Een aan te raden boek om zicht te krijgen op waar men binnen de steinerschoolbeweging mee bezig is, is het Engelse Waldorf Class Teachers’ Handbook, van Kevin Avison. Het boek is in 2007 herdrukt en wat het bijzonder maakt, is dat Avison hulp heeft gekregen vanuit de Nederlandse steinerschoolbeweging.
Een eerste deel met fragmenten uit Kevin Avinsons ‘A Handbook for Waldorf Class Teachers’ (Steiner Waldorf Fellowship 2007) verscheen hier in 2010.
Uitspraken zoals dat ‘de esoterische gemeenschap het ware hart van de school is’, dat er ‘incarnatie-oefeningen’ moeten worden gedaan, dat ‘als niks werkt er nog altijd Rudolf Steiners Allgemeine Menschenkunde is, in het bijzonder wanneer die vergezeld wordt door de engelen van de kinderen’ en dat ‘de meest mondige ouders je als hun vriend moeten beschouwen’ tonen het ware gezicht van Rudolf Steiners esoterische school.
Uit het handboek
Anthroposophy, when it is worn as a badge, is apt to divide people who may have very different perceptions of it.
Guidelines for Child Study
1. Soul Calender verse corresponding to week of child’s birthday is read a the beginning. Possibly a candle may be lit.
2. Describe the child objectively: (It can be helpful to show a photo of the child for those in the circle who do not teach the class)
a) Height, weight, build, proportions
b) How does the child sit, stand, walk and run? (colleagues may attempt to imitate these, describing their observations and what qualities they perceive)
c) Facial expression and gaze
d) Other features (eyes, nose, ears, and hands…)
3. Speech qualities: volume, pitch, modulation and flow and any disturbances such as stammering or sounds incorrectly pronounced
4. Thinking qualities: memory, imagination, practical intelligence and ability to learn
5. Feeling qualities: enthusiasm or apathy, friendships and other significant relationships, emotional response, fears
6. Will qualities: ability to see something through once started, strong likes or dislikes towards foods, initiative, assertiveness
7. Brief background biography. Show some characteristic school work (both good and bad) If there is plenty of time, in special circumstances some of the above might be dramatised or drawing might be used to indicate certain qualities.
1. Soul Calender
2. Briefly review then characterise
3. Constitution, temperament, character type (adolescents)
4. If the child were a landscape, a plant, an animal, which and why?
5. From Class 6 upwards, imagine the child in a particular cultural epoch or historical setting – which, what and why? (All colleagues help to build these pictures trying to avoid any unconscious sympathy or antipathy by being aware of this danger for one another)
6. Finally if the child has a birthday verse this should be read by the teacher with some indication for the intentions within it.
What is this child asking of me as a teacher and of us all as colleagues in the school?
Shorter one-off studies of a whole class or group of children may also be held.
Readiness for Class One
Decisions as to whether a child is ripe to leave the Kindergarten will have consequences right through the child’s schooling and call on the insights of all those concerned with the child. The Kindergarten teacher, prospective Class One teacher (if possible), College of Teachers, school doctor and the child’s parents need to be involved. Where there is any doubt, a detailed child study will be necessary involving further considerations than those listed here. It goes without saying that none of these should be made known to the child.
Date of Birth
The Class One child should have seen seven Easters on earth.
Bodily Proportions and Characteristics
Differences due to constitutional type should be taken into account.
1.9.3 Classes Four and Five Skills Checklist
Use combinations of colours including variations of brown
Section 2 Planning ahead
Our pedagogical meetings could become more productive if the focus was placed practically on the professional development of the teaching group. Such meetings would serve as a stimulus and opportunity for self-development (in this context this means the development of the teacher). For example, to actively take up and share experiences of working with some of the fundamental anthroposophical exercises, or to allow ten minutes at the beginning of each meeting for the sharing of an imaginative image used in our classroom work, might achieve much in creating and then nurturing the esoteric community which is the true heart of the Waldorf school (see Towards the Deepening of Waldorf Education and Republican Academies by Francis Gladstone).
Appendix A Movement Skills
Handedness and Speech
There is a lemniscatory or crossing action involved in the perception and co-ordination of movement.
The activity of speech is usually associated with the left hemisphere of the brain in right-handed people; this may be reversed for most leftmatter is complex and should lead anyone considering encouraging a change of handedness in a child to take careful and authoritative advice before commencing.
5. Did I address myself (homeopathically) to at least two temperaments today? How shall I do so tomorrow?
2.5 And the Fourth “R”
The Ruckshau or “reverse review” or “daily rewind”.
Painful events, or ones that arouse strong emotion in other ways, once they have been ‘freeze-framed’ as indicated above, can then also be placed into the lap of one’s angel before sleep, with a prayer towards the wisdom (and possibly repentance) of the following morning.
2.6 The Curriculum
The fairy tale is a world in which art, science and religion remain inter-connected.
2.11.2 Morning Lesson Human and Animal
Temperamental qualities of animal types (class 5) e.g. the choleric wolverine, phlegmatic sloth, melancholic camel and sanguine prairie dog
2.12.1 Shaping the Morning Lesson
1. Incarnating exercise, register, Morning Verse
2.12.2 Elaboration of these points
The incarnating exercise would be very short, a clapping sequence, rhythm – later on a short concentration exercise to help overcome the fatigue of a car journey to school and to help the children to be fully present. Register also helps to call the ‘I’ to be present (the ego forms a connection with the full name – avoid shortenings).
2.12.3 The “problem” of Transitions – or how to get rid of them!
So, the truth is when we teach well, there are no transitions, the lemniscate of teacher-learner and learner-teacher adjusts dynamically and there is no need for elevator music or flight stewards serving refreshments to help fill the time.
2.12.5 Recall: Why and some Alternative “Hows”
Recall is a fundamental part of the Morning Lesson. That said, it can be one of the most difficult and as a result is easily squeezed out. But without active recall the teacher cannot claim to be including the spiritual world, the activity of the night, in the lesson. Recall time is the moment in the lesson when what is beginning to individualise itself in the child through their unconscious communication with the hierarchies (especially the Angels, Archangels and Archai – see for example, The Hierarchies as the Source of Action Speech and Thought, April 28, 1023 – GA224) during sleep can express itself.
2.14 Of Meetings and Learnings
While our educational work strives to be the highest possible expression of spiritual-cultural goals for our time, our meetings work into, and draw upon the intentions of the future (q.v. Towards the Sixth Epoch). The realisation of this presents an enormous challenge, and the very nature of it indicates that its fulfillment is not to be expected in the immediate, earthly present.
The “Seven Element Picture”
The interpretation of children’s artistic work for therapeutic purposes requires specific training.
The elements themselves can give useful pointers to what is working within the child with regard to the qualities indicated. But on no account should these indications be treated in the manner of pseudo-Freudian determinators of inner state, any more than when a child who goes through a period of using large quantities of paint should have to bear the label of being identified authoritatively as a “dark soul”!
the seven elements the children may be asked to use in composing a picture are:
Sun Hill Path Water Snake Tree Bird
Children may add other features, but these seven must appear. The interpretative indications are as follows:
Sun – may be taken as a picture of the connection with the spiritual. Consider whether the sun is drawn large or small, whether clouds cover it and the quality of the colour and the luminosity.
Hill – may give an indication of the child’s sense of (mainly unconscious) goals.
Are they barren and uninviting, or do they draw the observer towards them?
Are they distinct or partly veiled?
Path – may indicate a sense of the quality of the route towards the ‘goal’.
Water – may give a picture of unconscious qualities. Consider how much of the picture this takes up and the quality of it’s appearance.
Snake – may indicate basal or ‘animal’ energy, suggesting the way in which the unconscious (water) qualities are embodied.
Tree – may indicate the self’s picture of itself (think of the world tree of Norse mythology). Consider it’s uprightness or otherwise, the way it relates to the rest of the picture, whether it’s covered in leaves or wintry etc.
Bird – may indicate something of the sense of the quality of freedom
Appendix I: When Nothing Seems to be Working
Wrestling meditatively with a few paragraphs from Allgemeine Menschenkunde will also help, especially when accompanied by the angels of the children (interest in every detail of their development) and your own work with those Beings that concern themselves most closely with education.
How to make it difficult for anyone else to teach your class – ever!
Tell the class frequently that they are a very special group (they must be to have you as a teacher) and let them know implicitly and explicitly that you are the only person fit and able to teach them. Alongside this, it helps to hint frequently that no-one else can or could handle them as you do.
Reports should be as personalised as possible. Of course only you know the ‘soul’ of each child.
9. Ensure that the parents, especially the most vocal ones, regard you as their friend.
13. If you speak about your class in College or Teacher’s Meetings, this should be as generalised as possible and done with the tone of a high-priest hinting at some deep experience in the holy of holies.
Keep a glowing personal profile about each child, but never allow anyone access to lesson notes or records, because as an inspired educator, these are unnecessary for you (anything indicating what the class might have learnt or covered in Morning Lesson should be ‘lost’ before you leave the school).
19. Let your parting be as emotionally charged as possible, but you might tell them, “I’m going to miss you all terribly an I’ll always be thinking of you. Please be as good as you can be for your new teacher” (a few tears at this point would be a nice touch).