Rudolf Steiner Education in America
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Wesleyan University Press
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Trying to write something about Rudolf Steiner and the educational impulse he generated is like trying to say something about life. Where do you begin? Where do you stop? What do you include? What do you leave out?
One: Introduction to Rudolf Steiner and the Author's Approach
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Rudolf Steiner states that life is to be experienced in the same way that art is experienced. Both are inner experiences expressed through the senses. It is from this union of inner experience and sensory life that we will begin to look at Waldorf education in America.
Two: Introduction to Waldorf Schooling in America
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Each Waldorf school is unique and has its own local color and personal history. The sequence of the curriculum, the methods of presentation, and the overall philosophy of education are drawn from the same source, but each group of teachers, parents, and children who make the school, creates a unique organism. The fabric of relationships is at once noticeable, for a Waldorf school comes into being through the needs of specific children and parents and the readiness of certain persons to be teachers.
Three: The Education of the Child: A Spiritual Anatomy and Basic Text
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The education of the child follows seven-year rhythms, which are based on Steiner's observations of childhood development. He explains this foundation of education in his book The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy. It was prepared for publication in 1909 after he had given the material in various lectures. A paperback translation by George and Mary Adams was published in 1975 (all citations refer to this edition). It is a good place to start to examine what stands behind the Waldorf schools.
Four: To Feel the Whole in Every Part: Education As an Art
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When the teacher makes a garden with the students, or makes lunch with a class, or shows them how to make a shirt or knit socks, or make a book, or tell a story, or set up a lab experiment, these are part of something real. The garden is part of the earth and related to sun and moon, to weather and seasons, to nourishment of body and soul, to insects and birds and cows and worms, to the mystery and cycle of sprouting and harvesting and seed sowing, spring and winter. It is also related to ...
Five: Teacher Training and Handwork
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It is surely uncommon in our country to connect teacher training with handwork. In Steiner education the connections between thinking and feeling and doing are maintained across the board, for teachers as well as pupils. Artistic activity is as central to the training as it is to the classroom. There is a kind of schooling we all need, grown-ups and children alike. We all need to grow toward soul-filled sense perception, toward a feeling for materials, toward a responsiveness to colors and to sounds, toward making something, connecting doing with knowing about.
Six: More on Curriculum/Methods/Teachers/Children
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Teachers do not work directly upon the being of the children. They surround the children with what is suitable for their age. Intellectual development is not the focus of concern with small children, but tends to awaken naturally later at puberty.
Seven: Camphill in America: Mental Handicap and a New Social Impulse
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Let us look at the human being as a living picture, as the teacher in the Waldorf school learns to do. This is what teachers and coworkers in the schools and villages for the mentally handicapped, also based on Rudolf Steiner's indications, learn to do. In America, the work with the handicapped is done primarily in the Camphill centers. Camphill is neither the first nor the only setting for the handicapped based on Steiner's pioneering, but it is the primary instrument so far in this country.
Eight: Education and Community: A School of Life and a Re-schooling of Society
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In every human being there is a region called the solar plexus. It is in the center of the body, behind the stomach. It is a network of nerves and ganglia extending in different directions. It is a sun, raying out. "Plexus" means "network" or "interlacing" and comes from a root image of plaiting or braiding. Such a picture, of the human being containing an inner sun which rays out in many directions, gives us a way of beholding that quality called wholeness, in which "everything must be connected with everything else."
Nine: Waldorf Education and New Age Religious Consciousness
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In new age consciousness, the religious impulse continues to evolve. Like the sun, it shines across all divisions. And like the sun, it works deep in the processes of earth itself. To become undivisive in our science, our emotions, our creativity — to live in the paradox of separateness and connection, differentiation and mutuality — is an imaginative frontier. An avant-garde!
Ten: The TEACHER
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I started this book by saying that when we want to know what something is, we look to see what works within it, what stands behind it. In the course of the chapters, I have tried to elicit a sense for the formative character of life unfolding in the growing child and adult. There is an inwardness, an interiority to history, to personal life, and to natural phenomena. I have come to see how this inwardness is as particular in its contours as are the objects of our physical vision.
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Rudolf Steiner education asks us to be open to a change in consciousness, a change which is indicated on many fronts. This change is organic to the evolution of consciousness, and it is the task and challenge and fruit of our epoch. As Steiner states in Spiritual Ground of Education:
Conclusion: Steps Toward a New Culture
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The story is told that at the end of his life, Rudolf Steiner said that if he were to begin the Waldorf schooling again, he "would throw the rudder right round to art." He saw that artistic method, rightly understood, is the basis of true learning. Throughout this book we have tried to look at art beyond its usual boundaries, and to chart a new course, whereby meditation and making are the two directions of the one wind, the root and shoot of the same seed, our two hands.
Appendix 1 Directory of Waldorf Schools, Institutes, and Adult Education Centers
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Appendix 2 A Brief Chronology of Rudolf Steiner's Life and Works
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Page Count: 222
Publication Year: 2011