“When children relate what they learn to their own experience, they are interested and alive, and what they learn becomes their own.”
–Henry Barnes, former Waldorf teacher and leader of the Waldorf school movement in North America
Our LivingLAB: Kelly Hogan and Timothy Kennedy
In 2014, our Board of Trustees and College of Teachers designed a new initiative, inspired by a long-held community vision to extend our classrooms into the beautiful 7 acres surrounding us. To this end, the LivingLAB program was launched as a dynamic, hands-on implementation of the Waldorf curriculum. In particular, the LivingLAB supports the integration of the thinking, feeling, and willing approach our teachers use in educating the children at PWS, while simultaneously engaging the community in developing our beautiful 7.5 acre campus.
As program director and Waldorf teacher Kelly Hogan explains, the LivingLAB makes use of the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) to provide a “laboratory” for the larger PWS mission, vision, and values. The newest addition to the program, the brick hearth in the courtyard, allows our students to make use of the element of fire during these colder, shorter days leading to winter. Our 11th graders, for instance, have used the hearth as part of their Roman History block, experiencing a Roman soldier ritual by roasting chestnuts. Similarly, our 6th graders used the hearth to fire miniature clay pots that they made in conjunction with their Geology block.
Even as it is still in its infancy, the LivingLAB program has already proven to be highly adaptable, allowing students and faculty in all disciplines to put their studies into practice. Elective students spent the early part of the school year harvesting tomatoes and green beans from a generous neighbor’s garden to make tomato sauce and other food projects. Eighth graders have recently completed their meteorology block by checking their weather observations against the data provided by the recently installed weather station mounted to the high school roof. Eleventh grade has been introduced to herbal medicine in connection with their Middle Ages block. In these ways the LivingLAB, true to its name, allows the Waldorf curriculum to be created and recreated in tangible, meaningful ways for our students. Or as Timothy Kennedy, a Waldorf alum and LivingLAB committee member who guided and led the development of the wood fire oven, puts it, the LivingLAB is a way for PWS to literally “integrate” with the world.
We are very proud of the ways in which the LivingLAB embodies the practical applications of Waldorf Education, and in doing so, nourishes our students on their path to becoming strong and creative adults capable of making a difference in the world. Please help us build on this important effort by making a generous donation to this year’s Community Development Campaign.
“Tell me and I will forget;
Show me and I will remember;
Involve me and I will understand.”
— Chinese Proverb