Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Medieval Games a Huge Success

Yes, it's been a month since my last blog post, and with good reason: this is a busy time for Waldorf teachers!

On Thursday and Friday, April 26/27, the Cincinnati Waldorf School hosted a Medieval Games for 80 Waldorf sixth graders from Michigan and Ohio. We began on Thursday evening with a feast and entertainment in a hall decorated with eight banners designed and painted by my talented students. Each of the four schools gave a presentation. My class sang 2 Gregorian chants in Latin and played a lovely duet on their alto recorders. Other schools also sang, played recorders and violins, shared scenes from class plays, and even performed a sword dance.
The feast, organized and served by the incredible parents of my class, included a hearty vegetable soup; crusty bread, smoked chicken, rice with vegetables, buttery pound cake; and fresh strawberries. Unlike Medieval times, where food would have been slurped and eaten with hands and knives, we decided to be more civilized and provide utensils, perhaps to the chagrin of some sixth graders.
Of course we held the event because Waldorf sixth graders study Medieval history. As I have written in earlier articles, my class took a critical view of the Medieval Crusades, and the knights' role in spreading violence in the name of God, in particular. Hence, as I reflected on what to say to the sixth graders that evening, I decided upon the theme of "21st century knights." I focused on the virtues of valor, steadfastness, and chivalry. I asked the students to consider the ideal of knighthood rather than the reality. As their "Queen" for the evening, I "commanded" that rather than fomenting war for their kingdoms, they must spread peace and goodwill. The four kingdoms (schools) made a pact of eternal friendship.
The games took place in the pristine woods of Meshewa Farm; a place so magical we all expected Robin Hood to appear at any moment. A few dads from my class spent about 100 hours setting up events in the woods. There were six events in all including a steeple chase (obstacle course) that included a log crawl in which students had to crawl into mud and a creek cross where they had to use a "zip-line" to cross a muddy stream; moat jumping; archery; and a huge tug-of-war rope that easily allowed 40 students to participate at once. Of course the area for the middle of the rope was a mud pit!
As I planned the opening ceremony I decided to elaborate on the theme of "21st century knights." I recalled the three virtues and asked students to give examples of each. Groups of 8 were divided into shires and I explained that these events were designed to promote the ideals of valor, steadfastness, and chivalry. I asked them to consider their behavior during the games and be able to report to the entire group at the closing ceremony how they demonstrated the virtues. What a proud and wonderful moment for the adults present as representatives from each shire spoke confidently about their achievements.
The event was amazingly fun and lighthearted, full of laughter and cooperation. Competition was absent and camaraderie ruled the day. In the midst of this joy, however, was the furtherance of a main tenet of Waldorf education, in my opinion: to enable students to use their heart forces when thinking, creating strategies, and simply playing. Why settle for Medieval world views of "let's conquer all who disagree," when we can educate "21st century knights" to create a new peaceful world order?

2 comments:

istiak tuhin said...

thanks for valuable post sharing with us.

istiak tuhin said...

thanks for valuable post sharing with us.

play online games: www.darkagewars.com