Journal Banner

Waldorf Journal Project

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.

Waldorf Journal Project 9: Aesthetic Knowledge as a Source for the Main Lesson

Download the article: Aesthetic Knowledge as a Source for the Main Lesson

Translation by Peter Glasby in consultation with Georg Maier

The main lesson of the Waldorf school is different from a double lesson. It is a unity of three parts, composed like a sonata.

The classical sonata form is three movements. The first movement, the “Head movement,” presents the theme, forms it out, turns it around or mirrors it, submits it to many dismemberments and distortions (Verruckungen), and through the variations makes the listener once more aware of the drama of these transformations. The second movement brings a totally new atmosphere, in a slower tempo and a changed key, however, still totally related with the musical “substance” of the first movement. Here the task is less a working through of the theme than the direct touching of the inner space of the soul. Finally, in the third movement, the restrained drive for movement is let go. Quickly, the rhythmically accentuated, thematically light-footed, final movement plays itself out. Here too it arises from what was laid down in the first movement, but it still has something of its own. Like something freshening, the playful scherzo (joke) that often slips in, so may no main lesson go by without the weight of the content, at least once being lightened and relaxed by laughter.

The main lesson and the sonata are both artistic compositions in which the three sections go out from a middle point organically. They are not simply put together in an additive way, but arise out of transformation of the foregoing. Between the sonata movements are small pauses, but without interruption of the musical flow, instead a deep drawing in of the breath, a short repositioning of oneself, a thoughtful clearing of the throat. The applause and coughing come only after the final movement. There lies recess.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 9: Aesthetic Knowledge as a Source for the Main Lesson

Waldorf Journal Project 9: Adolescents - Their Relationship to the Night and the Senses in Connection With Their own Development

Download the article: Adolescents - Their Relationship to the Night and the Senses in Connection With Their own Development

This is a description of the workshop Today's Child, Tomorrow's World which took place over three days at the Kolisko Conference in Sydney, Australia, July 3-8, 2004. The methodology of the workshop was to develop several strands simultaneously, by providing experiences which were then allowed to ripen overnight and developed further on the subsequent day.

In his many courses to teachers, Rudolf Steiner gave material which, if worked with, provides a rich resource for understanding the theme, posing new questions and providing practical insight into working with adolescents in the classroom. Some of the answers are astounding. For example, education is not all about providing ‘light’ for the students but also ‘darkness.’ The beginning of the learning process is a ‘conclusion,’ not the end of the learning process. (Guttenhofer, 2004). There is a need to differentiate between ‘living concepts’ and ‘dead concepts,’ a critical differentiation for education. There are implications for the way a teacher arranges his lessons and for the way in which the day is organized for the students.

In this workshop we attempted to explore this area using text material from Steiner’s work, experiments, biographies, group discussion and active participation. We attempted to work with the same elements with which we work at school, i.e., the sleep life, the structure of the lesson and the day-day and three-day rhythms.

To which rhythm of life does sleep belong?

To continue download the article, link above.

Waldorf Science Project 9: Thoughts on Information and Communication Technology

Download the article: Thoughts on Information and Communication Technology

As parents, teacher, educators, in short contemporaries, we are confronted daily with the achievements of technology. We are challenged continuously to find a relation with technology. In that arena information communication technology hold a key position, I would like to try and bring some thoughts together with respect to this theme and develop some ideas about how to use this technology. Two pillars, which support a sensible usage, can be described as follows:

1. Technology can always be misused. We can try to understand the apparatus and thereby bring about consciousness of its functioning.
2. Through our own inner steadfastness we can evolve sensible use of technology: ethical, wise, safe.

To continue download the article, link above.

Waldorf Journal Project 8: From Norway: Teaching History Through the Grades

All articles from this issue in one file, click to download

A Phenomenological Approach to the Subject of History by Oddvar Granly
Fairy Tales and Legends The First Two Years at the Waldorf School by Jens Bjorneboe
Through the Golden Forest by Leif Warenskjold
What about the Old Testament? by Dan Lindholm
Moses by Karl Brodersen
Francis of Assisi by Dan Lindholm
Sparta and Athens by Jorgen Smit
The Romans by Christian Faye Smit
Jeanne d'Arc, an Enigmatic Figure in the Middle Ages by Jorgen Borgen
I and the Others, Strengthening a 7th Grader's Relationship to the World through History and Geography by David Brierley
Modern History in the Light of the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution by Svein Bohn
The Ninth Grade and the Industrial Revolution by Hans-Jorgen Hoinaes
The Minute Man, an Aphorism of the True American Spirit by Wolfgang Schuster M.D.

All individual articles from this issue can be found below

Waldorf Journal Project 8: A Phenomenological Approach to the Subject of History

Download the article: A Phenomenological Approach to the Subject of History

In our study of the natural sciences we observe phenomena. Our study of the humanities is different, for, as in history, the occurrences happened in the past. For example, the Norse historian Snorre was in the city of Haugesund on his journey to Norway in 1218. Modern historians have reports, documents and the remains of buildings to help reconstruct the occurrence. With this material they can create a picture of the event, which can be contemplated later. To study history we distance ourselves from the standards of today and try to experience how people in earlier ages thought. And when new discoveries come to light, we can even expand or change our interpretations!

What about the origin of events—what led to the occurrences? Halvdan Koht spoke about “motives for occurrences in history.” In the early twentieth century, a strong generation of historians at the University of Oslo were trained in Marxist historical interpretation. This influenced the material in textbooks. For example, in my high school history book, the following interpretation was given for the origin of the Viking raids: “As land in Western Norway became over-occupied, the desire to travel abroad was awakened.”

Historic symptomatology
Rudolf Steiner developed a historical perspective in which the search for motivating forces is on a broader level, in which the actual occurrences are symptoms and one does not search for the active impulses within them. Let us use a comparison. If a young girl blushes, should we look for the cause in her skin or in her blood system? The cause lies on a broader level in the form of a message she received that brought a blush to her cheeks.

In history one should never overlook outer or peripheral causes of events. Often there is a complex of active forces behind the event. The story of the French Revolution provides an obvious example for studying with the pupils in the eighth class just how the causes of events may be found on different planes. The teacher can begin by presenting how in 1664 Louis XIV built his Versailles at the expense of the people of France. Year after year the palace buildings were created in Baroque style, the gardens filled with hedges, alleys, symmetric flower beds, fountains, statues, a fish pond and much more. Then paint a picture of life at the court of the Sun King who was the sovereign center of the universe of orbiting servants and royalties. He had 3000 house servants, 3500 mounted guards and 10,000 foot soldiers. His daily routine was divided into a morning celebration of mass, meetings with ministers, extravagant meals, and evenings with garden parties, fireworks, balls, theater, or concerts. Amusement was not only a right, it was a duty. The court was filled with mistresses and superficialities. Once a beautiful court lady asked an older woman for advice as to a marquis who made advances to her. The answer was: “My dear, mademoiselle, marry him….then you will be rid of him.”

To continue download the full article, link above.

Waldorf Journal Project 8: Fairy Tales and Legends

Download the article: Fairy Tales and Legends The First Two Years at the Waldorf School

Some questions are difficult to answer. And those questions that arise unbidden, after you have followed thirty children through their first two school years, belong to the especially difficult. Ideally I would tuck them away in a black box, carefully bolted and chained.

• What was my goal in these first two years of school?
• And what has happened to the children during these years?

The first two years were spent creating a solid relationship between the children and the teacher. An equally large role was strengthening the social relationships between the children. The relationships between people are determined by what they share in common—inside themselves. When children can share the same pictures, they can also have common feelings to think back upon. The best way to establish a good relationship with children is to focus on the most free and inward part of their lives.

True relationships follow the rule: What I hold onto, I lose. What I give away, I retain. The path to that inner point goes through reservation, not intrusion. The shortest path is not a direct line; it makes a bow around the point. Children create a relationship with their teacher when he captures their attention in something else. So paradoxical is human nature.

• What captures the attention of first graders?

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 8: Fairy Tales and Legends

Waldorf Journal Project 8: Through the Golden Forest

Download the article: Through the Golden Forest

On my fireplace is a glazed clay pot. In the pot is a withering, ochre golden leaf. A branch, black as soot, casts a Chinese symbol shadow against the red firewall and the braided-iron, shaped in stone gray leaves. The leaves fold together, pale and dull. When the door is open, light from the hall falls between the leaves, and they shine like lights in a fog, a distant reflection of light in the golden forest.
Askeladden (the ash lad) rode a blue ox through a copper forest, a silver forest and a golden forest. We drove a gray car.

The reader may protest: it was Kari Trestakk who rode the blue ox, not Askeladden. That may be true, or almost true. But who is Kari Trestakk and who is Askeladden? Can you interchange them? Would that not cause confusion in the folk-tales?

Our well-fashioned fairy tale images come from AsbjØrnsen and Moe, the great storytellers who have created pictures of the figures that follow the Norwegian people through history. We can find no better in world literature. But that does not mean that all of the mystical figures in fairy tales, sagas and legends represent are described. AsbjØrnsen and Moe would be the first to protest their fairy tale figures becoming static in time.

Pictures rise to life, light up and fade away. Askeladden is one such picture, known throughout history among all people. In the Norwegian fairy tales, we see one side of him—the Norwegian side! But even this side has unlimited facets. From storyteller to storyteller, from village to village, the fairy tales change form.

To continue download the full article, link above.

Keywords: folk tales, fairy tales, story telling

Waldorf Journal Project 8: What about the Old Testament?

Download the article: What about the Old Testament?

Few subjects are more difficult for us to relate to than the stories in the Old Testament. Traditionally these images are presented during religious instruction and thereby come, at least partially, with a belief system. This may create difficulties for teachers. For is it part of our religious life to believe in a creation story? Or in the fall of man? Or in Jonah and the whale? Or that Abraham, in order to please the Lord, was willing to stick the sacrificial knife into Isaac?

These portrayals are powerful and sometimes frightening. And even though one occasionally finds lovely stories in the Old Testament, all too often even these are over-laced with unreasonable and unsavory elements. Whether we are guided by religious feelings or we look at the events in light of scientific inquiry—both methods are equally inadequate in helping a teacher get hold of the content that he or she must truly bring to the children in the classroom.

Many have tried to solve the problem quietly by cutting out the most alarming parts of the Old Testament, but censoring the text is not feasible. If our goal is to trace human consciousness back to the common origin, no other story comes near the Jewish tradition. The idea of common roots is significant for all of us and for all children.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 8: What about the Old Testament?

Waldorf Journal Project 8: Moses

Download the article: Moses

All Waldorf schools teach the Old Testament in the third and fourth grades. Why is this material especially suitable for ten-year-olds? Naturally you must choose parts of it. If we concentrate on the five books of Moses they are neither in form nor content suitable for children. Even shortened versions contain a lot of indigestible stories for children, but if you leave out certain parts, you do harm to the total picture and you leave a lot hanging in the wind. You will not be satisfied with just a selection of stories, in addition you have to tell the stories to the children as has been educational practice for hundreds of years.

In 1824 the author and priest Johan Peter Hebbel presented the Old Testament for small children in his Biblische Geschichten. The stories are in line with the Bible but also presented in simple terms for folks as we see on their ”walls and chest of drawers.” In his stories we meet the patriarchs and the prophets in their local, rural surroundings and the relationship between God and human beings is presented it its timeless, broad truth.

Yet the Old Testament is a historical document. Many people have asked me if the Old Testament is of any historical interest at all and whether it should no longer be presented to children. They mention scary and immoral motives such as Abraham’s sacrifice or Jacob’s tricks. In that respect the Old Testament is no different than any other people’s recorded bloody history.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 8: Moses

Waldorf Journal Project 8: Francis of Assisi

Download the article: Francis of Assisi

Storytelling in the second grade in the Waldorf schools usually consists of fables and legends. Were it only fables and legends it would be as one-sided as merely fairy tales in the first grade. We readily discover that fables and legends are opposites. Fables express human weaknesses masked in the characters of the animals. There is little to look up to and little to admire. A weak, pharisaic-like attitude might arise: We are not like them! As counter-weight we need stories with honorable characteristics, and these are found in legends. Not only because of their heartiness but also their drama, the legends of the life of Francis of Assisi are special. They have a historical core, yet he was  already legendary in his own time. People must have felt the supersensible power in Francis’s messages. They experienced courage and love that won over everything else. There were miracles. People witnessed actions that did not have their origin in human desires but in spiritual, moral impulses. Where such actions take place we often have miracles. That is what children learn to admire.

One fall day in 1182 in the town of Assisi a woman was giving birth to her first child but could not deliver. She labored in severe pain. That she was from a rich family did not matter; the child did not want to come forth. A pilgrim knocked on the door. When he saw the condition of the woman, he said, ”This child does not want to be born into a wealthy house. Carry the woman to the barn and have her lie in an empty stall. The new child must be born on straw. For he who shall be born shall be unlike any other who has journeyed in the Master’s footsteps.” The pilgrim left, no one knows where or who he was.

To continue download the full article, link above.

Keywords: St. Francis, second grade, 2nd grade, home school