a year ago we moved out kids into a private school: the waldorf school of san diego. here’s an example of why. anyone who knows anything about pedagogy should start salivating now…
the other night, we attending an opera at the school, completely written and performed by my daughter’s 7th grade class. the backstory: they were studying, in a history unit, the renaissance, and a bit of european history. as a snapshot of the worldview shift that was taking place, their studied the story of an 18th century opera composer named gluck. gluck started in italy, where opera, in the early part of the century, was lighthearted “comedy” (not quite what we would call comedy today). he wrote some of these, but pined for something more. gluck moved to germany, and, 20 years later, started connecting with people who had similar views and ideas, and starting writing operas of a completely different vibe: often tragic (really, what we’d think of in many operas today), always connected with deeper human emotion. a decade or so later, gluck was in paris, at the time when the french revolution was percolating, and benjiman franklin was hanging around. people either loved or hated gluck’s new direction in opera because it was a radical departure from the italian standard.
i learned all this the other night, watching the performance. my daugher, over a couple month period, learned about 18th century european history, about the worldview change that took place at that time. then, her class, working together, wrote multiple scenes of a drama (not opera) that took place in italy, germany and france. these scenes were mostly in english, but also included some italian, german and french lines. then, in music class, they learned about gluck’s operas, and prepared to preform portions of one that showed his transformation. the night of the performance, the class-written acting scenes took place on one stage, then, after a pause for the kids to scramble across the room, the opera took place on another stage. it was just 26 kids with 26 average middle school voices. and it was amazing. (in the picture below, liesl is the one with the yellow waist sash.)
then, a couple days ago, i saw this on the counter in our kitchen.
i could tell it was max’s, and asked him about it. here’s what he told me:
that’s a book, and the cover is hand-felted (by him — max is in 3rd grade). the book itself, hand-written with illustrations and decorative borders on every page, is a detailed description of wool. and the truly amazing thing is that max (and his class) DID everything in the book. they went to a farm and saw sheep get sheared. they gathered the raw wool and took it back to school, where they combed or carded it (he explained this in detail), colored it, built wooden spinning tools (in their woodworking class) and spun their own yarn. max, who has learned to knit (which is helping with his fine motor skills, left-to-right tracking, and counting) is knitting something right now with yarn he made. they also learned the process of felting, which resulted in max making this book cover.
dood. i am a happy parent.