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Research Bulletin

The Research Bulletin is published by the Research Institute for Waldorf Education, an initiative working on behalf of the Waldorf movement, with the following aims:

  • To serve as a newsletter announcing ongoing research and related activities
  • To carry brief but substantive discussions of fundamental research issues and questions
  • To describe research projects currently underway
  • To provide for the exchange of information and views within a growing body of readers

Contact the Research Institute for subscription information.

The Online Waldorf Library offers articles from all back issues of the Research Bulletin dating from 1996 to the present in pdf format.

An index of the most recent issues can be found on the first page, an index and articles in older issues can be found by scrolling down.

Research Bulletin

Index of Most Recent Articles

Spring/Summer 2019, Volume 24 #1

From the Editor by Ilan Safit
Waldorf Education in the US and Canada 1928-1979, Part 1 by Nana Göbel
The Rudolf Steiner School at 90: Personal Reflections by Carol Ann Bärtges
Collegial Collaboration: Becoming Receptive to an Emerging Future by Micahel Holdrege
Gilles Deleuze"s Philosophy of Freedom by Fred Amrine
The Image Problem: Mystery and Debate by Arthur Auer
Extra Support with Music: Singing and Recorder by David Gable
Waldorf Misunderstandings on Art by VAn James
Report from the Research Institute by Patrice Maynard
Report from the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

 

Autumn/Winter 2018, Volume 23 #2

From the Editor by Iian Safit
Honolulu Teachers Explore Place: Teaching Through Aloha by Neil Boland and Jocelyn Romero Demirbag
Creating Place-Based Waldorf Festivals: An Ethnographic Study of Festivals in Two Non-European Waldorf Schools by Vera Hoffman
Understanding and Educating Transgender Youth in the Waldorf School by Jack Palmer
The Transition Experience of Waldorf elementary Students to Non-Waldorf High Schools by Peter Lawson
Life Processes and Learning in Waldorf Pedagogy by Martyn Rawson
Changing the Narrative: Practical Aspects of Teaching Technology at the Waldorf School by John Trevillion

Reports from Waldorf Publications and the Research Institute by Patrice Maynard
Report from the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

Spring /Summer, Volume 23 #1

From the Editor
by Ilan Safit
Beyond the Mechanistic Worldview by Douglas Gerwin
Attention to Attention! A Growing Need for Educators and Parents in the Digital Age by Holly Koteen-Soulé
Raising Narcissus by Lowell Monke
Building Bridges: Karl Konig's Phenomenology of Reading and Writing Disorders and the Current Neuroscience of Dyslexia by Lalla Carini
Developmental Challenges, Opportunities and Gifts for Children Coming into the World Today by Adam Blanning
A Case for Waldorf Education by Robert Oelhaf
Book Review: Train a Dog but Raise a Child: A Practical Primer by Dorit Winter
Reviewed by Cindy Brooks
Report from the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop
Report from Waldorf Publications by Patrice Maynard


Fall/Winter, Volume 22 #2

From the Editor by Ilan Safit
From the Executive Director by Douglas Gerwin

Between Our Demons and Our Gods
Human Encounter in the Light of Anthroposophy by Elan Leibner
Digital Apocalypse by Jason Yates
Technology and the Laws of Thought, Part 3 by Gopi Krishna Vijaya
A Computer Science Curriculum for Waldorf Schools by Harlan Gilbert & Jennifer Mankoff
Teaching Computer Science in 11th Grade by Charles C. Weems
Waldorf Pedagogy and Howard Gardner’s Six Entry Points to Teaching for Understanding by Helen-Ann Ireland
Extending the Arc: A Direction for Waldorf Education in the 21st Century by Ilan Safit

Report from the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop
Report from Waldorf Publications by Patrice Maynard


Spring/Summer, Volume 22 #1

From the Editor by Elan Leibner

Technology and the Consciousness Soul

Ideas for Educators of the New Generation by Christof Wiechert
Beyond the Virtual Sensorium by Jason Yates
Computer Science for Ninth and Tenth Grades by Charles Weems
Computers and Intelligence by Harlan Gilbert
Technology and the Laws of Thought, Part 2 by Gopi Krishna Vijaya
Technology and the Celebration of Work as Developed in Waldorf Education by David Mitchell

Dyslexia in the Waldorf Classroom
Survey of North American Waldorf Schools by Lalla Carini

Book Review: Postformal Education: A Philosophy for Complex Futures by Jennifer Gidley
Reviewed by David K. Scott
Report from the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop
Report from Waldorf Publications by Patrice Maynard

Fall/Winter 2016, Volume 21 #2

From the Editor by John Wulsin
Challenges in Our Relationship to Technology by Michaela Glöckler
Silica: Substance of Earth, Substance of Light by Michael Holdrege
Technology and the Laws of Thought by Gopi Krishna Vijaya
The Digital Gesture by Jason Yates
Children, Technology and Nature Awareness by George K. Russell
The Human Touch by Lowell Monke
Of Ants and Human Beings
Technology and the Urgent Need for New Ideas to Protect Children, Our Communities, and the Future by Patrice Maynardd
Seeing in Physics and Chemistry
Grades School Science Training for Waldorf School Teachers by Amalia Pretel-Gray
Report from the Online Waldorf Library
Report from Waldorf Publications

Spring /Summer 2016, Volume 21, #1

From the Editor by Elan Liebner
The Significance of Play in Evolution by Bernd Rosslenbroich
Developing Hybrid Minds: The Future Will Belong to the Nature-Smart by Richard Louv
Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education - A Dynamic Relationship by Jost Schieren
Waldorf Teachers - Artist or Mooncalves?
   Parzival and the New Knowledge by Norman Skillen
Core Principles of Waldorf Education:
   A Contribution to the Study of Core Principle #7
   by Frances Vig
Report from the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop
Report from Waldorf Publications by Patrice Maynard

Fall/Winter 2015, Volume 20 #2

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
From the Executive Director by Douglas Gerwin
Anxiety: Phenomenology, Physiology, Psychology, and Possible Remedies by James Dyson
The Art of Emphatic Individuality by Michael Howard
Resilience: More than Bouncing Back by Joan Almon
Beyond Myth-Busting
Understanding Our Evolving Relationship to Rudolf Steiner's Educational Work in the Past, the Present, and the Future by Stephen Keith Sagarin
Assessment: A Waldorf Perspective by Martyn Rawson
Assessment for Learning in Waldorf Classrooms
How Waldorf Teachers Measure Student Progress toward Lifelong Learning Goals - A Report from the Author by Helen-Ann Ireland
Remembering and Imagining by Jørgen Smit
Core Principles of Waldorf Education:
Three Contributions to the Study of Core Principles #4 and #5
  A Contribution to the Study of the Fourth Principle by Jennifer Snyder
  Six Gestures for the Waldorf Early Childhood Educator by Holly Koteen Soule
  The Lower Grades and High School Years by James Pewtherer
Report from Waldorf Publications by Patrice Maynard
Report from the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

 

Spring/Summer 2015, Volume 20 #1

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
Eurythmy and the "New Dance" by Frederick Amrine
Human Conception: How to Overcome Reproduction? by Jaap van der Wal
Forest Kindergarten by Heidi Drexel
Charter Schools in Relation to the Waldorf Movement by Gary Lamb
Standing for the Children in Our Care by Ruth Ker
Core Principles of Waldorf Education: Two Contributions tot he Study of Core Principles #3
  The Grade School Years by James Pewtherer
  The High School Years by Douglas Gerwin
Report from Waldorf Publications by Patrice Maynard
Report on the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop
Research Opportunities


Autumn/Winter 2014, Volume 19 #2

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
From the Executive Director by Douglas Gerwin
The Value of Risk in Children's Play by Joan Almon
Learning in Relationships by Thomas Fuchs
Encountering Sophia in the Classroom: Gender Inclusion in the Waldorf Curriculum by Kristin Agudelo
Imagine Knowledge: A Livable Path by Paula C Sager
The Formative Qualities of Foreign Language Teaching by Erhard Dahl
Core Principles of Waldorf Education: An Introduction and First Discourse
Pedagogical Section Council of North America
  A Contribution to the Study of the First Core Principleby Elan Leibner
  A Contribution to the Study of the Second Core Principleby Holly Koteen-Soule
A Call for Reports on Responsible Innovation by Elan Leibner
Report on the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop
Report on Waldorf Publications by Patrice Maynard 

Spring 2014, Volume 19 #1

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
From the Executive Director by Douglas Gerwin
The Philosophical Roots of Waldorf Education -
Part Four: Rudolf Steiner as Philosopher
by Frederick Amrine
The Spiritual Dimension of Waldorf Education by Jost Schieren
Education and the Presence of the Unknown by Craig Holdrege
Science Teaching - Part 2: Methods and Approaches by Roberto Trostli
When Animals Speak by Melissa Borden
Being Fully Human: An Introduction by Douglas Gerwin
The New Impulse of the Second Teachers' Meditation by Elan Leibner
Book Review:
Thinking Like a Plant: A Living Science for Life by Craig Holdrege
Reviewed by Stephen Sagarin
Report on the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

Autumn/Winter 2013, Volume 18 #2

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
From the Executive Director by Douglas Gerwin
The Philosophical Roots of Waldorf Education Part Three: From Schiller to Steiner by Frederick Amrine
Attunement and Teaching by Peter Lutzker
Therapeutic Eurythmy for the Teeth by Polly Saltet and Suzanne Zipperlen
In Matter, the Spirit: Science Education in the Waldorf School by Roberto Trostli
Every Child is an Artist: The Beginnings of Drawing by Van James
Rooted in the World by Craig Holdrege
Independent or Charter? Study of Teacher Choice, Part Two by Liz Beaven
Taking Pulse of Waldorf Early Childhood Education by Holly Koteen Soulé
Book Review: Under the Stars by Renate Long-Breipohl
Reviewed by Jill Tapin
Book Review: Drawing with Hand, Heart and Head by Van James
Reviewed by Eugene Schwartz
Report on the Online Waldorf Library

Spring/Summer 2013 Volume 18 #1

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
From the Director by Douglas Gerwin
Neurology and Education by Dennis Klocek
The Philosophical Roots of Waldorf Education Part Two:Fichte's Primordial Intuition by Frederick Amrine
From Un-bornness to "I" Consciousness: The Three Great Steps of Incarnation by Michaela Glöckler
Teacher Education for Educational Wisdom by Gert Biesta
Independent or Charter? Study of Teacher Choice, Part One by Liz Beaven
Language, Art and Deep Study by Elan Leibner
Report on the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

Autumn/Winter 2012 Volume 17 #2

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
In Memoriam: David Spears Mitchell by Douglas Gerwin and Patrice Maynard
The Three Castles and the Esoteric Life of the Teacher by Betty Staley
Learning for Life - Learning from Life by Florian Osswald
The Philosophical Roots of Waldorf Education
Part One: The Revolution
by Frederick Amrine
The Concept of Learning in Waldorf Education by Jost Schieren
Modeling Clay - for All Ages? by Arthur Auer
Anything but Children's Play: What Play in School Means for Learning by Irene Jung
Higgs Field and a View of the Material World that Makes Sense by Michael D'Aleo
The Online Waldorf Library

Spring/Summer 2012 Volume 17 #1

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
Letter to the Editor by Ernst Schuberth
Report from the Co-Directors by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin
On Earth as It Is in Heaven: The Task of the College of Teachers in the Light of the
Founding Impulse of Waldorf Education - Part II
by Roberto Trostli
"Spirit is Never without Matter, Matter Never without Spirit"
A Narrative Examination of the College of Teachers
by Liz Beaven
The Artistic Meeting: Creating Space for Spirit by Holly Koteen-Soulé
Contemplative Practice and Intuition in a Collegial Context
An Action Research Project in a Waldorf School
by Martyn Rawson
Contemplative Work in the College Meeting by Elan Leibner
Work of the Research Fellows:
Review of The Social Animal: Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement by David Brooks, reviewed by Dorit Winter
Report on the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

Autumn/Winter 2011 Volume 16 #2

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
Report from the Co-Directors by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin
Science and the Humanities: The Great Rift in Modern Consciousness by Douglas Sloan
What Stands Behind a Waldorf School? by David Mitchell
On Earth as It Is in Heaven: The Tasks of the College of Teachers in Light of the Founding Impulse of Waldorf Education - Part One by Roberto Trostli
The Plight of Early Childhood Education in the U.S. by Joan Almon
The Art of Knowing: Epistemological Implications for a Schooling of the Imagination by Jonathan Code
Painting from a Palette Entirely Different: A New Hermeneutic Approach to Steiner's Esoteric Courses for Teachers by Johannes Kiersch
Authenticity in Education by Elan Leibner
Soul Breathing Exercises by Dennis Klocek
Reports from Current Projects of the Research Institute:
Teaching Sensible Science
The Online Waldorf Library

Spring 2011, Volume 16 #1

From the Editor by Elan Leibner
Report from the Co-Directors by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin
Tending the Flame: The Link Between Education and Medicine in Early Childhood by Philip Incao
Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain by Sue Gerhardt
Research into Resilience by Christof Wiechert
Reading Research Supports the Waldorf Approach by Sebastian Suggate
Thinking and the Sense of Thinking: How We Perceive Thoughts by Detlef Hardorp
Outline of a Study Methodology by Elan Leibner
The Founding Intentions: Spiritual Leadership, Current Work, and the Goals of the Medical Section by Michaela Glöckler
Attending to Interconnection: Living the Lesson by Arthur Zajonc
Work of the Research Fellows: Review of the Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
Reviewed by Dorit Winter
Reports from Current Projects of the Research Institute:
Teaching Sensible Science by Lylli Anthon
Report from the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

Autumn/Winter 2010, Volume 15 #2

Report from the Co-Directors -by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin
The Inner Life and Work of the Teacher by Margaret Duberley
The Human Body as a Resonance Organ: A Sketch of an Anthropology of the Senses by Christian Rittelmeyer
Aesthetic Knowledge as a Source for the Main Lesson by Peter Guttenhofer
The Work of Emmi Pickler by Susan Weber
Knitting it All Together: Handwork and Spacial Dynamics by Fonda Black
Seven Myths of Social Participation of Waldorf Graduates by Wanda Riberio and Juan Pablo de Jesus Pereira
Volunteerism, Communication, Social Interaction: A Survey of Waldorf School Parents by Martin Novom
A Timeline for the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America by David Mitchell
Work of the Research Fellows: More Online by David Blair
Work of the Research Fellows: Is Technology Producing a Decline in Critical Thinking and Analysis? by David Blair
Work of the Research Fellows: Review of Saralea E. Chazan's "Children's Play Study" by Renate Long-Breipohl

Spring 2010, Volume 15 Number 1

From the Editor by Stephen Sagarin
Report from the Co-Directors by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin
What Can Rudolf Steiner's Words to the First Waldorf Teachers Tell Us Today? by Christof Wiechert
Social-Emotional Intelligence: The Basis for a New Vision of Education in the United States by Linda Lanteri
Rudolf Steiner's Research Methods for Teachers by Martyn Rawson
Combined Grades in Waldorf Schools: Creating Classrooms Teachers Can Feel Good About by Lori L. Freer
Educating Gifted Students in Waldorf Schools by Ellen Fjeld Kottker and Balazs Tarnai
How Do Teachers Learn with Teachers? Understanding Child Study as a Case for Professional Learning Communities by Marisha Plotnik
Does Our Educational System Contribute to Attentional and Learning Difficulties in Our Children? by Susan R. Johnson, M.D. FAAP
Survey of Waldorf School Trustee Education by Martin Novom and Jean Yeager
News from The Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

Autumn 2009, Volume 14, Number 2

Report from the Co-Directors by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin
From the Editor by Stephen Sagarin
The Social Mission of Waldorf School Communities by Christopher Schaefer
Identity and Governance by Jon McAlice
Changing Old Habits: Exploring New Models for Professional Development by Thomas Patteson and Laura Birdsall
Developing Coherence: Meditative Practice in Waldorf School Colleges of Teachers by Kevin Avison
Teachers' Self Development as a Mirror of Children's Incarnation, Part 2 by Renate Long-Breipohl
Social- Emotional Education and Waldorf Education by David Mitchell
Television in, and the Worlds of, Today's Children: A Mounting Cultural Controversy by Richard House
Russia's History, Culture and the Thrust Toward High-Stakes Testing: Reflections on a Recent Visit by David Mitchell
Da, Valdorvskii! Finding an Educational Approach for Children with Disabilities in a Siberian Village by Cassandra S. Hartblay
One Hundred Meters Squared by Michael D'Aleo
Basic Schools and the Future of Waldorf Education by Peter Guttenhofer
When One Plus One Equals Three: Evidence, Logic and Professional Discourse by Douglas Gerwin
Progress Report on the Waldorf Parent Survey by Martin Novom
News from The Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

 

Spring 2009, Volume 14, #1 ( complete issue)

 

No issue was published in Spring 2008

Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: From the Editor

Download the article: From the Editor

This is the first issue of the Research Bulletin since the passing of David Mitchell, Co-Director of the Research Institute for Waldorf Education, colleague, mentor, friend, and a general inspiration to so many of us. David’s ardent wish was that the Bulletin be a place where practicing teachers as well as a wide circle of readers interested in Waldorf education would find content and inspiration in a language adequate to current standards of research and discourse. He did not want “Waldorf navel-gazing,” as he called it, nor a dry academic journal, but rather a bridge that would facilitate the movement of ideas back and forth between academia and the Waldorf classroom.

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: From the Editor

Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: In Memoriam, David Spears Mitchell

Download the article: In Memoriam, David Spears Mitchell

In what turned out to be a final contribution to his voluminous set of writings on Waldorf education, David Mitchell posed a fundamental question, followed by a characteristically bold reply. “What Stands Behind a Waldorf School?” he asked in an article that appeared in this journal just a year ago. To which his first response was: “I contend there is no such thing as a Waldorf school—there are only schools striving to become Waldorf schools.”

He went on to explain:
A true Waldorf school is always in the state of becoming. This involves human striving and self development during which teachers remain open, constantly observing, and focused on Waldorf ideals while being centered in the world.1

In retrospect, we may say that this passage could just as well be a description not only of a Waldorf school but also of David himself, in that he devoted his life—with a will that was at once mighty and gentle—to a program of ceaseless becoming. With bounding energy and boundless enthusiasm, he shouldered one building project after another with a potent mixture of knowledge, courage, and dedication, while remaining “constantly observing and focused on Waldorf ideals.”

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: In Memoriam, David Spears Mitchell

Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: The Three Castles and the Esoteric Life of the Teacher

Download the article: The Three Castles and the Esoteric Life of the Teacher

We live in a time when human beings are called upon to wake up and develop a new consciousness. Before the fifteenth century, prior to the birth of the consciousness soul, one could live out of one’s natural development. There was still a feeling that beyond the physical world, spiritual beings were active and working with human beings. That has not been the case for the last five hundred years. More and more individuals have felt cut off and isolated from spiritual connections. In the nineteenth century Friedrich Nietzsche described it well with the expression “God is Dead.” Spiritual beings have not disappeared, but they no longer take an active interest in the human being’s physical development. Their work has been completed. Now, in the freedom we so value, we have the task of offering spiritual beings moral impulses that come out of our own efforts. Only then will they be interested. It is not destined that this will happen. It is up to us.

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: The Three Castles and the Esoteric Life of the Teacher

Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: Learning for Life - Learning from Life

Download the article: Learning for Life - Learning from Life

Schools are always faced with new challenges. It is part of the teacher’s task to become aware of the spirit of the times and learn to understand it. Awareness can start with the most simple of events, possibly with the following daily occurrence: Young people enter the school and leave it again.

This is an interesting area of observation. We may experience their coming in and going out like a deep breath which complements every school day. It is a movement without which school could not happen, and it is a movement that continues throughout the school day, because breathing in and out is an underlying concept of teaching. We welcome the pupils in the morning and we say goodbye to them at the end of the day. Every lesson lives between these two—the beginning and the end—and between them unfolds a variety of learning processes. Here we already see a crucial feature of teaching: teaching is not only about the teaching of knowledge. “Correct” breathing implies another quality, a quality that echoes in our daily teaching routines. Even if we do not consciously shape this breathing process, it is nonetheless influenced by the activities we do with the pupils. If we carefully observe how the pupils enter and leave the school, we may be able to perceive whether breathing is nurtured at a particular school.

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: Learning for Life - Learning from Life 

Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: The Philosophical Roots of Waldorf Education, Part One

Download the article: The Philosophical Roots of Waldorf Education, Part One....The Revolution

Kicking away the ladder
This first rubric might be puzzling, but readers who are very well-schooled in Western intellectual history will recognize the allusion right away. It comes from the end of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, from the early twentieth century, which is— or at least seems to be—a severe, very abstract treatise on symbolic logic. At the end of this brief treatise comes an astonishing statement by Wittgenstein: “My propositions are elucidatory in this way: He who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must, so to speak, kick away the ladder after he has climbed up on it.) He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.”

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: The Philosophical Roots of Waldorf Education, Part One

Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: The Concept of Learning in Waldorf Education

Download the article: The Concept of Learning in Waldorf Education

Introductory case study: A ninth grade farm trip
Thirty-five students are spending two weeks at an organic farm in northern Germany. This is a ninth grade, with almost equal numbers of boys and girls. The farm is responsible for providing these young people with accommodation, meals, and educational instruction. Every day there are tasks to be done in the following areas: work with animals (pigs and cows), the cheese dairy, vegetable garden and orchard, field work, and forestry.
In groups of five the students work in each of these areas in turn. In addition there are daily mini-lessons on various aspects of farming and forestry.

For the first three to five days the students struggle to embrace the challenges. Removed from their familiar surroundings, tied to a demanding, though not overly strenuous, work process, they feel it is all too much. Getting up early (at 6:30am), which is actually not much different from a normal school day, proves very laborious. Since many parents have supplied their children with large amounts of sweets and snacks, the healthy and nourishing meals provided by the farm at first go largely uneaten. Tasks that are simple but require some staying power—like digging a vegetable bed—lead many students, after a very short time, to imagine they are exhausted. The working atmosphere at this early stage is thus rather strained.

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: The Concept of Learning in Waldorf Education

Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: Modeling Clay- for All Ages?

Download the article: Modeling Clay - for All Ages?

We continue this [artistic working in the early grades] by moving on to three- dimensional, plastic forms, using plasticine if it is available and whatever else we can get if it isn’t—even if it’s mud from the street, it doesn’t matter! The point is to develop the ability to see forms [Formanschauen] and feel forms [Formgefuehl = Form-Feeling]1

Invigorating street mud
In the quote cited above, Rudolf Steiner points out that the main purpose of pedagogical modeling is for teachers to make a start and have their students activate their hands regularly in creating forms. The forming and form-sensing activity is paramount, regardless of the malleable material used—“even street mud if it is the only thing available, it doesn’t matter!” Elsewhere he calls street mud “a very good material” for this important purpose.2

Observation of young children playing for lengthy times shaping cool, wet mud or sand or cold snow shows us what a primal impulse sculptural activity is for human beings. Our hands want to reshape and transform the earth.

Plentiful earth materials like sand, dirt, and clay lend themselves naturally and readily to modeling activity outdoors and indoors. Hella Loewe, a long-time Waldorf class teacher, found that clay is a wonderfully malleable material and ideal for engaging and invigorating children in the early grades. Her boisterous class developed a passion for their weekly modeling lessons and was harmonized by them. Following each session, she saw “with pleasure how my children developed healthy, ruddy cheeks; even the delicate, pale ones appeared rosy and stimulated.”3

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: Modeling Clay- for All Ages?

Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: Anything But Children's Play

Download the article: Anything But Children's Play: What Play in School Means for Learning

A research project at the Rudolf Steiner School in Hamburg-Bergstedt, Germany, on what play in the school means for learning, as part of a larger research project with the theme “Independent [self-reliant] Learning,” was conducted under the supervision of the Academy for Developmental Mentoring and supported financially by Software AG-Stiftung. The participating teachers carried out individual projects that they hoped would encourage individual work and learning; they evaluated the results and incorporated them into their lessons. The author of this article conducted the following investigation into the effects of play on a child's ability to learn.

Eight-thirty in the morning, outside in the schoolyard
The class teacher of Grade Four, Knut Krodel, observes the boys in his class standing by the garden plot next to a side wing of the school building. There are two groups pelting each other with the bark mulch that is scattered in the garden. There is also quite a bit of mulch scattered all over the pavement next to the garden. Immediately the teacher hurries over to the boys. But before he can begin his admonition, one of the boys comes over to him to say: “Everything is all right. We have set up rules. Afterwards we will sweep it all up.” And in fact, a half hour later the bark mulch has disappeared from the pavement and is neatly distributed in the garden. For three days the children play this game, and on each day they clean up after the game.

A few weeks later, at the same time, in an abandoned corner behind the gym, the children of Class Four want to build a climbing structure. To begin they dig out the earth one meter deep in four locations. The first thirty centimeters is pretty easy to dig, but the rest is very difficult work. After that, four posts are cemented in place. Then, suddenly, they are no longer interested. The four posts satisfy them. The class teacher encourages them to keeping going with the project, but without success. They are already heading for another corner of the schoolyard.

Shouldn’t these children already be in the classroom? What do playing with mulch and building a climbing structure have to do with school?

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: Anything But Children's Play

Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: Higgs Field and a View of the Material World that Makes Sense

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For centuries no concept has been as misunderstood or the subject of so much speculation and investigation as the concept of matter. In earlier times, people drew their views on the nature of matter from ancient religious texts and oral traditions, whether they were indigenous, Eastern, or Western in origin. In the West, the eclipse of these traditional views and their replacement by the dawning of the empirical scientific era began already at the time of the Ancient Greeks but gained momentum only with the advent of mechanics and the science of Galileo.

Further steps along this path came during the early nineteenth century with the ideas of John Dalton—father of the concept of the atom in the form many of us learned in high school—and during the century that followed with the work of a host of scientists and mathematicians. Finally, we arrive at our present century, during which the ideas of the Higgs Field and Boson have made their debut in the popular press. While many people are enamored with the idea of the “smallest particle” (sometimes referred to as “the God-particle”), others read these descriptions and dismiss them as nonsense.

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2: Higgs Field and a View of the Material World that Makes Sense