Waldorf is Lovely

LovelyFinally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

As Christians, we are to fill our minds with beauty. Waldorf education is beautiful – just google image it. The lazure walls, the play silks, wet -on-wet painting, natural toys, outdoor play and gardening, verse recitation, music, and dance all surround the child with things that are pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise.

Let’s take a look at some of the elements of a Waldorf education from a Biblical point of view.


Verse

VERSE Walter Crane

The Bible says, “Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

You’ve heard the saying “Garbage in, garbage out.” What children fill their mind with is what will come out in their habits and character. Freya Jafke wrote for International Waldorf Kindergarten Association, “Human speech surrounds the newborn child from its first day. It creates an atmosphere permeated with spirit into which the child “breathes himself.” The child imitates, listens, absorbs and at the same time forms himself.”

The use of verse fills a child’s mind with those things which are worthy of thought.

God commands that we memorize His Words, and keep them with us. “Lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul.” (Deuteronomy 11:18)

By mixing beautiful verse and Bible verse throughout the day – day in and day out – we are helping Children take control of their thought, which will eventually build their character and be the basis of their decisions.


Music

Music

In early education, vocal song, verse and directions are interwoven throughout the day. The Bible states that we should, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19) According the The Well Balanced Child, by Sally Goddard Blythe, “Singing is particularly powerful in entertaining the listening and voicing skills which underlie spoken and written language.” Learning vowels and consonants a well as developing the memory are important outcomes of music.

But the importance of music is even deeper. It touches the soul. God created us to be instruments of His praise. From Genesis to Revelation, music runs throughout.

Making musical instruments was one of the first professions in the Bible – recorded right after the account of Adam and Eve. “His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron.” (Genesis 4:21 – 22)

In early Hebrew history the musicians were charged with being in front of the army. God’s praise preceded the battle, which God had already declared victory over. (Read 2 Chronicles 20)

The Psalms are songs written for the purpose of magnifying God through verses covering every aspect of life.

As teacher parents, our ultimate example is to be like our Heavenly Father – and HE SINGS OVER US!

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. he will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 2:17)


Dance/Movement

Night Dance

Waldorf believe that there is a clear connection between dance and movement and brain development – with much scientific proof to back it up. It is used in eurythmy to enhance speech and it is used in recitation to memorize. Let’s be practical, anyone working with small children knows that working with the wiggles is so much easier than containing them.

Like music, dance is a bodily expression of the soul. Sprinkled throughout the Bible are passages about praising God through dance.

“Let them praise His name with dancing.” (Psalm 149:3)

“David danced before the Lord with all his might.” (2 Samuel 6:14)

“Praise Him with tambourine and dance.” Psalm 150:4


Art

Painting

God is the Greatest Artist. The Creator. Psalm 8 describe the earth as “the work of His fingers.” Not only did God create, but He was the first art critic. After each day of creation, He evaluated his masterpiece and said, “It is good.” Psalm 104:31 states, “The Lord rejoices in His works.”

Humanists have stated that from the beginning of man, art has been an integral part of human nature. The Bible tells us why. God created man in His own image. God is the great artist, and we were created to reflect His character.

God also commissioned artists. After Moses lead the people out of Egypt, the Lord tells Moses to have a man named Bezalel artistically design a temple. Not only did He commission him, but God states, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (Exodus 31:3 – 5)

God delights in the creativity and artistic expression of His people. Thus, as Christian educators, why would we neglect such an important aspect of who God designed us to be?


In conclusion, I believe Waldorf methodology can be ued successfully to teach kids to glorify God. In doing so, we must evaluate everything we teach by Philippians 4:8:

Is it true? Is it Biblical, since this is the measuring stick for truth?

Is it honorable?

Is it just?

Is it pure?

Is it lovely?

Is it commendable?

Is it excellent?

Is it worthy of praise?

If the answer is yes, fill the kid’s minds to the brim with it – so there is no room for junk.

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Head, Heart, Hand

head heart handOne of the things I love about Waldorf pedagogy is the focus on the whole child: teaching the head, heart, and hands of the child.

Although all three are always included in the educational process, one of the three is emphasized according to the child’s age and development.

Steiner (1861–1925) taught that from birth to six, the hands and will of the child is the focus. From seven to thirteen, the heart and feelings are centered on. And from fourteen on the thinking and head are emphasized.

In my mind, this somewhat coordinates with Aristotle’s (384—322 B.C.)  classical methodology which breaks the learning process into three age groups – grammar, logic and rhetoric. The five to nine year old learns through recitation and hands on learning – the hands, the ten through thirteen year old is taught how to think – using his head, and the teen is taught how to eloquently express what he discovers and thinks – combining the head, heart, and hands.  The age before school is not usually addressed.

Let’s take the concept of teaching the head, heart, and hands back even further in educational history to the Biblical book of Deuteronomy (believed to be written between 641–609 BC)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 9)

Jesus later added the word “mind” to the command to love the Lord. God commands parents to “teach” children’s hearts, souls, might, and mind. Although the Biblical lesson does not break it down by age – it does give insight in how to accomplish this.

“Words that I command you today shall be on your heart” – through feeling, emotions, and memorization.

“Teach them diligently” – Diligent means “constant in effort to accomplish something” (dictionary.com). Therefore we are to incorporate rhythm, consistency, and review.

“Talk of them … when you sit …walk … lie down …rise” – Teach the head through “talk,” discussions, lectures, instilling knowledge verbally – in an ongoing dialogue.

“Bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” All of which are very hands on, physical means of teaching.

Notice God instructs His believes to use all the senses to teach (see it, hear it, touch it). In other parts of the Bible He covers the other two:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each. “With it you shall make incense, a perfume, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. “You shall beat some of it very fine, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; it shall be most holy to you.” (Exodus 30:38)

“Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalms 34:8)

Although I don’t agree with all Steiner’s philosophy behind his head, heart, hands methodology – teaching the whole child has its roots in both Classical and Biblical pedagogy.

Note: To read more about Steiner’s philosophy of teaching the whole child I recommend

“This is Not Head-to-Head Education”: Whole Child Development in a Waldorf School by Elisa Sobo

https://kellogg.nd.edu/learning/Sobo.pdf

It is fairly easy to read and understand and it summarizes the original well.

God Created Rhythm

Reading

Rhythm is the routine of living – learning, sleeping, eating, working, playing, celebrating.

Rhythm is natural because it was created by God.

God marked days and nights.“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”  Gen 1: 3-5

God created the earth in six days, rested, set some days as holy (which means set apart).“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:11

God controls the seasons.“He changes times and seasons;God instituted celebrations. “ Daniel 2:21

God ordained celebrations.The Bible is full of celebration. The biblical God loves a celebration: feasting, rituals, uniting with family and community was mandated by God.

Living and teaching with a yearly, seasonally, weekly and daily rhythm is good because it connects us to  God Himself.

Rhythm is the baseline of Waldorf-inspired education.

Children crave rhythm. How many times can you read the same book, tell the same story, or sing the same song to your child?

When a child witnesses leaves falling off of a tree, the tree laced with snow, the new leaf buds, and the green canopy overhead, he is experiencing God’s rhythm in nature. Going along with that rhythm, in as to how and what to teach at various times of the year, only seams natural and logical.

Daily rhythm helps a child feel secure because they know what to expect. Most parenting books will tell you the importance of a nighttime routine aids in the sleep process. But when rhythm sloshed from a simple bedtime ritual into the sunlight, I saw many of Rose’s anxieties wean, and she developed a greater sense of peace and security.

Create an external rhythm, is helping her create a greater internal rhythm. And the nee for discipline has decreased. I believe this is because many of her discipline problems stemmed from stress, not knowing what was expected, lack of sleep, and over-stimulation. Many of these issues are eliminated by balancing the daily rhythm in our home.

I’ve also noticed a heightened expectation around holidays and birthdays. When we do the same thing from year to year, there is excitement in the preparation, and peace in the presentation.

Ultimately creating rhythm in our family’s life and in education process has brought about greater peace and joy.

Christian Waldorf?

Chrisian Waldorf

My life has one overriding purpose. . . Nothing else matters: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever

My parenting has one purpose. ..thus my homeschooling has one purpose: to teach my kids to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

So when deciding how to teach and what to teach, I ask myself, “What is the best means of teaching my kids to glorify God and enjoy Him forever?”  I have chosen Waldorf. Not a popular choice for Christian homeschoolers.  Most Christian homeschoolers aren’t familiar with Waldorf, and those who are, are often negative.

Today, I’d like to examine why I believe a Christian Worldview can be taught using Waldorf pedagogy.

Please reread my last sentence. I want to emphasis, my goal is to teach a Christian Worldview USING Waldorf … not to teach Waldorf and incorporate Christian theology. There is a difference, and that difference makes all the difference.

What is Christianity?

The American Heritage Dictionary, 2005, states that Christianity is “the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, sent by God. They believe that Jesus, by dying and rising from the dead, made up for the sin of Adam and thus redeemed the world, allowing all who believe in him to enter heaven. Christians rely on the Bible as the inspired word of God.”

Christians believe there is only one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Christians also believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. Therefore the Bible is the only means of absolute truth because it is God’s words revealed to man. The Bible speaks on its own validity when it states, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Proverbs 30: 5 – 6

What is Christian Worldview?

People live what they think. Therefore, a Christian Worldview is when all of life, all ideas, all beliefs, and all events are filtered and interpreted through the Bible, the only means of absolute truth. Therefore, all choices come from a biblical perspective and the result is a lifestyle that looks more and more like Jesus himself.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2

What is a Christian Education?

A system of education in which all learning focuses on loving God. All subjects, all philosophies, all sciences, everything that goes into the mind is evaluated according to the truth of God’s Word and for the purpose of loving God fully.

“The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:4 – 7

What is Waldorf education?

Waldorf education is an educational method which focuses on the whole child as he grows and changes in different stages of his life.  It is based on the philosophy of anthroposophy which was developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early twentieth century.

What is anthroposophy?

The Anthroposophical Society in America states, “Anthroposophy is a discipline of research as well as a path of knowledge, service, personal growth and social engagement.  Introduced and developed by Rudolf Steiner, it is concerned with all aspects of human life, spirit and humanity’s future evolution and well-being.”

In contrast to the Christian belief that truth is based on God, Anthroposophy claims that humans create truth. Steiner states, in “truth is a free creation of the human spirit that never would exist at all if we did not generate it ourselves. The task of understanding is not to replicate in conceptual form something that already exists, but rather to create a wholly new realm, that together with the world given to our senses constitutes the fullness of reality.” (Steiner, Truth and Knowledge, Introduction to the Philosophy of Freedom, Introduction) Therefore, the basis of anthroposophy is humanism and existentialism.

Is Waldorf Christian?

Waldorf is not Christian.  Waldorf is spiritual in nature, but that spirituality is based on the presupposition that man is eternal and has a soul. Waldorf schools around the world claim to embrace all religions equally, including Christianity.

Yet at the base of Christianity is the belief that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ. To a Christian, man is spiritual because God created him in His image in order to have an eternal relationship with him.

And once again, Christians believe the basis of truth is the Bible and Waldorf believes the basis of truth is anthroposophy (existentialism).

Can I use Waldorf without accepting anthroposophy?

I believe the answer is yes. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  I would ask is any educational method “Christian”? Christianity is a belief and a lifestyle, not an educational method. Using textbooks or unit studies is no more “Christian” than Waldorf teaching materials. The Bible does not dictate a specific technique for teaching.

Waldorf education was developed through observation of children and the study of child development. Modern scientific research on the brain advocates for similar teaching methods. Waldorf also has many similarities to Classical education (based on Aristotle, a non-Christian’s philosophy) – especially three stages of childhood learning. For me personally, Waldorf has elements that logically make sense.

Truth is always grounded in the word of God, even if it originated from a non-Christian. I believe there is a lot of truth in Waldorf pedagogy.  Using the methodology is an educational choice which is neither Christian nor pagan.

How can Waldorf pedagogy and Christian principles work together?

Many specifics of a Waldorf education can either be directed toward knowing God more fully, or because God created them.

  • Rhythm = God Created Rhythm
  • Teaching to Head, Heart, Hands = Teaching to love God with Heart, Mind, Soul & Strength
  • Art = God is the Creator and part of being created in His image is creating
  • Reciting Verse = The Bible says to take every thought captive, this is training in doing so
  • Music = Sing and make music to God
  • 12 senses = God Created the Senses so we would know and love Him
  • Emphasis on nature = God gave man stewardship of the earth
  • Purposeful Work = Work as unto the Lord
  • Teaching to the Temperaments = God Created us as individuals to worship Him fully
  • Fairy Tales =Teaches godly character traits and that good triumphs over evil
  • Dance and Movement = Dance unto the Lord

Many other elements of Waldorf are neither Biblical nor non-Biblical, but personal choices:

  • Delayed Academics
  • Block Learning

Steiner may have developed Waldorf education, but God developed humans, and the basis of Steiner’s research is rooted in truth. Thus, I believe you can use a Waldorf based education to teach a Christian worldview.