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- Early Childhood
It is easy to recognize a Waldorf classroom. Beautifully painted walls, soothing atmosphere, natural materials at every glance and most important, the centerpiece of the room, a beautiful chalk drawing detailing the main lesson of the day. Why does Waldorf Education place such importance on the chalk drawings? Steiner himself does not really mention them, but they are such a consistent fixture in every Waldorf classroom.
Here are some quotes that give insight to the wonderful practice of Waldorf Chalkboard drawings that we took from the website www.chalkboarddrawing.org
Rawson and Masters (2000): One of Steiner education’s main aims is to educate the whole human being in thinking, feeling and will i.e. head, heart and hand. Make everything into a picture – means that the material should not be defined in concepts but portrayed in vivid descriptions – a fountain, river, a cliff, a tree, a flower, the North Star, or even the physical law of gravity and the principles of chemistry. Ordinary everyday life can be portrayed in meaningful pictures and images. The teacher must fill with inner conviction and warmth the pictures he/she presents to the souls of the children. They can derive strength for the whole of their lives from lessons that stream from heart to heart rather than head to head. (p. 12)
Steiner (2000) remarks: Children are more receptive to authority in teaching through art. Consequently, we can accomplish the most in this sense during this period of children’s lives using artistic methods. They will very effortlessly find their way into what we wish to communicate to them and take the greatest delight in rendering it by drawing or even painting. We should make sure, however, that they avoid merely imitative work. (p. 9)
Found in the appendix, Finser (1994) adds an article supporting this idea, written by Joan Almon, director for the Alliance for Childhood titled “Educating for Creative Thinking: The Waldorf Approach,” One of the tasks of the Waldorf elementary teacher is to present the curriculum in such a way that it stirs the imagination and feelings of the students, creating a context in which they can experience sympathy and antipathy, joy and sorrow, anger and tranquility, and much more.” Further on she states: Through mythologies, great stories, and stirring biographies, the children’s own moral impulses are awakened, and an idealism begins to grow in them that will flower in adolescence. (p. 231)
Steiner (1997): In this second stage we are no longer obligated to merely accept passively everything coming from our environment, allowing it to vibrate in us physically; rather, we transform it creatively into images. The child demands everything in a creative, artistic way. The teachers and educators who encounter the child must present everything from the perspective of an artist. Our contemporary culture demands this of teachers, and this is what must flow into the art of education; at this point, interactions between the growing human being and educators must take an artistic form. In this respect, we face great obstacles as teachers. Our civilization and the culture all around us have reached the point where they are geared only to the intellect, not to the artistic nature.” (p.29). Whatever lives in our thoughts about nature must fly on the wings of artistic inspiration and transform into images. They must rise in the soul of the child. (p.30)
Jack Petrash (2002) wrote a whole section on teaching through art. Here he states: “The teaching of any subject, from science to history, can be enlivened and enhanced by incorporating art into the instruction.” (p. 60)
Later on he quotes, “Evidence from the brain sciences and evolutionary psychology increasingly suggests that the arts (along with language and math) play an important role in brain development and maintenance.” (Sylwester, 1998, p. 32) (60).
Rudolf Steiner’s (1996) own words: Much can be done with the simplest resources, if only the teacher has the proper artistic power and energy for work – these are among the lifelong results of the proper cultivation of a feeling for beauty and art. The moral sense is also being formed in children during these years through the pictures of life placed before them, through the authorities whom they look up to – this moral sense becomes assured if children, from their own sense of beauty, feel that the good is beautiful, and also that the bad is ugly. (p. 35)
Finding so many amazing pictures of other Waldorf schools’ chalkboard drawings has inspired us to begin to try to capture our own with more consistency! Below is the start of The City School’s new chalkboard drawing gallery which will be added to monthly!