Into the Wild
A few special moments from our third and fourth graders’ week up at Hawthorne Valley farm (these kids hardly even look like New Yorkers!)…
Bring Back Handwriting
Adapted from this Medium article by Markham Heid
In our digital age when most schools have cut handwriting from the curriculum, regarding it as an outdated mode of communication, Waldorf schools continue to teach children to write in both print and cursive. Studies are now beginning to show that the benefits of this skillset may be more far-reaching that once understood.
Not so long ago, putting pen to paper was a fundamental feature of daily life. Journaling and diary-keeping were commonplace, and people exchanged handwritten letters with friends, loved ones, and business associates.
While longhand communication is more time-consuming and onerous, there’s evidence that people may lose out when they abandon handwriting for keyboard-generated text. “When we write a letter of the alphabet, we form it component stroke by component stroke, and that process of production involves pathways in the brain that go near or through parts that manage emotion,” says Virginia Berninger, a professor emerita of education at the University of Washington. Hitting a fully formed letter on a keyboard is a very different sort of task — one that doesn’t involve these same brain pathways. Psychologists have long understood that personal, emotion-focused writing can help people recognize and come to terms with their feelings. Since the 1980s, studies have found that “the writing cure,” which normally involves writing about one’s feelings every day for 15 to 30 minutes, can lead to measurable physical and mental health benefits. These benefits include everything from lower stress and fewer depression symptoms to improved immune function.
Experts who study handwriting say there’s reason to believe something is lost when people abandon the pen for the keyboard. Daniel Oppenheimer, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, found that learning to write first in print and then in cursive helps young people develop critical reading and thinking skills. Writing by hand promotes “deep encoding” of new information in ways that keyboard writing does not. Because typing is fast, it tends to cause people to employ a less diverse group of words. Writing longhand allows people more time to come up with the most appropriate word, which may facilitate better self-expression.
Writing by hand may also improve a person’s memory for new information. A 2017 study in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that brain regions associated with learning are more active when people completed a task by hand, as opposed to on a keyboard, and a 2014 study in the journal Psychological Science found that students who took notes in longhand tested higher on measures of learning and comprehension than students who took notes on laptops. “It slowed people down,” says Daniel Oppenheimer, “While the students who typed could take down what they heard word for word, people who took longhand notes could not write fast enough to take verbatim notes — instead they were forced to rephrase the content in their own words, resulting in the need to think deeply about the material, and actually understand the arguments.”
When a person writes by hand, they have to invest more time and energy than they would with a keyboard. And handwriting, unlike typed text, is unique to each individual. This is why people usually value a handwritten note more highly than an email or text, Berninger says. If words weren’t quite so easy to produce, it’s possible that people would treat them — and maybe each other — with a little more care.
“LUNGS” Festival this weekend
The “Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens” Festival continues this weekend with a plethora of musical and cultural events throughout the East Village and Lower East Side’s many community gardens. Our own El Jardin will host “Kids Day” on Saturday, and you can see the schedule for all gardens here.
Waldorf Education is 100 today!
Parent Craft Morning
Thursday, Sept 19
Knit, crochet, and sew with Ms. Kaori. All skill levels welcome, no experience necessary.
Friday, Sept 20
Free coffee downstairs!
Waldorf 100 Street Fair hosted by Rudolf Steiner School
Friday, Sept 20
78th street + 5th Ave; all ages welcome.
Garden Work Day
Saturday, Sept 21 at El Jardin
Monday, Sept 23
Guided meditation downstairs led by David Williams, father of Kali in the Mulberry class.
save the date:
Monday, Sept 30 + Tuesday, Oct 1
Whole School Community Meeting
Saturday, Oct 5
Wednesday, Oct 9
Monday, Oct 14
Indigenous Peoples' Day / Columbus Day
Autumn Parent Evening
Wednesday, Oct 23
Happy Birthday to Ms. Kaori, Ms. Deedra, Ms. Patricia, and Chima!
You can still sign up your first through fourth grader for after-school Village Peeps! Use code 2WEEKSPEEPS to prorate the price of each class and begin next week. To add the class to TADS, email Jennifer.
The Physicians’ Association for Anthroposophic Medicine is offering the following three webinars to share anthroposophical approaches to common childhood health concerns. Online registration is required; optional donations are appreciated.
Nov 13, 2019, 8:30 pm EST / 5:30 pm PST
Jan 15, 2020, 8:30 pm EST / 5:30 pm PST
Mar 11, 2020, 8:30 pm EST / 5:30 pm PST
Parenting & emotional health
Kim John Payne, one of our school’s faculty mentors and author of Simplicity Parenting and Being at Your Best When Your Kids Are at Their Worst: Practical Compassion in Parenting created this free online workshop to help listeners discover how to become more calm and confident parents, and have deeper connections with their children. The sessions are video/audio based, so you can listen at times that work best for you.