I first wrote this article in French, since this book is published in French only, but I decided to translate it to English when I noticed that it was visited by people from English-speaking countries. To read it in French, click on the flag.
Author : Monique Tedeschi
Publisher : La Plage, 2018
The Author’s Website : Chant des Fées
This book is neither about literature, tea, or ceramics. So, why presenting it on this blog ?
Just. Because. I. Feel. Like. It.
The real question is : why am I interested in this book ?
First, because it is built around the year’s seasons, et you know how much I am influenced by the cycle of the seasons.
Second, because I am really interested in education, and especially Montessori and Steiner-Waldorf. Pairing teas/texts/cups is not my only cup of tea !
I discovered the Steiner-Waldorf and the Montessori education a few years ago. I try and use it with my children, to give them a more lively, less boring vision of the different concepts, and better linked to the daily reality. That’s also the reason why I often browse homeschooling websites. Note : we don’t homeschool our children, though I sometimes dream of doing it… But that is a different story. I just want to feed them more than school is able to.
There are many reasons to homeschool one’s children. In France, it is much criticized, because this choice is often seen as a withdrawal from society. Well, when I watch this society, I don’t really feel like meeting it !! But one can choose homeschooling to give them values that are not taught in schools (religious, moral, environment-friendly, non consumer…), or because the school system is not fit for his/her children, and because the school system is as flexible as a stone.
But let’s go back to Monique Tedeschi’s book.
Do you know what appealed to me ? The picture on the cover ! A little girl playing with autumn leaves in a wood, who looks so happy… Happiness, innocence, nature… And in autumn !! Autumn, my favorite season !
Oh no, I’ve been sidetracked again…
What I loved in this book (apart from the cover) :
- A detailed and understandable explanation of the Steiner education (origins, principles, how to use it). No pseudo-psychological or philosophical blah blah.
- A very flexible vision : education is not a religion, but a tool that aims at a child’s personal fulfillment as much as at its academic knowledge.
- It was written after many years of homeschooling. Monique Tedeschi deeply knows the topic.
- It gives the reader many ideas to use whatever is available to him/her, instead of spending much money on specific Steiner-Waldorf toys and materials. This is very expensive, not only because it is made from natural materials (wood, silk, wax, clay, and so on), but also, let’s not hide it, because it often appeals to hipsters and wealthy people… and this is what the founder Rudolf Steiner did not want : that his vision be restricted to upper class families.
- The attention to specific needs : how to adapt Steiner-Waldorf education when you are vegan, when your children have food allergies, when you are an atheist, a Buddhist, a Muslim, instead of being Christian (this education was founded on Christianity).
- The possibilty to use the ideas in any classroom of any school, not only in France, but in any country.
And, what I most enjoyed :
- Rhythm is key !
Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly rhythms.
The child’s inner and true rhythms. And the adult’s as well !
- How to embrace the seasons and to celebrate Nature. This is my thing, and it has been for a very long time ! I am so relieved to see that I am not the only one for whom seasons matter.
- How important art and craft are, and how they nurture the child and the adult.
- How important daily outdoor activities and contact with nature are.
Well, I must acknowledge that I have much to catch up on these latter points…
- The teacher (parent or schoolteacher) must think about his/her own life : how important is this moral value, or this task (washing the dishes, gardening, reading…) to him/her ? What does the teacher wish to impart ? What are his/her goals in life ? What does he/she actually show through his/her actions ?
- Easy activity ideas for children between 3 and 7.
- Schedules for teaching moments, for meals, to celebrate seasonal festivals.
- A list of websites to study further (in French only).
- Steiner Education is not well known, neither it is understood, in France. It is often regarded as nearly cultish. Why ? Because its founder, Rudolf Steiner, was interested in esoterism, Christianity, Hinduism, and that spirituality and spiritual education was of utmost importance to him. France worships laicity. As a consequence, as soon as there is spirituality involved, many educators fear a cultish influence…
I would love the same book for 7-14 years old children and teenagers !!
It is very frustrating to see that most Montessori or Waldorf education books or websites focus on children up to 7 years old, and that there is not much for older children. As if, as soon as kids begin learning how to write and read, it was much more difficult, not to say impossible, to keep this non intellectual, purely academic approach… At least this is what happens in France, contrary to other countries where education is more global (academic, art, physical education, social skills), but I can feel things are slowly – too slowly – evolving.
I am pragmatic : what works must be kept ; what does not, must be discarded. And whatever the underlying philosophy (well, with limits !!).
I have to go, my kettle is whistling & my book is calling… Nice reading !