Science Teachers Conference Update

In just over two weeks,  teachers will gather in Santa Rosa, CA for the fourth science teaching conference, “ From Phenomena to Insight”.  We will explore the stages of scientific understanding in relation to the birth of the astral body, beginning with sixth grade.  This will be the focus of the morning demonstrations by both Wilfried Sommer and Craig Holdrege, with Jon McAlice returning for early morning study on the nature of the etheric and astral bodies.

In response to questions from teaching colleagues,  themes are emerging for the afternoon sessions.   Teachers have asked if we might work with the concepts of “sustainability” and the “atom”.   While these familiar concepts can mean different things to different people, both are so ubiquitous in the media, and in the teaching of science that they begin to be “things”.    

With the atom, the “thingness” sometimes takes the form of a physical model:  atoms are considered to be the smallest particles that comprise all other matter.   Many of us were introduced to this “scientific” way of thinking as early as fourth grade.  We can underestimate how thoroughly it has permeated our understanding of the world around us.  When studying light and sound, with wave models, there is an implicit assumption that there is an underlying material that “vibrates”.  This model perspective has allowed us to develop technologies involving light and sound, but have we limited our understanding of these phenomena because our thinking is limited to physical explanations? Does the sense world provide a knowledge and wisdom that is beyond the mechanical aspects of atomic concepts?  If yes, how are we able to grasp them?  Wilfried Sommer, Wade Cavin and John Petering will work with these themes in Physics and Chemistry experiments.

The terms “sustainability” and “sustainability education” point to our relation to earth.  One can find many definitions of sustainability.  We want to begin by looking at its meaning so that we can have a shared understanding as the basis for our explorations of sustainability education.  Here are some questions that we could consider:

  • Where in the curriculum of the Waldorf School is sustainability education already living?
  • How can we stay present with an ever-changing world while teaching a curriculum that considers the earth as a living being?
  • What does “earth” mean to children and young people of different ages?
  • How does one’s own personal relationship to nature affect the way that we teach science?
  • Given all the technological, ecological and social developments since the early 20th century, when the basic Waldorf curriculum was laid out, what content is missing that might be crucial in our times?

Craig Holdrege, Jon McAlice and Ronni Sands will collaborate to lead an exploration of aspects of sustainability.

If you are planning to attend, please register for the Science Teachers’ conference as soon as possible, so that we can prepare based on the teachers coming.