A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”
And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times. Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful.
Handwork is one of the most essential elements of Waldorf education. It is through the hands and heart that the child attains a real knowledge of self and world, because the heart is engaged through the hands. In this youtube, “On Handwork” by Renate Hiller, revelatory and sadly forgotten truths are touched upon.
One idea among many others is that we find empathy for the things of this world (whether it be yarn, wood, or fabric) when we hold the materials in our hands and work with them to fashion our own unique creations that are then kept for ourselves or given away.
My third grade class and I visited a sheep shearing at a nearby farm, and after seeing the fat, fluffy sheep sleekly transformed, surrounded by mounds of their wool, we gathered up a bagful. The next day, washtubs with lots of soapy water were set out to wash the wool, and the children dove in with a will!
They were amazed at how after much scrubbing, rubbing, wringing, and rinsing, the smelly, matted wool was transformed into soft, white clouds. Then we carded and spun the wool with stone drop spindles (as you see Renate doing at the beginning of the youtube) resulting in a ball of white wool yarn with a stone inside.
The children knitted small pouches with their homespun yarn, but many other things could be knitted, like these playful lambs. Here’s a link to Annette’s Waldorf Lamb blog with full instructions. This is a simple pattern using a garter stitch, increasing and decreasing by casting on and casting off. Grade 3 is a good time to expand knitting skills!
Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal. Tune in again tomorrow for more Grade 3 fun!