With this book, I am speaking to those of you who are Waldorf teachers or wish to become Waldorf teachers. Beyond that, I am writing for everyone seeking a greater understanding of children and how they learn, and of the nature of the human being and of human development.
by Astrid Schmitt-Stegman, Malaysia Waldorf Teachers’ Preparation Module Course Lead
With this book, I am speaking to those of you who are Waldorf teachers or wish to become Waldorf teachers. Beyond that, I am writing for everyone seeking a greater understanding of children and how they learn, and of the nature of the human being and of human development. Teachers, home-schoolers, and parents may find these pages rewarding as they reveal the genius that comes to expression in the indications given by Rudolf Steiner. To understand them genuinely calls for an open mind, open heart, and interest.
- Astrid Schmitt Stegmann
What is necessary today and education in a time where social tensions are increasing and where war hunger and violence as well as criminality and corruption scandals occupy the Daily News cast?
Rudolf Steiner the founder of Waldorf education was convinced that social problems can only be solved with the help of a pedagogy that educates the whole human being and education that strives towards the truly human: respect of the other person's autonomy loving interest in them and honesty in our approach to them. To achieve this however will only be possible when teachers and parents acquire a detailed understanding of the developing human being of the child and his specific needs of a specific developmental stages.
That is what this book addresses and I wish it will have many appreciative readers among parents teachers and students who seek an education that devotes itself to the deeper strength and challenges of the individual child with "heart and healing".
-- Michaela Glocker, MD is a pediatrician who has served for many years as the head of the Medical Section of the anthroposophical center in Dornach, Switzerland.
編輯推薦 Editor Review
has been a Waldorf educator for more than 30 years.
She was a class teacher both in Germany and the US, taught also in kindergarten and High School, and was a foreign language teacher in the Waldorf schools of both countries.
She is active in the Teacher Education programs throughout the world and directs the Teacher Education programs at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California. She mentors schools, lectures internationally, and give workshops.
She is currently the course leader for the 3 Year Malaysia Waldorf Teachers’ Preparation Modules. The Uniqueness of Waldorf Education is her latest book
Introduction: Why I wrote this book
Having worked as a Waldorf class teacher and specialty teacher for some seventeen years and then as a teacher of Waldorf teachers for more than twenty years in Europe, North America, and Asia, my heart beats for Waldorf education. I love its uniqueness. Through this education we learn to admire, yes, even be in awe of the work of art each human being is - capable of a whole range of inner soul responses, capable of taking hold of self and the world with an amazingly resourceful, individual spirit. The depths of insight into the human being and human development of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, is for me a daily source of inspiration and a deeply significant path of discovery. During the last twenty years of my career as an educator, and as advisor, mentor, and evaluator in Waldorf schools through- out the world and in Waldorf charter schools in the US, I have observed a slow decline in inner strength, will, and commitment of incoming teachers in penetrating the essence of Waldorf education. At the same time, a focus on teaching meth- ods has become ever more prevalent. The richness, depth, and healing power innately present in Waldorf education is being weakened, even lost. In this book I address particularly Steiner’s expectation that every Waldorf teacher should know the effect each subject has on the growth and development of each child. Steiner speaks to the teachers about these effects in his many lectures on education, so also in the collection titled, Study of Man. There in the first lecture, he says that as teachers “we must be conscious of what we are doing, right down to the foundations.” With this book, I am speaking to those of you who are Waldorf teachers or wish to become Waldorf teachers. Beyond that, I am writing for everyone seeking a greater understanding of children and how they learn, and of the nature of the human being and of human development. Teachers, home-schoolers, and parents may find these pages rewarding as they reveal the genius that comes to expression in the indications given by Rudolf Steiner. To understand them genuinely calls for an open mind, open heart, and interest. My hope is that, even if only in a small way, I can waylay the erosion of knowledge concerning the human being and human development and of many of Steiner’s other valuable insights. Without an in-depth understanding of the developing child, a teacher’s creative ideas and imaginations that truly help the child will be hard to come by. In addition to an in-depth knowledge of human nature, becoming a Waldorf teacher involves the patient work of self-transformation. This is an essential part of the teacher’s work, for as teachers we have a strong impact on the students, not only on the soul and spirit, but right down into physical health and illness. When we speak of Waldorf education, we must be clear from the beginning that we are entering a distinct and unique educational paradigm. The premise here is that it is impossible for any true educational activity to occur in the classroom without having a detailed, in-depth knowledge of the nature of the human being and of human development. We have to know what it means to be human before we can educate! As Rudolf Steiner said, “All true teaching, all true pedagogy must be based on knowledge of human nature.”1 * Every now and then I hear from beginning teachers the sentiment, “Don’t tell me all those other things. Just show me what to do in the classroom.” This attitude alarms me, as I have seen it lead directly to problems. For one, through lack of individual understanding and insight Waldorf practices may become narrow, limited, and consequently dogmatic. This can occur, for instance, when a teacher has no clear understanding of how she herself as well as her presentation and delivery Introduction: Why I wrote this book Introduction: Why I wrote this book of each subject affects the child right into the bodily constitution. If the focus is merely on the “what,” and to some extent on the “when” but not on the “why,” the freedom of each teacher to be individually creative, artistic, imaginative--so crucial to this education--is in jeopardy. Then, a new teacher may follow what she sees another teacher do without understanding where the other teacher’s practices originated, why she is doing them, and how they affect the child. A teacher’s inner freedom, so important to Rudolf Steiner, depends on penetrating to a level of clarity concerning the what (subject), the how, and the when, and all importantly, the why. As a class teacher I loved the approach Waldorf education takes with all activities. In the Main Lesson, the whole child is addressed every day; his thinking, feeling, and will are strengthened and nurtured; movement and activity are integrated; the arts are practiced and send their healing impulses into the child while strengthening his will. Each teacher can introduce learning with imagination and creativity and wit- ness how through this approach the students are motivated to engage, to be interested, to love learning. To achieve this is challenging in our present time when children are influenced by so much that hinders them from building up their inner strength to pay attention, focus, learn, and think. It is truly worthwhile to go over the indications given by Steiner again and again in order to penetrate them and to discover what specifically they address in the child, and also to realize that certain aspects that Steiner gave in his time were not at all as crucial to know then as they are now. Steiner rarely addressed only the needs of his time. It is fascinating to realize the deeper levels at which his classroom management suggestions aim, so that they stimulate the child’s individual “I” to engage itself. (See pedagogical stories and individual verses in Part II of this book). He aims at stimulating and encouraging the child from inside, and he wants to guide will-engagement through moral images in the stories. As educators we need to see clearly that 10 11 Steiner’s goal is to self-activate the child’s will. With this, Steiner lays the groundwork for what later in life blossoms into self-motivation and self-responsibility. All activities and impressions of the young child pass down into substrates of existence, and what has been laid in the body of the child at a young age reappears in later life as capacities. This kind of insight is what makes Waldorf education so immensely valuable. In this book, I focus on unique aspects of Waldorf education that differentiate Rudolf Steiner education from other types of approaches. If we only scratch the surface, that is, if we focus merely on methods, we might still have a delightful and broad education and curriculum, but we will not draw from the deeper waters of the well where the purest, healthiest waters are. * This book has three parts that address the three major areas of concentration for a Waldorf teacher. However, I make no claim of completeness in the thoughts and materials presented here. Yet, my hope is that they will enable my readers to bring life and health to children from the well-springs. Part I of this book aims to help teachers and parents broaden and deepen their understanding of the growing child, and indicates how to support these precious, developing human beings in their process of becoming capable, independent, mature adults. Part II focuses on classroom activities unique to Waldorf education. Teachers who already include some of these activities in their classroom may learn here helpful details and perspectives, while those teachers who do not use them as yet are invited to incorporate them. Part III focuses on some of the self-transformative work necessary for Waldorf teachers and, for that matter, for every adult individual. Being grounded in a contemplative, meditative practice is necessary for the teacher in order to be a healthy model and a guiding light for the children. When in Waldorf education we speak of teaching the whole human being, it’s sometimes phrased as “teaching head, heart, and hand.” This brief response answers the question, “What is Waldorf education?” on some level. We as teachers understand that human beings have far greater, stronger, and subtler capacities than those visible in the physical body. For me as Waldorf teacher, it was incredibly rewarding to come gradually to a more direct experience of the subtler bodies of the human being. We then begin to perceive children in new and more differentiated ways. We teachers can begin to read subtleties that come to expression in the way the child looks at us, in the way the child sits, walks, gestures (or not!), speaks. All of these take on a personal expression with each child. It is a great joy for the teacher to experience the individuality of the child shine through all of these expressions. Teachers need to sensitize themselves to perceive and understand the working of the subtler bodies, which need to be addressed and nurtured. Steiner’s insights make such expanded understanding possible for us, but only if we are willing to make inner efforts to develop it. In our present time of rapid access to information taking the time to develop such insight may be challenging. However, dear teaching colleagues, there is wisdom in that familiar saying, “No pain, no gain.” We need to ask ourselves, “Who are we without idealism, without striving, without aspiring to develop our true Self?” So, let us begin our journey. It is an exciting one. Astrid Schmitt-Stegmann Fair Oaks, CA May 2015
Part I -- Education as a force for healing The teacher as healer One of the impulses of Rudolf Steiner education is its focus on healing. This is possible only by understanding that education affects the whole human being. Rudolf Steiner made Waldorf teachers aware again and again that they do not affect and form only the soul-spiritual life of the child but that teaching at all times affects also the physical body, bringing about either health or illness. In the year 2000, a dissertation written by Theodor Zdrazil, at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, discussed the healing effects of Waldorf education. He wrote, “Waldorf education is the most radical and far-reaching health-supportive education in our time!”2 This healing element is embedded in all aspects of Waldorf education. In order for the teacher to access it, she has to be interested in striving for an ever more penetrating understanding of the human being and of human development. For me some of the more exciting moments in my teaching days were when I experienced my insight increase as I got better and better at reading the children, reading their gazes and facial expressions, the expression of their movements and gestures, their walk, the “talk” of their hands, the quick changes in the moods called forth by the teacher’s descriptive speech and by the lively images of the story material. How connected, trusting, impressionable, vulnerable, how open, and ready to be filled with wonder and awe an unspoiled young child is (which is even rarer in our present time). What a gift! Seeing children in this way felt almost miraculous to me. I felt that as teachers we experience at times what can only be called a piece of heaven in the presence of a child. 16 17 I noticed early on how conscious the teacher needs to be when guiding these young souls, especially with the diverse challenges that children currently bring with them. And although as teacher we must, of course, know as much as possible about each child, she must avoid becoming too focused on children’s challenges, for then she may lose sensitivity and sight of the deeper layers, the as yet hidden qualities of the child. Every child carries the future as seed within, and as parent or teacher or faculty member, we must not get stuck and become fixed on the elements of the past. We should find a way to the will of the child, the artistic creative element. The will is pure potential, is the future. The will wells up from deeper levels, and it is particularly these deeper layers that we must reach as Waldorf teachers, as it is there where we can reach the forces of health. In a lecture given in 1920 in Forest Row, England, Rudolf Steiner points out, “We can only educate rightly when education is seen as a healing process,” and when the educator is conscious: “I should be a healer.”3 In lectures given by Steiner that same year in Ilkley in northern England, he states, “All education is for the child a bodily education, for all soul-spiritual education works at the same time into the physical body. This is the secret of human development: What lives in soul and spirit at a certain time in life will manifest later on in the body as health and illness.”4 If, as teacher, we really say to ourselves, “I want to be a healer,” then we must first and foremost strive for a comprehensive understanding of these unfolding conditions of the child’s physical, psychological, and spiritual capacities. To come to such an understanding, we draw on Rudolf Steiner’s penetrating insight that makes it possible for the teachers to become healers. For life is a whole, and what is experienced in the first third of life is reflected in the last third when we experience the effects as living consequence! Life is a whole. See also in: Michaela Gloeckler, Education – Health for Life, 2006, Medical Section, Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland, 10.