When in Doubt

This post is a part of Waldorf Wednesday. See all the links here.

I had a wonderful time at Taproot in August. It was heart-expanding, soul-filling and spirit-enriching. So many deep, deep lessons that have broadened my vision as to why I continue on this path of homeschooling with Waldorf. Several conversations have continued to reverberate in my mind and have formed the focus of my inner work for this year. Coming home from Ohio, I put this little collage together, which is basically 2 cutouts from a magazine and some words I added with letter stamps. It hangs by my desk, gently reminding me to remain true to that which transcends curriculum blocks, handwork projects and circle time, yet guides all that we do.

See bigger. Go deeper. Do Less.

***

I wrote the above on August 10, right after I returned from Taproot. I never finished or posted it because I honestly didn’t feel like I had the words to describe all that I took away from Taproot this summer. Talking to Jean Miller two weeks ago, reminded me of what I wrote then. It also rekindled that sense of surety, clarity and calm. As I said in my Habit post the next day: “It was validating, illuminating and inspiring. She is fabulous.” Yes – to all of that and more.

About halfway through our conversation – I don’t even remember what we were talking about – Jean read me this quotation from Steiner:

The aim of Waldorf education is to arrange all of the teaching so that within the shortest possible time the maximum amount of material can be presented to students by the simplest possible means. – Rudolf Steiner, Soul Economy

I don’t know exactly why, but this quotation quelled something inside me. Something that kept insisting I wasn’t doing enough. Something that kept saying our lessons weren’t long enough. Something that made me see things as too brief and somehow lacking instead of seeing things as short, simple and just right. Our days are full, but not busy. Yes, there is time spent in the schoolroom at the desks. But there is also time spent in the kitchen preparing food, outside playing, on the couch reading and by ourselves just being quiet. Silencing that inner critic has let me see our days holistically, with a renewed sense of appreciation for what it is we are trying to do here everyday. Extending this kinder and broader vision to both my boys and myself has also become part of my inner work practice: envisioning one another with a sense of wholeness; gently doing the best we can with all the knowledge we have right now. Not easy, but ultimately I think, a worthy spiritual practice.

See bigger. Go deeper. Do Less.

***

To read the first part of this post – including the illuminating comments, click the image below.

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26 thoughts on “When in Doubt

  1. That is a wonderful mantra and has made me think.
    I would say I am good at the “do less” part for my dc, not so much for myself. In striving to find the real heart of the subject I seem to have to wade through all the things I’m not going to use. Does that make sense? I have found it hard to find that one great resource that means I don’t need any others (to waste time with). It’s not always easy to tell that a resource will not provide what I am looking for. And I’m talking about Waldorf homeschooling/teaching resources here. Sigh. I really want to see bigger, go deeper, do less.
    Thank you for this post. I will be reflecting on it all day, I can tell :o)
    Blessings to you, Sheila.
    Cathy

    • Hey Cathy,
      Yes, I do know what you mean. I took home 2 bagfuls of books from the library today – hoping that the perfect botany book is in there. I guess I’m not really looking for “perfection” but I honestly haven’t connected with the resources I thought I was going to use – so the hunt was on.

      Jean said something else that I have been pondering. The depth of our presentation depends on our connection to the lesson/subject/block, not necessarily our children’s immediate reaction and/or interest in it. I do think that all the prep that we do aids in this. However I have been known to go overboard – yes, well . . .

      Tell me how old your children are?

      Love to you.
      Sheila

  2. You know I’m all about the Big Ideas with Few Words. I am adding this to them. You use so few words to summarize all of the whirling doubts that I have felt and do sometimes feel (math, anyone?) and even fewer words to show how to make it all come out Good and Right.

    can I just say that I love wednesdays? xo

    • I love Wednesdays too.

      This post was a bugger to write, though. I used to be a copy writer/copy editor (BC) so I am always cutting, cutting, cutting with my virtual red pen. (Tom and his business partner and I used to work together and they still fear my red pen!) But I think I did say what I wanted to say – I have a few more thoughts before I put this one to bed, however.

      xo,
      S

  3. Sheila, I’m teaching 3rd grade at the moment to my 9.5yo. I’m very phlegmatic/melancholic, so I tend to spend a lot of time on the research and planning which I love. I’d also argue that I need to spend a lot of time on it, but I just wish it didn’t mean wasting time searching in the wrong places. I don’t think it’s about perfectionism more about wanting clarity for myself – I have to really own what I’m doing, somehow transform it into “mine” before I feel ready to deliver……I can’t just open up a curriculum, read what’s to be done and do it. All the prep just sucks up a lot of time and so the idea of “do less” is really appealing (and probably helpful), but I wonder how do I pull that off but still feel comfortable about the material? Anyway, something to think about! Cathy

    • I do think this is where the spiritual practice part comes in. I am sanguine, so lots of resources is really FUN for me – however, I am not serving myself or my children by having 27 books on botany. I’m trying, I’m trying. Striving, yes?

      Here is another Jean trick, she only allows herself the amount of resources that will fit in the box in her planner. So if that is only 3 or 5, that is how she limits herself. The other thing she told us at taproot 2 years ago, was to literally count the # of days you are devoting to a particular block and then figure out how many stories that would be. Most times it is only 3-5 new stories, which is not a lot. Seeing things in a concrete manner helps me to whittle down my planning.

      So, yes, always something to think about.
      Love to you today and always.
      Sheila

      • LOL. I just read this post again in light of all the comments. Read the quote from Steiner again . . . “the maximum amount of material.” Melisa Nielsen always says Steiner is funny, and I can’t help but laugh at that one today.

  4. Being firm and only allowing myself a few resources is a good practical tip, I will try that. Perhaps I need to start asking the angels for guidance on the best resources for us? The Steiner quote does sum up what I’m striving to do, in my own imperfect way. But I am learning from my mistakes and getting better at this kind of thing. Thanks for being someone I can process my thoughts with, even though we’ve never met and live half a world away from each other. Have a great weekend. Cathy

  5. I love your blog! It has been a lifeline to my new homeschool adventure.

    How do I nominate you for the Beautiful Blogger Award? I’m trying to cut and paste but it’s not working at the moment…

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