“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ H. Thurmond
*Dickens and Me
Near the end of my final 8th grade year, I researched the biography of Charles Dickens. I found that as a young man Dickens had been an up and coming reporter in Parliament. Here he was witness to debates concerning the social conditions plaguing English society in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution.
Dickens asked the question of what he could do to best help effect needed change. Interestingly, he came to the conclusion that many of England’s social ills stemmed simply from the hard-heartedness of its people. His solution was to write stories full of feeling and pathos, which could break through his audience’s aloofness. In this sense I can feel a kinship with him. I feel that I, too, chose a path addressing one of the great social questions of our time- how can education help the human being to rightly develop. I believe it comes through an education worthy of the human being in all aspects, which is precisely what Waldorf education is. I believed that when I first set out in teaching, and I still do today.
A Lifetime of Creativity and Education
My earliest teaching experiences were in inner-city schools in Los Angeles and Oakland in the late 60s and early 70s. Over time I became discouraged by the prevailing educational approach, which then, as now, did not adequately meet the promise of childhood. I found that it repelled children rather than drawing them to it. Some years later, my idealism was re-ignited when I discovered Waldorf Education. I found in it deep insight into how children develop and how a pedagogy based upon those insights could help children become successful both as students and as human beings.
In the nearly 40 years since then, I have worked continually to cultivate this model for learning, one based in imagination, creativity, and physical activity. I have witnessed how this approach, teaching through art, enlivens children, bringing out the best in them, adding depth to the meaning of the term ‘to educate’. This approach empowers children whatever their background, helping them to become the enthusiastic learners they rightly ought to be. It is important to note that this focus on the arts does not shun academics, rather it fulfills them, and facilitates children’s becoming active thinkers as they mature. The secret to its success, I have realized, is that the expectations they are presented with can be met, and are inherently satisfying to meet.
To further this purpose I have published a number of books, which embody and demonstrate this approach to learning.
My purpose behind this website is to share with teachers, parents, and other concerned individuals what I have learned through my involvement with Waldorf Education and what I have done with it. In this sense I would hope to contribute to a much-needed renewal of education. My focus for now is on the early primary years, recognizing that children need healthy, strong beginnings in school. It is indeed ironic that at the 100th anniversary of the first Waldorf school, this work may be considered a “new direction in education”. Yet, we have much to rethink, and I remain optimistic for the future.
Mentoring and Consulting
Howard Schrager is available for mentoring and consultation on integrating creative activity into the classroom.
This may be combined with a presentation of this work New Directions in Education, to parent, teacher, social, and civic groups in engaging 1 1/2 hour segments.
Whether for businesses, parents, teachers, social and civic groups, or local government, Howard can present engaging 1.5 hour demonstrations of how to bring creativity and imagination into learning. His work can change the way we view math and its place in our lives, and deepen our feelings and understanding of many areas of learning.
“I collaborated with Howard for approximately four years, working toward bringing children a public education inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy. We spent 3-4 days a week together and I can earnestly say I always walked away feeling inspired, encouraged, loved and above all, heard. His individual and group mentoring with teachers as well as his professional development workshops and lectures provided the school community with wisdom, strength, passion and inspired creativity.”
~ Tisha Blackwood-Freitas