Responsible Innovation - Waldorf at 100 (Growing Old or Growing Wise?)

We recently participated in a local meeting with members of our regional Pedagogical Section Council, Waldorf class teachers, and administrators. The topic of the evening was Waldorf at 100 - Growing Old or Growing Wise?

Many schools and teachers (and Waldorf related organizations) are still not sure how to include Waldorf homeschoolers in these larger conversations - we always appreciate being invited to the table. We consider one important part of our work to be bridging this gap. How do we help homeschooling families gain access to training resources, and, how do we help local Waldorf schools find ways to include homeschoolers in their offerings?

Art credit: Waldorfish ©2019

Art credit: Waldorfish ©2019



The evening’s conversation was rich. We touched on questions such as:

  • What does it mean for the future of Waldorf education that the students of today aren’t the students of a decade ago, let alone of 100 years ago?

  • How do we meet the children of today and stay true to the underlying essence of Waldorf education?


Clearly the answers require more than one night of discussion. However, it’s more important than ever for those of us who love Waldorf education to talk openly about these (sometimes uncomfortable) questions.

There is a real danger of things becoming stagnant - becoming “things we do in Waldorf because that’s what we’ve always done.” One part of the discussion that we personally resonated with was this question:


What happens to our thinking if we change Waldorf from a noun to a verb?

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Instead of saying “we do Waldorf” or “we use the Waldorf method” how different does it start to feel (and look) if we instead say “this is how we Waldorf” or asking the question “how does your family Waldorf?” Suddenly it shifts from being a stagnant Thing, to being alive and breathing!  Always changing based on the child in front of us, which was Steiner's goal all along.


Freedom in Anthroposophy means acting out of love - Acting from a place of deeply knowing the child/ren in front of you. As homeschoolers, this intimate understanding of our children allows us to take what we understand to be the essence of a particular grade or block, and then INNOVATE responsibly. Achieving the same goals, but with entirely different, child-driven means than another Waldorf family might use.

*We write more about this idea here.





Waldorfish Families - Maya Corinne

Every few weeks on the blog, we spotlight a Waldorfish community family. You are a diverse and global group - We’re pretty sure you’d be bff’s in real life. Today, please enjoy our conversation with Maya Corinne of Pollen Institute!


Tell us about yourself!

 Hi I’m Maya, a creative who’s also your biggest fan! When I’m not homeschooling my 5, 10, 13, & 17 year old boys, I’m teaching global icons, beacons, & angels how to sustainably create freedom + plenty, showing college student-leaders how to make an impact free of gross unconscious consumerist patriarchy, or figuring out how to make some traditional feast, or making fences for my animals.


How does your family start the day?

I take our 5-year old, Saki to pick fresh & dried herbs for his "specialty" (special tea.) He distributes them into mugs while I heat the water & get breakfast started. When we pour the water over the herbs, we whisper prayers into the steam, for the elements to deliver. Usually it's, "May all be giggles," and that kind of thing. Micro-traditions are everything. The middle boys, Lake & Mekhi, sleep for another hour or two, then roll into their novels until it's time to help make beds. We always, always make the beds, as a matter of dignity & discipline. Mahal, our 17 year-old, wakes super-early even though he'd love to sleep in, & makes his bed, too. His internal motivation & will is beyond.


GIVE US A SNAPSHOT OF ANY MANAGEMENT/ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGIES THAT ARE HELPING YOU FLOW THROUGH YOUR HOMESCHOOLING DAYS.

We are Waldorf-ish homeschooling kindergarten, 5th grade, 7th grade, & a graduating junior. So yes, kindergarten, grade school, junior high, & high school! I use a few different systems for sure. Trello is where I keep resources & passwords, as well as idea boards for each boy. I use Evernote to plan projects. I keep a separate planner for 5th & 7th that includes subject-specific check-lists, while the 11th grader runs his own education like a baller. I help manage his state-issued homeschooling budget (we are with Inspire Charter School in California), & he raised his own additional educational funding & found his own instructors for each subject. So he's taken himself to countries around the world & runs his own online businesses, as well.

The kindergartner falls into a standard Waldorf rhythm organized around food, music, creative, & outside time. It's not as cozy as it would be in a standard Waldorf classroom, there's astral energy (teen vibes) everywhere. So I'm eager to focus on that.

Our family formation has also shifted in a way that's required them to have less classes, & sports than usual. So we will be finding some new ways to integrate their community engagement time so they have their own very important social spheres.

My favorite strategy is something that always, always works: Lower the bar. Whatever the external standard, drop it. Choose what each child actually needs. Make sure you are well.

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What are some of your favorite resources? (Homeschool or otherwise)

We use all of the Waldorfish offerings, & I also love Christopherus. We join local Waldorf schools for festivals, & are definitely active members of our local library, aquarium (California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco), raptor center, & museums. We are also members of the Oakland Zoo because we love their ecology programs & feel good about their awareness, & how they raise awareness. We attend farmer's markets, & are also very close to local farmers & fisherpeople, who trade work, food, & food stuff (plant starts, eggs, fish, feed, etc) with us. Many of my alumni are herbalists, crafters, & medicinekeepers, so there's an amazing rotating apothecary/gift shop that comes thru the mail. Which requires us to make things, too.

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What are you currently reading? 

Decolonize Your Diet by Luz Calvo & Catriona Rueda Esquibel.

Mom's House, Dad's House by Isolina Ricci. (It's priceless!!)

Planetary Herbology by Michael Terra.

Afro Vegan by Bryant Terry.

The Balanced Mom by Bria Simpson.

Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice (again & again).

The Organic Artist by Nick Neddo.


What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed? 

Sit in my closet. Lol. Still. I take long showers & sit on the bathroom floor. I sing. I dance. I go for barefoot medicine walks outside, every day, & make sure to see the horizon. It always reminds me to be right sized, that my life is so insignificant in the larger rhythms, & so there's also room to swing large, to make big mistakes & create big, spectacular messes. I also cook like I'm famished. Giant stews with 20 ingredients, & 10 toppings. They comfort me & bring me a sense of abundance.

I have a tight circle of creative, smart, conscious, next level friends who are parents that build businesses that are also movements (like Robyn & Brian Wolfe.) I tend to be extremely private. So it's not me to reach out for problems or commiserating.

These kinds of friends include real life while also understanding my impulse to convene, collaborate, & co-create. In our pajamas of course.

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Please share some words of wisdom you've gleaned over the years. 

Don't worry about self-love. Surround yourself with stellar people & let them hold your self-esteem. You hold theirs, & love on them. If they contract in your space, they aren't your people, choose those that expand. Don't focus on how you want to feel, or you'll always be wanting. Fill up on the qualities that are *who you are* as a contribution. Mine are magic, flow, warmth, & awe. They are my prayers for myself, my children, my work, & society. So I fill up on those things. Now I have more than enough to give, regardless of how I feel. This is the ancient way. We had our roles.

Oh yes, & don't manage time. Manage your roles. Batch your tasks. Don't wait on your children. And if you never say no to them, they will be the kids all the other kids think are bullies. They can handle a firm container, & will honor you for it. They will also appreciate the freedoms you give them without taking you for granted.

This I know as a mother of color. We can't have entitled children. Unchecked privileges turn into violence in men. So chores are noble. Showing up for the family is a gift they want to give.


Please share 3 or 4 sentences about what Waldorfish courses have added to your family/school year. Ready....Go! 

My 5, 10, 13, & 17 year olds love how Waldorfish courses bring them together. The elder boys get to share many of the art techniques & funny moments they had live when Robyn & Brian were their actual Waldorf teachers. The middle two enjoy expanding their math & art skills, while the kindergartner likes the quiet, settled presence of his kuyas (big brothers) when there's a lesson.

Of course he's picking up everything. Waldorfish classes help us to keep a living home, not just a worksheet & sports factory, but a home that’s filled with work we are so proud to have up, & that they are so proud to have up. It hones their aesthetics so that their lesson books are meaningful. Thank you. We love every last Waldorfish course.


Where can we connect with you?

Website: www.pollen.institute

Instagram: @urbanorganica and @saturnssister 




Why Waldorf Chalk Drawing?

Chalk art in the Waldorf curriculum is a medium for extending the storytelling that is happening. It is a medium for enlivening the curriculum through pictures.

In Waldorf Education, it is always through storytelling that the images arrive. Surrounded by story, the children live into their imaginations and each will create mental pictures unique (and most meaningful) to them. Through the artistic activities that follow the review portion of a lesson, the children are able to live into the story experience again. Here they place their own feelings on it. This allows a true and unique connection to the content of the lesson.

Image: ©Waldorfish, all rights reserved

Image: ©Waldorfish, all rights reserved

“Children are more receptive to authority in teaching through art. Consequently, we can accomplish the most in this sense during this period of children’s lives using artistic methods. They will very effortlessly find their way into what we wish to communicate to them and take the greatest delight in rendering it by drawing or even painting. We should make sure, however, that they avoid merely imitative work.”

~Rudolf Steiner, in Rawson and Masters, Towards Creative Teaching, 1997

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“Ordinary everyday life can be portrayed in meaningful pictures and images. The teacher must fill with inner conviction and warmth the pictures he/she presents to the souls of the children. They can derive strength for the whole of their lives from lessons that stream from heart to heart rather than head to head.”

~Rawson and Masters, Towards Creative Teaching, 1997


Looking to improve your chalk drawings?

We have 2 courses that will help:




Waldorfish Families - Carrie Dendtler

Every few weeks on the blog, we spotlight a Waldorfish community family. You are a diverse and global group - We’re pretty sure you’d be bff’s in real life. Today, please enjoy our conversation with Carrie Dendtler of The Parenting Passageway!


Tell us about yourself!

 I am a long-time homeschooling mother of three children ages 17, 13, and 9. My husband of 26 years and I have taken a conscious approach to homeschooling and parenting. Snippets of our life and ideas about parenting and homeschooling can be found on-line at The Parenting Passageway.

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How does your family start the day?

With teens in the house, the day is often much slower to start than when all the children were small. We tend to snuggle with our two rescue dogs and eat a warm breakfast together as a family.


GIVE US A SNAPSHOT OF ANY MANAGEMENT/ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGIES THAT ARE HELPING YOU FLOW THROUGH YOUR HOMESCHOOLING DAYS.

We are homeschooling high school, middle school, and elementary school! Due to our large age gaps, I think we have done less academic lessons all together than other homeschooling families, but have instead revolved our homeschool experiences around our experiences as a family, such as working as a family, helping each other, creating things for festivals, our spiritual life, field trips, and spending time in nature and at the farm where we have two horses. The organizational structure of our homeschool has remained the same since the children were very small, with that basic kindergarten Waldorf rhythm of work and activities each day. This year, our high school junior has had outside classes, so I planned chunks of time around the outside commitments.

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What are some of your favorite resources? (Homeschool or otherwise) 

I have so many favorite resources! For homeschooling, I love to read the lectures on education that Rudolf Steiner wrote. For children's health, my favorite books are "A Guide to Child Health" by Glockler and Goebel, along with the series by Ames and Ilg called "Your Six-Year-Old," "Your Seven-Year-Old," etc. For practical favorites of how to teach, Jo Boaler's "Mathematical Mindsets" comes to mind as well as "Waldorf Education in Practice" by Gottgens, and "Creative Pathways" by Auer.

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What are you currently reading?

"Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics" by Walle, Karp, Lovin, and Bay-Williams.


What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed?

 I usually have healthier options for short-term stress or overwhelm than long-term stress. For short-term stress, taking everyone outside, taking the day off, connecting with a friend in the moment, resting (or hidingin the closet! LOL), making plans with my spouse or a friend, lowering expectations and letting things go, deep breathing can all help. I will be the first to admit that going through really hard, long-term situations is much more challenging. I feel like I am just getting a handle on it now, this year, in the middle of homeschooling high school. I had to put a care plan in place for myself, and start using even stronger boundaries than I had before.

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Please share some words of wisdom you've gleaned over the years.

Connection, love and warmth before learning is a mainstay of how I approach homeschooling, along with seeing what the child in front of me really essentially needs and knowing I may need to let my own baggage go in order to meet those needs whole-heartedly. Homeschooling is about understanding your child, your family's dynamics and what works and what doesn't, and understanding development. If we can let go of our own agenda and get out of our own way, life with homeschooling can flow beautifully.


TELL US A BIT ABOUT HOW WALDORFISH COURSES ARE ADDING TO YOUR SCHOOL YEAR. READY....GO!

I think what Waldorfish brings to our family is flexibility; it gives me a different way to learn rather than to wait for workshops on Waldorf art or geometry to come to my area (which I have attended many). So the flexibility to be able to learn in my own home is amazing! It gives me a relaxed pace that fits in with what our children developmentally need so I can bring them the best of our learning time together.

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Where can we connect with you?

Blog: www.theparentingpassageway.com

Facebook: The Parenting Passageway

Instagram: @theparentingpassageway