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Teaching expert shares his wisdom

Schwartz discusses the Waldorf method at Quest May 6

For every new generation, parents and teachers must develop their own unique set of skills to pack in that ubiquitous toolbox of life. For stewards of children in the new millennia however, it seems the moment you master one skill it is out-dated faster than your pre-teen can tweet his or her next status update.

If you can relate, you won't want to miss the public presentation "Raising Balanced Children in an Unbalanced World" by internationally recognized educator and author Eugene Schwartz on Wednesday (May 6) at 7:30 p.m. at the Quest University multipurpose room. James Cohn, Quest's chief academic officer, will also speak about the university's innovations in, and philosophy of, post-secondary education. Admission is by donation.

In a time where parents are struggling to find "quality time" to spend with their families, and government-enforced testing is dictating the success or failure of a child, kids and parents today are facing a unique and growing list of concerns, said Schwartz, a graduate of Columbia University who has built his 30-year career as a teacher and educator of teachers in Waldorf education around the world. Waldorf education, which originated in Germany in 1919, takes a holistic approach, educating a child's "head, heart and hands."

"The world is unbalanced. In the western world the emphasis is on the five-letter word 'smart.' We're told: don't work hard, work smart; be smart with your money," said Schwartz, who has lectured on new ideas in education at places like Harvard. "We think the head is the only place you can be "smart.'"

Schwartz points to the B.C. Ministry of Education foundation skills assessment exams as a case in point.

"The FSAs show the push for intellectually developed tests, but master teachers prove there is more to education than that. The correlative of the problem with 'smartness' is that you can test for it. It's hard to quantify gardening or knitting or artistry and it's frustrating that politicians put it aside," he said. "These tests create kids that are really good in one or two things and total ignoramuses in about 12 other things.

"A balanced child is a child in whom capacities that will eventually be intellectual, thoughtful, logical and curious is balanced by the capacity to also do things in the world. A child can derive satisfaction by making something, by bringing a plant into being, by caring for an animal."

In short, the father of four says parents need to provide their children with rhythm in their day - consistency is said to lower levels of anxiety; more time outdoors away from the television, computer and video games; opportunities to move and be active; responsibility like age-appropriate chores; ensuring adequate rest - as much as 11 hours of sleep a night; and an appreciation for the natural world.

For more information visit and, or YouTube for videos Schwartz has produced.

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