We are looking at the book “Waldorf Education In Practice: Exploring How Children Learn in the Lower Grades” by Else Gottgens, Master Waldorf Teacher and Mentor. You can see my first post about this book here.
Chapter 1 “BEFORE”: What Parents Should Know
This chapter is addressed to parents and to the two concerns most parents share about the first three grades:
1. How late, in comparison with mainstream, will they learn to read?
2. What weight is given to the nurturing of capacities in comparison to the drilling of skills?
Else Gottgens believes these conversations between parent and teacher should start when children are in nursery class or kindergarten. In Waldorf Education, we allow a full seven years for the body to form and develop. The first 2 1/3 years of life is when the nerve-sense system is really established, then until nearly five years of age we complete our circulatory system and by age 7, the organ-limb system is developed. We nurture the capacities needed for reading, such as spatial orientation, but not early intellectual work.
Capacities are rooted in the senses. Visual memory needed for reading is rooted in the sense of sight, the number sense is rooted in the limb movement, auditory discrimination is rooted in the practice of speech and movement.
CHAPTER II : My Teacher, The Sun!
“Do not believe people who tell you that children nowadays are different; that they lack the faculty of respect, of reverence. It is simply not true. However, especially since the turn of the millennium, the behavior arising from these faculties has been seriously eroded. It has become one of the 1st grade teacher’s new tasks (and challenge): to heal (detoxify) this condition….” page 5
The children will find themselves as we find our own sun within us; the children will work and learn when they see the “sun” in us. We must find this in our own inner work. The children learn through us. This is a major tenet of Waldorf Education for all grades.