There’s Science and There’s Science! Part 1 April 09 2016

            There’s Science and There’s Science! Part 1


The sciences in Waldorf education play a decidedly key role in developing a child’s (and a teacher’s!) capacities in observation and clear analytical thinking. This begins as soon as the child comes to school!

In the nursery and the kindergarten programs, dedicated teachers take the children for a morning walk every day. The children are asked to notice the things they see on the walk. Spider webs still wet with dew, chrysalises that have formed on milkweed branches, trees that divide and reach up with two trunks, and birdsong that seems to lilt the class on its way, can all be part of the careful observation little children practice together on their walks. Once a kindergarten teacher in an urban Waldorf school told the story of the things that she and the children observed and it was very moving to hear, even in the concrete and blacktopped world of a big city. The children found moss between the cracks, strong tree roots that lifted up the pavements, flowers in gardens in people’s front yards, birds’ nests hidden in trees and bushes, uncountable numbers of ants in an ant condominium complex, dogs, sunshine, clouds, cats, birdsong, and innumerable other gifts from Mother Nature delighting the children once they notice – and see.

These nature stories on walks and while playing outdoors stimulate a child’s imagination and encourage the child to observe ever more keenly. A teacher might name a tree she saw on the way to school, describe how it looked and ask the children if they can find the same tree on their explorations. Children then look carefully at every tree, wondering which could fit the description the teacher gave them.

Increasingly, children become tuned to nature’s changes and tones through these daily walks, explorations and discoveries. They sense that the Earth is a living being full of life and surprises. 

Though it is hard to imagine for some how this could become science in the upper grades, this sense of awe when children are small, marveling at the many miracles to be seen in nature, lead to the opening of doors to the deeper mysteries of science. Without wonder and a sense of reverence, these doors are likely to remain closed.

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