Monday, July 27, 2009

A book review - The Developing Child

I found this book at my local library. It is written by Willi Aeppli (1894 - 1972) who was a master Waldorf Teacher in Switzerland.

I enjoyed this book, but I especially liked the first chapter titled "Sense and Nonsense in Education." Here are some quotes from that chapter:

"Every adult in a child's environment represents destiny, a stroke of good or bad fortune, which will have a decisive influence on that child's life."

"What is thus revealed as a necessity for the teacher? A philosophy of freedom, not as a theory, philosophical system of concepts, or weltanschauung but as a way of life, a capacity."

"The reason is clear," says Pestalozzi. "We have spelling schools, writing, schools, catechism schools only, and we want - schools for human beings."

Some of the other chapters include Teaching Writing (which involves teaching children stories that have characters that represent the shape of the letters or teaching pictographic writing.), Teaching Arithmetic (using natural items for concrete manipulatives), Local History in First and Second Grade (learning about familiar plants, animals, and other natural items in the environment), The Legitimate Path of Teaching (to adopt the goal to install in children the ability to cope with life, and approach all teaching opportunities with this goal in mind), Unscheduled Classroom Events, Transforming the Subject Matter, Teaching Botany and Zoology (Teachers must be able give their imagination free rein and to speak of plants and animals, clouds and mountains, in such a way that the child sees them as living beings), Teaching Grammar (using visual and other sensorial representations of parts of speech), Teaching History (begin with teaching about ancient myths and then ancient civilizations), The Main Lesson Block (a period of 3 to 7 weeks where the same subject is taught every morning from 8:30 to 10 am. This is a blessing to both the teacher, who can concentrate on a main subject and become completely at home with the material, and to the child, who can submerge himself in the world of a specific subject without being wretched out by another main subject.), and The Life and Soul Metamorphoses of the Human Being and their Impact on Education.

This book gives some examples of how to teach these items, but as with many Waldorf books, this is not a curriculum book. You would need to find other materials to really flesh out how to use these ideas in a practical, daily way. But overall, I thought that this was a very good book and helped me look at teaching in a different way.

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