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August 4, 2005

PLANS - accurate? Responses and comments thereon

Dan Dugan quoted me (8-3, on WC)

Like most of the material on the PLANS site, the above remarks are not
backed up by any citations or documentation.

and then responded:

The claims made on Waldorf web sites are backed
up by citations and documentation?

PLANS claims, more than once, to be presenting the results of "research." Research can be (and should be) backed up by citations and documentation.

Next I offered an example of 4th graders doing original designs in craft class. Dan responded:

OK, DK got us. Any categorical statement like
"fourth graders embroidering a purse must all use
the same pattern" is bound to be falsified by one
counter-example.

There are a lot of categorical statements on the PLANS website. I plan to spend the next few months falsifying them one by one. Unless Dan would like to change all the categorical statements into something less absolute?

Dan continues:

Of course not. My son's teacher, for example,
wasn't rigid at all. But you know, Detlef, that
it's the rule in the early grades that all the
kids do the same art. This smoke screen is too
transparent.

How about adding the word "usually" before
"fourth graders"? Would that be sufficient
qualification?

Unfortunately he starts directing his comments to Detlef, who is an innocent bystander. Detlef simply copied my post to share with the WC.

Now Dan does raise an interesting point. Kids do similar artwork in the early grades. What is this about? Does something sinister lurk (weird music please)?

It is mostly about mastering technique. When I joined a waldorf class, in the 8th grade, everyone could draw really well: except me. As the beneficiary of many different public schools across several states I'd never learned how to draw. Once someone learns how to draw pictures it is quite difficult to keep them from drawing anything they want to draw. I know one waldorf kid who does super-heroes (exquisitely). However, if you never learn the basic techniques, only the kids with a natural, god-given (or hereditary) talent will be able to draw well. Same thing applies to painting, knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery, felting. Before you can be creative you need to master the basic techniques.

My daughter learned how to knit in the first grade. Everybody knitted the same projects (but hey, they did get to choose their colors). Knitting was revisited in the third grade where everyone made hats and the super knitters got to make scarves too. This time they got to choose two colors and figure out their own stripe arrangement. Knitting was revisited again in (5th?) a higher grade where they did a project involving knitting in the round on multiple needles.

You can, I hope, see the development here. Increasing skill level, increasing complexity, increasing design freedom. My daughter, as an adult is a highly skilled knitter, capable of figuring out almost any pattern and also quite capable of designing a knitted item from scratch. She can work with incredibly complex color arrangements, too. One vest she created is such a work of art that no one ever believes she made it herself.

If you believe that the foundation to artistic creativity is handing kids a blank piece of paper and some crayons, then waldorf indeed stifles artistic creativity. So do all the art classes in the world because all of them (whoops, I'm getting categorical) involve training in technique. This applies to music, singing, drawing, painting, composing, dance...

Enough.

I'll continue my comments on Dan's and Walden's responses tomorrow or perhaps Saturday.

DK

Posted by Deborah at August 4, 2005 1:38 PM

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