Waldorf Education| Block Book Nights| Communism

This week is “Block Book Week” at Cole’s Waldorf high school. Please scream and throw yourself into a chair. Sigh heavily.

Thank you. Misery loves company.

Waldorf students do not work from published textbooks; they create their own books. In high school, their “books” are due at the end of the block of study and are filled with information that was relevant to the class. Each page of the book must be accurate and beautifully illustrated. Most subjects require a “creative” component. There is an element of beauty in every subject taught at a Waldorf school. This is one of the elements of the education that has kept us coming back for 15 years; however, Block Book Week can push even the most faithful Waldorf parent to his or her limit.

On Tuesday, Cole had his presentation about the early Communist Party in America. It was a research paper he had written, turned in and done well on, but it still needed that pesky creative piece. The conversation went something like this, starting at about 5 p.m. Monday night.

Cole: Mom, do we have a costume that I could wear for my presentation on communism tomorrow?

Me: (I bet you didn’t think I crossed dressed as a communist, did you?): Well, what did you have in mind?

Cole: I want to dress like a communist did in America in the 1920s and 1930s.

Me: I don’t think they dressed much differently than anyone else did, Cole.

Cole: Mom, a costume is going to be the artistic component for my presentation on communism tomorrow.

Me: Tomorrow? Maybe you had better just do a poster of the communist flag.

Cole: Mom, the teacher wants more than a poster. It needs to show extra effort.

Me: The project is due tomorrow. It’s a little late to be thinking about extra effort.

Cole: Mom, it’s never to late to go the extra mile. (That must have been a Joeism, because I certainly would never say something so silly.)

Me: Ok, well, what about a striking worker? You mentioned the Communist Party supported a lot of strikers back then and played a big part in the start up of unionization. (Thank God I did more than a low-level listen when he talked about his paper.)

Cole: I could wear Dad’s blue jean jacket and make a STRIKE sign. I will spray paint the sign red and stencil the communist symbol and the words onto the sign. We can run over to K-Mart and buy the spray paint, poster board and letters as soon as I write up two experiments for my main lesson book and work 100 math problems. K-Mart is open until midnight.

The clock strikes 6 p.m., which means a K-Mart run is in my future at 8 p.m. Minors cannot buy spray paint.

Me: I am not going to K-Mart at one minute later than 8 p.m., so you had better get in there and get busy. (You have to stand for something, or you will fall for anything.)

At 9 p.m., we are leaving for K-mart. Flexibility is an important trait to demonstrate to your children.

K-Mart had what we needed…almost. Thank God Michael’s craft store was still open.

When we returned home, Cole got busy cutting out letters and making the communist symbol. It took a little longer than he had anticipated. It was now raining, lightning and storming outside, so spray painting had to take place in the upstairs den, which thankfully has old studio tiles.  I opened windows, spread newspaper, admonished Cole to spray neatly, shut the door and hoped for the best. Some might accuse me of putting my son at risk for spray paint asphyxiating, but I knew he would be fine— And sure enough, he came down the stairs—a little lightheaded, but none the worse for wear—about 20 minutes later to show me his communist strike sign.

Cole: Mom.

Me: Yes, Cole?

Cole: Mom, Strike has a T in it doesn’t it?

Me: The American spelling has an T. (I wanted to give us both an out—would the teacher know the Russian spelling of strike?)

Cole: Shoot. (Maybe he used a stronger word…I can’t remember.)

I started to laugh. Cole started to laugh and somehow managed to squeeze in the T with a little finesse and his mother’s help. My nails are now a lovely shade of black. Stylish and seasonal, right?

As the clock struck 1 a.m., I turned back into a mom and started barking orders like a drill sergeant. The sign still needed a stick, Cole needed a shower…and our alarms were set to ring five hours later.

Cole: Mom, you don’t have to shout. I’m just taking my usual [two-hour] shower, brushing, Waterpik-ing and flossing my teeth.

Me: Cole, it’s 1:30 a.m. You have to be up early, and tomorrow night you are going to the Bulls game. (What kind of mom agrees to a Bulls game during Block Book Week? A mom who has a friend who offered Cole a ticket for second-row seats and knows he will remember the game far beyond the math test he has the next day.)

Cole: Good night, Mom. Love you. Thanks for your help.

Cole went to bed, I cleaned up, my house smelled like a car detail shop, and I had red and black paint on my hands. I reached down and pulled a purple piece of duct tape off Rascal, and as the clock struck 2 a.m. I walked into my son’s room, ready to pick up the glasses, plates and candy wrappers that have fortified him throughout the evening. But before I left his room, I paused and wrapped the damp curl on his forehead around my finger, and let my eyes fill with tears.

It was 6:30am.

My Kitchen (in case you were curious)
Joe painted the ceiling when he was in his 20’s. His mother ask him to paint the ceiling, went to Florida, and he did….
The cabinents are in progress and as soon as I can figure out what to do with them we will make progress.
No, Cole did not remember to take the garbage out.
That is a breakfast parfait on the table.
I lied we occasional eat fruit.

Example of a block book page:

8 thoughts on “Waldorf Education| Block Book Nights| Communism

  1. coming from a morning person, i am exhausted reading this knowing the time of day the communism project began. more power to the both of you! is block book week anything like hell week?
    good night!

    • Maybe. Not sure but Cole came home from the Bulls game tonight happy as a calm and dove into his left over homework. Youth. The presentation went “great.” I fell asleep on the couch. 😀

    • Thanks. It was a little confusing. He loves doing projects but he is not crazy about my early morno photo shoots. However, it is called “taking care of your sponsor.” 😀

  2. Look at it this way, my friend — you’re doing a fabulous job in preparing Cole for the college experience! Late nights (early mornings), last minute projects, midnight (and later) snacks, making decisions — what a good mom you are! He sort of looks like he was sleeping on the strike line, but again, that’s part of it. I know he appreciated your help, and you’re probably more tired that he is today! He’s lucky to have you to bounce ideas off — and to help out!

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