We are up to page 27 in this glorious book by teacher Stephen Spitalny. He talks about the development of self consciousness from birth or before birth and how we experience ourselves as separate until in our 30’s we may have “feelings of isolation and deep separateness”. This is a very personal and inner experience of aloneness irrespective of our life circumstances. At this point in our lives, we have the choice and option to forge our own spiritual path that re-creates the connectedness to the spiritual world that we were born with.
In order to see this development of self-consciousness, we look at children in the early years of Waldorf Education are seen as having two fundamental processes at work:
- First, the physical development of the body
- Second, the increasing awareness of self.
Author Spitalny details the development of the infant to the toddler to the preschool-aged child. He describes how during all of the early years children have a need for repetition and sameness. Repetition, in Waldorf Education, is seen as building the will of the child. From page 31: “Adults need to be aware of this and support the child’s desire for having the same things over and again, because it serves a developmental need.”
The role of a toddler’s “no” is fully described. This is a very large leap toward awareness of self in a young child that sets the child on a path that ends eventually around the age of 21 in which the young adult is connected to the core essence of themselves (the “I” or “ego”)
One thing that is pointed out that can be of interest in this age of selfies and documenting almost every aspect’s of a child’s life with pictures, video and social media is the idea that children birth through seven should not be shown pictures of themselves over and over as this is a prematurely awakening experience. Children should love in the eyes of their caregivers, and from this becomes their beginning experiences of consciousness.
Children have the innate ability to experience things adults do not find accessible, such as forces within nature at work, or sensing the thoughts of others. “The arising of the intellect and the awareness of the self as a separate being from all that is around it leads to a gradual diminishing of the faculty of sensing thoughts and feelings of others, and a loss of the direct experience of nature.”