Thanksgiving is around the corner—for many of us, our favorite holiday of the year! The alchemy of family, feasting and fun can be a truly powerful opportunity to experience everything we are truly thankful for in our lives—the generations of our loved ones, the abundance of amazing food that delights our senses and fuels our bodies, and the warmth of community. Some families have explicit traditions for sharing that gratitude around the holiday table; others leave the words unspoken though the feelings run very deep.
Gratitude is not just for Thanksgiving! This is a fundamental value that we work with in Waldorf education. It happens every time we sing a blessing before eating, every time we say a morning verse, every time a teacher thanks a child for being helpful or doing an assignment with full striving. There are few things more important in weaving the social health of a family a class or a whole community than our individual acts of gratitude, large and small.
In The Child’s Changing Consciousness and Waldorf Education, Lecture VI, Rudolf Steiner writes:
All that flows, with devotion and love, from a child’s inner being toward whatever comes from the periphery through the parents or other educators—will be permeated with a natural mood of gratitude. . .
It is the cultivation of this universal gratitude towards the world that is of paramount importance. It need not always be in one’s consciousness, it may simply live in the background of one’s feeling life, so that someone, at the end of a strenuous day, can experience thankfulness upon entering a beautiful meadow full of flowers—to give an example. Such a subconscious felling of gratitude may rise up in us every time we look at nature. It may be felt every morning when the sun rises. It may emerge when beholding any of nature’s phenomena. And if we only conduct ourselves rightly in front of the children, a correspondingly graduated feeling of thankfulness will develop in them for all that comes to them from the people living around them, from the way they speak, smile or deal with them. (pp 128-9)
Gratitude is not only about manners, habits, or social niceties. Gratitude is about what happens inside the person who is grateful—the capacity for gratitude is strongly related to living joyfully, and to treating other human beings with care and compassion. Sometimes when we feel annoyed by the little nuisances, chores and dysfunctions of daily family or school life, the best way to combat this sour mood is to shift our attitude to gratitude! In fact, many of the chores and situations we don’t like are intimately intertwined with what gives us joy—our homes, our children, and all of the people we love! When we can shift our attitude to the flip side—how much we love and appreciate our home, our children, the school, the people we work with—suddenly gratitude can come flooding into our hearts, and we find a new, much happier way to meet the tasks and challenges that life brings.
On a personal note, I want to share my very deep gratitude to all parents, students, faculty and staff at Tucson Waldorf School. We are so blessed to be together in this beautiful place, weaving together a community full of amazing people, united in their desire to bring the very best education possible to growing human beings. May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
1. It’s about raising funds & celebrating community!
Fresh! Spring Soirée is the biggest fundraising event of the year. It’s also an evening just for adults to come together and celebrate Tucson Waldorf School. It’s an opportunity to hang out in the company of faculty, parents, friends and other supporters of TWS while tasting (and drinking) wine, nibbling on the many gourmet delights sourced from River Road Gardens and local farms, bidding on auction items, enjoying multiple live performances, and dancing to the rumba-salsa sounds of the band, Santa Pachita. It’s about raising money to support teacher salaries and programs while having an incredible night with fabulous people.
2. Fresh! takes place one week before Mother’s Day.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to find one–of-a-kind gifts to surprise your mother or the mother in your life on her special day. Who needs the mall or Amazon? You have the auction to find a great gift for Mother’s Day.
3. The online auction launches on April 21.
The online auction runs April 21-May 10. f you can’t be at Fresh! or even if you are planning on coming, you can get started bidding on April 21. Only a selection of items in the catalog will be available at the silent auction on May 3. You can be an ambassador for TWS by inviting everyone you know (near and far) to bid in our auction. There’s truly something for everyone, even if you don’t live in Arizona. Check out the amazing auction items - more are added daily! www.BiddingForGood.com/TucsonWaldorf
For the first time ever, we are proud to host this event at home on the River Bend campus. Our campus is nestled on a stunning 10-acre piece of land surrounded by desert treasures like mesquite, palo verdes, and the Catalina Mountains. It’s a perfect time as we’ve just welcomed our newest buildings marking a huge step in the consolidation project. We will celebrate under the stars on the River Bend campus in the heart of the Binghampton Historic District and the Finger Rock watershed.
We hope that everyone in our community will come to Fresh! It’s first and foremost a fundraiser, but it’s also a party and we want you all to be there. Tickets are $75 and include food from the farm, two drink tickets for wine or (n
on-alcoholic options), dessert and coffee/tea, and live music. While the ticket price at many similar fundraising events in Tucson are $100+, we recognize that for some families $75 is steep. If you would like to come, but the ticket price is a hindrance, please consider the Angel Volunteer option ($35 minimum suggested). If you volunteer 10+ hours for the event, or volunteer the entire evening, or you have brought in 6+ auction items, that makes you an Angel Volunteer. We encourage those who are able to purchase a ticket at full price. Contact Sereti at 520.529.1032 to discuss ticket options. Each and every penny from the proceeds go to our general fund, which supports teacher salaries and programs at TWS.
Make sure to register yourselves before May 3! There are no physical tickets.
No physical tickets will be given out and your name will be on a guest list at the door. Every guest must be “registered” at Bidding For Good. If you have not yet registered, go to biddingforgood.com/TucsonWaldorf. This will make your check-in experience smooth and quick. This applies to each and every guest: If someone else purchased a ticket for you, make sure to register yourself using the link above.
Think outside the box when donating to or bidding in the auction. There are one-of-a-kind items, services, and experiences being offered. Make sure to browse the catalog so you can be ready to bid on April 21 online and again at the event on May 3. There are cabin stays, gemstone jewelry pieces, Park Hopper tickets to Disneyland, massages, skydiving experiences, river rafting trips, and even skateboarding lessons with a pro-skater dad at TWS! So many items will make wonderful gifts for Mother’s Day. No need to shop elsewhere and you know your hard-earned dollars will go to support Tucson Waldorf School.
7. Your contributions are tax deductible.
$40 of your $75 ticket price is tax deductible and the amount of your winning bid above and beyond the fair market value of the item is deductible. Please refer to your tax advisor for more information.
8. How the evening works
Check In – 5:00 to 5:30 pm
Those who arrive between 5:00 and 5:30 pm will be entered into the Early Bird Raffle! When you arrive, you will check in (you’ll either have already purchased your tickets or you’ll purchase them at the door – provided it’s not sold out). If you’ve already registered yourself (see #5 above), you’ll receive your program with your bidder number, two drink tickets, and a list of available auction items. If you haven’t already registered, you’ll be instructed how to register yourself at one of the available laptops. Registering ahead of time will save you LOTS of time and lets you have fun right away. Grab a bite to eat, taste some of the many libations on offer, stroll through the amazing items and start bidding. Don’t miss out on a chance to win a Jeep Cherokee donated by Jim Click to Tucson non-profits. Get your Jeep raffle tickets for only $25.
Silent Auction | 5:30 to 7:30 pm
All Silent Auction bidding starts at 5:30 pm so get there early. Next to each auction item will be a bid sheet. You will legibly write your last name and bidder number and your bid amount. Please pay close attention to bid increments to make sure your bid qualifies. Bidding ends at 7:30 sharp.
Dessert and Program Auction | 7:30 – 8:30 pm
This is the time we will all sit for a short while together with our desserts and fine teas and coffees. There will be some words spoken, a short live auction of select class projects, and a “fund-a-need” ask. You will be able to use your program bidder number to bid/pledge during this time.
Party Time (& Check Out opens) | 8:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Once the dessert and program portion of the evening ends, check out officially begins (around 8:30 pm).
The band will begin and will play until 10:00 pm. Get ready to shake your groove thing. When you’re ready to check out, volunteers will help locate the items you’ve won. Please make sure to pay for and take your items at the end of the night. Your patience is golden during check out.
9. Kids play, now it’s our turn.
Imagine, full length conversations without interruptions! This event promises to be a great time that offers you the chance to win unique items and services, often at a fraction of the cost. You get to eat scrumptious food sourced right from River Road Gardens and local farms (including lamb from TWS family, the Hellers), drink biodynamic wine and raise mo
ney for this prized education.
10. Dress fresh and festive
Dress in your favorite spring outfit and wear a flower crown or boutonniere if you’re really inspired. You could wear white linen or a fedora hat with feathers, strands of beads and pearls with a flower printed blazer and huarache sandals. Let your creativity flow! Remember, we’re on the River Bend campus so heels might be a bit tricky. More spring outfit ideas on Pinterest.
Let your sparkly selves shine, have a great time together while raising much needed funds for our school.
Tickets available here: www.biddingforgood.com/TucsonWaldorf.
A wonderful description of class meetings from Spring Garden Waldorf School:
This type of community building makes a Waldorf community and classroom like no other in education today. Ideally, the children, teacher and parents will be together through elementary school for eight years. Throughout those years, there will be many celebrations and some challenges, but regular class meetings help parents come together and remember the common cause that brought them into each others’ lives — the education, care and love of the children.
Having class meetings several times per year is also pragmatic. While teacher/parent conferences focus on one child and his/her social and academic progress, class meetings can deal with class learning goals and social dynamics. Understanding what the children are learning when and why, can help parents relate to a child who often reports that a day was, “fine.” And knowing the ins and outs of academics helps parents assist children in their homework tasks or in areas that need attention.
Class meetings also give parents ample opportunities to ask questions of the teacher and also to share their experiences with other families. Often parents find that their peers have the same questions, struggles and successes with their own children. It is so good to know your experiences are not yours alone!
And finally, coming together builds the parent community as families get to know one another over the years, not just through their children, but by relating to one another at these meetings and through volunteer opportunities and social engagements.
National Coverage of Waldorf Education on CNN
Recently, Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN did a segment on The Waldorf Way. For those who watch it, please note that the guest expert does not represent Waldorf education. A touch screen does not meet the definition of “engaging all the senses” but she does agree with how movement facilitates learning.
Enrollment up in no-test, no-tech school:
Waldorf education has long advocated for introducing ideas, concepts, and tools with great care and consideration in relation to a child’s natural development. Dr. Gerwin, Director of the Center for Anthroposophy and Co-Director of the Research Institute for Waldorf Education, wrote the article “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Mind Over Machinery” which addresses Waldorf’s stance on media and screen time. The excerpt below is taken from that article. Read the whole article here.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Mind Over Machinery | By DOUGLAS GERWIN, PhD
Herein lies the key: give a child a tool early on in life, and it will supplant the very skill it was intended to supplement. In other words, tools become prosthetics, or crutches, if introduced too soon. Their use also tends to become addictive.
The same case can be made about any piece of technology, to the degree that it enhances a human skill or way of doing something. Electronic media are no exception. The fundamental questions remain the same:
- Which human skill are these electronic “tools” designed to assist or even mimic?
- At which age will children have developed these skills sufficiently so that these “tools” can serve rather than subvert them?
Let’s take television, perhaps one of the more controversial examples. Television mimics the human ability to create pictures. According to Rudolf Steiner, children learn to think by inwardly creating mental pictures and mental images. If pictures are outwardly supplied ready made, they rob the child of the opportunity to build the “imaginative muscle” needed to become independent thinkers. Since the ability to think unfolds gradually, the age at which children can benefit from television, rather than become slaves to it, will vary. A general guideline, though, will be: the later, the better, recognizing that we cannot shut off our children from all exposure to these kinds of tool.
Indeed, Rudolf Steiner cautions against banning tools of technology outright. In a lecture given shortly after the outbreak of World War I [“Technology and Art”, Dornach 28 December 1914], he declared: “It would be the worst possible mistake to say that we should resist what technology has brought into modern life, that we should protect ourselves . . . by cutting ourselves off from modern life. In a certain sense this would be spiritual cowardice.” [emphasis added]
Instead, Steiner goes on to say, the more we expose ourselves to technology (rather than flee from it), the more we need to strengthen in ourselves––for instance, through the arts–– precisely those human capacities that technology mimics or supplements.
In our present time, attention is turning to the appropriate use of computers in schools. Paradoxically, we read about kindergarten teachers who are encouraging the use of computers and tweeting in pre-school while some university professors are banning them outright from their lectures and seminars. In this hotly contested field of enquiry, the same questions suggested above can be posed:
- Which human skills does the computer mimic or supplement?
- At which age will children have developed these skills sufficiently so that the computer can assist rather than hijack them?
More Than Honey – A Documentary on Bees
In the last few years, Tucson Waldorf School has established a great relationship with The Loft Cinema. We feel deeply fortunate to have the unique opportunity of collaborating with this Tucson gem: a local, independent, art house cinema that is a non-profit organization supported entirely by the community.
We accepted the offer to co-present this film because it portrays a very important and timely topic. More Than Honey is one of many films that have recently illuminated a variety of perspectives on Colony Collapse Disorder. In 1923, Rudolf Steiner – Founder of Waldorf Education – predicted Colony Collapse Disorder and in the 20′s, published a series of lectures in a book called Bees. Research continues to be conducted worldwide in efforts to pinpoint the factors causing the widespread destruction of bee colonies. Studies reveal again and again that a high prevalence of multiple pathogens in Colony Collapse Disorder bees suggests that a compromised immune response is at play.
But why? The film, More Than Honey, makes the statement that there is no one cause but that a complex set of factors are to blame. Among them are pesticide use, Africanization of the honey bee, and modern industrial beekeeping practices.
Steiner offered this in one of his lectures on bees:
“Observing things in this way, one is able to say — in the whole inter-relationship of the bee-colony — of this organism — Nature reveals something very wonderful to us. The bees are subject to forces of Nature which are truly wonderful and of great significance. One cannot but feel shy of fumbling among these forces of Nature. It is becoming increasingly obvious today that wherever man clumsily interferes with these forces he makes matters not better, but worse. He does not make them worse all at once, for it is really so that Nature is everywhere hindered, though notwithstanding these hindrances Nature works as best she may. Certain of these hindrances man can remove, and by doing away with them can make things easier for Nature. For example, he seems actually to be helping Nature when he makes use of bee-hives which are conveniently arranged, instead of using the old straw skeps.
But here we come to the whole question of artificial bee-keeping. You must not think that I am unable to see — even from a non-anthroposophical point of view — that modern bee-keeping methods seem at first very attractive, for certainly, it makes many things much easier. But the strong holding together — I should like to say — of one bee-generation, of one bee-family, will be impaired in the long run.
Speaking generally today, one cannot but praise modern bee-keeping; so long as we see all such precautions observed of which Herr Müller has told us, we must admire them in a certain sense. But we must wait and see how things will be in fifty to eighty years time, for by then certain forces which have hitherto been organic in the hive will be mechanised, will become mechanical. It is not possible to bring about that intimate relationship between the colony and a Queen that has been bought, which results naturally when a Queen comes into being in the natural way. Only, at first these things are not observed.
Of course, I by no means wish that a fanatical campaign in opposition to modern bee-keeping should be started, for one cannot do such things in practical life. To do so would be rather like something I will now tell you. It is possible to calculate approximately the time when there will be no more coal in the earth. The coal supply of the earth is exhaustible; one day it will come to an end. Now it would be quite possible to limit the amount of coal taken out of the earth, so that the supply would last as long as the earth itself. One cannot say that we ought to do so, for we should have a little faith for the future. One says “Well, of course we rob the earth of its coal, that is we rob our descendants of coal, but they will be able to invent something else so that they will not need coal any longer.” Naturally, one can say the same about the disadvantages of modern bee-keeping!
Still, it is well to be aware of the fact that by working mechanically we destroy what Nature has elaborated in so wonderful a way. You see bee-keeping has at all times been highly valued; in olden times especially, the bee was held to be a sacred animal. Why? It was so considered because in their whole activity, processes reveal themselves which also take place in man himself. If you take a piece of bees-wax in your hand you are in reality holding something between blood, muscle and bone, which in man’s inner organisation passes through the stage of being wax. The wax does not however become solid, but remains fluidic till it is transformed into blood, or muscles, or into the cells of the bones. In the wax we have before us what we bear within us as forces, not as substance.” – Rudolf Steiner