Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Michaelmas Day...a little late

So, we go to a Waldorf School, which is kinda weird sometimes because in my opinion Rudolph Steiner (founder of the Waldorf school) seems to have started with a Christian perspective , but then made up his own religion/pedigogy that slightly veers from the Truth. This has been a bit of an awakening to me because as Claire graduates from the Waldorf kindergarten (ages 3-6 year are together) we have had to decide what we will do next with her education. I had always planned to homeschool, but have also worried about her not having enough of a community here in the city.

They are starting a southside Waldorf school, which she could attend next year, but upon doing a little more research into Steiner, I'm afraid I can't. At first glance, the Waldorf school is beautiful (in fact it is certainly beautiful...that's not the problem). They play with wooden toys and beautiful art materials. They play outdoors for a long time during every season of the year, rain or shine or cold. They reject media for children and won't allow them to wear media-character stuff to school. They'd love it if you dressed them in woolen linens or other most natural materials. They have circle time and singing time and memorize beautiful verses about seasons of the year, etc. They teach them thankfulness and appreciation for things, and they reject early intellectualization of children. Ay, there's the rub.

We've been sorta going rogue and teaching Claire to read and write and all that at home while using the Waldorf school to fill in her socializing and art needs. So, next year, when the 1st grade starts and all the other children are learning the letters of the alphabet, Claire will be way past that academically. Now, any good Waldorf teacher would tell me that she will not be "past" anything, but rather behind in her imagination and play, which she should have been doing rather than reading if we had not allowed her to get all intellectual too early. Eh...I don't know...I think there's a balance.

Also, Steiner, although encorporating lots of Christian/religious-type stuff into his curriculum, also adds a few weird things about past lives and some other spiritual things not to be found in the Bible. I just can't get down with that. So, we're enjoying the watercolor painting and the beautiful festival celebrations and the wooden toys right now, but next year, I guess it's homeschool for us.

I couldn't leave you though, without sharing Sammy's favorite festival story with you. If you want to know more about Michaelmas Day, go here, but otherwise, just enjoy the pictures and the story of St. George and the dragon. You'll notice, if you're of the Waldorf persuasion, my odd mixture of Waldorf-type wooden castle figures with the very non-Waldorf plastic jumbo leggos. But that's just the way we role...

St. George travelled for many months by land and sea until he came to Libya. Here he met a poor hermit who told him that everyone in that land was in great distress, for a dragon had long ravaged the country.
'Every day,' said the old man, 'he demands the sacrifice of a beautiful maiden and now all the young girls have been killed. The king's daughter alone remains, and unless we can find a knight who can slay the dragon she will be sacrificed tomorrow. The king of Egypt will give his daughter in marriage to the champion who overcomes this terrible monster.'

When St. George heard this story, he was determined to try and save the princess, so he rested that night in the hermit's hut, and at daybreak set out to the valley where the dragon lived.

When he drew near he saw a little procession of women, headed by a beautiful girl dressed in pure Arabian silk. The princess Sabra was being led by her attendants to the place of death. The knight spurred his horse and overtook the ladies. He comforted them with brave words and persuaded the princess to return to the palace. Then he entered the valley.

As soon as the dragon saw him it rushed from its cave, roaring with a sound louder than thunder. Its head was immense and its tail fifty feet long. But St. George was not afraid. He struck the monster with his spear, hoping he would wound it.

The dragon's scales were so hard that the spear broke into a thousand pieces. and St. George fell from his horse. Fortunately he rolled under an enchanted orange tree against which poison could not prevail, so that the venomous dragon was unable to hurt him. Within a few minutes he had recovered his strength and was able to fight again, (see our orange tree? That's from the train table set).

He smote the beast with his sword but the dragon poured poison on him and his armour split in two. Once more he refreshed himself from the orange tree and then, with his sword in his hand, he rushed at the dragon and pierced it under the wing where there were no scales, so that it fell dead at his feet.

(And then I add..."and the princess and St George lived happily ever after" because I can't help myself. I'm conditioned to end fairy tales this way.).

The above story was copied word-for-word from this website.

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