Waldorf Method of Education - Art & Beauty
By: Jess Moore
The World is Beautiful
The next phase of human development in the Waldorf method of education is the grade school years or ages 7-14. As was shared before, for ages 0-7, the hypothesis that is worked from, is that the world is good. In the next phase of human development, we teach from the premise that the world is beautiful. Just as before, as adults it can be unsettling to present this world that is struggling with overcrowding, pollution and systemic racism (to name a few challenges) as a beautiful place. But again, students need to know this world as beautiful in order to invest themselves here.
The way that Waldorf education presents the world as a beautiful place is through a heart connection to each lesson. The curriculum is designed to forge emotional ties between the student and the world. When the student can “feel” into the curriculum, they bond and can create a relationship to the other, and to the world, through their feelings.
Art, Poetry, Song & Story
These lessons are brought through art, poetry, song and story. The arts directly connect the content of the lesson to the student’s feeling world. A teacher presents each subject artistically, so that the student can learn it by feeling it. Through the arts the subject connects more deeply to the student. When a student draws a picture or learns a poem or sings a song about their lesson, the subject matter becomes more personal. And subjects brought simply in the lower grades are added upon in the upper grades, so that a relationship is made to the content and the emotion to that content is deepened. Students aren’t just learning it, they are living it.
A World of Color
Waldorf classrooms are designed to be orderly and reverent, and they bring a sense of respect and beauty to their learning environment. The colors of the classroom are intended to unfold with their changing consciousness to the world around them. The teacher works to prepare a one-of-a-kind chalk drawing that is tied to a lesson or season. When that lesson is done, it is erased and another is created. The materials that the students use are treated with reverence and care. This process deepens the students' emotional connection to the music they make, the paintings they create or the plays they produce.
Students are taught about the world from a perspective of their microcosm, and from there through each grade that world grows a little bit to include more. It starts with their family, their home, their town, their state, their country, their continent and so on. Pretty soon many world cultures are shared to bring a wholeness to the world. Artistry, poetry, song and stories from other cultures bring new experiences of beauty that are not necessarily in the student’s daily life.
Characteristics of personality are brought simply in the younger grades and are studied and penetrated further through the years of the grade school experience. They culminate in the upper grades through study of biography. In this way, similar characteristics come to light through an actual real person. The student can deepen their understanding of the world through the feelings they develop for the cultures and persons that have lived and come before them.
By respecting their teachers, materials and learning environment and through an ongoing deeper understanding of the world they live in, the student is shown that the world is indeed a beautiful place. And through this beauty the student becomes interested and engaged in learning and is inspired to become a student of the world.