Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why Waldorf?

by Moonshine, age 3
Last night at the park I was talking with a friend about homeschooling, and I was reminded that Form Drawing was really what sold me on the whole shebang of Waldorf homeschooling. I knew Waldorf was lovely, but I vastly underestimated the deeper quality of the lessons. I blindly plunged forward and boy, was I in for a surprise!

I decided to start out simple, and chose our first lesson of Grade One to be Form Drawing. I took it straight out of Barbara Dewey's Form Drawing book. It's a lovely story that includes eight forms, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how simple and circular the story actually was. We told it as the Autumn leaves were dripping from the trees, and it was perfect.

The lesson starts out with a curved and straight line that represents an old grandmother and her walking stick: Cl

I was worried that it would appear too simple for Sunburst, but she loved it. I told her the story and showed her the form, and she lit up inside. She was eager and excited and bursting with joy about it. I didn't fully understand why she was so moved by this simple form, but we pressed on. We worked the form in the air with our hands and on the floor with our feet. Sunburst practiced it on the chalkboard with water and chalk, on scrap paper, and finally drew it on good paper. It didn't present too much difficulty. She was positively glowing.

Moonshine, who was three at the time, listened in on the lesson. While I was busy with Sunburst, Moonshine got out her own paper and set to work out of my sight. She made her own grandmother-- a multicolored, layered, and scratchy rendition of it that stopped me in my tracks. It was a deep, powerful image that left me speechless.

The next form represented the three blue-eyed granddaughters: lll

Easy, right? That's what I thought until I presented it to Sunburst. She took one look at the form and just crumpled. Her glowing light vanished. She tried to do it, but she couldn't. The three straight lines defeated her, and I just didn't get it. I thought it was easy, maybe even too easy. Even Moonshine could do it.

It was just straight lines. I wasn't asking her to make a copy of a Renoir, just to make lines. Three of them, parallel and stairstepped. And try as she might, in the air, on the floor, on the chalkboard, she just couldn't manage it. I was dumbfounded. What was going on here?

Sunburst is incredbly determined. She taught herself how to pump her legs on the swings at age 3, ride a bike without training wheels at age 4, turn cartwheels at age 5, and do front-handsprings and read the summer after she turned six. She's also fearless and fast. She thinks she's Susan, the cheetah, and runs FAST on four legs. She really does, and it's confounding to watch. It's her preferred mode of transportation.

I truly believe she can do anything she sets her mind to, but this particular drawing seemed to have stumped her. Her shoulders sagged and the light went out of her eyes. I was ready to scrap the whole idea of Waldorf homeschooling seeing her so completely unhappy, defeated, and out of her element. But I didn't. I let it sit with me for a day before I realized what had happened. I had presented the granddaughters as having blue-eyes, like Sunburst, thinking she would connect with them. But she didn't. What I failed to realize is that I had presented them as upright human beings, two-legged creatures, straight lines. Sunburst is NOT a straight line. She could not identify.

There's something to this Waldorf stuff.

I thought we were drawing shapes and telling lovely stories, and yet it seemed we were doing something so much deeper than that. Sunburst took that form to sleep with her, in a figurative sense, and emerged a few days later able to draw it. It had to work through her somehow, come to terms within her. The whole experience just blew me away. We were doing so much more than drawing forms here...

To read more about Form Drawing, I suggest visiting David Darcy, Kytka's site, and as always, Wonder Homeschool.

Rebecca, another Waldorf homeschooler, recently had her own moving experience with drawing forms. I've been thinking about her post all week, as it has reminded me that while I think I'm just teaching my children, I shouldn't underestimate the deeper work that is happening within myself.

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