The Waldorf Way: Moving mountains

By Holly Fortin

"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world."

For the middle school students of the White Mt. Waldorf School this dictum from Archimedes resonates with new meaning thanks to David Shedd, stone-mason extraordinaire, who introduced these students, in a very practical way, to a variety of simple machines. The goal: fashion a granite step for the walkway leading to the classroom, using only levers, pulleys, inclined planes and wedges.

The project began by selecting a piece of granite. The school boasts a 70-acre campus, a portion of which was used in the 19th century for quarrying granite for the railroad. Amongst the quarry rubble left behind, the group found just the right stone for the size of step needed. After drilling, plug-and-feathers were used to split off a slab weighing close to 1,000 pounds.

Now the challenge was to move the slab to its eventual resting place. The lever, in the form of various crowbars, enabled the group to maneuver the stone onto a stone-boat for transport. Next, the pulley came into its own, with a block and tackle allowing the students to trade force for distance. An iron rod driven into the ground served as a fixed point and the students collectively manned the rope. Heave-ho.... Pulling over a sandy soil posed its own problems and necessitated a larger stone-boat making better use of the inclined plane. Teamwork was imperative at this point as was problem solving, and the students gained a new respect for the ancient Egyptians and their accomplishments!

Once the granite step arrived at the walkway, it needed to be flipped over and turned 180 degrees to get the preferred side up. Again the lever came into its own and the students lifted their collective body weight with ease, and delicately placed the massive stone in its finally resting place.

Kudos are in order for all involved, especially for Mr. Shedd and his expert guidance, who taught these students that using common sense and a little physics, they can literally move mountains.

Holly Fortin is one founders and a middle school teacher at the White Mountain Waldorf School

 

The Waldorf Way: Music in the Waldorf School

The role of music in Waldorf education

by Cathy Arseneault-Shea

One aspect of Waldorf education that is so wonderful and valuable, in my estimation, is the inclusion of the arts throughout the curriculum. This is true of the "art" of music where songs are sung and flutes or recorders played in classes with their main lesson teacher, not just twice weekly in the "music" subject class. This is an incredible gift to the students. Being musical is something that is encouraged for everyone, not just those labeled "talented." All are seen as capable and the Zimbabwe quote, "If you can walk you can dance, and if you can talk you can sing," is practiced in Waldorf education.

The music curriculum, like the main lesson curriculum, is based on the developmental stages of the child. For extensive information related to the music curriculum in the Waldorf School, please see the article by Andrea Lyman from "Renewal" Magazine at tinyurl.com/MusicInWaldorf

Music in our school

Songs for all grades are chosen that relate to seasons, holidays, and the curriculum that is being taught for that school year.

In the first grade, songs have almost always been linked to movement in the form of musical games, dances and free-style activities where the art of listening and following directions is practiced. The students are learning to play pentatonic flutes (carefully-crafted, quality instruments) that are an extention of their voices and have a beautiful tone. These can be challenging instruments to hold but, because they have only five notes that consist of the larger, open intervals with no half tones, this allows the children to hear tones that are not dissonant in relation to each other but all sound "right" together. One activity we currently enjoy requires us to physically stretch very tall and then curl into a tiny ball, our voices rising and falling in pitch to match the movements, imparting the idea of highs and lows without awakening the students to terminology.

The second and third graders stay at their desks more this year but also continue to move to specific patterns presented through dance. We have sung along with many circle and line dances. This class loves moving to the patterns and is doing very well following directions. They have learned many contra dance steps, including do-si-do, sashay, promenade and right-hand star. Rhythm, rather than beat, is emphasized until the 9-year change when the child "lands on the earth" developmentally.

Pentatonic flutes are again played in second grade and both those and clapping exercises, continue to be taught by imitation. Recording of rhythms in their music books began, using sounds from nature, such as "sun," "rain drop" and "pitter-patter." New songs accompanied by sign language have been introduced this year including, "Mi Cuerpo," "Blessed Be Francis," and a Korean song we are currently working on, "Ha'kuo Jung" (the school bell is ringing).

During ski season, I have had the pleasure of teaching double blocks on Tuesday morning to grades four and five. Songs related to their studies of ancient civilizations and North America have been sung. The class is working on the quodlibet (a piece of music based on two or more tunes) "Starlight, Starbright" and "I Love the Mountains." The students are focusing on playing C diatonic flutes while reading music. An in-depth study of the rhythm to the song, "Shortnin' Bread" was presented and practiced with rhythm instruments and is now being learned on xylophones, glockenspiel and choir chimes with other instrument possibilities to be added.

It was wonderful, as well, to have double blocks with the middle school class on Friday afternoons during ski season. The students worked on a rhythm piece using the theme, "Don't Be Slow." They progressed from analyzing the rhythm symbol to word relationship, speaking the song, clapping, and playing with rhythm instruments to the pitched percussion instruments. The class is currently learning parts on those same instruments to accompany a student's piano piece of "Piano Man" by Billy Joel. Class begins with recorder ensemble consisting of soprano, alto, tenor and sopranino. Work on playing these instruments while reading music is emphasized.

As you can see, there are many aspects to teaching music. Not only does one hope to impart the joy of singing, but also strives to teach the skills of: singing in tune, how to play many different voices of flute and recorder as well as pitched and unpitched percussion instruments, reading musical notation (including melody and rhythm), how to work in an ensemble, and learning many different kinds of dance patterns. A song may look simple (because the students seem to perform it effortlessly) but there is lot of concentration being developed and practice in every musical piece learned. It is wonderful to see the students' abilities progress through the years.

The White Mountain Waldorf School offers nursery to grade 8, and is located 2 miles south of Conway Village. The school is offering tiered tuition for the 2016-2017 school year. Call (603) 447-3168 if you would like more information or to schedule a tour, or visit www.WhiteMountainWaldorf.org.

Cathy Arseneault-Shea has been the music teacher at the White Mountain Waldorf School since 2004

 

waldorf

Touch

By Jennifer Kennerk

One of the most important contributions Rudolf Steiner made to spiritual science was that of the 12 senses. Steiner saw that the human being is utilizing a much more complex system of sense impressions in his/her interaction with the world than the traditional five senses allow for. The traditional five senses only provide for a very superficial understanding of the human experience, and if we wish to gain a deeper insight into humanity, then it is necessary to expand our knowledge of the human senses and how they work.

The first four of these 12 senses are known as the lower senses, or the foundational senses. They are the senses of touch, life, balance and self-movement. These four senses are of the utmost importance to parents and educators alike, as they provide the foundation children need in order to achieve academic, social and emotional success. We regularly see children in the grades that are struggling academically, socially or emotionally and we may be at a loss as to how to help them. Whether you are a parent or a teacher, you should first look to the lower senses. The lower senses build three capacities in children:

Spatial orientation — knowing where you are in space, and how to relate to it.

Body geography — knowing the geography of your own body and how to use it.

Dominance — established dominance on either the right or the left side of the body

These three capacities are the foundation for all academic, social and emotional growth. Any type of learning requires the acquisition of skills, and skills cannot be acquired without foundational capacity. The four lower senses provide the capacity from which all skill learning is built. Over these next four issues, I will be giving an introduction into each of the lower senses, starting with the sense of touch.

An exploration into the sense of touch

The sense of touch is one of the four lower senses, which are primarily developed during the first seven years of life. All of the lower senses are related to the physical body, to the metabolic-limb system and to the will. When properly developed, they allow us to have an objective experience of our own subjectivity.

The sense of touch is not merely about the sensations that we feel when we touch something. For instance, when I touch an ice cube I think and feel many things. I think, "This is cold!" or I feel how the ice is wet, or hard. I may even feel pain if I hold the ice for too long. However, none of these thoughts or feelings are derived from our sense of touch. The sensation of cold actually comes from the sense of warmth (or temperature). The awareness of wet or hard has more to do with our own sense of self-movement than with actual touch. The experience of pain is linked to our life sense. So, what then, do we mean by the sense of touch?

When I hold the ice in my hand, the ice and my physical body come into contact with one another, and I experience the ice and myself as two separate things. It is not the sensations that I experience when I touch the ice that represents the sense of touch, but the boundary I come up against. It is the sense of touch that informs us that we are all individuals, separated from the outer world, with our own evolving consciousness and self-awareness.

The sense of touch is the inner sense of where I end and where the outer world begins. It allows us to understand our own individual place in the world, and also to understand that others have their own individuality as well.

The sense of touch provides the human being the ability to understand it's own uniqueness, and therefore the uniqueness of others. It is the only reason that an "other" can exist at all, because it provides a barrier between ourselves and everything that surrounds us. It is the sense of touch that separates us from each other and separates us from the world.

Paradoxically, it is the same sense of touch that we use to seek connection. When we want to feel closer to others, we reach out and touch them, and it is this touching of an "other" which allows another layer of intimacy to be reached. Whatever I touch also touches me and I feel a connection. The sense of touch is what allows us to be in a constant kind of exchange with the external world, while at the same time, being completely self-contained within the boundaries of the skin.

Touch is the foundation of the other senses because what we experience through touch is also felt in the other three lower senses; life, movement and balance. When we touch something an experience is had, and life, movement and balance then interpret this experience. So we see that touch is a kind of space where we can experience and interpret the other three, either separately or in combination. Again, to use the previous example of touching a piece of ice, we can see that we are using many of our senses as our hand comes into contact with the ice, but it is our sense of touch that provides the contact and is a place where the totality of the experience can be had.

Initiation

Prior to birth each child resides in a watery world of warmth and comfort. Every need is instantaneously met. Because the child is not responsible for any of her own needs, she is able to remain in a plant like existence, separated from both her astral body and Ego. There is no experience of gravity or boundaries. She is at one with the cosmos, and one with her mother. Everything changes as the birth process begins.
As the child prepares to enter into the physical world, the astral body begins to join with the physical and etheric bodies for the first time. A consciousness that was not possible before this moment is born. The child can now be an active participant in her own birth process.
As the contractions of labor intensify, the child experiences the compressions of the uterine wall, activating the sense of touch for the first time. Next, the baby makes its descent into the birth canal, and must navigate the bony constraints of the pelvis, encountering a hard and definitive boundary for the first time. Finally, she emerges from the pelvic outlet, and must then force her way through the tight compressions of the vaginal walls. Throughout this entire process, the child is also experiencing the sensations of expansion and contraction, as the uterus contracts, and then releases.
The experience of birth is not only a birth into the physical world. Just as importantly, it is the birth of budding consciousness. It is the birth of the sense of touch, and therefore it is the birth of individuality.

 

1st grade teacher at the White Mountain Waldorf School
Lilipoh Magazine

Visit us:
Open House with Alumni: March 5 10:00-12:00am, Saturday
EC Mini-Morning: March 10 @ 9:00-10:30am, Thursday
Or anytime: call 603-447-3168

 

Question in the Locker Room

Question in the locker room

What is your favorite moment so far from this hockey season?

By Mackenzie Murphy (junior defenseman)

Reilly Murphy (freshman defenseman): Caleb's OT goal to win the Christmas tournament

Miles Woodbury (freshman forward): Murph's OT goal vs Belmont-Gilford in the Christmas tournament.

Tanner Brown (senior forward): Beating Berlin.

Chet Johnston (freshman forward): Seavey's goal on opening night.

Colby Couture (junior forward): Scoring two goals while having the flu.

Trevor LaRusso (freshman forward): winning the Christmas tournament.

Conner Furtado (junior defenseman): Beating Berlin.

Johnny Biggio (junior goalie): Shutting out Kingswood.

David Dolan (fan): Beating Berlin and seeing the highlights on WMUR.