Building a Capacity for Self-Reflection in the Young - A Waldorf Perspective December 05 2022

December 6 is the day marked to celebrate the legendary Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 6 December 343)—the prototype for our North American Santa Claus. His feast day is often celebrated in Waldorf schools, though in some schools his celebration has been disapproved and removed for being too Eurocentric or too harsh for children. His legends are rooted in German lore and in Dutch stories (Sinterklaas* is his name in Dutch). But vestiges of this remarkable saint pop up in many places throughout Europe, Turkey, parts of Dutch-colonized African countries, North America and elsewhere.

Traditionally when Saint Nicholas appears to children, he wears the garb of an early Christian bishop* (so he wears a funny mitered hat, as some children would tell you) and he carries a large golden book. In this book are written all the good deeds children have done on one page, and on the opposing page, unfortunate deeds and challenges facing the child are written. Saint Nicholas addresses each child with these balancing facts of the little one’s life.

The Winter Garden in Waldorf Schools November 27 2022

Many young children are afraid of the dark. Actually, many grown-ups are afraid of the dark, too. Late autumn and early winter, when the days grow short and the darkness dominates everything, festivals help mark the time until the light begins to fill the days again. The important message for children is that we each carry a light within that becomes important in wintertime.

Thanksgiving and Buy Nothing Day! November 25 2022

Come along with Waldorf Publications on a determined stand against the frenzy of “Black Friday”!

Martinmas and Lantern Walks in Waldorf Schools November 09 2022

Many Waldorf schools host a Lantern Walk in November and around Martinmas, the feast day for St. Martin of Tours — also Veterans’ Day in the United States. St. Martin, the patron saint of beggars and outcasts, was known for his unassuming nature and ability to bring light and warmth to the impoverished.

El Día de los Muertos - November 1 and 2 November 02 2022

In Latin American cultures, and especially in Mexico, el Día de los Muertos is celebrated on November 1 & 2, coinciding with “All Saints and All Souls Days” in the US, which is, of course, preceded by Hallowe’en on October 31st.

The Christian Counterpart to Samhain or Hallowe’en: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day November 01 2022

Those who grew up going to a parochial school of any kind in the Christian streams of faith know that Hallowe’en is the contraction of Hallow’s Evening. The pagan practices of Samhain or harvest festivals that include the awareness of the thin veil that exists at this time of year between the dead and the living were deeply rooted in ancient cultures. The Day of the Dead in Spanish speaking cultures is another good example along with the Druid festival of Samhain.

Hallowe’en Part 2: Through a Waldorf Lens October 28 2022

Our Own Children Now on Hallowe’en - Through a Waldorf Lens
Hallowe’en is meant to be fun, of course, but it also holds opportunities for us to allow our children to experience that death, too, is a part of life. Skeletons, ghosts (Ireland for a century or two kept a census of ghosts as well as of the living), and the barren fields after the harvest all speak to the human heart of the end of life. Children are no different and they sense on a deep intuitive level that this is true. It isn’t necessary (or beneficial) to frighten children, especially under the age of nine or so. Young children will experience the feelings around Hallowe’en without undue prompting.

A Waldorf Halloween

Hallowe’en Part I: Samhain –– The Celtic roots of Hallowe’en October 27 2022

It figures that the land of Banshees, fairies and Leprechauns would be the starting place for a holiday like Hallowe’en. The Celtic word “Samhain” is actually pronounced “Sow-in.” This word literally translates as “summer’s ending.” After the harvest was gathered and stored, livestock had been sorted for slaughter or breeding, and the earth was perceived to have exhausted herself, this festival of Samhain was one of four high festivals of the Druid religion.

Leftovers from the harvested fields were piled up and burned. The rituals surrounding this festival had much to do with clearing away the old to make way for the new –– purging the old field to prepare the fields for new crops. It was also the last day of the Druid year and the day when all departed souls would return to their homes and when malevolent spirits were released as the earth gave up her strength and could hold these spirits back no more.

The bonfires offered some protection from these released unresting souls. The momentary instability of the boundaries between death and life made all sorts of spirits free to roam and haunt and frighten people. Fairies and leprechauns were not believed to be sweet and endearing beings but were untrustworthy and tricky sprites who needed to be outsmarted and watched carefully. “Changeling” babies could be substituted for one’s own child if the cradle were not carefully tended. Children were often dressed in disguises so that the fairies wouldn’t know who they were to steal them away and leave the family with some strange substitute for a little brother or sister. At Samhain, disguises were very important. Unattractive disguises, including downright ugly masks, drove the sprightly thieves away.

The Irish left food and treats out on the table to both appease these potentially unkind spirits, hoping that a show of hospitality might deter them from doing any harm or stealing any children, and also to welcome in the ancestors who might find their way home on this dark, important night. Also, parsnips or turnips (grown to bigger sizes on the Emerald Isle than in the USA) were hollowed out, carved, and lit with candles to shine the beloved home to the houses of their births, lives, and deaths. The traditions of treats and hollowed and lighted produce can been seen as starting here.

Waldorf Halloween

Farm animals were anointed with holy water to protect them through the night of roaming spirits. And unmarried girls would go blindfolded into the almost empty fields searching for cabbages. If they pulled up the first cabbage they stumbled upon and it had a lot of clay on the roots, the girl’s future husband would be rich.

Apples were considered a symbol of fertility and a happy marriage. Bobbing for apples or attempting to eat an apple on a string informed a girl of her future. She would keep the apple she first bit into and put it under her pillow that night. Tradition held that she would then dream of her future husband. Other blindfold games of Samhain included a table filled with varying objects. Blindfolded people would reach out and touch something and this would foretell the future. James Joyce’s short story, “Clay,” well describes this practice. A bowl of water meant emigration. A ring meant an impending wedding. A lump of clay implied death.

Orange and black were considered the colors of death. Irish famine immigrants brought these Irish traditions with them to America in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Halloween Samhain Waldorf Publications

A Deeper Look into the Days of Michaél September 29 2022

The season gives the signs now of the turning of summer to autumn. In the air, before the green of the leaves begin to blush, the air gives an occasional whisper of fresh chill to herald the changes that will come. Even in places in which there is not a dramatic change between seasons, reports of subtle changes as the earth turns and the parade of the seasons rolls onward come from those sensitive to expressions from the Earth.

The Perseid outburst or meteor shower in mid to late August each year marks the change in the stars.

Back to School! September 06 2022

School is beginning again! Some schools in some regions are well into their second week of school and in other areas, teachers and parents are gearing up today for a post-Labor Day beginning.

Book Review: From Mechanism to Organism: Enlivening the Study of Human Biology August 16 2022

At long last, a resource book for high school teachers, parents, and students that brings to life the experiential approach to the complex subject of human biology!  Michael Holdrege’s decades of experience at the Chicago Waldorf School teaching middle and high school science and math shines on every page of this penetrating book. From Mechanism to Organism contains wonderful illustrations that demonstrate valuable ideas for teachers to use in bringing different aspects of the ninth-and tenth-grade science in a Waldorf curriculum to high school students.

Book Review: Waldorf Book of Blessings from Around the World June 07 2022

Waldorf Book of Blessings from Around the World is now available!

Gratitude! What an uplifting attitude of soul to cultivate and maintain!  It can be difficult to find in today’s contentious world; yet here it is in abundance in this little book by Warren Lee Cohen. It is overflowing with gratitude for the food we eat and the friends and family with whom we share our meals. All around the world, families and friends ask for blessings on their meals with a spirit of quiet peace. So many different cultures and languages are represented in this powerhouse collection!

Book Review - Honey Bee Haven January 12 2022

Honey Bee Haven that is a real delight. Teaching ourselves and our children about the precious work done by pollinators, especially bees, has become a topic of some urgency in the last decades. With gloriously colorful pictures, done in watercolor paintings by the author, and the simple telling of how bees live and work, a penetrating story gets told in this little masterpiece of a book. It is about the significance of the work of honey bees, and about our part in making them feel appreciated, cared-for, and loved!

Overcoming Parental Fatigue: Tips for Parents of Special Needs Children January 10 2022

While parenting is undeniably rewarding, it’s also incredibly exhausting. Most parents only have to face exhaustion for the first few years of childhood. But for parents of children with special needs, this sense of deep fatigue can seem never-ending. Between helping your child with dressing, feeding, and other basic needs, you also have to be your child’s advocate when dealing with doctors, insurance companies, teachers, and support staff.