Parent Education

     Parents and teachers gather in evening meetings throughout the school year (four to five per year) to discuss the curriculum and practical details about class activities. These evenings are a window into your child’s school life and are a wonderful opportunity for parents and teacher to build and strengthen the class community. Parents also meet individually with teachers twice yearly to discuss their child’s progress and share impressions.

     Each year the school sponsors public talks, workshops and informal get-togethers with experienced Waldorf educators on issues related to education and parenting. For more information about events that are open to the public, please click here.

     Parent interested in learning more about Waldorf education and anthroposophy can enroll in Foundation Studies classes held at Merriconeag or can join study groups.

Waldorf Teacher Education & Renewal

Videos of teachers speaking about why they chose to become Waldorf teachers

created by Karl Schurman and 10th grade student, Cyrus Fenderson

FOUNDATION STUDIES AT MERRICONEAG

     Why is your child studying medieval history in 6th grade?  How is your child learning to read in 1st grade?  What is eurythmy?  These are only a few questions parents have when embarking on Waldorf Education.  Foundation Studies offers a window into the philosophy underlying Waldorf and the vision of human development that informs it. Foundation Studies is a long-standing program offered to parents and friends of Merriconeag Waldorf School.  The Center for Anthroposophy in Wilton, NH brings this program to Freeport, and several other Waldorf School communities, as a way of helping participants attend in their local area.  Foundation Studies is a two-year part-time program in self development and the arts which helps one understand the roots and reasons behind Waldorf Education.  

For more information, registration, and materials, please contact the following:.

Registration:  Milan Daler, P.O. Box 545, Wilton, NH 03086, 603-654-2566, milan@centerforanthroposophy.org

Program:         Barbara Richardson, 207-865-6482, brichardson@centerforanthroposophy.org

 

Grandparents & Friends Day Address by David Barham, 10/24/14

     Good morning and welcome to Merriconeag and to this special day. My name is David Barham and I teach humanities classes to our high school students over on our Pineland campus. I am not yet a grandparent- and hope to remain in that non-grandparental state for a few more years!- but I am in awe at the incredibly important role I see my own parents, my wife's parents and all of the grandparents in the school play in our children's lives. All of the financial support and the attendance at plays and concerts and events like this one, the wisdom and the love that the grandparents freely contribute is beyond measure. My mother in law is here today- having driven up from South Carolina by herself! Hello Grandma Iris! So I start my talk this morning by thanking you for all you bring to these young people and all you do for our little Waldorf school here on the coast of Maine and Waldorf education throughout the world. It is an absolutely true statement to say, we, parents and teachers, could not do this without you.

     Because the world is a fast moving and slippery place these days - and in truth, does not always put the real needs of children and young people first. So we need as many of us as possible on the front lines doing the incredibly important and challenging work of protecting this endangered kingdom of childhood. I wish I had special badges for all of you- Defender of the Kingdom of Childhood. I am so glad we are all on the same team! Rudolf Steiner spoke of children as a "sacred riddle." We can call our modern knighthood, Defenders of the Sacred Riddle."

     I believe that describes precisely what we are striving to do here at Merriconeag. We take our starting premise for all that we do from childhood itself- from the true needs of human development. And it is very clear that the world does not always put the true needs of human development, the true needs of childhood front and center. Children are marketed to as consumers by companies eager to create brand loyalty from the minute a child wakes up to the world. Politicians want to insure that our children are competitive in the global marketplace and that they step up as effective citizens in a Democracy. All of that may very well be important- of course we all want our children to thrive in their world- but this precious time of childhood is about so much more than that- and in supporting your grandchildren's Waldorf education, you are standing for an education that nourishes and provides true and deep meaning for the entire child- and for his or her entire life.

     And what is it we are trying to do here for these children, for the protection of this endangered kingdom of childhood? It is actually quite simple, and it is the same thing that Waldorf education has been striving for since its inception back in Germany in 1919- ninety-five years ago: to help children become fully human. This task feels all the more important right now when it can seem like all eyes are on the machine, the computer. It can feel like rather than helping our precious children become fully human, the modern world wants them to become ever more like machines- or at least to spend the better part of their waking day plastered to a machine. Waldorf education believes that the way to create healthy human beings in a world of machines is to focus on the essentially human. The great bonus and the great secret is that by helping the young children in our care- our students, children and grandchildren- to become more fully human, we are also preparing them in a real and profound way for whatever the world may throw at them. The future is mysterious and unknowable, but the way to prepare young people to meet a mysterious and unknowable future is actually quite clear.

     And how do we do this: Essentially by giving them three all-important tools. These three tools lie at the beating heart of the mission of Waldorf education and what we believe will serve to prepare your best beloveds for the life and world they are headed into.

     The first of these magic tools is Thinking
      Waldorf students learn to think- really think. Not to fill in boxes or worksheets or memorize facts or regurgitate what the teacher or textbook says. But to listen and to read carefully and critically. To take in information deeply, to compost it within so it becomes part of their being, to take information from a variety of sources and weigh and sift and seek meaning. To learn to recognize propaganda, lies, half-truths and wishful thinking. To contextualize, find and make connections. Out of all of this careful processing, the Waldorf student learns to craft a thesis, support an idea or argument, test it out, share it with classmates and teachers, make adjustments or abandon it entirely as appropriate. To take bold and playful leaps and in the words of poet, potter and teacher MC Richards, "Imagine inventing yellow!"

     But this is not enough. Intelligence without empathy, without compassion and without emotional intelligence is one sided and even unhealthy. Social intelligence- the ability to work with others requires emotional intelligence and Waldorf education puts as high a priority on the feeling life as it does on the life of the mind. One is constantly struck by how articulate Waldorf students and graduates are when describing their own emotions- they are light years beyond the simplistic continuum many of us are stuck in of happy to sad. When one understands and cares about one's own inner, feeling life, one is able to understand and care about the inner life and reality of another- and from this caring, this connection, this ability to truly communicate and collaborate, a brave new world is born.

     And even this is not enough. To have great ideas and to understand the reality of the heart are a fantastic start, but the final step must be taken as well- the development of the self-directed will. Waldorf students are taught to finish what they start and to translate what moves them in their heart and enlightens them in their head into Action. To do, to make, to care for, to fix, to heal. If you have grown up and been schooled to sew and knit your own clothes, create your utensils and furniture, to paint, draw, model, play an instrument, act in plays, sing in a chorus, carve in stone and craft in metal- you see the world as a fabulous workshop with a thousand and one projects calling upon your creativity and competency to work in and upon. A riddle to be solved, a puzzle to be put together, a code to be cracked. This beautiful and only Earth and all her inhabitants becomes a true home- and the Waldorf student says, "Let me roll up my sleeves and get to work." "I can fix it!"

     And where does it all lead for these Waldorf students? To a life filled with meaning. And meaning is the ultimate answer to meeting a mysterious and unknowable future. A way to meet the world of the machine and not lose one's humanity. A path forward that does not get stuck in despair. A life filled with light and hope and a desire to serve and shine. When a child's life and world is filled with meaning there is love, and there anything and everything is possible.

     And so my fellow Defenders of the Sacred and Endangered Kingdom of Childhood- let us bravely and boldly go forth and continue our work on behalf of this sacred riddle we have solemnly sworn to protect. These beautiful children are the Hope for the future and we can sleep easier at night knowing that through the love and hard work of their grandparents, parents and teachers, these Waldorf students have the tools they need to meet their world, thrive in their world and heal their world.

(To read previous addresses by our teachers, please click here.)