Friday, August 13, 2010

The Beauty of Creating in Waldorf Education

When I was in grade school I read a story about a boy who created a computer to do his math homework. He was caught in the act of “cheating” but was not punished because the math teacher and principal of the school pointed out to him that he actually learned more by having to figure out the math enough that he could give the instructions to the computer to do it. I remember thinking how lucky he was to have enjoyed doing his work so much. I envied him for being able to create something and receive credit instead of having to do endless worksheet after worksheet. I was so tired of worksheets and found them so uninspiring! I remember telling one of my teachers, "why do I have to do another worksheet (on the topic at hand). I already know the topic." It made complete logical sense to me. The teacher, however, thought I was being "sassy" LOL ;)

Another moment in my educational history I remember is when I discovered an amazing book with pictures and illustrations about the history of numbers. I was so excited about the topic that I checked it out from the library and looked through it. I was disappointed, though. I found that it was interesting and well laid-out, but something was missing. I couldn't quite put my finger on it at the time. It was pretty to look at and I know they did everything possible to capture the reader's imagination but something did not connect with me completely.

Years later, after teaching and creating lesson plans using the Waldorf method I realize what it was that was missing and I connected these two stories. I was not allowed to be part of the creative process in each of these situations. Simply put, there is no number of creative worksheets (like word-finds to help you learn spelling or vocabulary), pictures, pop-up scenes, little envelopes to open and fake-letters to read that can substitute for that amazing feeling you get from creating something. And there is no better way to learn than to create while you are learning.

When I read the book I learned a bit but when I created lesson plans for my own children and had to go through each part of history and write and explore each number system and explain it to my own children using words, diagrams and my own way of looking at it – that is when it really became part to who I was. I was able to memorize countries in Europe for a test but it wasn't until I was 17 an had to figure out which train to take from one country to another that the map really sunk into my memory.

Remember this as you “teach” these lessons to your children. If you just read through the lesson plans you have they may look “boring”. If you read the lesson plans to your children they will quickly lose interest. Some ways that your child can get involved are:

1. Teaching another child or younger sibling

(see Sofi do this at - scroll down to the video section)
2. Creating an instruction manual or book on the topic
3. Creating their Main Lesson Book
(see: for ideas.
5. Traveling somewhere
(see the sixth video down the page at:
7. Creating a song or story about the topic.
(see: for ideas.
9. Play acting the story or topic.
(see: for ideas.
What ways do you have of keeping your children part of the creative process? List your ideas in the comments section below...


sarah in the woods said...

There's some great ideas here. We like to "play at our history" - dressing up, making special meals, acting out, and crafting. FUN seems to make a subject more memorable. Games that reinforce a concept are also a favorite of mine, since the kids pull out the games all through the year and not just when the specific topic is being taught. Drawing is especially helpful for my oldest daughter. Experiencing science is good for understanding - in nature, in the kitchen, or wherever, hands-on is the best. We also love the opportunities to go places like museums and history reenactments, then talking about what we experienced.

Tan Family said...

Beautiful post, Kristie! My older children always came up with the best ideas. Sometimes, I would give them choices of how they could show mastery (MLB drawing/writing, speech, project, etc.), or they could come up with something on their own. Turning learning into a family play where everyone writes, acts, makes costumes and props works well, too!