"This week's episode is an interview with Theresa Baker who is the handwork teacher at the Shining Mountain Waldorf school in Boulder, CO. Theresa talks about the importance of handwork, and how this educational philosophy not only teaches skills to the student, but also furthers cognitive development as the child grows."
If you haven't heard of Waldorf education, it's an educational philosophy that emphasizes the roll of imagination in learning and which strives to holistically integrate the intellectual, practical and artistic development of it's students.
Here's some more detailed information from their website: "Until age six or seven children learn primarily through physical activity, imagination and imitation. A sense of goodness permeates the home-like environment of the PreK/Kindergarten. Toys of natural materials encourage creative engagement in imaginative play. Young children drink in the images of fairy tales and stories, developing their capacity for inner picturing, which becomes the basis for literacy and future critical thinking skills. In Lower School children learn best when academics are conveyed through painting, drama, music, storytelling and other direct kinesthetic experiences that stir their emotions. A sense of beauty weaves throughout the day, engaging children in their learning. In Middle School academics continue to be brought through the arts, but the pictorial thinking of the earlier grades now turns toward more abstract thinking. Teaching methods adapt to this change. In High School themes and methods stimulate higher-level intellectual skills and higher order thinking. This is the time when imagination, carefully cultivated in the early years, is transformed into skills of convergent, divergent, analytic, synthetic, and evaluative thinking."
The Waldorf curriculum also aims to cultivate manual dexterity by teaching handwork and practical arts - things like knitting, crocheting and sewing are taught throughout all the grades, which not only teaches a skill to the student, but also furthers cognitive development as the child grows.
I think this is so important, and why I really wanted to interview Theresa: The furthering of cognitive development through handcrafts is something that Waldorf education values. There are multiple studies done one why crafting is so important to cognitive development - from bonding with parents, teachers and friends to increasing the brain's ability to effortlessly use both sides to problem solve, cognitive development has been shown time and time again to be incredibly beneficial and needed as a child grows.
I hope you enjoy this episode of the podcast as much as I did, and please make sure to leave your comments below!