Sunday, November 22, 2009

What Do You Mean By Enki/Waldorf?

I get asked this question often; I was actually asked again last night. I'm never exactly sure how to answer it (I know I have tried on the blog in the past). I'm fairly certain that most people aren't interested in the philosophy, so I tend to explain the what and how and see if the questions progress into why.

I often just refer to us as Waldorf homeschoolers, although in reality we follow a more Enki model. I find that most people have never heard of Enki but may have some familiarity with Waldorf. However, we are not anthroposophists. Enki appealed to me from the beginning because it integrated several fantastic models into a new form of education with a different philosophy. Enki brings in developmental-immersion mastery, skills practice, multicultural studies, and a strong focus on sensory integration.

We're rogue Enki homeschoolers, as I chose not to continue with the Enki main group. I think that is one reason I shy away from referring to us as Enki. There weren't many materials available for grade 4 and I found that I wasn't utilizing the phone discussion group. As I have the Grade 1 - 6 Teaching Guide (no longer available) I felt confident that I had sufficient guidance to go it alone. Honestly, this year I just couldn't justify spending the funds on what was available for grade 4. I do at times feel a little lost without the support of a community of peers going through grade 4 with me.

The basics of how are different from mainstream educational practices; block teaching is something that most people haven't heard of, although many of them see the inherent benefit in it once it is explained. An art-based approach is also unusual outside of Waldorf schools. When I explain the three-fold cycle I often get blank stares; I know people can understand it but I'm not very good at explaining it.

For our grade 4 work (have I mentioned how peaceful and right it feels to have returned to our Enki/Waldorf roots?) our subject content is chosen to mirror the developmental stage of the grade 4 child. In grade 4 we study mythology (Norse and Egyptian are what we have chosen this year), fractions, long division, local geography and history, and animals, as well as continuing work in music, art, movement, etc.

When I say Enki/Waldorf I mean that we are following a block lesson model along with developmental-immersion mastery, an arts-approach, and curriculum content chosen for the developmental stage of the child (rather than their skill level). I mean that we are respecting the unfolding nature of the child and not pushing them forward nor holding them back. Our goal is far more than just academic education; it is life education.

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