Winter Update

Today is a slow, warmth seeking Winter day.

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making cookies during Ramadan

Ramadan and Eid came and went. Bit by bit we are getting closer to an understanding of what might be the cause of our littlest man’s health problems.  I’m just so grateful for his daily health, grateful for every day we spend together.

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Mother’s Day Delights

Homeschooling – Norse Mythology – The World Tree
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Edendale Farm
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Painting.

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the beginning of some wall decoration using wet on wet watercolours

Summer Solstice

We are developing a seasonal yearly rhythm. orangefairy
Midsummer Fairy in the apricot tree

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A Waldorf daily and yearly rhythm are based around cycles of breathing in and breathing out. In Sufism we call this contraction/qabd and expansion/bast.

The whole of reality breathes in and out. 

In ancient times human beings were innately connected to the cycles of the Earth and the expanding universe. In the contemporary world however we are totally out of touch. We cannot even see the stars anymore because of pollution. Electricity has extended the day well into the night, we no longer follow the cycles of the moon or sun. Disconnected from the natural/created world we are also disconnected from our Source.

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When we bring our attention back to the natural world we increase in reverence for the Divine Reality that we Muslims call Allah/God. 

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Islam has always been a faith that pays attention to the cycles of the natural world. The Muslim calendar is a lunar calendar, our festivals are heralded by the sighting of the moon, we pray according to the position of the sun. So it seems like a natural extension of this to pay attention to the cycles of the seasons, to the longest and shortest day, to the tides. Giving attention to something is not the same thing as worshipping it as an individual entity. On the contrary paying attention to rhythm and cycles is a way of honouring the interconnectivity of everything. What Islam does is simply bring this multiplicity and interconnectivity and living-ness back to a Single Source.

I hadn’t organised anything for the Solstice so what we ended up doing was a kind of on the spot happening.
We gathered together some things orange and yellow, we made chalk drawings, we took Midsummer Fairy to a lovely spot in the apricot tree, we ate some oranges while basking in the sun and we felt ourselves radiating with the Summer energy. We recited a surah/verse that begins

‘Allah there is no God but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal’

We also recited the following poem.

‘The radiant beauty of the world
Compels my inmost soul to free
God-given powers of my nature
That they may soar into the cosmos,
To take wing from myself
In cosmic light and cosmic warmth.’

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A visit to a Waldorf school

Today we visited the Sophia Mundi Steiner School Spring Fair. I’ve been past the school plenty of times on the way to Collingwood Children’s Farm but this was the first time I have been inside. I took one step into the Prep and Grade One classrooms and just felt I was at home!

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I realised that in all these years of being attracted to Steiner education, I have never actually been to a school.  I’ve attempted to create a Waldorf influenced homeschool but I’ve never actually been out there and seen how it works in the world. steiner-way2

Of course it is about more than lovely wooden toys and soft colours and handmade things, there’s an energy to these spaces .  It’s a wholesome, enriching way that brings children through and into the world softly and in a gentle, subtle way draws them towards becoming full beings. I came away wondering why aren’t ALL schools like this? Why can people not see the difference between this and mainstream education? I wish so much that we could create schools that combined aspects of Steiner education with Islamic spirituality.

 

Orange peel and kangaroo skeletons

photo 1-7Instead of despairing over orange peel and mounds of clean laundry all over the floor and the half jar of honey that I found tipped over my tea selection this morning, I decided to head off in the sun to a lovely nearby park.

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Just over a month ago during a visit here the children found a kangaroo skeleton and they were keen to look for it again. We walked for a while and found the remnants.
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And then we came across a little echidna off for a morning stroll. When we got close it curled up into a tiny ball and pretended to be a bush. We took a photograph and then we left it to continue on its merry way.
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After a play in the playground we drove down to the marvellous old bluestone farmhouse and cottage gardens. This is my favourite place to visit in our surrounding area. The sky was full of birdsong, we saw red parrots, white cockatoo’s and carefully avoided the nesting magpies. The air was thick with the fragrance of the garden flowers.
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We watched the ducks swimming on the dam and we ate oranges and then it was time to come home.

It doesn’t take much to revive a sense of spirit , as someone who had a country childhood in one of the most beautiful places in the world, I do struggle sometimes with our suburban existence. My body craves the natural environment, my soul needs beauty. And fortunately it is there to be found without much effort.

World War One Diorama

H1 said he wanted to learn about the First World War. I have to admit I really struggle with his interest in wars and weapons but I’ve realised his fascination with competition is simply innate. Superficially reading the Waldorf curriculum I have noticed that it comes up with developmentally appropriate means of stimulating this fascination with conflict and I hope we can pursue some of the themes relevant to his age group later on. For the time being I went with his suggestion and we started to investigate the causes of the war.

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I find that whilst he is really happy to discuss things for quite some time, there is a real resistance to doing anything like compiling points or lists or any of the methods we usually use to retain information yet I think pushing such forced academics would be really counter-productive. It makes me realise just how regimented we have been taught to be with our learning.

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The main point I think H1 took away about the war was how it escalated from a series of events impacting only a couple of countries into something impacting a good proportion of the world.

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