As Amanda Evans and I get ready for our workshop “Protecting Childhood: Waldorf At Home For the First Seven Years” being held in the Greenville SC area February 17 and 18th, we thought it only fitting to re-read the source of so much inspiration: Steiner’s lectures compiled in “The Kingdom of Childhood.”
These lectures were given in August of 1924 in England as part of Steiner’s last trip (he died on March 30, 1925). Christopher Bamford writes in the introduction that Rudolf Steiner always adapted what he had to say to the audience in front of him. These lectures were given to a small group of English educators, and for that reason I find them practical and calling for those of us in English-speaking countries trying to work with Waldorf Education as he tried to adapt his thoughts for that particular audience.
The introduction points out the very unique features of Waldorf Education:
*Subjects are taught in the light of the knowledge of the child (the human being) as having roles to play on both earthly and spiritual planes
*It affirms that a child is an eternal being in the spiritual world before birth and childhood becomes a process of gradually coming down to earth
Teaching methods – In teaching, Steiner felt teachers should observe well, be careful about stressing a child’s intellect before the child would be ready (which he felt would be at adolescence), that the teacher should use the concrete and pictorial as well as wonder and reverence, and that we should teach whole to parts. He also encouraged his audience to form larger schools for England, and for them to be modern and well thought out and able to be “conversant with other contemporary educational ideas. For they were not to be dilettantish.”
Steiner always wanted children educated out of the knowledge of the human being (developmentally appropriate), “in accordance with the demands of life.” He remarked some things were obliged to be placed into the curriculum of the Waldorf Schools because they were demanded to fit into educational models. He felt strongly children should learn the practical arts. Christopher Bamford brings up the example at the end of the introduction that Steiner really wanted a shoemaker in the Waldorf School because it was something so “in accordance with real life.” The idea of being a practical worker was never far from Steiner’s mind.
For homeschoolers working with Steiner’s thoughts, I think we are in a good position as we can connect our children with the daily, practical parts of life and provide the academic levels that best suit our knowledge of human development and how children learn best.
I have been studying the works of Dr. Steiner, Steiner education, biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophic medicine, and human development for 20 years now. It has been a fruitful adventure, with gifts I never anticipated. I found the idea of “Waldorf homeschooling” in a book from the library when my oldest, who is now 21, was three years old. It was a book that gave a brief description of each type of homeschooling – classical, unschooling, Charlotte Mason, etc. Waldorf homeschooling was in there, and what was said was enough to pique my interest. I gathered copies of Steiner’s lectures on education and stated there. This quickly morphed into beginning to celebrate the festivals of the year and into learning all that I could from Waldorf educators. I found other people in my area who also were excited about Waldorf parenting and education and we formed a homeschool group.
Waldorf Education and parenting has brought as many gifts to me as it has our children. It led us to de-mechanize our home and do things by hand in order to involve our children in work. It led to being outside and celebrating the seasons and festivals. It led to wonder and imagination and beauty in the arts. It led to simplifying the way we parented.
Waldorf education has so much to give in the home environment and so much healing potential for families. It’s been a lovely journey and one that I am still on as a developing adult – always growing and learning. The seasons, the festivals, the spiritual human being, the arts all hold as much joy and promise for me as when we held all of that for our children.
Who doesn’t need more goodness, beauty, and truth in their lives? Stay beautiful, friends!
I love the prospect of a New Year, of new beginnings and bright shiny pages in my planner, the feeling of being able to begin again, fresh and new. I hope this New Year feels like a welcome new beginning to you and your family.
This is the beautiful blessing I often share on the New Year:
May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home. May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam. May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures. May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours.
-From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown
May this year be the one in which you are ENOUGH just the way you are.
May this year be the one in which you are content.
May this year be the one where you are loved as richly as you deserve.
May this year be one of bountiful and deep friendships, beautiful family memories, and love.
May this year be the year that you help someone else, the year of your generous spirit blossoming.
May this year be the one that is perfect for you and where you are in life and may you enjoy it abundantly.
Many blessings for a peaceful New Year with new beginnings of nourishment and love.
With love to all, thank you for fifteen years of marvelous readership and I hope to have much to offer you in 2023.