Project #32387 - english homework

Overall, what were some of the more interesting/surprising things you have learned about the educational system in your readings thus far?  Use the space of a couple (2-4) paragraphs to answer.

Then, in preparation for the Commonplace Entry, reflect for a couple of paragraphs on this:  In “Schooling the Imagination,”  Todd Oppenheimer “shadows” a public Waldorf school and reports on his time there.  What were some of the differences in this educational approach as compared with your educational experience?  Where is there overlap?    What sort of observable similarities exist between Waldorf education and the Finnish system?  Do you think that this sort of school will, as intended, build strong citizens and individuals?  Justify your answer. 

Respond to TWO peers.  As noted in syllabus, discussion and response are worth 30 points.

 

 

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respond to this one :

 

Jamie Maher

Heather Altfield 

Academic Writing

6/3/14

On Schooling

While reading the selected material about the educational system in the United States I learned quite a lot of new information. What I found to be most interesting was explained in Sir Ken Robinson's video. Robinson talked about how children are given drugs like Ritalin and Adderall for conditions such as ADD or ADHD. A child who is easily distracted or extremely hyper is considered a problem child and needs to be contained. They are then drugged to sit quietly for longer periods of time and be more focused for hours. I had never heard ADHD put in this kind of perspective. Why I found this so interesting is because in elementary school I was a child with ADHD. Every day I would take a small dose of Ritalin and be ready to focus for the school day. I honestly thought I was a distraction to my class, and maybe I was, but hearing how Robinson put it, really intrigued me. 

Another thing that surprised me was in Hara Marano's A Nation of Wimps, the idea that the cell phone has created a generation of young adults who completely rely on their parents without even recognizing it. Marano explains that before cell phones children would grow up watching their parents, learning from them, and when a problem would arise they'd think back and reflect, "what would my mom or dad do?" and from that, they'd create their own solution with the help of their memories. Nowadays though, young adults encounter a problem and immediately turn to their cell phones and call their parents. The entire aspect of figuring things out for yourself is lost. Although it may be hard to admit, I can definitely relate to this. I do like to come up with my own solution when presented with a difficult situation, but of course I call my parents to get some input. 

As I was reading Todd Oppenheimer's "Schooling the Imagination" I couldn't help but think, "Why didn't I go to a Waldorf school?" The idea of learning through play is so amazing and is clearly very effective. There were many differences in this educational technique compared to my schooling, as well as a few similarities. I went to a small kindergarten through eighth grade school focused mainly on getting as much information to the kids as possible at a young age. It was competitive, unlike a Waldorf school, each grade; I can remember different groups for each subject. Reading, you'd have the turtles (not great readers) all the way up to roadrunners the best readers. The groups were meant to help the children in smaller groups based on their reading skills, but of course the children figure out what the groups mean, and it causes confidence issues. The Waldorf schooling doesn't do this, they grow together and if a child is a slow reader, it is okay. In Waldorf schooling, sometimes children wouldn't learn how to read completely until almost ten years old. 

A way that Waldorf schooling is similar to my educational experience is the creativity influence. My elementary school was very into music, art and theater. Every grade we would have an hour for music or art. And at the end of each trimester each class would put on a play. The teachers weren't too specific in the lessons either. They would let us get creative with the art assignment or choose a song we would like to sing. Even my high school had a great art program. You had the choice to go to either the bigger high school, Arcata High School, or AAI, which stands for Arcata Arts Institute. This was a program that incorporated mainstream schooling with art and music. It was a very popular option for students in my high school.

Waldorf education and the Finnish system came across very similar to me. The biggest point of similarity was equality. The Finnish system gives equal opportunity to everyone. There are no private schools in Finland. Every school is the exact same and every child gets the same amount of attention. The Finnish system is aimed to offer equality to their citizens no matter what type of background you come from. Waldorf schools are like this as well. Children are treated equally and each school is the same. Another big similarity between the Finnish system and Waldorf schools is they do not have standardized testing. They do not have their students tested regularly. They believe students grow and think differently and can't be tested in one way and be judged based on that one test.

Waldorf schools will definitely create strong citizens and individuals. This is because Waldorf schools build confidence in children. They use the idea of play and imagination at young ages when children need it most. Children are meant to explore their imaginations and be taught to enjoy learning. Waldorf schooling does just that. The schools teach children how to build things and express themselves through play, which increases their confidence levels. And what it all comes down to is confidence. If children believe in themselves they will try harder. If you think you can do something, you most likely will. Waldorf schooling gives children a set of skills to figure things out for themselves, and enjoy it while doing so.

 

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respond to this one :

 

Olivia Guevara

Heather Altfeld

Academic Writing

6/3/14

 

                                                                                   On Schooling

 

Of the readings assigned so far, I've found myself most intrigued by Sir Ken Robinson's presentation, Changing Education Paradigms, which technically didn't involve reading at all. In it he questions our current education system, describes the sort of student these schools are creating, and invites the listener to change their concept of education altogether. He discusses the "production line mentality" that schools have adopted, grouping students together by age instead of capabilities, getting them in and out of the system in these batches as quickly as possible in order to make room for the next class.

Robinson asks for an educational reform that focuses on personal growth, divergent thinking, and cultural identity while still providing students with economic status once their education is complete. He emphasizes the fact that students develop differently and that worth is not determined by academic standing. In our valuing those that perform well in school over those who struggle, we are telling our students that the grade is all that matters, that passing the class is the only true priority. Robinson requests an education system that does the exact opposite, and it seems to me like the Waldorf schools are a perfect example of the sort of education he wants to see become predominant in our society.

Consisting of 700 schools worldwide, Waldorf schools offer a public education that places value on creativity and emotional intelligence, contradicting  the often stifling and overwhelming experience most encounter when attending a large, commonplace school. Waldorf students will not find themselves in such a situation: in a way being a Waldorf student is similar to living in a commune, or community neighborhood. Like that sort of environment, these kids grow together, reciting poems together every morning, integrating music and movement into almost every academic activity, being taught by the same teacher for eight years. Instead of focusing on standardized testing or grades these students are taught social skills and emotional intelligence through an education that prioritizes self growth over academic standing. From a young age they are encouraged to create as much as possible, being supplied with unique art materials, musical instruments, and other crafts the likes of which most kids wouldn't dream of finding at school. That being said their play things are often derived from nature, consisting of rocks, pinecones, leaves - in one case even a plain doll without a face, clothes or hair. When Oppenheimer asked about this he was told that the natural items and playthings are not necessarily a declaration of love for the planet, but a challenge for the children to create something extraordinary out of what it provides.

Waldorf is receptive to many a critic, particularly those who question the practicality of what most consider to be a "soft" education. This is especially easy to empathize with given Waldorf's practice of not teaching it's students to read until they are eight or older. While their reasons may have some substance to them, it's easy to see how some parents would have qualms about this sort of education. In a humanity that's only becoming more and more competetive with time, less and less tolerant of those lacking in technological abilities, one might think that a Waldorf graduate might struggle once being set free into higher education. History has proven this not to be the case, with numerous Waldorf graduates going on to attend Ivy League schools, pursue career paths that deal directly with technology, and going on record to promote and encourage others to pursue a similar education.

As detailed in an article entitled, "What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland", Anu Partanen goes on to detail the values held by Finnish citizens, and how those principles shape their education system. With no private schools, no standardized testing and no competition between schools, an education is a right that most students are genuinely happy to be receiving. Looking at the practices all Finnish schools utilize and the highly intelligent students they produce, it's not hard for one to draw a parallel between a Waldorf School and the general education system practiced in Finland. The only real difference being that something like a Waldorf school is incredibly rare in the U.S., while the entire country of Finland is composed of schools such as these.

In an education system that has somehow come to value our G.P.A.'s over the work we produce, our ability to memorize over our ability to comprehend, reason, and analyze, most students regard their schools as the major source of their anxieties. Instead of serving as a place for personal growth and intellectual stimulation, schools have become a place where we categorize and dissect growing minds. Having recognized this, Waldorf schools have made themselves available to parents and students alike that are interested in a life a little less ordinary, and a lot less stressful.

Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 06/03/2014 12:00 am
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