Sunday Books: Last Chapter of “Completing The Circle”

This chapter is entitled, “A Modern Path of Meditation and Inner Development”, which talks about the two worlds that Rudolf Steiner perceived – one a physical world of things we can see, feel and touch, and a second world of spiritual realms.  Steiner felt that each of us held inside us a dormant capacity to be in touch with this spiritual world. He developed a series of exercises and meditations for this purpose.

Although Steiner did acknowledge the meditative traditions of the Far East, he saw his exercises as not a way to attain an enlightenment to escape suffering or the cycle of birth, life, death but as a way to assist the further development of all of humanity by using new creativity and new insights to help all of humanity.  Therefore, Steiner’s view on inner development was not just for the person doing this, but a way to assist others.  I feel this moral and social component driving Steiner’s insights into inner development uniquely reflects his time and place in the world.

In order to be ready to begin spiritual work in Steiner’s view, one had to Continue reading

Sunday Books: Completing The Circle

This chapter is entitled, “Watch Your Temper(ament)”, and how Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education, thought that class size was not as important as all of the children’s individual needs being met.  And the way he thought this could happen was by understanding the four temperaments.

In fact, author Poplawski writes:

A skilled  teacher has something in each lesson that appeals to each temperament and is also able to draw out and develop the special gift of each temperament. Thus the children learn to appreciate the strengths and virtues of those who are different from them……

The other approach to temperament work is equally important but perhaps more difficult. It requires that the teacher or parent take note of and then work on his own temperamental style. Balancing the excesses of this very intimate (and too often ignored) part of who we are constitutes an important path in our self development and has an important bearing not only in our interactions with our children but also in those with our friends, colleagues, and spouses.

Whew!  A tall order, to look inside and be aware, but so important in our work with our own children. Continue reading

Sunday Books: Completing The Circle

In this chapter of “Completing The Circle”, available for free on-line, we are looking at “The Four Temperaments”.   Thomas Poplawski writes:

The notion of temperament is very old, dating back at least to the ancient
Greece. Hippocrates, in the fourth century BC, spoke of four qualities or “humors” in the human being—cold, moist, hot and dry. In the second century AD, the physician, Galen, spoke of the mixing or “temperare” of these four humors to yield four temperaments. These in turn were related to the four elements yielding the fiery choleric, the airy sanguine, the watery phlegmatic, and the earthy melancholic.

Poplawski goes on to trace the idea of the temperaments through the ideas of the Greeks, and right into modern times and how the temperaments are used in Waldorf Education.  The job of an adult is to help a child break out of their habitual tendencies, and lead them toward balance

Poplawski then goes through all four of the temperaments of children. Continue reading

Sunday Books: Completing The Circle

 

Back to Sunday Books!  We are in the homestretch of this book, and I am looking forward already to our next book….I just love summer reading, don’t you?

 

This chapter is entitled, “Paradise Lost:  The Nine Year Change.”  I know this chapter will be of interest to many of you out there who have children verging on this developmental stage!

 

In this chapter, Poplawski writes about how Billy Collins, a Poet Laureate of the United States, poignantly captures the essence of this age in a poem called “On Turning Ten”:
The whole idea makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light—
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

 

Poplawski traces the stages of development that come around age two, age nine and age sixteen.  The nine year old is standing alone in a sense and realizing their separateness from their parents and the world for the first time.  Waldorf Schools address this stage by working with the very rich stories of the Hebrew people as found in the Old Testament.

 

Poplawski points out other challenges many nine year olds face – their early learning abilities often become challenged and the child has to try to memorize things for the first time, the child emotionally withdraws, the child needs time and space and privacy.  Children this age can feel stressed and anxious over chores, activities, homework.  Parents can help by limiting their child’s activities and making sure there is ample time to dream and just be. 

 

Poplawski writes about the importance of the parental role:

The nine-year-old child is yearning for autonomy, but parental warmth,
affection, and support continue to be important. Though the child can be irritable
and seems to want to push away, he still needs hugs and comforting from the
adults around him. A nine-year-old will sometimes hover near a parent wanting
and waiting for a reassuring hug, but hesitant to ask for it. A child will sometimes
be more prickly and hyper-sensitive with one parent more than the other, this
being affected by the respective temperaments of child and parents. Sometimes
one parent needs to step back and let the other be more involved with the child.
Many children have some psychosomatic symptoms around this time. Heart
palpitations, breathing problems and headaches are not unusual. Nine-year-olds
tend to be worriers and some physical symptoms may be related to that. Nightmares
—dreams of being chased or being bitten by a snake or even of being murdered—
are common and no reason for great concern. Dreams of storms and runaway
fires are also frequent.

For the nine-year-old, suddenly cut off from the world, forced to stand on her own, and beset perhaps by physical problems, anxiety is a dominant emotion.
Hence, the child depends on the structure and guidance that watchful adults can give to provide stability and a sense of security. The child needs the solid authority of teachers and a firm parental presence. Otherwise she will be overwhelmed by a sense of insecurity.
The nine-year-old likes to have rules. Adults need to be fair and consistent in enforcing them, however. Fairness is important for the nine-year-old.

 

Talking about life and death, the meaning and mystery of life, praying, asking about religion and prayer are all very common things in the life of a child going through this developmental change.  Children in this stage are still young, but must be recognized as the young men and women they are becoming.  How are we assisting our children in getting to an adulthood that encapsulates the ideals of duty to humanity through this stage?

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

Sunday Books: “Completing The Circle”

Today is another look at the wonderful book “Completing The Circle” by Thomas Poplawski and available as a free ebook.  Today’s chapter is about “Children and Sports: Finding A Balance”, which is an area in which I have some personal experience with my own children and what we have found to work and not work.

The hurried child syndrome has extended to the world of sports. In a world where children often played pick ups games unsupervised by any adult for long periods of time, the sporting realm has now turned into teams organized and run  by adults, with adult rules of play, uniforms and other realms of organization that used to be relegated until the high school level.  This I can attest from my own personal experience.

Poplawski writes the following, which is also something I have personally seen as a pediatric physical therapist: Continue reading

Sunday Books: “Toys Are NOT Us”

We are continuing with our look at Thomas Poplawski’s book “Completing The Circle”. Again, this book is available for free online at the Waldorf Library.  Today we come to the chapter regarding consumerism and children’s toys:

Manufactured, ready-to-use toys are more present in our lives and in the lives of our children than at any time before in history. This is the result of aggressive product development, advertising, and marketing by large toy companies. These companies are primarily interested in toys that will sell and make a profit, not in toys that will foster the healthy development of children.

Research has shown the benefits of less toys, less structured toys, and a childhood based in play and song.  Having less toys increases the chances that children will engage in social play.  Simpler toys provides the child a chance to construct their own world of play. Continue reading

Sunday Books: “The Power of Play”

We are continuing on with our look at Thomas Poplawski’s “Completing the Circle”, available for free at the Waldorf On-Line Library.  Today’s chapter is about the power of play, especially free play.  In a world full of enrichment classes and a myriad of scheduled activities for the youngest children, free play is consistently undervalued.  The author writes:

In school and even at home, there has been the unending effort made to give
the child every possible advantage by pushing early academic learning and the
early development of specific skills, this in spite of the fact that educational research
has found no evidence that such early “enrichment” programming provides any
long-term advantage for most children. Only disabled children and those from
deprived circumstance, like those served in the Head Start program, clearly benefit
from them.”

The author cites that the American school system bias against play may be historically influenced by Maria Montessori’s methods, Puritanism and Freud.    Yet, we all know that imaginative play is a huge correlate to verbal fluency, mathematical thinking, and genera thinking.    But perhaps most importantly,

“Russ concluded, however, that imaginative play is the tool that every child uses to learn to cope with stress in life and that to interfere with the child’s learning how to play in a healthy manner imperils the later development of emotional regulation and coping skills…..

Brown was asked to investigate the background of a young man who some
years ago shot and killed nineteen people from a tower at The University of Texas
in Austin. He found that Continue reading

Sunday Books: “Taming The Media Monster”

We are continuing our look at Thomas Poplawski’s book Completing The Circle by looking at the chapter entitled, “Taming The Media Monster”.  You can access this book for free here:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_booklibrary&task=view&id=1202&catid=133&Itemid=3

The author begins this chapter with the scenario of a kindergarten teacher discussing her Waldorf School’s media policy and the various reactions of parents who are divided into two camps – one thinking the policy is too extreme, too invasive and the other camp who thinks the policy is perfect.  He writes: Continue reading

Sunday Books: Completing The Circle

We are continuing our look at “Completing the Circle” by Thomas Poplawski, and available for free at the Waldorf On Line library.

(If this link does not work, then please go to Waldorf Library On-Line, hit books from the left-hand menu, hit “ebooks” and go the the “C”s to find “Completing The Circle”.  I have tried to fix the link twice; it worked for me but apparently some are still having trouble with the link,)

We are looking at the chapter entitled “Losing Our Senses.”

This chapter should be required reading for all parents.  It is scary, it is frightening and essentially posits that the human brain of the younger generation is changing in response to the fast-paced and busy technological world we live in.  Research done over decades in Munich, Germany by the Rational Psychology Association (GRP) has shown that not only are the senses of  smell and taste declining, but by the mid-1980’s, the receptivity of nearly all senses was declining.  Poplawski writes: Continue reading

Sunday Books: “Completing The Circle”

“An angel comes down to earth, conceived and received within the womb of her mother. There she grows the garments for her new home, and henceforth, she will wear the heavy robe of a physical body. After the months that this process takes, she emerges into a startling world of bright lights, cacophonous sounds and strong smells. With that first breath of terrestrial air, a visitor of timeless pure being is born into the temporal matter of earth. And with the tasting of mother’s
milk, so begins the education of this angel we now call child. For in this sweet substance of milk, the child first brings the outside world into herself.”

And so begins the book “Completing The Circle”, written by one of my favorite authors, Thomas Poplawski.  Here is the link to the ebook:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_booklibrary&task=view&id=1202&catid=133&Itemid=3

This book asks the important question of how we prepare a child to meet these times of hurry, sophistication, and technology whilst preserving the unique gifts, destinies, and callings that all children have? Continue reading