I am reading these five lectures given at the West Coast Waldorf Teachers Conference in Fair Oaks, California in 1998 by Michaela Glockler, MD. As a physical therapist and as a homeschooling mother, I am really enjoying these lectures.
Dr. Glockler posits in these lectures some of the basic questions about Waldorf Education and health. In the preface of this book, Astrid Schmitt-Stegmann writes: “Doctors, educators, and therapists have a special need to meet the ever increasing illness manifesting on all levels in growing human individuals – be these attention deficit problems, behavior problems, sensory integration problems, psychosomatic disturbances, or genetic disturbances. Whatever the manifestations are, we must understand that underlying them are physiological problems……The key task for the educator, therefore, is to insure for the child a health physical development, for this is the basis for a healthy soul-spiritual development.”
These lectures underscore the basis of Waldorf Education, and what should be the basis in concrete thought and action in all educational methods: that children are physically growing and developing in addition to whatever they are “academically” learning and that the physical body and movement is a vehicle for learning.
We are in a situation in the United States right now where our educational system no longer seems to respect the developmental progression of children. Even mainstream childhood developmental resources state that early six is a terrible time to teach reading and writing (and so is four!) So how is it that our current educational system is not built upon development and ignores developmental norms?
And how is it that we can take the holistic human child and essentially boil learning down to an interaction between eyes and hand only? We have taken away anything that would marry the body and soul of a child. This is dividing the human being into chunks, and I think we are reaping the effects of this with the rates of suicide, violence, bullying, drug abuse and sexual abuse and misconduct. Waldorf Education seeks to include the whole child.
We relate the physical body to the emotional and spiritual. Dr. Glockler writes, “The whole physical body speaks a language; everything in the human being speaks about its function.” (and my physical therapists in this audience are nodding because HOW many times in physical therapy school does one hear over and over, “Form follows function?”) “We can take all the details and we can take the whole; it is always the same.” (There are many detailed anatomic drawings in this book of bones, embryonic development in this book to look at whole and at parts in the upright human being) We rightly speak of the image of the human being which reveals what it is. I already mentioned earlier that we carry our whole body in uprightness. What does the language of the body say though this upright posture? Our very body says that we are upright beings. We can take this both in the literal, spatial sense, and also in a spiritual sense in that “upright” is another word for truthful, to be upright. So our body’s language speaks about our spiritual function, that both outwardly and inwardly we are upright beings. Due to this uprightness we have a center between above and below, and this center is the seat of the force of the heart, of love. Love is the center of our upright being. The extreme polarities of our being are wisdom and power, but the most central force is love.”
I have more to say about these lectures, but that is a great place to start today.