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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 5: The Art of Conversation: Speaking, and Silence

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We come into contact with our fellow human beings in a myriad of ways. The most common method available to us is the spoken word combined with the appropriate language of gestures. We greet one another, ask for the milk, ask for directions to the train station, express our happiness about a gift, express our unhappiness about a high tax bill, remind the little girl on her way to school to be careful, search out common knowledge or try to come to a decision through conversation, explain the functions on a new computer, or comfort the child who has fallen off her bicycle. It is always words, gestures, and mimicking that do this service for us and thereby essentially configure the way we live and interact with others.

In a certain way speech stands between thought and action. Words can bring thoughts to expression, inform, teach, explain, bring others to action, and prepare decisions. A single word can completely change the relationship to another person such as an encouraging or critical word, a word of acceptance or one of denial, a promise or a ‘no’ when considering the possibility of a future together. Conversation mediates between thoughts and actions and endows people’s relationships to one another. Looking more to the position of the speaker, we can ask ourselves about his motives? What kind of impulse is behind a statement? What does one want to achieve with a contribution? What is driving the speaker to this formulation exclusively? Do my words convey what I mean?

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Waldorf Journal Project 5: Saint Michael in the Midst of Everyday Life an interview with Gudrun Koller

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To learn about Michael’s fight with the dragon it is sufficient to just awaken every day and meet life openly. There are, however, people who experience this fight in a very intense way because they are in life situations that exist outside of the well-ordered and secure normal daily course of events. They are confronted with exigencies and abysses that other people only experience through literature and the media. There are such people in every country. In my country of Switzerland, in the midst of the prosperous paradise of Zurich, you have only to leave the familiar downtown plaza, ride ten minutes in a streetcar away from the bank district and railroad station – and you find yourself in a completely different world! For instance, you will encounter a schoolhouse with 350 children, almost all of them foreign-born. In this educational milieu more than 90 different languages are being spoken. The children come from a vast number of countries and cultures in the world. Here, Waldorf teacher Gudrun Koller has been doing impressive work for many years. Waldorf pedagogical practices, combined with devoted human involvement and openness to the spirit, are united with the concrete practicalities of life. This woman lives day by day, without fanfare, putting anthroposophical work ethics into practice.

All of us have the repeated opportunity to meet something new in our habitual circle; we are all occasionally confronted with a human crisis that can be met with compassion and deeds. The question is: do we heed the “call of Michael,” the summons to engage our own deeds to meet the needs of our fellow human beings?

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Waldorf Journal Project 5: Angels and Star Children: An Excursion to Their Workshop

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We are sitting in a bus and riding through District 4 of Zurich, Switzerland. I am returning to the schoolhouse for children from around the world. This time the windows are full of stars, falling heavily from the sky: big white snowflakes. With me in the bus is a group of students from Dornach. Expectant, they are looking forward to this visit to an extraordinary Zurich schoolhouse. They have read the interview with Ms. Koller. “We want to visit this teacher and her children!” was the unanimous declaration in the full-time course of the Upper Technical School for Anthroposophical Pedagogy in Dornach.

Soon they sit, a dozen students, in a very ordinary room of the public school and observe the teaching of the teacher. It is an ordinary room, but the teaching is extraordinary, teaching inspired with artistic-life-activity through which the children blend visibly with the teacher into a higher unity. The individual sections of the rhythmical whole are brief, and each child takes part in full of devotion. Afterwards they go to the main room for rhythmic instruction.

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Waldorf Journal Project 5: Examples of Children’s Tapestries

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Children from all over the world embroider their pictures in a transitional class in the Public School System in County 4, Zurich, Switzerland. The children are six to ten years old.

Waldorf Journal Project 4: Foundations for a Healthy Life

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

Play and Toys in the Life of Toddlers by Elke Blattmann
Child’s Play and Its Significance for Healthy Development by Rudolf Kischnick
Does Life Have Meaning? Destiny and Reincarnation by Walter Bühler
Overstimulation – “I Have No Time” by Walter Bühler, Alfred Schütze, and Rudolf Treichler
The Restless Child – Advice for Parents and Teachers by Dr. Johannes Bockenmühl
Sugar – The Sweet Addiction by Otto Wolff
Sunlight and Our Exposure to It by Lüder Jachens
The Healing Power of Lively Thought by Walter Bühler
The Healing Power of Quiet Contemplation and Prayer by Hans-Werner Schroeder .
The Emergence of the Idea of Evolution at the Time of Goethe by Frank Teichman
Osiris and Isis by Jorgen Smit
Osiris and Isis, a Play by Jorgen Smit

All individual articles from this issue can be found below

Waldorf Journal Project 4: Play and Toys in the Life of Toddlers

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Translated by Nina Kuettel

How do toddlers play today? Instead of an answer one increasingly hears mothers say, “My child can not play. Either she runs around wildly or sits there bored. If I do not give her something to do, she can not think of anything herself.” The ability of children to play seems to be disappearing rapidly. In order to stimulate their children, concerned parents often buy them one toy after another. But the situation just becomes worse. The child sits surrounded by an overabundance of toys and still does not know what to do.

What does the small child, born into this world, want? He/she wants to experience the world and learn to live. The little child is a sensory organ. Every perception takes hold of his/her entire body. Watch her as she drinks milk from her mother’s breast, it is as if her little hands and feet also taste the milk. A three-year-old can not help but hammer along when he hears someone else hammering! The entire body enjoys the glorious noise. A five-year-old will stand before animated figures in their exact same positions. He will sit next to the “singing figure” with hands folded on his knees and his back straight and, along with the “dancing figure,” he will lift his feet and jump and dance throughout the room.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 4: Play and Toys in the Life of Toddlers

Waldorf Journal Project 4: Child’s Play and Its Significance for Healthy Development

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by Rudolf Kischnick
Translated by Nina Kuettel

Those who interact with children today have probably observed that their ability to play is disappearing. Children today can no longer play as children of earlier times did. Consequently, play as an primal phenomenon of child development is in danger of extinction. Either it mutates into some kind of wild, riotous acting-out or into apathy and a state of listlessness and passivity.

This phenomenon is an alarm bell going off that must be taken seriously because it causes a deep-seated, negative change in the constitution of the child. Children who can no longer play are sick in a certain sense. This may not have immediately apparent and clinically recognizable symptoms, but is rather a disposition that leads to mental weaknesses and physical ailments later in life.

The incapacity of today’s youth to play out of an overabundance of life energy, to immerse themselves body and soul into some play activity and imaginatively live in that activity, to transform themselves through their imagination, has to do with the fact that the physical body of the child is emancipated too early from the soul-spiritual aspect. In normal development the body, soul, and spirit should remain as a unit until puberty. The body, as one of the heavy, underlying elements should not become free from this unit before puberty, but should rather resonate along with mental soul-spiritual experience. Until physical maturity is reached, the child must be able to completely penetrate his physical body with its soul capacities. And, he remains only a “child” insofar as it is able to accomplish this.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 4: Child’s Play and Its Significance for Healthy Development

Waldorf Journal Project 4: Does Life Have Meaning? Destiny and Reincarnation

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Translated by Nina Kuettel

There comes a point in everyone’s life when one asks the question about life’s meaning. It may be an individual query or one for mankind as a whole. Often the precipitating factor is some kind of life crisis, a negative experience or an event such as illness, accident, disappointment, or failure. Much depends upon the response to this central question. The negative or positive response comes from deep in our inner nature and our sphere of will. It determines our attitude about life and our trust in life. It can either lame or inspire our will to live.

As a response, a general, resounding yes or no is not sufficient. Rather, individual destinies are so diverse that an individual answer is also required. Further, this question draws others along with it, as we shall see, and is interwoven with them, and, perhaps the meaning we seek does not even exist in a certain form but must be co-created by us through deeper insights into the interconnectedness of life and personal efforts of will?

The uncertainty may nevertheless be valued as positive, as a wake-up call. An animal can not ask questions because it can not objectify its experiences and think about things or itself. The ability to ponder one’s self or one’s life brings to light something of our real humanity, the possibility of self determination and building of the self.

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Waldorf Journal Project 4: Overstimulation “I Have No Time”

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Causes, prevention and cure
Over stimulation is epidemic in our times. Almost everyone suffers from it to some degree. It is not even possible for every person to seek treatment from his/her physician for this problem and, fortunately in less severe cases, treatment is also not really necessary. In this article we will go into the causes of this terrible and escalating malady of our times and hopefully shed new light on the search for self-healing.

Symptoms of over stimulation

Overstimulated people often get carried away by sense impressions and thoughts without really being able to connect to them. But anything that does not have one’s full attention is easily forgotten, so difficulty with concentration is followed by forgetfulness. Instead, other thoughts or pictures come to the mind without any desire to remember them. Strong, but poorly assimilated impressions, as they are daily thrust into our lives, can disturb overstimulated people even in their dreams while sleeping. The senses themselves become oversensitive. Involuntary movements of the limbs, startled reactions to noises, increased rate of one’s own body processes such as the pulsing of the blood and the beating of the heart, become more prevalent. All of these symptoms combine with a general irritability and agitation that can escalate into anger. Temporary relief comes through fatigue and slumber, but without any real rejuvenating sleep, naturally, such people become afraid of new impressions, of life, and they become insecure and indecisive. Over stimulation can take a tight grip on the entire life of the soul in thinking, feeling, and willing.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 4: Overstimulation “I Have No Time”

Waldorf Journal Project 4: The Restless Child – Advice for Parents and Teachers

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Translated by Nina Kuettel

All those who interact with children – parents and teachers, but especially parents – can recognize in the restless boys and girls we are speaking of here a mirror of our times, our life today. In their way of being we see the haste, the disruptiveness, the tension, and the unhappiness that our way of life brings with it. At the same time an image of the destiny of our times is unrolled.

Efforts to describe the appearance of children who have concentration problems, are restless, and exhibit inappropriate behavior go back to the nineteenth century. They can be found in such books as the Struwwelpeter picture books (nineteenth century German children’s books) and in practically unlimited amounts in the literature of the last few decades. One has the impression that the number of these restless children in highly developed countries is on the increase and that the associated problems are becoming more pressing. The questions about education, however, because of increasing uncertainty on the part of educators and parents, are becoming graver. Social ills and dysfunctional relationships are becoming more crude and often encroach upon a child’s environment with far-reaching and continuous effects. Therefore, the author will attempt in this article to clarify, teach recognition, and develop ways to alleviate this situation.

Three to five percent of all [German] school children have problems with concentration, hyperactivity, and disruptive behavior. Many others have some kind of learning disability, but not severe enough to warrant special education. The suffering of these often very clever children is puzzling and seemingly insurmountable. Very often one is helpless in the face of these problems because one can not come to grips with them. They are opaque.

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