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The Art of the Child

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  • Pages: 2
  • Word count: 445
  • Category: Gardening

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“The heart of the Waldorf method is the conviction that education is an art – it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, their heart and will must be reached as well as their mind.”


I am drawn to the Waldorf method because it treats education as an art, and the child as an artist, processing his world, interpreting it and creating by drawing, building, gardening and acting/role-playing with dolls or play sets. The child is also creating art and learning with the teacher and other children; collaboratively learning from each other.

Christopher Cloud and Janni Nicol, in their book Creative Play the Steiner Waldorf Way: Expertise and Toy Projects for Your 2-4 Year-Old, note, “There are many books on child development, but few mention the word ‘imagination.’ Perhaps we have to accept that our children know about this better than we do and that, when it comes to understanding this part of our lives, poetic understanding comes closer to the truth than analytical observation.” This book has instructions on knitting and sewing dolls and bunnies and horses that will engage children’s imaginations, senses of touch and smell, and will allow them to act out roles like mother, father, teacher, babysitter, and cowpoke.

I am also curious about Steiner’s anthroposophical theory, which connects the spiritual world with the real world. Steiner explained in one of his lectures given in Torquay in 1924, “Through Anthroposophy you learn once more to believe in legends, fairy tales, and myths, for they express a higher truth in imaginative pictures” (1995). How the teacher conveys those truths will be felt by the children. As I understand it, anthroposophy takes into account so much more than the words and pictures being exchanged by teacher and child. Tone, sound level, facial expressions, the environment in which the exchange takes place, these all convey emotions, beliefs and parts of our soul.

I also find it fascinating that the school itself even came to be! Out of the ruins of World War I, Steiner was approached by Emil Molt, owner of the Waldorf Astoria cigarette factory and asked to teach the children of the factory workers. Steiner agreed, but with some heavy conditions, including that it be coeducational, a twelve year school, and that the teachers be allowed to teach with minimal interference from the state or investors. Now, his die Freie Waldorfschule and his teachings have had far-reaching effects on history, the present and our future, including Biodynamic farming and gardening and the Camphill Movement for the support of people with disabilities (Bamford, Utne, Barnes 1991).

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