For those of you who cannot let go of the competitive parent mindset bumper stickers are now available for parents of honors felters. Note that only the most accomplished felting students are granted this honor. Anyone attempting to falsely display an honors parent bumper sticker will be subject to censure.
A recent New York Times article vindicates the focus Waldorf schools put on handwriting skills and penmanship. According to the article, “‘When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,’ said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. ‘There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize, ‘he continued. ‘Learning is made easier.’”
In light of this discovery the Collegium of the Burning Badger Waldorf School has decided to issue all future annual reports and financial statements in handwritten form. Rest assured that there will be certain items on the balance sheet that will be very, very hard to read. Especially as relating to inflated charges for beeswax crayons and the notorious balance sheet high jinx of Frau Rabbit in regards to her horsetail tea budget.
St. John Eating the Book, from The Apocalypse series
The Anthroposophical Book Group met last night at my house to discuss this month’s selection, Steiner’s The Apocalypse of St. John over some sauteed ramps and dirt tea. I have to admit it was pretty heavy going! Not many of us made it past that first chapter and even those who did seemed to be relying heavily on the chapter summaries. I will say that all of us were up-to-date on the latest episodes of The Walking Dead and that got us talking about why the popular image of the apocalypse is so negative when for a lot of us the whole idea of the apocalypse sounds kind of fun. I did gather from the book that for Steiner the apocalypse is a spiritual event.
Mobster’s Moll: “You’ve always been skeptical about the Steiner philsophy.”
Mobster: “The whole Steiner package is starting to make sense to me.”
Steven Van Zandt, star of Netflix’ original series Lillyhammer, plays a mobster living in Lillehammer, Norway under the Federal Witness Protection Program. (The spelling of the series title alludes to Lily — Tagliano’s dog — killed in the first episode during an attempt on Tagliano’s life, and the way some anglophones mispronounce the name of the town.) In the show the mobster comes to appreciate the Steiner philosophy. Watch Season 2, Episode 7 as the gangster contemplates enrolling his twins in a Waldorf school.
Rudolf Steiner is in the headlines this week as scientists uncover DNA evidence that gnomes walked the earth as long as 80,000 years ago and share lineage with the early humans known as Denisovans. The New York Times reports that this startling new fossil evidence gives credence to some of Steiner’s theories that have been unfairly overlooked.
The Burning Badger Waldorf School Collegium emphatically denies that the second movie in the Hobbit series, The Desolation of Smaug, contains product placements for our school. The practice of product placement, or embedded advertising, is an abhorrent marketing strategy whereby companies pay to have their products or services appear in movies. This manipulative and insidious form of advertising is particularly damaging to our youngest elves who are usually unaware they they have been targeted as consumers and is one of the reasons we discourage our younger children from watching movies. Any appearance of Burning Badger crafts or merchandise, such as the Burning Badger school plates used in the lower school and available yearly at our Burning Badger Silent Auction, is purely accidental.
Another box of Clementines shamefully jettisoned in the compost bin. If you look closely at this photo I think you can guess which Burning Badger Waldorf School parent is responsible for this wasteful behavior. The same parent who failed to remove her children’s pumpkins from the kindergarten room until they were a public health hazard! Although we are in favor of composing clementines when necessary, and think that excluding citrus from compost is wasteful and bourgeois, this is a very expensive way to build your compost supply! Why do clementines go bad? Because they only last about a week or a week and half at room temperature after harvesting, and they do not ripen once picked but rather start to rot. The culprit is international agribusiness that has us eating out-of-season fruit shipped too far beyond our natural zone. But the real criminal here is a parent who should know better and also owes money for the class gift.
Burning Badger Waldorf School students were recruited to the crew of the newest Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug. Anyone familiar with the films will know that they are full to bursting with beeswax candles, earthen tableware, wooden barrels, farm tables, oak beams, pewter objects, linen robes, felted hats and other Waldorf staples. Location scouts visited the third grade classroom at Burning Badger to scope it out as a possible location for filming of Beorn’s house in The Desolation of Smaug but met with resistance from the Media Committee when they made their offer. While visiting the Burning Badger campus, however, the film crew staff were overwhelmed by the quality of our student’s handwork and hired over 45 Burning Badger students to work on crafting for the film. Although union rules applied, some parents objected to the exploitation of our student body and in the end the students returned from the set to resume their usual coursework at Burning Badger. But if you look closely at the footage from Beorn’s house you can see the exemplary handiwork of the third and fourth grades.
Gnomic #1 by Deiter Reichstag
On display at the Burning Gallery at Burning Badger Waldorf School in Happy Valley,Pennsylvania through January 4
Gerhard Mushroom, Botany Teacher
The fifth grade had its first overnight Foraging Field Trip this week and it was an overwhelming success! Although the temperature did drop quite low, the children exaggerated when they claimed there was snow on their sleeping bags and it is simply not true that their nettle soup froze in their bowls. What active imaginations our little gnomes have! How sweet their little temperaments! Remember as you hear their stories of our wonderful field trip how tenuous the child’s grasp of reality is at this stage in their development!
Our field trip began with a rousing walk up Breakfoot Mountain and a bracing, if unintentional, swim in the river (which was unexpectedly high for this time of year). We sang every song in the Waldorf Song Book, and then started again at the beginning. How delightful to hear the innocent voices of the children in harmony with the natural sounds of the chill wind in the trees, the birds in the air and the coyotes in the glen below. I took the occasion to remind the students of the tale of Hansel and Gretel and how those clever children survived by their own ingenuity in the forest.
We found many species of edible plants and had ample opportunity to marvel at earth’s bounty. While I also took care to teach the children to identify poisonous plants, especially any enticing poison mushrooms and berries, I want to make it clear to all of those parents who have emailed me that it is emphatically not the case that Vishnu Smith-Allen ingested Cicuta virosa (commonly known as poison hemlock, cowbane or poison parsnip). While it is true that little Vishnu Smith-Allen may possibly have experienced anaphylactic shock, and that as a very prudent precaution he was revived by means of his EpiPen (when we finally found it in his knapsack that had unfortunately been left behind in the cave where we had taken shelter from a very brief hail storm earlier that day), his allergic reaction was not caused by the innocent flora we gathered on our field trip.
In fact what happened, and there is ample iPhone video footage, illicitly taken by Bean Curd Bradley on his smuggled smartphone, to back up this claim, is that little Vishnu had eaten a purloined bag of Reece’s Pieces peanut butter candy and had a reaction to it. Apparently little Vishnu was inspired by a film entitled E.T. The Extra Terrestrial which he very unfortunately had been allowed to watch by his older brother who was visiting from The Commune—something which I hasten to point out is a flagrant violation of The Burning Badger Waldorf School Media Policy. This film, as the very attractive Happy Valley intern who kindly accompanied us on the foraging trip explained, was an early example of that immoral practice now called “product placement” whereby evil corporations selling unwholesome foods to youngsters pay to have their toxic foodstuffs featured in Hollywood films.
It would be hard to come up with a better cautionary tale of the dangers of the media for children!
At the suggestion of the head of the Collegium of Burning Badger, Waldorf School I have included several delightful eighteenth -century engravings of the innocent flora we encountered on our field trip (though admittedly no flowers were actually in bloom in November) to further reassure all parents that no harm was done. Note that I was forced to obtain these images on the internet (using the computer I have hooked up to my solar panel in my tree house study) as my beloved copy of the book from which they are taken, the Phytanthoza iconographia of Johann Wilhelm Weinmann (1683-1741), was a tragic casualty of our foraging field trip. This book, a very rare copy of which was presented to me on my graduation from the gymnasium in Basel, was among my most prized possessions. Perhaps a grateful and generous parent may remember the incident at the river when it comes to the yuletide season.
We are lucky that all of the participants in the field trip survived and we look forward to venturing up Brokefoot Mountain again next year, perhaps earlier in the autumnal season.
Butch here! We are not married (to each other) but have a mixture of previous spouses and lovers who come and go. We heat our one-room post and beam house with logs made from rolled up newspapers procured at the transfer station that we ring with repurposed cans from ethically-sourced tuna (if you don’t think that’s an oxymoron). When it gets really cold we sneak onto the back road of a wooded area in the nearby conservation easement and chop down trees for firewood. Living off the grid requires constant ingenuity and careful scanning of what’s available on freecyle.com. We have a solar shower with a collection tank on the roof, though it’s become infested with snakes this year. In the winter it’s better not to wash anyway because the body’s natural protective oils help keep you warm. When we want cheese and crackers we go to a book signing at the Moldy Leaf Book Store and live it up.
My get-rich-quick scheme for retirement is a Christmas Tree farm, but the trees seem to be infected with a strange fungus which the Tree Healer is not able to identify. The Agricultural Extension Office won’t return my calls. Figures you can’t expect anything from the government. Our son Zeke has a behavior problem and undiagnosed Dyslexia. For days at a time he will refuse to eat or drink anything but the kale kefir Margot makes for him. Each year we scape together just enough paper money for half Zeke’s huge tuition at the nearby Purgatory Chasm Waldorf School and barter our services for the rest (re-thatching roofs, digging a trench for the new leach field, mucking out pigsties on the model farm, brewing kombucha for the faculty lounge). It can be hard to keep up with the rich bourgeois capitalists who have driven up the tuition at Purgatory Chasm WS! But we live in earth’s plenty. There is always a pot of sauerkraut cooking on the woodstove and enough jars of it to get us through the winter. Every year we pluck more feathers from the pet ducks that we raise for meat and Margot makes another duvet for our sleeping loft. There’s more than enough room in the loft for any Burning Badger alums who happen to be in the area! Please come and share a glass of sauerkraut juice with us.
Photo Credit: Bittersweet Volumbe I, No. 3, Spring 1974
Burning Badger Waldorf School is abuzz with the news that the movie of The Rudolf Steiner Musical is finally being cast in Hollywood. We were all excited to learn that Jeremy Irons will be playing Steiner! Irons announced the role at in recent appearance at the Berlin Film Festival in October where he was promoting his upcoming film, Night Train To Lisbon. Our own beloved drama teacher, Pine Nut Schneider, will begin casting the Burning Badger Waldorf School production of The Rudolf Steiner Musical after the Fall Festival. She asks that we convey that the play is filled with wonderful song and dance numbers to showcase student talents and encourages everyone to audition whether they are tone deaf or not. The finale of the play includes an exuberant Anthroposophical conga line in which the Rudolf Steiner character will descent onto the stage from a zip line amid clouds of smoke. Note: anyone who happens to own a smoke machine and would be willing to volunteer it for use in the play, we promise that what happened last year will never happen again.
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“These are the people teaching our children?”