The development of a Waldorf teacher includes an understanding of the arts and their impact on culture and civilization: architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry/literature and eurythmy. The students have the opportunity to be exposed to these arts, practice these arts – developing new capacities, and deepen their experience and understanding of education through the lens of the arts.
The arts transform our way of looking at the world. They change our way of seeing the world. The practice of the arts, with the necessary discipline to develop artistically, is a key step of developing as a Waldorf teacher – to understand the philosophy of Waldorf education and the developing human being – and to develop the capacity to teach through the arts as a class teacher. The best Waldorf teachers, the ones who create and sustain their Waldorf schools, are those who have deepened themselves in an art, and who continually practice an art.
The Waldorf Institute of the Great Lakes has teachers who are master Waldorf teachers who are trained in the anthroposophical arts and who are able to teach them to adults. The students are introduced carefully in every artistic realm and then encouraged to hone their skills, rub off their rough edges and become more harmonious, well-rounded human beings. These are the very skills that will make empathetic, observant, artistic teachers who will be able to create and develop the art of education.
For all forces strive forward into the widths, To live and work here and there; Against this from every side the stream Of the world narrows and hinders And caries us forth with it. In this inner storm and external strife The spirit perceived a barely understood word: From the power that binds all people that those free themselves Who overcome themselves. – Goethe
Waldorf education has a special component, the art of movement called eurythmy. It was begun by the innovative Rudolf Steiner. As a young student he was equally at home in the sciences and the arts. At that time, 1870’s and 1880’s, education was split and the students chose either the liberal arts high school or the technical- science and math- high school. Rudolf Steiner attended the technical high school and tutored students at the liberal arts high school. He was at home in both worlds. While editing Goethe’s scientific works Rudolf Steiner was also an art critic, he reviewed plays for a literary magazine. In 1910-11 he began what would be four major plays, called his Mystery Dramas, and he also began teaching the first eurythmist, Lory Meier-Smits.
Eurythmy is unique in that the art of movement is related to the sounds of speech – therefore poetry is made visible in all its lyric joy and dramatic force. Steiner explored the sounds of speech – how different they are – B, K, L or Ah or OOH! The gestures begin with the upright human stance, showing variations in posture, then moving over the earth – our feet connect us to the earth – and then the arms and hands which speak and carry the intention of the poetry, the gestures of the sounds. Eurythmy can be very effective as a solo art and it is also intensified when a group of human beings move together in eurythmy.
Tone eurythmy was created alongside the speech eurythmy. The tones and the intervals between the tones; moods of major and minor keys; rhythm, melody and beat – all are expressed in eurythmy gestures and movements of the body. Again, the artistic performance of tone eurythmy varies from solos to symphonies.
The Waldorf teachers at the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Germany wanted eurythmy for their students. Rudolf Steiner designed a curriculum where different aspects of eurythmy are taught at designated stages of development in the child’s life. The group choreography, the moods of the intervals and types of music all are designed to speak to the growing children and open them up to be better students. Eurythmy enhances concentration, flexibility of thought, social tact, and joy of learning.
Physicians saw the healing aspects of eurythmy and asked Rudolf Steiner for indications for its use. It is unique in that the patient learns how to heal himself. He does the therapy and in addition to medication or life-style changes can take part in his healing. The physicians are trained in eurythmy to develop their diagnostic skills in this area. Therapeutic eurythmists are trained to teach the patients the gestures that are indicated.
Eurythmy in the Workplace is a special side of eurythmy that works with groups of people, colleagues that work together on a daily basis or groups that collaborate and want to make their work together more effective. Eurythmy in the Workplace brings out social skills, it makes communication flow and more gets accomplished in meetings and in everyday work.. There are exercises in eurythmy that individuals can learn and do for themselves and there are large group situations that benefit from eurythmy.
Eurythmy is enjoyed by people in weekly classes or in workshops. Those who want to train to teach eurythmy and perform in a eurythmy troupe take an intensive training, usually four to seven years. After proficiency is achieved in eurythmy as a performing art, additional trainings are given for those who want to teach in Waldorf schools, become eurythmy therapists or offer Eurythmy in the Workplace.
The foundation year of the Waldorf Institute prepares people to enter into the eurythmy training. Eurythmy is a major part of the training and is offered in every week of the Institute courses. Teacher training students have it all three years of their training because it is so effective in its transformation of the human being and it brings joy and life forces to the students.