To me, sometimes it feels like the little lessons in life can be far more significant than what society tells us we should know. The big questions of academia seem to become irrelevant if one cannot look after themself or know how to be kind to our peers.
Class 9 recently went on a big trip through our wonderful and immense country and learned a few small lessons about themselves and each other. The priceless lessons of accountability and responsibility were made dearly apparent to all these young adults of class 9. If one didn’t take significant responsibility with their own cooking group’s duties, they would learn the sore lesson of hunger or a lacklustre meal. If one was avoiding the group’s obligations, their accountability was brought into focus by peers and friends. Not by accusations, but by learning the invaluable skill of civil conversation and mediation. Of course there were hiccups and clashes along the way; but everyone soon realised that being together in close confines on a bus for three weeks was a ‘long time.’ And for harmony to prevail everyone needed to look after one another by being self-aware and aware of everyone else.
This self-awareness in the students was magnified by the silence that the ancient and all- knowing desert landscape brought, rolling out into the infinity. The silence also brought a consciousness to the little things surrounding them that the distractions of modern life often hides; the beauty and life in the small desert flowers, the softness of the deep red sand or the vivid orange colour of the light at sunset. But perhaps the most special times where when everyone could sit together in silence and be at perfect ease; thinking of nothing and taking in the spectacular view of the sunset and watching the stars rise.
Of course, it wasn’t all about an inward journey of the mind. There were sweltering hikes to be made, Indigenous cultural workshops to attend, camel rides to experience, waterholes and water falls to explore to name a few activities. But perhaps one of the most significant experiences, as on every class trip, was the positive amount of bonding and strengthening of friendships and relationships.
As a class guardian, over these three weeks I saw every student come across challenges and hardships in a vast variety of ways. But as a result I saw a tremendous amount of growth in character, resilience and maturity where they would meet these challenges with a new found strength and a greater understanding of their own individuality. Now that’s an interesting lesson.
Marcus and Olivia – Class 9 Guardians.
Lorien Novalis School is a community, a rich and diverse community built by teachers, students and parents. This is a complex community as the key life of the school exists between the teachers and the students while the support mechanisms for that life exists around the parents and school administration.
Many parents are happy to offer their services on class trips or working in the classroom, others are just happy to send their children along, however there are others who seek a deeper connection to the spiritual aspects of the school and want to be more earnestly connected to the heart of Lorien Novalis.
The Parent College is designed to connect the parent body with the school in their own right. To build a spiritual link between parents and school. It is a welcoming space for all parents and carers where we can listen and learn together, offering support and finding inspiration. It is a mix of information, discussion and practice, with new themes developed out of the current needs. The Parent College meetings will always be attended by some teachers and school leadership to provide guidance, answer questions, be involved in discussions and to ensure school ethos and culture are always recognised. The Vision is to facilitate an avenue where parents can learn more about the school and how it works.
Many parents learn by following their own children’s journey by attending class meetings but the Parent College would offer deeper insight into all aspects of school life. The Goal is to build a stronger link between the parent body and the school, which ultimately will help the children flourish in a safe and unified environment. Through the work of the Parent College, assistance can be given to school matters such as Strategic Planning, Master Planning, Financial Planning and School Growth & Development, all critical to the long-term security of the school. The Parents College also helps facilitate a sense of ownership for the parents in the support mechanism of their child’s education.
If you have any ideas or feedback about this idea please send me an email, email@example.com
Best wishes, Norman.
On Tuesday 5 September members of Classes 8, 9 and 10 ventured to the Central Coast to participate with Glenaeon, Linuwel, Newcastle Waldorf and Central Coast Steiner schools' in the annual athletics carnival. We arrived a little late for a couple of rotations; however, it was great to see Bethanie and Talia from Class 10 tearing down the straight in the 100m heat within minutes of our arrival. This set the tone for a good day of competition on a windy but sunny day.
Everyone enjoyed the day and participated in their groups in all events. Friendships were forged while enjoying some healthy competition. We witnessed some determined distance running in the 1500m, and some impressive sprint times in the 100 and 200m. In terms of field events, javelins were thrown, discus were launched and shot puts put! There were huge leaps made in the long jump pits, and Eric and I witnessed some interesting techniques while running the high jump station. At the end of the day, we cheered on the inter school relays. In the senior girls, Talia, Hinetiwai, Tayla and Bethanie took out the title with a flawless performance. In the boys event, there was only one race and our 14’s boys team of Jaime, Samuel, Oskar and Javier came in just behind a team of 16’s boys, an impressive run.
Angela, Eric and I had a wonderful day out with our students and were full of pride in the way they acquitted themselves throughout the day. I congratulate everyone who participated and those who placed in events.
In week 4, class 8 spent a wonderful four days on our second class trip of the year, caving in Bungonia National Park. Under the expert guidance of Mike and Liam, all students had the opportunity to challenge themselves in caves of various levels, from the simpler, although slippery, Grill Cave, to the ‘medium level’ Fossil Cave and, for the most adventurous, the Blowfly, one and all the students returned to camp with dirty faces beaming with satisfaction and pleasure.
The challenge of a trip like this lay as much in the discomfort or even fear it invoked in some, as in the physical challenge of climbing, crawling and squeezing, and, as a guardian, it was especially satisfying to see the students who clearly felt out of their comfort zone willing to give it their best go. To see a student who experienced fear in a cave willingly go back for a second go is a wonderful thing, and a great testament to the character and strength of many of the children.
As a teacher and an adult, myself outside of my comfort zone in trying to navigate the caves, I also found great beauty in the experience of having my students offer me encouragement and support in moments of nervousness, and felt in that a growth in both them as leaders and responsible beings, and in my own relationships with them. Class trips are wonderful times of connection for both students and teachers, and, into the second half of the year and with two class trips under our belts, I feel that Tony and myself have been blessed with the children we have been given to guide.
Aside from the caves themselves the national park offered an abundance of other stimulation. One group ventured on a long trek through the bush, on which adventure we encountered a family of three ‘hedgehogs’ (echidnas), kangaroos, and in our imaginations scaled many of the great mountain ranges of the world. We also ventured down to the river, where some brave souls braved the icy waters for a swim and others enjoyed skimming stones and exploring the boulder-strewn valley floor.
For the first time, students were given the responsibility of providing and preparing their own meals in small groups, and it was truly inspiring to see the gourmet feasts that many students cooked up, and the cooperative way in which they worked together.
Altogether a wonderful trip with many memories to carry with us.
Elli – Class 8 Co-Guardian.
Class 11 & 12 VET students have been busy building and painting the stage walls in the school's performance hall. They worked hard to complete the work before the class 9 pay at the end of last term. What a wonderful addition to our hall, for all classes to enjoy as play season fast aproaches!
For many years, we have welcomed bees in our school grounds and in our curriculum. Stories told in the classroom of the true life of bees have ignited young children’s imaginations. The understanding and study of bees in later years have reinforced the striving toward the connection to, and wonder of, nature.
As the recognition of the need and power of bees is becoming a worldwide movement, we want to replenish and enhance our relationship to bees in our school.
Furthermore, in collaboration with other Steiner Schools around the world, there is a plan to develop a curriculum for Bees in Steiner Schools, to which we hope to contribute.
Meanwhile, we will be fundraising to bring beehives back into school and collect equipment needed for their care. Honey will be for sale at the bus stop area on Fridays during Terms 3 & 4. Our supplier’s honey is raw local bush honey – from the Dural/Glenorie area. We thank you in advance for your support.
Steiner Education in a changing world.
Today we are facing the real tragedy of our children, rapidly loosing valuable aspects of their childhood, as we knew it only a few short years ago.
Children are growing into the digital age of technology, being subject to a constant bombardment of images and messages that they don’t understand, being handed electronic devices to entertain and bemuse themselves, being given access, through the internet, to a world that they don’t understand.
This is a multi- faceted issue for not only are the children being exposed to an ever increasing level of electronic media, telling them who they should be like or look like but they are at the same time being denied the experiences of nature and free play that can nurture and restore their inner being, their childhood.
I wonder how many parents watch the children’s programs or play the mindless video games that they expose their children to. They may then appreciate the hidden agendas that exist within these so called children’s shows, the constant high levels of violence, isolation and exclusion that exist, sometimes under the umbrella of humour and the affect these messages have on the children.
Many of these children’s programs which depict the adult as being stupid while the child is clever and more capable like Home Alone being a good example, raise the question of role reversal and the empowerment of the young child. Does this empowerment effect children’s behaviours and expectations?
There are many good questions here to ponder.
There is so much information available today regarding the raised levels of adrenalin and dopamine in the child, through watching high tempo programs and playing reward based video games and how the down time then affects a child’s behaviour. We certainly live in a world where peace and quiet, sitting in the garden alone or just reading a favourite story over again is rapidly giving way to technology and it’s fascinating lure.
Quite amazing really, when you think that the smart phone is one of the most powerful tools ever invented and yet we give it to young people without any real protection or even guidance. A bit like giving the keys of your car to a five year old.
If you feel your child needs a mobile, what is wrong with a dumb phone. It still makes calls and even texts, but it does protect against all the other distractions and invasions of the internet.
Levels of children’s anxiety, isolation, violence, and general discord with their environments is on an ever increasing upwards spiral and yet increasingly we allow our children to take their phones to bed, and remain connected to their groups, well into the early hours of the morning, we allow them access to the internet without adequate supervision and we even pass our toddler the smartphones to keep them occupied and quiet. We are absentmindedly addicting our children to the screen, and the bodily reactions that it creates.
Many people will see this simply as a sign of the times and resign themselves to it even though they know it is not necessarily the best thing for them. Many will even see it as amazing, how young children so quickly adapt, however what we, at school are seeing, are higher levels of disconnection, anxiety, aggression, disrespect and lack of inner calm. Even simply that children’s minds are full of the stuff that they see on television or the computer and that their conversations with each other are overloaded with the superficial and empty content of their last viewing.
As parents we need to understand that children feel safe when their boundaries are clear and that we as adults are the authority in their lives. For that they will respect us while knowing that we are there for them.
In school we have to deal with the issues that are brought before us as a result of a changing lifestyle and rapidly disintegrating social structure, while maintaining our ethos, values and unique Steiner pedagogy. We see that the creative and imaginative processes written into the curriculum are nourishment for the children and will give them the inner tools needed to move into their futures. The internet, computers, and even the television will only contribute to the loss of imagination and childhood creative abilities, raising anxiety and disconnection.
Please consider this when setting you child’s screen time guidelines.
I have attached a link to a very good video on Waldorf Education.