Chapter Three of Stephen Spitalny’s “Connecting With Young Children: Educating the Will” is all about the senses as gateways to relating; how sensory impressions are a link between ourselves and the world around us. The sense impressions or information that we receive lead to a response in our thinking, feeling or willing. Young children have willing forces and imitative forces, but they do not think or feel about something in relation to a sense experience in the way that an adult does.
The author asserts that young children are in the process of forming their physical bodies and that the things young children experience leads to a “soul response pattern”. The young child before the age of seven is solely a sense organ, and the moods, thoughts and feelings of the adults around them and their experiences lead to formative qualities in the child himself or herself. Therefore, part of Waldorf Education is to have the adult understand the role we play in shaping the health of the young child.
There are at least twelve senses worked with in Waldorf Education; I have written many back posts on these senses. These senses are the Sense of Touch, the Sense of Life (general feeling of well-being), the Sense of Self Movement, the Sense of Balance as the Lower (and Foundational Senses). The Sense of Smell, the Sense of Taste, the Sense of Sight and the Sense of Warmth are the middle senses where the human being brings some of the world into his or herself and becomes aware of a relationship to the world. The Sense of Hearing, the Sense of the Word (Speech), the Idea or Concept of the Other, the Sense of the Ego of the Other are the upper senses. Empathy is seen as based on sensing the other.
The author writes on page 57, “ Attention to the development of the senses in young human beings is at the core of an education attempting to renew culture and create a fertile ground for human connecting. These twelve senses are the doorways to relating the self to the body, the self to the world around and the self to other human beings.”
Hope you are still reading along,
I am not reading along- but I so love your book reports!! I have so little time to read but find your sharing very valuable–Keep it up!!
I am reading your posts on this with interest. Would love to get my hands on the book and read it for myself. Thanks!
I’m planning to read this book, and read along post-“read along”, in January. I’m really enjoying and am intrigued by your posts, which are “sneak peaks” for me. Thank you so much for doing all your read alongs, and I hope one day to truly read along. Thanks for all you do!
This quote Spitalny uses from “Last Child In the Woods” by Richard Louv is really great: “None of our major institutions or our popular culture pay much notice to what Reed called ‘primary experience’- that which we can see, feel, taste, hear, or smell for ourselves.” This whole discussion about the power and importance of life-filled images was provocative. (Something tells me those My Little Pony snippets my 3 and a half year old likes don’t qualify…)
I was also really captivated by the continued discussion of connecting by “falling asleep” into the other. It was interesting to read that “[A] developed sense of physical touch underlies the capacity to touch the very being of another human being whom one meets and experiences (pg. 56).”
I have to admit, Steiner’s 12 senses still puzzle me, but the importance of sense impressions on the child has definitely sunk in. I always feel like I could do a better job of nourishing my daughter’s senses and considering the images and stimulation she’s exposed to!
This is a great read-along and like the commenters above, I look forward to reading Carrie’s posts and any comments that are posted.
Thanks, Sonja! I love your observations!
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