In parenting and education, we recognize that every individual brings not only a hereditary history with him or her but also an individuality. Waldorf Education recognizes the individuality in each and every child that exists from before conception and birth and recognizes that each child has a personal destiny. I guess a Christian perspective of this would be that God knows the child before the child is born and that the child has a destiny.
Throughout this time of childhood we are working with the whole child, with every aspect of the child – body, soul, spirit. We work with things from the most physical to the most mysterious and strive to be continually conscious of being an upright moral example that the child can imitate. We work to not provide hindrances to the child’s development. We also work to provide an environment conducive to development, a protected environment for optimal development of the 12 senses and the child, but yet one where the child can develop unhindered
In the second lecture of “Curative Education”, Steiner talks about The Pedagogical Law in which it is who we are that teaches and educates; how children can perceive the gesture behind our words. Steiner lectured about the great responsibility we have when we raise small children.
In the lectures compiled in “Soul Economy”, Steiner said in the lecture regarding children before the seventh year: ”Anyone in charge of young children – especially those who work in children’s homes- who is aware of the activity of destiny must ask, Have I been specifically chosen for the important task of guiding and educating these children? And other questions must follow: What must I do to eliminate as far as possible my personal self, so I can leave those in my care unburdened by my subjective nature?”
This can be a tall order where sometimes just surviving in parenting is where we are – and maybe just where we should be if we have children under the age of five. It can be a tall order where things don’t go the way one wants them to; this happens to ALL of us because we are human! Raising children is hard work!
One thing I think that can help, though, is this idea of non-judgmental self-review (um, the key is non-judgmental, to view yourself and your actions through the eyes of being a friend to yourself). Here is a wonderful article about self-review for the teacher that would work equally well for parents of small children: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW57schweizer.pdf
I do love how this article asks us to look at ourselves and what we do during the day with our rhythm, our work and the children. But, remember, do forgive yourself if things were not what you wanted. Self-forgiveness and striving (and asking for help when you need it!) is so important.
During this season of Great Lent I wonder how we can work with both our physical body and our spiritual body in order to benefit our families. Like all things in Waldorf parenting and education, balance is a primary goal. Dogma and rigidity is not. Finding the Middle Way is of great import.
Our next post will deal with concrete ways to work with our own physical and spiritual lives. You must want to do this work, but we must be careful to maintain balance as we strive.
More to come.