Enhanced conception for a waldorf school time table

Finally, after three years, I feel again confident how to enhance my school curriculum conception according to the golden rule of waldorf pedagogics: as less teaching hours as possible, as much new know-how as possible.

Here is a possible day time-table for the grades 1 – 6:
– 9:00 – 9:40 breakfast (all students and teachers)
– 9:45 – 10:25 heart education (rhythmical education, arts, see below)
– 10:30 – 11:10 brain education (the so called main or head-lesson)
– 11:15 – 11:55 will education (movement, sports, handcrafts, see below)
– 12:00 – 12:40 lunch (all students and teachers)

Here is a possible day time-table for the grades 7 – 12:
– 9:00 – 9:40 breakfast (recommended, not obligatory)
– 9:45 – 10:25 heart education (lessons)
– 10:30 – 11:10 brain education (lessons)
– 11:15 – 11:55 mathematical education (lessons)
– 12:00 – 12:40 lunch (11-12 grade: recommended)
– 12:45 – 14:05 will education (lessons)

Depending on the school and the development of the students the time table change can be at grade 7 or 6. Nowadays I will recommend grade 7, but in the future it may be grade 6. Grade 13 will be one more, additional year for exams and university preparation, diploma thesis, research work, gap year at school and so on.

All of the afternoons are free for all of the students. On Tuesday and Wednesday all teachers, that teach in the grades 5-12 are all day long at school (till 18:00). This makes it possible for the students to take part in some extra-curriculum activities in the afternoon till 18:00. The students choose there own favourite activities. Grades 1-4 have free (obligatory). Grades 5-8 can choose some activities on one of the days (no more than one day). Grades 9-12 can choose some activities on both days (free to decide if they want this).

Here the explanations about the different subjects (example for the grades 7-12):
– all three modules are connected and there is work on the same topic from the three different perspectives of the heart, brain and will. Basically the students have only one topic, but seen from three different subjects, sides. One of the three is always science. One is always arts and one is always doing for the hands or the feet. These three modules are called main topic/subject
– Till grade 6 mathematics is a main subject. From grade 7 it is a separate subject, but always connected with the main topic/subject
– Foreign languages are included obligatory at breakfast and lunch. For classes 5-8 they are obligatory also for the will lessons. For classes 9-10 they become obligatory also for the brain and maths lessons. For classes 11-12 also for the heart lesson. This means that language proficiency in two languages on a native-speaker level will be achieved after 12 years
– No mother tongue and grammar lessons. Grammar will be learned as a part of the main topic

Examples for heart lessons:
– (pan)eurhythmics
– music (singing)
– music (playing)
– drawing
– plastics
– religion
– rhetoric
– literature (all of those once every second year)

Examples for brain lessons for the grades 7-8, 9-10, 11-12:
– Biology
– Physics
– History
– Technology
– Chemistry
– Society (includes economics, arts, culture)
– Computer Science and New Media
– Geography (all once every second year, in this or similar order)

Examples for brain lessons for the grades 1-4:
– Mathematics
– Reading/Writing/Storytelling (both twice per year)

Examples for brain lessons for the grades 5-6:
– Mathematics
– Reading/Writing/Storytelling
– Beginnings of Science
– Humans and Earth (all once per year)

Examples for will lessons:
– gymnastics and sports (once per school year)
– dancing (once per school year)
– handicraft (twice per school year)

Here a possible week time-table for the grades 1-8:
– Monday – nature day, half-day, no regular curriculum (heart)
– Tuesday and Wednesday – regular curriculum (brain)
– Thursday – action day – doing something practical, half day (will)
– Friday, Saturday, Sunday – free, no school

Here a possible week time-table for the grades 9-12:
– Monday – nature day, full day, no regular curriculum (heart)
– Tuesday and Wednesday – regular curriculum (brain)
– Thursday – work in a company, practical projects, full day (will)
– Friday, Saturday, Sunday – free, no school

The nature day will be used also as a storytelling day and a kind of a heart day when all students and teachers of the school start to vibrate together.

Here a possible year time-table for all grades:
– 15.4 – 15.6 spring term (about 9 (3+3+3) weeks, 2 months)
– 15.6 – 15.7 longest day break/holiday (about 4 weeks, 1 month)
– 15.7 – 15.9 summer term
– 15.9 – 15.10 equal autumn day-night break/holiday
– 15.10 – 15.12 autumn term
– 15.12 – 15.1 longest night break/holiday
– 15.1 – 15.3 winter term
– 15.3 – 15.4 equal spring day-night break/holiday

Thus we have as nowadays about 36 (4 times (3+3+3) weeks) weeks of school and 16 (4 times 4 weeks break) weeks no school.

This all quite big change in the year curriculum is in order to establish more rhythm in the learning process. The students will have the opportunity to really learn according the different four seasons. A very interesting future work will be to research with subjects should be taught in which seasons. Having breaks exactly at the time of the change of the seasons, the student will have the free time and the possibility to get to know these times much better. And of course – the major year holidays are exactly at those times.

But the most important thing is something else – every term there will be 9 weeks of only one subject. The first three weeks will be education more for the will (practically doing something), than three weeks for the brain (in-depth understanding of the topic in detail) and finally three weeks for the heart (conclusion, see the whole picture, after having done something and having understood the details of it).

In order for this to really function it will be very meaningful to apply a good calendar. I still have to think about it.

It is very interesting that I obtained several concepts and ideas of students how the perfect school should look like. Most of these ideas are actually already included in this big conception (like going to school later, free choice of subjects, nice lunch, a lot of arts and many more). One even more interesting concept of the future that I have to write about is to have not a school building, but a school plane. The students from can fly away with the plane for two months every term and get to know different cultures and people. Of course this can be also done in the breaks.

PS: Sorry for the mistakes. I wrote not a single word in english in the last three years 🙂 And also less reading and speaking.

Extreme Teaching

In the last two and a half years I’ve been teaching at the waldorf school in Steffisburg, Berner Oberland, in Switzerland. It has been a very busy time. Teaching about 30 hours per week is definitely not only fun. I had to invest really everything I can in the school. Now, after leaving the school, I can look back from above at that time. Steiner says that it is important to be as effective as possible, which means to organize the lessons in such a way that the student have as little lessons as possible and learn as much as possible. This was not the case in my school. The consequence was that at some point I started to loose conscience about some of the processes happening. Now, only a few days later, I gained it again and I am very happy about it.

Now I know what was the purpose for me of being at that school exactly two and a half years – I had to see what it means to have difficulties with the students and the beginning, how to make them disappear for the sake of both the students’ and my development. Till now I always managed to inspire the students in only one or few lectures, but this time for some still not quite well-known reasons it was completely different. I needed much more time, almost two years. All that I’ve done in order to inspire them was nothing else but to love them all and being extremely patient.

And exactly this is the best thing – if you have the heart to love, the will to wait and the curiosity in mind to learn new things and to be inspired all the time, at some point, you will definitely manage to connect best with your students, so they also start to love you, be inspired because of you, be curious and start blossoming like flowers. This process can happen very fast or very slow, depending on the different conditions and specific settings at the school. But if the teacher never stops loving the students and is always interested to learn new things and to develop himself/herself than it will happen! So simple is pedagogics. At the end all of the kids really loved me and some of them even said that I am the best teacher that they had. For me the most important thing is that I’ve seen again what it means to love every single student and how I can really apply a teaching from the heart. Now I am 100% sure that this is the teaching of the future!

Becoming so conscious about these processes wouldn’t have been possible without the book “The five dimensions of the waldorf pedagogics” of Valentin Wember. Many thanks to him. In this book he point exactly where, why and how the original waldorf pedagogics of Steiner were corrupted. And he also states clear, that no matter how we improve the current schools, they can’t develop any more as much as Steiner wanted. So we have to restart, we need to found new schools, which will be really based on the spiritual teachings of Steiner and will educate through love. I am looking forward to found one such school. For me it will be particularly interesting to combine it with the teachings of Dunov and Anastasija.

Here some literature that Wember highly recommends:

– “Angstfrei lernen, selbstbewusst handeln”, Christoph Lindenberg
– „Du sollst sein Rätsel lösen“, Christoph Weichert
– „Die sieben Lebensprozesse“, Phillip Gehlitz amnd Almuth Strehlow
– „Der musikalische Bau des Menschen. Entwurf einer plastisch-musikalischen Menschenkunde“, Armin Huseman
– all of the books of Martin Wagenschein
– the Steiner pedagogical books: GA 293 till 311
– GA 131 “Von Jesus zu Christus” – this one describes the importance and the meaning of the Christ-Impulse

Also very important are the further readings from Wember:

– Willenserziehung
– Gefühlsbildung und Sozialkompetenz
– Denkerziehung. Denken. Fantasie. Gedächnis
– Menschenkunde Meditieren
– Wille zur Verantwortung

Kids, Their Impulses and Missions and Pedagogics

This post is inspired by the talk of the head of my school for the beginning of this new school year.

The most important thing for the pedagogics of our time (and of all times) is to make it possible for the kids to meet their own I. Nowadays that’s what society kills in children. It destroys their dreams, kills their impulses and missions, destroys their connection with the I. Thus the society annihilates all new impulses that are the good dung of its future development. The society cuts its own wings.

The aim of a good pedagogics is to create the conditions, so that all those new impulses of the kids will be realized. For the kids it is very hard to find out their own impulses. It is a quite complicated process even for adult. But we can help here. The best possibility is by encountering people. We need people in order to discover the depths of our souls. Together we shall have an inner experience of our impulses. Thus we can make them conscious and useful for the worlds. Through meeting others we meet ourselves.

At this point I would like to cite from “Eleven Minutes” from Paulo Coelho:

… the great aim of every human being is to understand the total love. Love is not to be found in someone else, but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But in order to do that we need the other person. The universe only makes sense when we have someone to share our feelings with.

The teacher is a kind of a facilitator, the other, in this process. Very often the teacher is the one who starts this process. He / She is the one who really “burns” in the process. But exactly because starting the initiative, he / she has to have the strong will and patience to wait till the process is completed successfully.

Computer Science Education in Waldorf Schools

Last school year I got the chance to start to work as a teacher in a waldorf school. I had to give the computer science lessons. Those start normally in the 9th grade and end in the 11th. The amount of school hours (45 minutes) per year is only 24, but actually we never had more than 20. As you can see, students have only 60 hours of computer science at school which is not quite much. On the other hand, the 11th grade class had the years before almost no lessons, so I had at about 20 hours to teach them at least all the basics. Normally I consider about 20% of the time as a free time, so I had no more that 16 hours to teach them. Quite a tough job. I had to have a really good conception for the classes. And I managed to find it out. 🙂

Here I’m putting this conception down hour by hour:

1. lesson
– reorder the class room, so I can see every single monitor and at the same time, when the students turn in my direction, we can build a circle, so everyone feels involved and invited to take active part in the class.
– it was more than important that we had internet and a beamer in the class room.
– get to know each other. Everyone introduces himself / herself in 2-3 minutes.
– discover who knows what. What practical experiences are already there. Which high tech devices are in use.
– discover who wants to learn what. Every single student chooses on its own a topic and prepares himself / herself to present it. This happens with less help or almost no help from the side of the teacher. This projects were done in small groups of two-three students. This is the most important notion of the concept. It saves time in the classes and appeals to the interests of the individual students.

2. lesson
– history of technology and computer science
– hardware basics
– operating systems. Some students have Mac at home, most of them Windows, almost no one Ubuntu or another Linux / Unix. Almost all of the pcs in the class room are with ubuntu, so the students have to learn to work with it. It happens very easy and fast. Only very few computers (3 out of 18) are with Windows in order to see the difference in the software and to use a bigger variety of systems, software and applications.
– software – a lot of standard, learning and mathematics software, also some games, editors and programming tools are already installed in order to let the students discover by their own new things. Unwanted applications are removed.

3. and 4. lesson
– binary (and other not decimal) numeral systems

5. and 6. lesson
– practicing the computer programming basics with scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu/

7. and 8. lesson
– get to know what is an algorithm through sorting algorithms in the form of folk dances. Some examples here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyZQPjUT5B4
– Euclid algorithm for calculation of the greatest common divisor in Java programming language
– the Golden Ratio shown on the video Nature by Numbers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkGeOWYOFoA
– connection of the golden ratio, fibonacci row and the Euclid algorithm
– programming of the fibonacci row in java
– recursion
– the golden spiral in scratch

9. and 10. lesson
– how does facebook, google, windows, apple, ubuntu, amazon, youtube, skype, wikipedia and so on get or earn money. Here the students have the opportunity to see the difference
– other business modells in web:
Internet Archive
Khan Academy
and many more.
– usefulness and danger in internet. Some useful webpages were shown:
where is Klaus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHILvEUWiao
check your profile before others do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1TroNdzbWg
Amandas death: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au0cemUHTGA
my rape: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1M5TzXZXXY

11. – 12. lesson
– having free time together outside of the school

13. – 14. lesson
– the giving birthday and giving out some love, money or something else instead of obtaining.
– exponential function and its importance for the economy
– common creatives
– open source, ununtu, open economy, open education, open society, holistic and free human development
– some example videos on the different topics:
Creative Commons Kiwi
The Shuttleworth Foundation’s Open Philosoph
How Linux is Built
GIMP and the Four Essential Software Freedoms

15. and 16. lesson
– student presentations in different topics

17. lesson
– electronics, electricity, recycling.
– pictures and articles about waste
– how much electricity facebook and google use?
– some videos:
Greenpeace to Facebook: “Stop using coal!!!”
The Story of Electronics
– here and in all other topics there where a lot of vivid discussions

18. lesson
– the importance of dreams
– impact of tv, mps player, mobile phone, computer and gaming, especially before the 14th age of a kid.
– making difference betwenn the impacts for the thinking, feeling and freewill development
– making the difference between active and passive
– having a good balance and making the best of the technology

19. lesson
– back to the dreams and what is the difference between fantasy, enjoyment, plan, cultural and social norms and personal dreams
– overall feedback and having a free time together in the school

20. lesson
– free time together outside the school

At the end we can say that the students learnt more or less the following topics:
– development of technology and computer science;
– computer hardware
– binary (and other not decimal) numeral systems
– basics of computer programming, bluej, scratch
– golden ratio in the nature, mathematics, computer science
– the notion of algorithm
– internet, new media and technology of the future, as well as its impact
– electronics, server, technology and the impact on the nature
– creation of webpages, blogs, forums
– operating systems such as windows and ubuntu
– batch files, hacking, administration
– the notion of creative commons, open source and collaboration
– innovative business models in internet
– text, audio, music, photo and video creation and processing
– other useful standard, school, education and maths software
– 10-finger-typing-system
– presentations
– the connection of the exponential function, economics and the development of our culture and society
– functions of money, especially giving
– importance of dreams
– importance of free and creative time in school, work and so on

And last but not least – I, as a teacher, experienced what is most important for a good teaching and how to achieve it. Its a mere pleasure to develop myself together with all those great kids and students.

Communal Teaching and Learning Exchange Centre

We can learn a lot from each other. And everyone knows something and can say, show and teach all the other about it. Learning and teaching are always exchange and interaction processes. We want to create a communal space where we can learn and teach. It’s a big and important project, but we can split it in several easy steps, so we can achieve fast exceptional results:

1. Gather together and identify which are the most important future skills, knowledge and professions. In my opinion these lie in the intersection between nature, agriculture, cuisine, energy, culture, arts, handicrafts, literature, spirituality, health, education, tradition, innovation and of course people.

2. Start with a small group of people and identify who knows what

3. Make a plan when and where to meet in order to exchange the knowledge.

4. Invite guests and new members and create hubs of interested people.

5. Try to have people with different knowledge, skills and backgrounds in the groups.