I have recently been reading Steiner’s “Human Values in Education.” This book is a sequence of the last lectures on education that Steiner ever gave before he died. The back cover states, “…he was graced with a remarkable clarify and penetration that allowed him to address old topics (as well as new) with uncanny spiritual luminosity, precision, and sheer humanity. If anyone is looking for the “last word” on Waldorf education, this is perhaps it- in more ways than one.”
On page 87, this passage really struck me and I hope it will make you stop and think:
“During the years between the change of teeth and puberty, we are concerned not just with the obvious, because when we consider the whole of human life something else also becomes obvious. At the age of eight, I absorb some concept; I do not yet understand it fully – in fact, I don’t understand it fully- in fact, I don’t understand its abstract meaning at all. I am not yet constituted in a way that makes this possible. So why do I take in such a concept at all? It is because my teacher is speaking; my teacher’s authority is a given, and it works on me. These days, however, we are not supposed to do this; children are supposed to be shown only what is visible and obvious.
Consider children who are taught everything in this way. Their experiences do not grow with them, because this method treats them as beings who do not grow. But we should not awaken ideas in children if those ideas are unable to grow with them; this is like making a pair of shoes for a three-year old and expecting that child to wear them at the age of twelve. Everything in human beings grows, including the power of comprehension; consequently, concepts must be able to grow as well. We must therefore make sure we bring living concepts to children, but we cannot do this unless children have a living relationship to the teacher’s authority. And this cannot be accomplished by abstract, pedantic teachers who stand in front of children and give them concepts that are still completely alien to them.”
So, food for thought:
How are you teaching these days? Are you teaching your four year old like a four year old and your eight year old like an eight year old?
Where is the active part of your lesson?
Are you teaching through art and music for the 7 to 14 year old crowd?
Do you understand the big picture that Waldorf education is fostering in each different seven year cycle?
Have you read any Steiner lately?
Are you prepared for class each day?
Is your rhythm on or off?