This is our third week in looking at Stephen Spitalny’s wonderful book, “Connecting With Young Children: Educating the Will.” In Chapter One, the author writes:
For a parent or teacher or caregiver, the core principle is the meeting of the other, and to truly meet an other one must first know thyself. This is a core principle of Waldorf education.
In the spiritual world, and at birth, the child is experiencing an “interconnectedness” of everything. There is no experience of the self and the other, and the child slowly develops this over time in childhood development. Education is about more than academics; indeed if the fundamental task of being an adult is the ability to relate to another and connect to others, then education must start with this goal in mind.
The task is to help the child relate to and connect with all aspects of life in ways suitable for their development, so that later as an adult many realms of connection are available to him. This is a social path toward cultural renewal and a more peaceful word, one individual at a time. (page 17)
This is why Waldorf Education is structured around approaching a child with love, and I would add through loving boundaries. Because being human is not about “you”; being human ultimately is about being able to see and hear the other; being able to so love and serve the world. Our current educational system pushes children further and further into academic skills, and away from seeing the connection between all subjects, all of humanity, and from the goal of true education in living as a human being.
Love and warmth are the keys to this type of education. If we can truly connect with giving and receiving, speaking and listening, with true empathy for someone who is completely different in many ways than ourselves, then that is true education. We nurture ourselves and others through warmth – in warmth we show our attention, our enthusiasm, our understanding.
This chapter brings up the following questions for me:
- How can I truly know myself? If I know myself, how do I then bring this to others in an authentic way, my children included?
- How can I show my child how to connect to and relate to people, in seeds however so small, in ways that are appropriate for his or her developmental level?
- How can I renew my own balance, my own sense that all things within the world are interconnected?
- How can I be a true adult human being and serve others through love and through warmth? How can I start within my own family?
I would love to hear what Chapter One brought up for you!
I just love the idea that the goal of education is to be better able to relate to others. It seems like a revolutionary idea in our current world! Spitalny also talks about being able to relate to and connect with “the spirit and the spirit in the world around [us]” (page 18). Being new to Waldorf philosophy and Steiner’s ideas, I’m so taken with this priority placed upon becoming a compassionate human being. The questions you pose above are thought provoking for me, too! Spitalny writes on page 20 that “The deepest connecting is a dance between empathy and the revealing of your deepest self.” With this in mind, I share your first question: How do I better know my true self? I have recently signed up for an online course offered by Heather Plett called the Spiral Path (http://heatherplett.com/spiral-path/) and am interested to see how that work complements this book.
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