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

A Typical Day at a Waldorf High School as It Should Be according to My Opinion

I have to admit that my conception comes from combining the desuggestopedy of Losanov and the waldorf pedagogy. What is the desuggestopedy of Losanov and how does it funcion? Here a small explanation:
– frees the students and makes them happy in the process of learning
– thus it is possible to achieve at about four-five times more for the same amount of time
– uses a combination of music, arts, teather, teacher’s deep observations and smartly set pauses (according to the golden ratio and the student’s condition) in the learning process
– starts with the big scope, with the overall picture, then moves to the specific details and at the end goes back to the overall picture
– no homeworks, less working hours than normally
– successfully implemented in several primary schools
– very appropriate for language learning and arithmetics
– Unesco researches said that desuggestopedy is one of the best pedagogy methods known

I had the pleasure to take my german and english language lesson according this system. Learning about 150-200 new words a day and about 1000-1200 a week was the norm. I also learned to speak very fast.

What I’m using from the dessugestopedy is mostly the process of making the student free and happy, so their internal motivation can appear. Also always giving the big scope first and them going to the details. Thus the students know what and why we are learning. Giving no homeworks and less hours of presence pushes the freedom and creativity of the students to a much higher levels. Combining all those with the great waldorf pedagogy delivers much better results. In the future I’m looking forward to also implement the teachings of Master Beinsa Douno (Petar Dunov) in my lessons. Steiner’s teachings and waldorf pedagogy are of great importance for our current cultural era of consciousness. He is also making the connection with the next cultural era of the heart. And Dunov is giving in his lectures the pedagogy for this era. This pedagogy we still have to extract from his teachings.

So, after this introduction, I’m giving the conception for a typical high school day:
– school starts at 8:30
– the first two hours (8:30 until 10:00) are the rhythmic part of the day. It can be arts, music, singing, dancing, theater or a combination of all that like in eurythmy and paneurythmy. But it must synchronise the students and work for their good start in the day. This is the lesson for the heart, for the feelings, for the love.
– the whole class stays together within this first two hours.
– from 10:00 until 10:30 there is a break.
– from 10:30 until 12:00 we have the second part. This time we have to hours which concentrate on the development of the wisdom and thinking. Here we have the science lesson. My vision is that some day we will have an integral science course and not many different weakly or not connected at all subjects. So we can call this the integral science block. We may start with the human body, then derive the mathematics, after than going through the motion to physics, then to chemisty and so on.
At the same time it is the language block. Sciences can be taught in one or two different foreign languages. The high school students of a waldorf school should already have the needed knowledge in the learned languages and can practice them freely. In my experience in turned out to make the lessons much more lively.
– in this class it is important to mix the grades according to the personal level of knowledge and development.
– from 12:00 until 13:00 there will be time to work for the body and the will. It can be sports, handicrafts or some other kind of motions or work with the legs and arms. It can of course vary from Monday to Thursday. There can be also different groups according the different interests. This block is very important for the social behaviour. It is most crucial that the students use most of their energy, so they can free their heads after the science lesson and become hungry for a good lunch. Here we can also start with some kind of more or less creative activities. This we are ready for the second part of the day.
– from 13:00 – 14:00 – lunch in the school. Why not preparing it sometimes together?
– the afternoon is completely free. No compulsory lessons. Though there should be a wide range of possibilites for those who have special interests or needs. That is also the time for working in teams or giving individual lessons.
– the free afternoon gives the possibility to explore in-depth the personal interests, be creative and find out more about the personal dreams and impulses which will mount later on in a personal mission.
– this should be the free time which makes the school the center of the community (activities also with parents and other members of the community). This is also the time for entrepreneurship and practical use of the material learned.

This was the plan for the students. The plan for the teacher is according to the student’s one. I’m giving a possible day for a science teacher:
– it’s up to him if (s)he will attend the rhythmic part, but it is highly recommended
– science lesson
– optionaly taking part in the sport block
– lunch in the school community
– individual work with students
– providing help to different practical working groups or having some practical extra-curriculum lessons
– working with the class teachers in order to enhance the curriculum and the material taught in the first eight grades.
– time for further education
– giving some seminars, workshops or other events for parents or community members

At best Friday should be a day for activities outside of the school or activities with guest at the school. This can be the so called experience-based learning day.

More about the different types of intelligence and in which areas the school has to provide a proper education you can find at my blog.

Official Waldorf High School Curriculum in Maths

In mathematics I can give you a more detailed overview about the ‘official’ waldorf curriculum:

9th grade:
– conic sections
– locus
– nines and elevens check
– equations
– combinatorics
– probabilities

10th grade:

– trigonometry
– sequences
– arithmetic mean
– potents
– logarithms
– exponential equations
– continued fraction expansion
– field measuring

11th grade:
– analytical geometry
– projective geometry
– sphere geometry
– sphere trigonometry
– sequences and limits

12th grade:
– infinitesimal calculus
– differencial calculus
– integral calculus

13th grade:
– diploma and other exams preparation according to the different federal laws for state schools

But to me honest – most of the schools never manage to introduce the notions planed for the 11th and 12th grade. On the other side often there are very less real waldorf lecture in maths after the 10th grade. And the diploma or other exams preparation starts too early.

However I’m not quite happy with this programme as well as with the bad results in the practice. As a graduate from the best bulgarian school in mathematics, I know that a much more is possible, especially if you use the waldorf pedagogy methods which are much better. As we can see from the work of Rudolf Steiner he was quite disappointed with the mathematics education. The vision of Steiner was to be at least at the level of the best russian mathematical and technical schools which means approximatelly covering the first two university years! I’m sure that this is achievable! But in order to really make it happen, the high school teachers in mathematics have to work very closely with the class teacher from the first to the eight grade. That is of even more important than the high school lessons! Why? Because it secures the quality (and also the quantity) of the waldorf maths lessons from the beginning. Of course the sam should be in all other subject, especially the natural sciences and the technical subjects.

Waldorf Pedagogy and Anthroposophical Resources

Resources for self-learning in waldorf pedagogy and anthroposophy:

The following readings give you the overall notion of what is waldorf pedagogics about.

  • Books from Rufolf Steiner about Pedagogics and Teaching (GA 293-311):

– GA 293 Common Anthropology
– GA 294 Educational Art – Methodic-Didactic
– GA 295 Educational Art. Seminar Discussions and Curriculum Lectures
– GA 296 The Educational Question as a Social Question
– GA 297 Idea and Practice of the Waldorf School
– GA 297a Education for Life
– GA 298 Rudolf Steiner at the Waldorf School
– GA 299 Observation of the Language from Humanitarian Point of View
– GA 300a Conferences with the Teachers I
– GA 300b Conferences with the Teachers II
– GA 300c Conferences with the Teachers III
– GA 301 The Renewal of the Pedagogic-Didactic Art by the Humanities
– GA 302 Human Insights and Organization of the Classes
– GA 302a Pedagogics and Teaching as a Human Insight
– GA 303 The Healthy Development of the Human Being
– GA 304 Pedagogics and Teaching Methods on the Anthroposophic Base
– GA 304a Anthroposophic Anthropology and Pedagogics
– GA 305 The Spiritual-Psychic Base-Forces of the Pedagogic Art
– GA 306 The Pedagogic Practice from the View Point of Humanitarian Human Insight
– GA 307 Modern Spiritual Life and Pedagogics
– GA 308 The Methodology of Teaching and the General Living Conditions of Pedagogics
– GA 309 Anthroposophic Pedagogics and Its Requirements
– GA 310 The Pedagogical Value of the Human Insight and the Cultural Value of the Pedagogics
– GA 311 The Art of Pedagogics from the Determination of the Human Being
– Waldorf School Today, Peter Loebell

The following readings are very important for mathematics and natural science teachers.

  • Books from Rufolf Steiner about Natural Sciences (GA 320-327):

– GA 320 I. Course in Natural Sciences – Heat
– GA 321 II. Course in Natural Sciences – Heat
– GA 322 Boundaries of the Nature Insight and How to Overcome Them
– GA 323 III. Course in Natural Sciences
– GA 324 Nature Observation, Experiments, Mathematics and the Insight Steps of the Spirit Research
– GA 324a The Forth Dimension – Mathematics and Reality
– GA 325 Natural Sciences and the Historical Development of Humanity since Antiquity
– GA 326 The Genesis of the Natural Sciences and Their Development
– GA 327 The Humanitarian Foundations for Thriving of Agriculture
– Rudolf Steiner about Mathematics 1 and 2

The following readings are important for mathematics and natural science teacher who want to obtain an in-depth understanding of phenomenology and the future way of doing science. There are many books in this area. Here there are only some good examples worth to read.

  • Goethe’s Colour Theory and Books about the Science Mathodology of Goethe:

– Goethe’s Colour Theory – Didactic Part with Notes from Rudolf Steiner
– Goethe’s Natural Science Methodology, Henri Bortoft
– Goethean Science, Rudolf Steiner GA 1
– The Story of My Life, Rudolf Steiner GA 28

The following readings are of special interest for mathematics and physics teachers. I highly recommend the books of those anthroposophic scientists and experienced teachers who worked in and after the time of Rudolf Steiner.

  • Books from Hermann von Baravalle:

– Physics as a Pure Phenomenology Part I – Mechanics, Motions, Forces, Solids, Fluids and Gases
– Physics as a Pure Phenomenology Part II – Heat and Cold; Magnetism and Electricity
– Physics as a Pure Phenomenology Part III – Acoustics and Optics
– Geometry and Body Motion
– Descriptive Geometry according to the Dynamic Method
– Geometry as a Language of the Forms
– Appearance on the Night Sky
– Perspective
– The Geometry of the Pentagramm and the Golden Ratio

  • Books from Ernst Bindel:

– Number Foundations of Music through the Ages
– Johannes Kepler
– Logarithms for Everyone
– Cone Intersections
– The Egypt Pyramids as Witnesses of the Old Mystery World
– The Spiritual Foundations of Numbers
– Pythagoras

I will recommend the following reading for the overall understanding of anthroposophy and natural sciences. These are very good for people who have the vision to unity all sciences in a single world science.

  • Books from Walther Bühler:

– The Pentagramm and the Golden Ratio as Creation Principles
– Meditation as a Insight Way
– Polar Lights, Lightning and Rainbow
– The Dimension of the Rainbow
– The Human Being between Over- and Under- Nature
– The Sun as a World Heart

  • Other Natural Science Books:

– The Four Elements, Georg Kniebe
– The Light Catcher, Arthur Zajonc
– The Nature of Water, Viktor Schauberger
– Astronomy, Cosmology, Evolution, Thomas Schmidt
– The Brightness from Kopenhagen, Jos Verhulst
– The new physics and cosmology, Dialogues with Dalai Lama, Arthur Zajonc
– Halos, Rainbows, Twilight, Johannes Kühl
– The Mystery of the Number, Dieter Buchholz
– The Human Face, Max Picard
– Insight of the Spirit on the Matter, Martin Basfeld
– What is time, Georg Kniebe

  • Especially important for biology are the books and articles from Wolfgang Schad and Markus Sommer:

– Medical Plants, Marcus Sommer
– General Biology, Wolfgang Schad
– Botany, Wolfgang Schad
– Zoology, Wolfgang Schad
– Anthropology, Wolfgang Schad
– Ecology, Wolfgang Schad
– Prenatal Life of Humans, Wolfgang Schad
– Goethe’s World Culture, Wolfgang Schad
– Mammals and Humans, Wolfgang Schad
– Evolution as an Understanding Principle, Wolfgang Schad
– Humans and Landscapes of Africa, Wolfgang Schad
– The Sexuality of Humans, Wolfgang Schad

  • Also following the German anthroposophic and waldorf magazines:

A tempo
Erziehungskunst
Info 3

There are also some new books in german about science in waldorf education from Waldorf Book, but I can’t really recommend them. Interesting books about anthroposophy can be found in Verlag Freies Geistesleben.

The best possible start

Every child knows how important are the first steps. Old and experienced hikers say that we always have to start slowly and carefully on a long way. That is also the right way to start a new school year.

And exactly that is what is happening in my school at the moment. We started with a teacher conference which was very useful. It has shown that the head of the school is on the right way and all teachers seem to be inspired by those three days together.

The aim of this post is to describe how the head of the school created an impulse for the new school year that should be alive in all the teachers and should also be forwarded to the students and parents. Beneath are abstracts from the most important moments of the conference.

– Our most important task as educators and teachers is to make possible the encounter of the kids with their own higher I. Nowaday the society steals exactly this opportunity from the young people. Die impulses and the dreams of the young generation is being killed. Exactly those impulses and dreams we have to experience innerly together with the kids and help them accent from the depths of the soul into the world. Through meeting other people (other students, teachers) we meet ourselves. This is the goal of the waldorf pedagogics in Glonntal. This is especially important for the mathematics lessons, where we would like to innerly experience the material and its connections.

– Very interesting is to mention also something about the process in the conference. I had the will to be at this school and at this conference. I want to achieve something. So I was attending it totally consciously. But only when the head of the school spoken out of his heart, I felt connected with him. And that was the moment when I experience innerly the feeling of Love and connectivity. Only at that moment, when we were more or less one, I gathered to a higher level of consciousness, understanding, feeling and experience. This is very important, because as a teacher I have to save this impulse and give it further to the students. I managed to do so two days later. And this was the first very important step of my teaching at this school. Now the task is to keep the flame of this impulse through the whole school year.

– And again about the process – I, as a teacher have to be active, to be audacious to start first new things. And at the same time I have to be the most patient one, to wait for all the others to come with me. Exactly as a agriculturist have first to plant and then to wait. It was great to see how Johnasson, our gardener and agriculture teacher connects farming with teaching, the two “royal” professions, according to Slavic people.

– Everything we teach should we make conscious. First pick up a subject, then delve into it and at the end make it conscious. The head of the school said, that not he is making his lecture, but we make it. He only starts a subject and the teachers work on it, delve into it and so on.

– Learn to unlearn.

– Never forget that we are a school community in which 1 + 1 should be >> 2. We are together the school.

– Leaning by doing and doing by learning is our main concept.

– The school was not to be planed, not to be even thought, but it was doable and it happened.

– We are travelling in the endless world around us, but also in the world inside us. On the way we have our own exams to cope with.

– We always give the opportunity to act and to make mistakes, but also to participate in the process and help the others.

– What is higher than light? The conversation! We have to remember again who important is every single encounter, that every single encounter and conversation is made for us. At the beginning was the word … Encounter and conversations – that’s the real pedagogics.

– Take the positive feelings of the first school day with me and carry them through the whole year!

Total chaos and lack of flexibility in waldorf schools

Well, after experiencing for more that 9 months different waldorf schools I have to say that they are really much better and are the germ of future education. On the other side there are some problems to be fixed. Two of them are very important – the total chaos and the lack of flexibility. Those two are which really annoy the further development of the waldorf schools.

Chaos is very important and even needed if there is a minimal order. For me the best formula is as less order as possible and as much chaos as needed. But there should be also at least a little bit of order. That is definitely not the case! Why? Because there is a lot of freedom, but not enough responsibility in school. I already written many times about the importance of freedom and responsibility, as well as order and chaos, so I’m not going to write again how to achieve the harmony between those contradictions. But waldorf schools have to cope with the extremities and to achieve a total harmony. After almost 100 years they are still on the way with no harmony at sight.

Waldorf schools are created to be lively, dynamic, ever changing, always suiting the needs and impulses of young people. But they became too unflexible, they seem not to be able to make the next step. They are staying at the same place. Most of them seem to be dead inside. There is a lack of flexibility, but it comes from the lack of audacity. Teachers, parents and students have to have the courage to go for their dreams, to move forward. I’ve chosen my school in Glonntal because it is far more flexible than all the others. It is THE SCHOOL in Germany that makes the next steps! We have still to go a long way, but we are on the way. We need a little bit more responsibility and order and we will metamorphose to the next step.