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Category: Steiner Education

In Tolkien’s, Lord of the Rings, Lothlorien, (the Elven centre of resistance against Sauron and symbol for the Elves’ aesthetics of preservation) the garden space, was the sanctuary for those who dwelt there against the negative forces of the surrounding  world. This was a beautiful place where the imagination could flourish and beauty and goodness where held with endearing passion.

Lorien was named after this place and has always remained a place of beauty and protection, upholding values of goodness and truth while helping everyone find their way into the world through imagination, creativity, talent and capability.

Our fair last Saturday was a testament to the values of our school through the energy and goodwill, the creativeness and talents of individuals and groups, working together as a whole school community.

The performances were recognition of the human spirit in the connection to the community as were the efforts of all the volunteers. Thank you all for your efforts and continued support of our school. Proceeds from the fair will go towards the primary school play equipment. Thanks also need to go to the P&F/Fair Committee for their endless organisational efforts and to prevailing spirits for the wonderful weather.

As for the protection of our sanctuary, it was evident that our ethos and values regarding the use of mobile technologies was not as highly regarded as we would like.

It is not an issue of children using phones and listening to music devices at school ‘out of hours’; it is a sad disregard for the values of the school.

We, as adults, need to acknowledge and value the school’s requests to restrict the use of mobile technologies on the school grounds at all times, as is requested by many venues in the outside world. These technologies are insidiously invading every aspect of our lives and are dramatically affecting the normal function of our human spirit.

At Lorien we stand firmly by the human qualities of real connectedness, human relationship, being present in the moment, being an honest representative of the self,

and holding deep respect for each other. All these qualities are threatened by modern mobile technologies, as we witness in the rise of loneliness, disconnectedness, anxiety and depression among our youth.

Please, when you come to school, turn off your phone, engage with the community, live into the experience of your child and respect the values of the school, through the preservation of the sanctuary that we know as Lorien Novalis.

Thank you.

Norman.

 

The following is a support article from Waldorf world.- (The Guardian)

Could Steiner schools have a point on children, tablets and tech? Studies have yet to show much benefit from technology in schools, leading some to wonder whether the offline life is better for children

Research into the effects of technology on learning has yet to demonstrate much in the way of positive results, though. A recent study published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students barred from using laptops or digital devices in lectures and seminars did better in exams than those allowed to use computers and access the internet. And research last year from the London School of Economics found schools that banned pupils from carrying mobile phones showed a sustained improvement in exam results, with the biggest advances coming from struggling students.

A Cambridge University study found that spending an extra hour a day of TV, internet or gaming time in year 10 saw a fall in GCSE results equivalent to two grades overall. Its co-author, Esther van Sluijs, says reducing screen time could have important benefits and adds that “limiting the amount of time spent in front of screens and introducing children to a variety of activities is likely to have the most beneficial long-term impacts on a child’s health”.

Andreas Schleicher, head of education at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said recently: “The reality is that technology is doing more harm than good in our schools today.” A report by the OECD in 2015 found that countries that had invested heavily in technology had shown no signs of improvement in reading, maths or science.

Despite the evidence from such studies there is still, according to Moore, “an anxiety that children aren’t going to be ready to fit into the economy because they don’t do computers at the age of four – whereas if you give them a healthy education and childhood, they can catch up very easily”.

Steiner schools attract parents and teachers who tend to share similar thoughts on screen time and who try to ensure their students are better able to resist the lure of technology. Sean Cummins, who has had three children at the Iona school, says for him the appeal of a Steiner education was that it showed you “could structure a child’s education in a way different from just preparing them for an employer’s requirements when they were 18”.


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Category: Education

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 1.45.47 PM.pngOne of the greatest problems in modern education, despite all the fancy technology and differentiated learning, is student engagement. How does a student engage with their process of learning?

In Steiner education we recognise the importance of three aspects of the human being which are engaged and enlivened through the education. The thinking process, the feeling, or emotional response, and the activity of the will, and generally we place them in this order of importance. However if the will cannot be engaged then the other two also become redundant.

The will is the primary source of engagement and learning.

Through the engagement of the will the other areas of learning are also engaged, as we are seeing in the implementation of the Venture Class and other High School class initiatives.

Out of engaging the will in moving bricks, building gardens and cleaning up, students are able to engage in the process first. Then when other areas of learning are approached, such as the maths, measurement and quantity, materials, design, history and so on, the student can gradually build a stronger relationship to their learning process.

We all know how hard it is to get your child off the lounge, away from the video game, to clean their room etc, and it can be just as hard to engage them in their lessons.

Some parents like to offer a reward or ‘carrot’ for doing the jobs, while others will even pay their children to work. But does this develop engagement?

In Friday Middle lessons the students are given an opportunity to develop their initiatives in self -learning. They have chosen a project which they have four weeks to complete and present.

Watching the process, from ideas driven by passions, into plausible realities, has been a real learning curve for them. For some, engaging their will to come up with an idea has been the greatest challenge. Others have forged ahead and are achieving great results. I can’t wait for presentation day.

On Tuesday morning a senior student group have been engaging their will in autumn pruning. While working quietly on their tasks they chat and interact, building social connections and strengthening their ‘sense of belonging’. This is process of building ownership, and we know when students ‘own’ something they are then fully engaged. 

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The senior students are at present renovating the old film room into their very own Senior Study Room, where they will develop their own codes of conduct, enforcement of rules and so on. This is giving them a true sense of ownership of not only the physical space, but more importantly, of the activities within.

Every student’s learning is dependant on their engagement in the process, and every measure possible must be developed to enhance this engagement. Unfortunately we live in a world full of distractions, and many practices of modern education are more about entertainment rather than learning.

Parents also play a huge role in a student’s engagement, through their own level of engagement in their child’s learning. Evidence has shown that where parents are actively engaged in their children’s school and the learning process, the students academic grades are improved, while their social interactions and behaviours are also greatly improved. We have reintroduced the school diary as a small measure to assist in parent involvement. Students will have written in their diaries when assignments or homework are due, and therefore parents can see what is due and how to help their children meet their deadlines and goals.

Here is the perfect example of where parents and school must be on the same page if children’s learning is to be best supported. If ‘will’ engagement is not supported at home and children are allowed to be inactive and disengaged, then the effectiveness of the school’s role is substantially diminished. It is always very easy to apportion a student’s disconnect to the nature of the lessons or the framework of the timetable, however take a moment to evaluate the home life situation so that a clearer picture can be determined.

Student’s learning and their engagement in their school life is our primary focus and we will work strategically to encourage each student to engage with their learning, and with life, as much as possible.

If you have any concerns in relation to your child and their learning journey please discuss it with your teachers or guardians, or arrange a meeting with me through the front office.

Best Wishes,
Norman (Director of Teaching and Learning) 


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Category: Education

 

What are some of the things to look forward to in 2016 at Lorien Novalis School?

 

Middle School 2016 (Classes 7, 8 & 9)
What will you need to do and what will be different?

The High School students will start school at 8.45am. This is 15 minutes earlier than at present.

They will have First Lesson activities each morning and this is an integral part of their learning day. These activities are specifically designed to enhance their ability to learn for the rest of the day. Students will need to attend these activities with the required and suitable dress.

The rest of the day will function as usual with the timetable as normal, in fact there will be little noticeable change on a day-to-day basis.

It will be essential for all High School students to be at school on time and to participate fully in the activities. If they are late they will have to wait aside until the activity is complete, therefore missing out on that day’s specific activity. Their attendance will be closely monitored and parents will be contacted if lateness becomes an issue.

The afternoon lesson has been extended by 15 minutes, by making lunchtime 45 minutes, making the learning day overall a half hour longer. We will still finish classes at 3.15pm.

Students are required to have all the necessary equipment that they need for lessons in their back -packs. It is imperative that students are well-equipped every day, otherwise their ability to perform freely and effectively is compromised.

For some students, there will be opportunities to extend their work, catch up on homework, have extra music lessons or join the Drama Club or School Band. These extra curricula activities will occur after 3.30pm.

 

Environmental Issues
As an environmental consideration, the school will actively pursue methods of reducing waste and rubbish. This will require students to bring their foodstuff to school in rubbish free packaging and to take any rubbish that they do produce, home again. Organic wastes may be placed in the receptacles provided. Parents we will need to reevaluate the types of food that they give to the children and how it is packaged, considering real food in reusable containers such as lunch boxes.

There will be fewer rubbish bins at school and children’s eating times and locations will be more closely monitored by the teachers and guardians.

One of the goals will be to achieve a rubbish free and more beautiful school, teaching through inculcation, positive values, better quality food and environmental care.

 

Community
To help develop further parent inclusion and engagement in the school a ‘Morning Tea’ group will be extended to a regular timeslot. This forum will be developed as a discussion group around topics of education but extending into other areas of Steiner’s work, namely Bio Dynamics, Nutrition and Parenting. Hopefully this will extend also into Parent Speech and or Eurythmy groups, painting and other art classes, and general Anthroposophy.

Also the Parent Education will be extended to a series of talks on relative and current issues in education and the function of the school:

  • Term One ~Technology, it’s effects on our children and their capacity to learn.
  • Term Two ~ Rhythm and it’s significance in learning and health.
  • Term Three ~ Play, imagination and the development of thinking.
  • Term Four ~ HSC, Graduation and the freedom of the individual.

The specific dates for these talks will be announced next year.

We are working towards a ‘learning community’ and step-by-step we will move in this direction.

Please have a wonderful holiday period and we look forward to an enthusiastic and vibrant beginning to the 2016 school year.

Best Wishes, 

Norman 


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Category: Steiner Education

Click through to Empowering Motherhood Online Radio to listen to an interview with Norm on Steiner Education.

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Category: Grounds

lianah Crossing.jpgOur school environs are always evolving, though some changes are more obvious than others! During the three weeks of Winter holidays, and under the auspices of our newly formed WHS Committee, the following improvements were completed: 

  • New decking on the Novalis College building
  • New pedestrian crossing/speed bump & safety
  • barrier to the outside bus stop
  • New cupboards and a noticeboard in the
  • Playgroup/ future OOSH area
  • New bookshelves in the High School English room
  • Front fence repaired at the bus shelter.

And these improvements have been initiated: 
  • Work on a new High School pathway, linking into the main path/sundial area (less steep!)
  • Safety/native bird friendly hedge along Primary courtyard wall (more details over the page)
  • New fencing for the Playgroup/ future OOSH front grounds area. 

We hope you enjoy the little differences, have patience with the longer term projects, and can assist us when help is needed.. Thank you!

Stuart Rushton

Manager, Operations 

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Novalis College Deck.JPG playgroup OSHC.JPG  
 IMG_20150703_150239.jpg HS path.JPG   

 

 

 

 

 


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Fast Food - Slow Food

Aug 13, 2015

Category: Steiner Education

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 5.44.06 pm.pngThere is a new awareness out there in the world, developing around the importance of ‘slow’ food. We all know what fast food looks like, how it is attractive, convenient and appealing to the senses, however the downsides are that it is unhealthy, unsustainable, lacks vital nourishment and contributes to serious long term health issues, both for the individual and the planet. 

So what does ‘ slow food’ look like? 

Fresh food, not processed, that has been grown organically or at least sustainably, carefully selected, prepared and served at the table with reverence and gratitude, giving us nourishment while consolidating family and community values. 

This picture also gives us an insight into education. 

We are easily attracted by the banners of seductive marketing and catchy slogans while being delivered shallow, content-starved lesson material, which leaves the human spirit crying out for sustenance. Fast food education is centred around quick lessons, assessable outcomes and meaningless test results, all things which have little relevance to human nature. 

Steiner education is slow food for the unfolding individual. It recognizes the child’s developmental stages and massages the curriculum to suit. It lays foundational work through imagination, which will develop into thinking capacities in senior school. It develops the artistic nature of the individual, which builds a solid foundation for the cultural and moral life of every human being. This is slow food education, nourishment which can sustain an individual into their future. Slow chewing leads to good digestion. 

At Lorien we are constantly looking at ways of developing the slow food menu, and I would just like to share with you some of the ideas that we are working on at the moment. 

1) Improving Reading
Here we are looking at ways to improve the engagement of students with more reading and hence improve literacy and knowledge levels. A program will soon be rolled out. 

2) Middle School Model 
It is commonly understood that young adolescents face some of the most challenging times of their lives, and school needs to adopt and help young people understand and work effectively through these challenging times. Curriculum and pedagogy need to meet the students at their stages to allow fuller engagement in learning.

3) The Senior School
Clarifying senior pathways, developing Lorien courses which also meet BOSTES requirements. Identifying Lorien ethos in senior study. Developing Leadership within every student. 

4) The Novalis College
As I have mentioned before, this will encompass parent education, as well as all aspects of teacher performance and professional development, mentoring and coaching. 

In our school vision we are moving to a higher clarification and implementation of Lorien ethos and values. A determination of the values that the school stands for which underpins the policies and practices of the school. This will reinforce our commitment to the slow food education approach and help identify Lorien as a unique entity in the Hills educational landscape, not in competition with any other school, but rather as a standalone unique educational opportunity in a supportive and diverse community. 

Norman Sievers
Director of Teaching and Learning 


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Tags : Education

Our Roles

Aug 13, 2015

Category: Education

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 7.08.36 pm.pngThe education of our children and their learning experiences are the key reasons we devote ourselves to parenting and to teaching. We all wish to see our children go out into the world as confident, respectful and willing participants in society with whatever journey that they may freely choose for themselves. We hope that we have been able to impart to them some of the wisdom of the world through our experience and knowledge. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they participate and sometimes they opt out, nevertheless we are relentless in our pursuit to engage the students in the wonder of learning and to bring to them experiences that will resound positively in their being.

Education is seen as a collaborative effort between the parents, teachers and even the community, for the developmental benefit of the students. In any collaboration there are always clear rules for all stakeholders to secure the best outcome for the recipients, and in education this clarity is of the utmost importance.

While the school has it’s clearly identifiable rules and guidelines, timetables and curriculum, each family has their own individual set of rules and expectations. Each child therefore has to amalgamate the dual set of parameters that they are given and apply them to their day to day lives.

Hence the difficulty in the process of ‘collaboration of the learning’. One rule does not fit all circumstances.

Generally things will go along at a normal and consistent pace, due to the respect that is held between the parents and teachers along with the similarity of goals and expectations. Under this environment the students will flourish and engage with their learning process at a positive level. There are obviously many things which may disrupt this process, even if only for a morning or a day. A student may just have had a bad night or an argument with a sibling before school. This may disturb their attention in class and erode their ability to engage and learn.

There are many things that we can do both as parents and teachers to try and facilitate a positive learning experience for the children, every day.

Teachers dedicate hours to lesson preparation in order to present the curriculum in a creative and engaging way, seeking the connection to the students whereby effective learning can happen. This is the essence to good education and all teachers understand that this is the core of their ongoing study and Performance Development. 

 Norman Sievers


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Category: Early Childhood

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 6.48.57 pm.pngIn our chaotic, hurried, often frenzied world we must ask, “Are we taking a toll on childhood?”  Like a tender little plant in the garden, the young child needs time to grow and develop at their own natural pace.  Instead, the traditional kindergarten has disappeared and in its place is a mostly first grade class for five-year olds.  The word kindergarten translates as “child’s garden” which implies a place of beauty, growth, warmth, and unhurried development, not academic expectation and requirements of conformity to learning processes.

There is no sound scientific research to prove that early academics gives children a leg up later on in school, yet the pressure  is on to see how early intellectual development can be pushed down on our young children. 

The years of childhood from birth to the change of teeth are critical for the development of a healthy physical body, without which strong intellectual development cannot take place.  Children need to run, jump, skip, roll, climb, twist and turn.  Sometimes they just need the time to sit, watch nature, and dream.  Children need a dependable rhythm in the day—a time to eat, a time to sleep, a time to play and a time to rest.  They need the space and the uninterrupted time to engage in self-initiated pretend play.  Children flourish when a nurturing adult is there to provide this space and uninterrupted time for play.  They are nourished by stories that are told, verses that are recited and songs that are sung.  Life habits are instilled when children can help prepare a snack, help put away the toys and learn to put on their clothes and tie their own shoes.

This is what our Lorien kindergartens and preschool class provide.  We know that to divert the child’s life forces from growing and shaping the physical organs to intellectual learning depletes those life forces in such a way that the child is weakened.  Furthermore, when children do not have the opportunity to initiate their own pretend play, the capacity for the development of the imagination is diminished.  Imagination is the bedrock of higher-level thinking and scientific research is now showing that children’s play is the most important way to develop it.

Steiner education is unparalleled in its ability to preserve and nourish the life forces of childhood, not only for the kindergarten years, but for the primary years as well.  We know that children cannot be expected to do mental work continuously without the refreshing break of recess and without the harmonising effects of the arts on a daily basis. 

The  curriculum provides a wholesome antidote to mass-culture influences that speed children into adolescence without regard to their effect.  Classical stories and legends from ancient times and biographies of historical individuals portray heroes and heroines who are truly worthy of emulation.  When these stories and biographies are introduced by a  teacher, the impact on young lives is noteworthy.

Parents today are more conscious than ever regarding the raising of children.  Some complain of  the lack of recess and the emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing that is driving mainstream education and they agonize over the fact that their children do not even want to go to school.  Rudolf Steiner gave indications for an education pertinent for the times in which we live.  He foresaw what the advance of materialism and technology would bring if human beings were unable to think, to feel, and to act with purpose for the well-being of the world.

Steiner schools stand out as havens and protectors of childhood so that young people will have the vital foundation they need for a true life education and the unfolding of the human spirit.

The imaginative pictures that the young children build in their minds is a foundation for greater thinking capacity in later life.

Einstein, it was said, spent his time as a young student, gazing out the window, dreaming. Teachers found him ‘unteachable’.

All children need the space and time to gaze out the window, building the imaginative pictures in their minds and not filling their minds with rapidly changing TV images or darting computer games which disallow the contemplative capacities of the mind to develop.

(This is an article which I have built out of another article from Waldorf Education).

Best wishes,

Norman.


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