Welcome to the Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School
Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School is an integrated area school with a special character, Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf Education. We have a total roll of over 350 students who range in age from those in our Early Childhood Centre/Kindergarten, to students in our Lower School Classes 1 to 7 (Yrs. 2 to 8) and in the Upper School Classes 8 to12 (Yrs. 9 to 13). We also have one class for Special Needs students. Our vision at Raphael House is to instill integrity, create inner freedom and awaken moral and social responsibility in our students.
Panui - Week 1 Term 4 2016
Tēnā koutou e ngā whānau o te kura Raphael House
Welcome back to Term 4 – a term rich with class plays, performances and camps and our big community event the Toy, Craft and Food Festival.
On my mind today is the wonderful celebration of Wilhelmina van der Aa’s life that took place at her funeral yesterday. It was an honour to be part of this very large gathering of family and friends at which people spoke with such deep appreciation for the love and care Wilhelmina extended to everyone she met and the light she brought into the lives of so many. Thank you to everyone who has supported Wilhelmina and her family – I know you will continue to do so over the days and weeks ahead.
Also still very much on my mind are the thoughts and ideas shared at the Middle and High School Conference, “Teenage Issues of Our Time – Meeting Them Hands On”, held at Raphael House over the first four days of the holidays. Bernard Graves, our guest speaker from England, has devoted his life to developing and researching experiential education in the outdoors. Bernard challenged us to question the prevalent model of education which supports the mindset that learning takes place in the classroom and outside is for play. The workshop run by Bernard in our outdoor classroom area behind our gym was an excellent example of the fallacy of such thinking. This workshop was a scientific adventure into ‘the lime cycle’, explored through the hands on construction of a large kiln in which pieces of limestone were transformed into quicklime or calcium oxide. A poem also arose out of this experience, showing how working with our hands leads naturally into engaging our feelings and thinking. For this reason Bernard said we should describe Waldorf pedagogy as an education of HANDS, HEART and HEAD, rather than Head, Heart and Hands – as it is the work of the hands that informs the head.
Today I visited Class 4 and was treated to brilliant examples of this approach. The children have worked with their hands to create stunning models and posters of animals in their natural environments. It was a delight for me to ask the children questions about the animals they had studied and experience the clarity of their answers and the pride they had in the work they had done. An added pleasure was watching the Class 4 children talk about their projects to the children from other classes who visited during the main lesson. I was very impressed – well done Class 4!
On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of meeting with our class parent representatives. We touched again, if only briefly, on the subject of the impact of information technology on the education and development of our tamariki. I asked the simple question – How much information technology should be in the life of a child up to the age of 7 years, in order to ensure healthy learning and development? What would your answer be? Mary Willow, a parent educator who has a deep understanding of child development from an anthroposophical perspective and who has done extensive research on this question, has a simple answer – “ideally zero”. We know this is hard to achieve but one’s motivation as a parent to aim for this is likely to come from an understanding of the damage that can be done to children of this age through exposure to IT. In a nutshell, children up to the age of 7 years are involved predominantly in building a healthy physical body into which their spiritual nature can progressively find a home – and it is this building of a healthy physical body which lays the foundation for the healthy development of their emotional and intellectual faculties for the rest of their lives. In order to develop a healthy physical body a child needs to move a lot and exercise their imagination through free play, both indoors and in nature. This movement and activity also serves to nurture the development of their senses. Information technology by its very nature does not support this critical need for a child to move and engage in imaginative free play – it involves sitting, very restricted movement and stimulation of a limited range of the senses. I am always happy to discuss this super important subject, so catch me at the gate, give me a ring or send me an email.
Please note that the teachers will be engaged in professional learning on Tuesday 25 October, the day after Labour Day, so there will be no school on that day.
Wishing you all a nice weekend.
Noho ora mai nā, David Stephenson (Interim Principal)