The Waldorf Journal Project, sponsored by the Waldorf Curriculum Fund and published by AWSNA Publications, brings to English-speaking audiences translations from essays, magazines, and specialized studies from around the world.
Journals are published twice a year and all articles in issues from 2002 to the present are available on the Online Waldorf Library.
Download the article: Child Development - Conception to Birth: Embryology from an Anthroposophical Perspective
by Bruno Callegaro, M.D.
Embryology is a modern science. It was in the Renaissance that isolated researchers such as Leonardo da Vinci first showed a quickened interest in the subject. Two to three hundred years later, the evolution of
thinking and fundamentally important research by Goethe, Olken, Carus, and others created the basis for the study of embryology and the idea of metamorphosis associated with it. Systematic research in embryology was only well established after 1940.
This new scientific possibility offered the public the ability to actively engage their thoughts on the interval where invisible transformation takes place between two visible phenomena, since only isolated phenomena can be found during pregnancy examinations or after miscarriages. Continuous development as it is described in textbooks cannot be directly observed. All that we see are microscopic “snap-shots.” This is the result of an activity—an invisible transformation, or metamorphosis—in the interval between two visible forms. Films that show this continuous development are attempts to make the transformation graphically clear. However, it always remains invisible and can only be comprehended through the
activity of thought. It is just this activity of thought that is new. It has only been possible for about one hundred years, since the end of the nineteenth century. It assumes the modern ability to transcend with consciousness the threshold between that which can be perceived by the senses and that which is extrasensory.
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Download the article: Early Childhood Today: Wish and Reality
by Walter Riethmüller
“It seems essential to get a generalized picture of ‘children’. . . but at the same time every generalization is far removed from that which children really ‘are.’ All generalizations about childhood manipulate education, but without them one cannot educate.” This quote is from education scientist Jürgen Oelkers.
In contrast, Rudolf Steiner said, “There is only one educator and that is the child-man and child-woman facing their own selves. Education is the art of creating an opportunity for child-beings to educate themselves.” With the first quote one experiences that the image adults make of the child is the basis, the foundation, of education. The arbitrariness of the quality of that image is noticeable. The main point is that one has an image; however, in contrast, Steiner’s comment is based on the idea that no image at all should be made of a child, rather the concept of what childhood actually is lives within this conflict.
Download the article: The Kindergarten Child
by Peter Lang
Published in Erziehungskunst H.9, 2002
The kindergarten has come into the public arena. In the political debate about the consequences of the conclusions of the PISA study, the kindergarten is, in many cases, not understood as a place of development in which children acquire essential, vital, basic skills needed in order to have a foundation on which to build future school learning. Time spent in kindergarten is often characterized as “cuddly education” and “wasted time.” According to a series of articles about the new education catastrophe in Germany in Der Spiegel (a German weekly news magazine), the dogma remains that kindergarten can only be playing and no learning and, as a result, there is cultural malnutrition. Logically, the call for beginning school earlier is becoming louder. However, logical does not always mean appropriate or just.
Download the article: What Do Young Children Need Today?
by Sally Schweizer
Published in Steiner Education, Vol. 34, No. 2
A five year-old on parental knee with opened book: “Wait, I haven’t seen the picture properly.”1
Another child of the same age is alone in front of a video and, as the pictures race by, accepts the situation silently, passively.
Example and Love
Love and good example are the greatest tools we have as parents and early years’ educators. The young child is defenseless, trusting, without judgment or discrimination. Yet this is the time of greatest learning. By three the child has learned the particularly human qualities of walking, talking, and first thinking, and taken the first step in consciousness. “I’m taller than my neck,” a three-year-old was heard to say.
What do we offer the child under seven to learn when he can absorb so much so fast? The delicate sense organs are all-embracing; the child absorbs willy-nilly the world around, recreating it through the divine gift of imitation in play, speech, and behavior.
Many children today have had to close themselves off from a world with which they cannot cope by forming a hard, protective shell around their souls. One sees pale, defined faces, almost lumpy. Gone are many true children’s faces, soft, round, and rosy with bright eyes shining into the world. Why? What is lacking (or too pervasive) that this has become so?
Download the article: Psychology and Early Years Learning: Affirming the Wisdom of Waldorf
by Richard House
Published in Steiner Education, Vol. 34, No. 2
We should take care not to make the intellect our god. It has, of course, powerful muscles but no personality.
— Albert Einstein
The neglect of the emotional
Emotions are at the center of children’s relationships, well-being, sense of self, and moral sensitivity and are centrally linked to their increasing understanding of the world in which they grow up. Yet we have only recently begun to pay serious attention to the significance of children’s emotions.
— Dr. Judy Dunn
In this article I will explore a vital area of early years learning wherein experientially informed theoretical thinking and empirical research, in the broad field of psychology (including psychoanalysis), cohere with Waldorf educational philosophy. It seems to me that the ever-escalating malaise within public education and parents’ and professionals’ ever-increasing disquiet with those trends offer the Waldorf movement an opportunity not to be missed. It is a chance to take our work and values out into the public sphere, which is crying out for a humane and demonstrably effective alternative to the assessment-obsessed, anxiety-driven fare on offer through public education. One way of doing this is to write to the press whenever we see an opportunity, to challenge current conventional wisdom and set out the Waldorf alternative.1 Another valuable approach is to draw upon the wealth of substantive literature in a range of fields broadly centered in the psychology discipline in order to vindicate the assumptions that underpin Waldorf praxis. It is this latter approach that I will pursue in this article.
Download the article: Children's Questions
by A. C. Harwood
From about the age of three children begin to be full of questions, and it is sometimes a matter of great difficulty for their parents to find the right answers to them. Every question demands its own individual answer, but it can be of great value, in deciding what answer to give, to have a clear idea of the kind of answer which is required. For it is altogether wrong to imagine that a little child should be given the same kind of answer as would be suitable for a child of eleven or twelve, but in a simpler form.
The range of questions which even young children will ask is truly astonishing. Indeed, in many respects the youngest children will often ask the most fundamental and far-reaching questions - on life and death, and life after death, and many subjects on which their parents have often resigned all hope of definite knowledge. A child of four (to quote an actual example) has asked these questions in the space of a few minutes:
Do men die? Will you die? Shall I die? What do the angels say to you? Are angels shy? Who made God? Do you like God? When you die do you come alive again?
Download the article: Non-Verbal Education: A Necessity on the Developmental Stages
by Michaela Glöckler , M.D.
Published in Steiner Education, Vol. 34, No. 2
translated by Martyn Rawson Steiner Education, Vol. 34, No. 2
It is not moral preaching and not reasoned instruction that work on children in the right way: that which works is what the adults in their surroundings do visibly before their eyes.
— Rudolf Steiner
Typically, human beings never finish learning, and even when getting older they will keep adding new things to what has already been attained. At the same time, it is obvious that the degree and manner of learning changes during the course of life. Every stage of life is specially adapted to certain learning processes. This shows most significantly in the first twenty years where, along with bodily growth, the soul-spirit’s ability to take things in and a readiness to learn are buoyant. With this sketch as background, we may focus our attention on the preschool years.
The Development of Learning Ability up to the Beginning of Adulthood
During the course of their development children learn in different ways. In the first years it happens through imitation: e.g., walking, talking,habits, shaking hands when meeting people, and much more. What lies behind this? Learning through imitation means teaching yourself according to a perceived role model. Without any explanations or pedagogical instruction being given, children absorb all the events happening around them, practicing out of their own inner drive until they have attained the corresponding skills. Children do not learn to speak through explanation, nor do they learn to walk through instructions on how to move. They learn these complicated and far reaching human capacities solely through their own inner drive, modeled on the pattern provided by adults. This concentrated, imitative learning of the child—an activity, which is kindled by the role model and tirelessly practiced—is here termed non-verbal learning, i.e., learning without words. Parents who endeavor to set an example for their children in this manner could, therefore, be called nonverbal educators. An example might make clear what this means. In a doctor’s practice it often happens that when a mother and child come into the office a problem arises. The doctor has greeted the mother and then turns to the child who also holds out her hand. Often with little children it is not the right hand but the left. The mother who knows about non-verbal education will look on calmly while the child gives the doctor her left hand.
Download the article: Child Observation and Study
From the Kolisko Conference Stuttgart, Germany
by Michaela Glöckler, M.D.
Michaela Glöckler, M.D., head of the Medical Section of the Goetheanum, presided over the Kolisko Conference, which was in honor of Dr. Eugen Kolisko (1893 –1939). It drew more than 180 Waldorf teachers, therapists, and medical doctors from more than 25 countries to Stuttgart, Germany. A week was spent discussing different aspects of child development. The topics included curricula of the upper classes (8th–12th), drugs, sects, difficult children, quiet children, school readiness, and so forth. The main theme focused on the six constitutional types of children: large-headed/small-headed, cosmic/earthly, and fantasy-rich, fantasy-poor. All types are healthy; they manifest the action of the “I” on the physical, etheric, and astral body, respectively. Dr. Glöckler’s lectures on these subjects were a rich source of information that reflected her knowledge and practical experience with Waldorf education.
Download the article: Some Aspects of Child Study Work in Faculty Meetings
by Magda Lissau
We must learn to perceive the spiritual archetype of man through his picture nature. In the future, man will become to some extent transparent to his fellow man. The form of his head and his gait will awaken in us an inner sympathy and understanding of a different nature from what we find in human tendencies today. For we shall only know man as an ego-being when we have this conception of his picture nature, when we can approach him with the fundamental feeling that what the physical eyes perceive of a man bears the same relation to the true supersensible reality of man just as the picture painted on canvas bears to the reality it depicts. We must develop this fundamental feeling in ourselves. We must approach man in such a way that we no longer see him as a combination of bones, muscles, blood, and so forth, but as the image of his eternal, spiritual being (Rudolf Steiner, From Symptom to Reality in Modern History, Lecture V).
Download the article: Overview of Childhood Characteristics
by David Mitchell
Three Physical Types
Six Constitutional Types
Seven Soul Types
Endomorph: Soft and spherical; Large stomach and liver—large digestive viscera; Loves food, and is glutton for affection; Sociable, loves people Floats easily in water—excess fat; Behavior—exhibits extreme love of relaxation and comfort
Mesomorph: Upright; Firm skin, Big bones—well developed heart and circulatory system; Relatively strong; Loves exercise, activity. Tries to dominate
Ectomorph: Flat chest, pipe-stem arms and legs
Thin, fragile, Linear Restrained. Can be over-sensitive. Desires concealment. Withdraws from ordinary social occasions