Thoughts on the WWS Fathering Today Seminar

A few thoughts below about the Fathering Today seminar I attended at WWS two weekends ago which was hosted by Jack Petrash and Kim John Payne.

About 40 fathers attended.  I would not have minded having a few moms present (or at least my own wife Elena) because I think much of what we discussed was applicable to parenting in general and also because I think it would have been really interesting for the moms to hear some of the perspectives that were dad-specific.  But that is beside the point.  As with so many things that you do intensively, it was just so refreshing to have a day to step outside of yourself to reflect on why and how you are doing that thing (in this case, being a father) in the first place.

There was so much that we discussed that I found to be compelling.  Among other topics, these included the following:

- that our children really notice when their fathers are feeling carefree (i.e. not burdened with thoughts of work or stresses outside the family)
- that our goal as fathers is to create a memorable and meaningful relationship with our children but that we should not expect to be perfect in doing so
- that we should seek out the things we do in our lives in which our children can accompany us… that they will remember the things they get to do with their dads that they don’t do with their moms… also, that the things we do in our lives rhythmically or ritually (i.e. a weekly meal or an annual summer trip) are things that will live on in the memories of our children… but also that we should not forget the importance of surprise in doing things with our children because those also will live on in their memories

At one point, Jack Petrash went around the room asking the fathers present to share one of their most treasured memories of their own fathers or some other meaningful male figure in their lives.  75% of those who responded started off with a phrase like, “When I was about 10 years old, my dad…”  This really struck me, because the oldest of my two boys is about to turn 9 years old.  It would seem to me that I am entering a period of his life when our experiences together will leave the greatest mark.

Kim John Payne spoke a lot about the subject of discipline, which I wasn’t actually expecting, but which really resonated with me as I considered my relationship with my two boys.  He described discipline as a process through which we help define our family… that you go into parenting knowing what you DON’T want your family to be like and through discipline, you sort of shave those parts away.  He said that when you back off of discipline, you risk leaving your family feeling unformed, and that a child who acts disobedient may in fact be disoriented due to lack of boundaries.  Then he talked about specific kinds of words and approaches you can use with your children.  He really emphasized leadership, saying that it is exhausting to constantly chase after children, their behaviors, etc. rather than saying to them follow along.  He also introduced us to his model of the role you play as a leader through three phases of your children’s lives: being a “governor” (ages 0-7), being a “gardener” (tween years), and being a “guide” (teen years).

In addition to discipline, Kim John Payne also spent some time talking about the high levels of stress placed on children in our modern life.  He went so far as to say that the amount of stress hormones in today’s children is unknown in human history.  He believes that all of this stress turns natural character traits into compulsions.  He feels that as parents we must act as sentinels, dialing kids back from all of this stress – he said that that’s when their natural gifts will shine.

I could write much more about this.  Suffice it to say that I am very glad I attended, and if a similar seminar is held again in the future, I would highly recommend it to other PCWS dads.

- Erik Oberg

Parent & Infant Class

Did you know that Potomac Crescent Waldorf School offers Parent and Infant Classes three times during the school year? Please let your friends know about this wonderful opportunity:

Life with new babies can be full of joy and delight, and it can be tiring, lonely and challenging.  Join Liz Hagerman for a thoughtful exploration on our roles as parents and life with new babies.

Each session will begin with a time to give our loving, focused attention observing and attuning to our babies, letting them BE and learning from them. We will play and sing gentle baby games and songs that are simple and easy to learn by heart.  There will be a facilitated discussion on a variety of topics, based both on reading materials and the interests and needs of our group.

This program is open to parents with their babies from 6 weeks to the creeping stage of development.  Our goal is to offer guidance and support, and to foster a community of young families.

Liz Hagerman, MA, ADTR, is a registered dance/movement therapist who is in her 10th year of assistant teaching in the 5 day kindergarten at Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten & Nursery.  She completed a training on infant and child development at the Pikler Institute for Early Childhood in Budapest, Hungary.  She is the mother of two boys.

Six Sessions:

January 8, 15, 22, 29 and February 5 & 12, 2014

Wednesday, 1:00 – 2:30 pm

Cost: $125 per six-week session

Sign-up on the web: www.potomaccrescentschool.org

Experiencing Eurythmy

I wanted to let you all know what an amazing and wondrous experience it was to attend Ashley Parker’s eurythmy workshop for adults.  If you have not met her, she is truly a special person.  And do you know how sometimes you can make a one-pot meal — it has all the nutrition and food groups in one tidy pot?  That is how eurythmy is.  You are moving your body, and yet you are also fascinated with the ideas behind what you are doing, and inspired by the wisdom it holds and the connection it gives you with other people and ultimately the loving forces of the universe.

For part of the time, we got to experience one of the things she leads the kindergarten children in.  She said she would be willing to do another workshop with more of a focus on what she does with the grades, so please let me know if you are interested, and I will share that with her.  It is a tremendous opportunity to get to do this with her, so I really really hope we can get enough people!!!  Toni, could you also share this information about euurythmy with the first grade parents?

Ashley also said she is planning to lead a workshop on speech this coming Monday at 7.  (She is currently studying speech, having completed her eurythmy training).  It sounds really fascinating as well.  I tend to think that anything that she is offering will be full of beauty and wisdom.

Warmest regards, everyone,
Joan

Third Grade Shelter Building

It was beautiful spending the morning with the 3rd graders. When we first arrived at the shelter building site, The chipmunk tribe (Fiona, Krista and Jasper) realized their structure had been compromised by someone or something. They were devastated. There were even tears. This picture shows Ms. Mansuri helping to build back their morale. She told them to use their sadness and anger to rebuild. They did it! The eagle tribe offered many words of encouragement and congratulated them at the end. They all worked together so

beautifully!! It was such a pleasure watching them learn these valuable life lessons.

~ Carrie Beresford

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Tribe:

“Native Americans made shelters so they were safe from storms and danger.  It was hard for the Eagles (my tribe), but it was awesome.”                                                                             ~ Camila

 

 

 

 

 

“I built a shelter with Noah, Camila, and of course, me.  We made the skeleton of the shelter.  Then we put on the vines and leaves and other stuff.  Then we made a kitchen with berries and stuff.  It is fun!”   ~ Tess

 

 “My shelter is very nice and very dark.  My shelter looks like a tipi.”                                                                                 ~ Noah

 

 

The Chipmunk Tribe:

“My shelter was knocked down when I got to the park.  I cried, but Jasper and Krista and I rebuilt it again and made it more beautiful.”                                                                               ~ Fiona

“My shelter is like a Native American’s house.  Our house is coming along nicely.  It’s kind of like a beaver’s dam.  It has lots of vegetation and sticks.”                                                                                 ~ Japer

“The shelter is awesome!  It was frustrating when the shelter fell down!”   ~ Krista

 

 

Eurythmy at Potomac Crescent

Eurythmy at Potomac Crescent Waldorf School

Ashley Parker, a Washington Waldorf School alumna, has been performing and teaching Eurythmy in California since her graduation from The American Eurythmy School near Mt. Shasta in 2013. Ashley has also been studying Anthroposophical Speech Formation and Drama. She will be teaching Eurythmy for the Early Childhood and Grades classrooms this Fall. Later this year she will be moving to Dornach, Switzerland where she will complete her Speech training.

Eurythmy

by Victoria P. Mansuri

Waldorf Teacher, Educator, and Mentor

 

Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian-born artist, philosopher and educator, introduced eurythmy in 1912.  It is most commonly known as the expression of sound through movement; but it is far more than this.  Allow me to use a metaphorical picture to explain: although in physical geometry one can never truly experience a line or point because, for example, the chalk or pencil would always be too fat, one can still understand their pure forms, or archetypes.  Similarly, the true natures of the spoken word and musical sound do not clearly manifest themselves in the physical world, but live more in the ethers (the space around us), or an etheric world, if you will.  The art of Eurythmy is to align one’s physical body with these archetypes of sound in the etheric world. The sounds can be spoken or tonal; specific movements for each were developed by Rudolf Steiner.  These two differentiations are called Speech Eurythmy and Tone Eurythmy, or “Visible Speech” and “Visible Music.”

 

Since these archetypes of sound live in the ethers, it is not the beauty of the eurythmist that is of primary concern; but rather, how the space around and between the eurythmists is shaped.  As is described in a Eurythmy Spring Valley publication, “enlivening the space between performers calls for a dynamic balance between complete individual involvement and a listening in movement to others.  Finding an approach to enhance individual expression while building a unified group ‘sounding’ in movement…” is the challenge of the artistic eurythmist.  Thus, in the art of eurythmy, the dancer becomes both the listener and the instrument.

 

There are practical, pedagogical, and philosophical reasons for children to take Eurythmy in Waldorf schools. The word Eurythmy comes from the Greek “eu,” meaning good, and “ruthmos,” meaning rhythm.  The intricate rhythms in speech and music are experienced through various forms of movement.  This helps the children to develop a sense of coordination, grace, and beauty in their movements.  Taking eurythmy for many years can be extremely helpful, for example, to the adolescent boy who has grudgingly executed eurythmical movements and now finds that his gangly limbs are beautifully coordinated on the basketball court.

 

Bringing the rhythms of speech and music into the physical body through Eurythmy also helps in the academic realm.  A Waldorf high school student who has taken Eurythmy for many years may find that he or she can easily identify the different rhythms in poetry, readily recite Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter (and understand it!), or easily syncopate a trumpet piece in band.

 

The deepening of the sounds into the human being also helps with clear and beautiful pronunciation, of not just the mother tongue, but of all languages, for sound is universal.  It also brings an intuitive wealth to the young poet who has the sounds and rhythms of the universe imprinted into his or her very being.

Science and mathematics are also aided and complemented by a student’s eurythmical experience.  Through Pythagoras’ teachings we know that mathematics and music are intricately related.  By taking the archetypes of intervals and their relationships into one’s soul, math and its complicated variations, patterns, arithmetic and geometric sequences, can be approached from a deeper, all-encompassing perspective.  In the sciences, the beautiful and mystical forms of, for example, the spiral of the conch shell or the sunflower, the five-pointed star found in the rose and the apple, accompany speech or music as eurythmical movement.  In this way the phenomenon of biology is not only intellectually examined, but also inwardly experienced.

 

There is much more that could be said about Eurythmy, its artistic aspects and pedagogical influences.  There is also a curative aspect to Eurythmy, which is prescribed in conjunction with a knowledgeable doctor.  In all forms of Eurythmy, be it artistic, pedagogical, or curative, an invisible organ is strengthened which intuitively “listens” into the supersensible.

 

This ability makes a person more sensitive to others and what is in the space, be it tension, compassion, depression, or joy, whatever is in the etheric world around him or her.  In this way Eurythmy offers us the potential to become a more empathetic human race, linked with our fellow human beings, as citizens of the cosmos.

Spring Market Photography Opportunities!

Portrait Playtime Photographer Jessica Wallach is taking appointments for “Free Range Photography” sessions at our Spring Market on Saturday!

Sign up today at http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e7fusq112806f7ba&llr=6nhwf4bab

Jessica specializes in photography with storytelling and captures the child’s natural delight and beauty in the world.

Please contact her directly with questions:
Jessica Wallach
Portrait Playtime – Your Story, Our Lens
703-860-2222

http://www.portraitplaytime.com

Follow my tweets: @PortraitPlay

“Bicycle Man” visits PCWS

On Wednesday, April 10th at 3 pm, Wilfried Steinback spoke to students, parents and faculty about his adventure circling the globe by bicycle. He started by putting on his helmet and reflective vest, as he stood in front of the awestruck children. Even though the fellowship hall was very hot and the children were tired from their school day, they listened with such concentration to this man’s amazing story.  Wilfried is a Waldorf teacher who lives in Sweden. He began his journey there 10 months ago. He showed us on his map, the path he followed east, taking ferries across bodies of water, through Russia and on to several Asian countries. He then took a cargo ship to the west coast of North America, where he continued eastward all the way to Arlington, VA. He has visited many Waldorf schools along the way and enjoys inspiring people to use their bicycles to get around. He talked about how healthy that is for our bodies and our planet. The children had wonderful comments and questions!  They loved seeing his fully loaded bike and pop-up tent. You can follow Wilfried’s travels on his blog here

 

Father’s Workshop Held at PCWS on Saturday

PCWS parent Gordon Achtermann and PCWS alum and well-known woodworker Bill Merkel held a Waldorf Father’s Workshop here on the morning of Saturday, March 16. These annual workshops bring fathers together to discuss the challenges and joys of fatherhood.

After a round of brief introductions, facilitators Gordon and Bill read a passage from Jack Petrash’s book “Navigating the Terrain of Childhood” about the establishment of authentic authority that every father needs to be a good father. They then opened up the floor. Two and half hours later, they were still going but some in the group had to be on their way.

In discussions in a relaxed setting at Potomac Crescent, the group talked quite a bit about their own fathers (and surrogates when fathers weren’t present) and different types of authority figures. The experiences ran the full spectrum as the discussion ranged from the esoteric (archetypes of father figures) to the earthy (sons acting out with regard to potty training.)

The dads also opened up to some of their current struggles in fathering, and, as usual, discovered that there were far from alone.

The facilitators would like to extend a big “thank you” to all participants for joining us.

For more information on events like the Father’s Workshop, please email outreach@potomaccrescentschool.org.