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Teacher Oliver

2009 2010 S2 Speech

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Plan:

 

1. Welcome to Shan Mei Zhen Elementary School

2. Our 12 senses.

3. What is education?

4. Breathing

5. Maturity

 

First of all, let's begin with a peaceful activity. Sit properly. Close your eyes. Today is Jona’s birthday. Remember yourself when you were 8 years old. 2 minutes.

 

Welcome to Shan Mei Zhen Elementary School. Shan Mei Zhen is the name of our school. What does it mean? Good Beautiful True.

This is a reminder for us teachers and parents about our duty towards our children.

First of all, from the age of 0 to 7, we especially have to bring good, goodness into their lives. Next, from the age of 7 to 14, we have to bring, to show, to educate and to demonstrate beauty. Next, from the age of 14 to 21, we have to expose the truth.

That is the meaning of Shan Mei Zhen, Good Beautiful True.

Good Beautiful True are the three main adjectives that show us the achievements during the education and the development of our children.

 

Good is related to willingness. The child should be surrounded by what is good. The child learns primarily through imitation of those around him. During this time, the child is most active in his will and needs rhythm, harmony and a balance of stillness and activity to achieve health and to learn. The child needs plenty of time for creative and unstructured play. There is no teaching during these years.

 

Beautiful is related to feelings. The child should be surrounded by what is beautiful. The child learns primarily through the love expressed by those around him. During this time, the child is most active in his imagination and needs a healthy awakening of his feeling life to learn best. This is most appropriately achieved by an imaginative and lively artistic approach to all academic subjects.

 

Truth is related to Thinking. The child should be surrounded by what is true. The child learns primarily through the truth of the expertise of those around him. During this time, the child’s intellectual powers must be allowed to stretch and grow. We must be careful to avoid dogmatism and apathy. The child’s natural state of idealism must be cultivated.

 

What is it that each of those periods of life, periods of different environments are related to?

 

From a Waldorf point of view, Human Being is a Three Fold Human Being.

 

The limbs and the sustaining metabolism (such as for assimilation of foods) which enables us to move and direct our will into our limbs. This is the most endangered of our senses because of the modern society. Modern society mostly stimulates our eye sight and our index finger.

The chest which protects our lungs and our heart is the seat of our breathing and our circulatory systems. This is the center of our Feeling life. It is also shaken by modern society, because of our busy schedules, lack of true social relationships and exposition to the media.

The head where the sensory organization culminates in the consciousness associated with the brain. There we are awake in our thinking activity.

 

Let’s go off subject for a while to better understand the position of the human being on Earth.

First of all, there are the minerals, quartz, mica, boulder, rocks. What do they do? They grow. Are they alive? No. They represent the notion of the physical body, that is born at the birth of the child. We sometimes talk about pre-mature, post-mature, C-section and other difficulties.

Then we find the vegetal world. Let’s begin by the end. When you see a corpse, you understand that something is gone. They are life-forces. It’s the etheric body. The vegetal is made of life-forces, the etheric body, that is born at the age of 7. The visible sign is the change of teeth. The same can be said about pre-mature, post-mature, C-section...

Let’s continue. When we sleep, we are plants. But then we wake up. There is this extra something. It’s consciousness. We become aware of pain, pleasure, hunger and thirst and other people. It’s the astral body. It’s our soul body. This is the animal stage. It should be mature by the age of 14, with the same risk for difficulties, pre-ature, post-mature, C-section.

And then there is another member of our being which raises us above the animal and makes a separate species. This is the human spirit. This is the ego. This is the ego organization. It is capable of directing our willing, feeling and thinking. That also means this human spirit or ego can decide to slow down and refuse the development of the willing, feeling and thinking.

 

Ego is the highest of our senses. So which is the first?

1

Sense of Touch.

Determining one’s boundaries.

> Ouch!

2

Sense of Life

Growth and decay of our own constitution.

> Cogito ergo sum 

3

Sense of self-movement

Handling /expressing oneself through body

> I want to do it by myself

4

Sense of Balance

Gravitational orientation

 

Once the child has mastered these 4 lower senses, he can free his forces from these actions, and direct his forces towards new challenges and learning.

In other words, 'If you can stand, you can understand.'

 

5

Sense of Smell

Emptying oneself and being filled

6

Sense of Taste

Controlling the ponderable, that can be weighed or estimated, what forms my body

7

Eyesight

Experiencing the imponderable, that can not be weighed or estimated (sunlight)

8

Sense of Temperature / Warmth

Pouring out into the world with one’s interest.

 

See the notions of lower senses, all related to myself.

Then the middle senses, related to me and the world around.

Finally, we develop the higher senses.

 

9

Sense of Hearing

Rising to the spirit of matter

10

Sense of Speech / Language

How another handles / expresses the spirit through speech.

11

Sense of Concept

Truth / falsehood in spirit of another

12

Ego Sense

Breaking through another’s boundaries

 

Interaction

5>8, 6>7, 4>9, 3>10, 2>11, 1>12

You might be wondering. So what Teacher Oliver is talking about? We were supposed to be talking about what teachers do, about the curriculum and activities…

 

So let’s go back to education. What is education?

Education rests on the development of faculty.

Faculty is the child’s inherent, essential capacity or aptitude to develop the abilities needed for his life on Earth.

We, teachers, for every subject, ask ourselves… What capacity does our subject produce? What is the effect on the health and body development of the student?

It is our duty, teachers and parents, to develop educational means to help the child develop his own faculties, and not the opposite, the opposite being, bring teaching materials into the classroom and let students reach that level.

 

When children are ready to leave kindergarten and enter first grade, they are eager to explore the whole world of experience for the second time. Before, they identified with it. They were part of it. They imitated it.

Now, at a more conscious level, they are ready to know it again, by means of the imagination that allows us to ‘see’ a picture, to ‘hear’ a story’ and to 'feel' the spiritual specification of a concept.

During the elementary school years, our task is to transform all that the child needs to know about the world into the language of the imagination, using a language that is as accurate and as responsible as possible.

So we use plenty of folk tales, legends and mythologies to speak truth in parables and pictures. We use the subjects of nature, numbers, mathematics and practical work as food and drink for the soul of the child.

For example, the four arithmetical operations can be introduced as the members of a family or as characters in a drama. Another example is addition. What is 12? In language I tell stories such as 'The three butterfly brothers'.

 

Whatever speaks to the imagination and is truly felt stirs and activates the feelings and is remembered and learned. The elementary years are the time for educating the ‘feeling intelligence’. It is only after the physiological changes at puberty, which marks the virtual completion of the second great phase of development, that imaginative learning undergoes a metamorphosis to emerge as the rational, abstract power of the intellect.

 

First, I imitate. Next, I feel. Finally, I can think...

 

The curriculum can be seen as an ascending spiral.

See the long lessons that begin each day. See the concentrated blocks of study that focus on one subject for three weeks. As the students mature, they engage themselves at new levels of experience with each subject. Starting in class 1, the teacher will lay the ground for a subject. Every year, this same teacher will deepen and widen the experience and keeps it moving with the other aspects of knowledge.

The purpose of studying a subject is not to make a student into a professional mathematician, historian, or a biologist, but to awaken and educate capacities that human being needs (skills) and the 12 senses (faculty).

 

First Grade is a bridge between kindergarten and the grades. The loss of the baby teeth indicates that the children have completed the formation of their physical bodies and are ready to begin to work with their minds.

To summarize, the key points of the curriculum in Class 1 are: the straight and the curved lines through form drawing, fairy tales and stories to introduce some simple Chinese characters, numbers and their qualities such as the oneness, introduction to adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, pentatonic flute to develop finger coordination, concentration and breath control, knitting to stimulate the connection between finger movement, speech and thinking, water painting to experience working with colour, and foreign language, which has a special meaning for your children this year, because it is NOT a foreign language! And that's my challenge!

 

Back to education…

 

In most educational sciences, there are two extremes.

On one hand, there is the science of the genetics.

One the other hand, there is the science of the sociology.

The science of genetics considers that everything is already predetermined by the genes, by the purely physical, and that education has to unfold what is there.

The science of sociology is aware of the genes, but lay more emphasis upon influences from the environment. What a person is depends entirely upon the influences from his surroundings, his parents, the society and so on.

 

This three-fold human form is imprinted into the physical and life bodies by the soul, also called the spirit of the growing individuality…

…From WITHIN, working with the bodily organization. This imprinting is the basis of the development of faculty. See the 12 senses and what healthy senses can bring to your learning ability.

A similar picture has to be imprinted from WITHOUT into the physical and life bodies through the effects of the environment, both moral and physical, working onto the organization of the senses of the physical body. This structuring and this shaping from without, received by the senses is the basis of the development of the skills.

 

Both developments are required if learning is to take place in a natural, unhindered way. It is movement, and only movement which can insert the physical into the working of the life body. The ideal is the inner and outer pictures of the three fold human form should work together in harmony and match each other.

And what is the most harmonious activity of our being?

Breathing! In and out, in and out, in and out… inner and outer, inner and outer…

 

Off subject:

Even if you think your child is healthy and doing well, always keep in mind the notion of breathing process which is the common problem for all the children nowadays. There is electricity that helps us stay awake until 9, 10, 11, 12 PM. There are restaurants that provide breakfast, lunch and dinner in a few minutes, there are computers and cell phones that help us keep in touch and know the latest news, and of course, television.

With every sense impression, we open ourselves up towards the world. There is something of the element of love. When we look at a painting, listen to a song, we truly love it. But then it becomes too much. And we withdraw. We want to keep some distance. This is antipathy. The same is true when listening to another one, listening to me right now for example. You might think 'This is Teacher Oliver and this is I.'

 

A good and healthy balance between this sympathy and antipathy, and to a certain extent the inner picture and the outer picture, breathing in and breathing out is needed for a healthy life, a healthy development and a healthy learning. But with the modern society, it’s all about the outer picture, breathing out, out, out, longer and longer and longer, learning faster and faster, reading more, more and more...

 

There are a few choices for us, parents and teachers. First, we can hide our children away from the society. We can also set up some rules. Or we can pretend it is ok. We can pretend it is ok to let our children stay awake until 10PM, watch television all day long, go to the swimming pool after dinner, have fun far away from home every weekend, play with plastic toys and love Disney cartoons or whatever… Well, let it be. But it is our duty and our responsibility to develop the child’s corresponding inner power…

 

Keep in mind that sympathy must come first. That's why, we, teachers, always start our classes by understanding the students first, then getting along with them and finally take over control. That requires an incredible amount of time, and there is no secret, especially this year in Class 1. That's the reason why we, teachers, ar reminding parents to provide a healthy life style and rhythm for our children.

In terms of rules and regulations, the goal in class 1 is to let children be aware of the rules and feel sympathy towards these rules. We ar enot and we should not expect them to follow these rules yet. Sympathy first! Otherwise the learning path is blocked.

 

May I also compare this situation with our own situation on Earth, with us, people, always expanding... growing... exploring new areas and using more and more natural resources? Does the Earth need to breathe in too?  Even if it doesn't happen, do we agree that to think about it brings us unstability and worries. The same can be said about our children.

 

… Why? In order to reach MATURITY.

 

At the beginning of this speech, I asked you to close your eyes, and remember yourself. That is to stimulate your own inner picture to better receive the outer picture I am presenting to you. May I believe we are all healthy people and are able to develop a colourful, strong, clear and conscious inner picture? May I ask you what you have seen? Did you see the environment through your own eyes? Did you see yourself through another person’s eyes? Did you see yourself through the eyes of a little bird flying all around you? Was it a colourful, greyish or just black and white picture? Was it moving? Was it a still picture? From the quality of this memory, you can evaluate the quality of your inner picture and your own inner power.

 

To know and to be able to do something, such as for example understand what I am saying, or your child to understand what the teacher is saying, does not mean that one has developed the maturity for it. If the necessary maturity is lacking, this leads to superficial knowledge which is easy to reproduce in a test, an exam, but which doesn’t belong to you. You have not really made it your own.

 

Let’s simplify. There are two ways to learn how to match the inner and outer pictures… The soft and pleasant way by understanding the development of the child using sympathy and antipathy … or the hard way! messy life, messy breathing, out of synchronization, antipathy first... and so on, expect accidents, incidents, lack of confidence, poor health, fights, arguments… Maturity brings us health, peace, self confidence and ability to enjoy the moment. To bring maturity to another human being is an even greater gift.

 

My father always tells me: You are what is left when you have forgotten everything. He is not a Waldorf teacher or mentor. He is a mature person. That’s it.

 

Conclusion:

 

Back to the age of 7 to 14...

The ages of 7 and 8 years old should be a peaceful period for the child. If it is not, check what you have done and missed during the first seven years in terms of lower senses. From the age of 7 to 14, as the astral body is developing and will give birth at the age of 14, it is our duty to help the child develop this astral body and his feelings as a good match between his inner and outer picture, stimulate his higher ego as well in order to incarnate peacefully onto earth at the age of 9, deal peacefully with the next changes in his body, such as the growth of the bones and the slow down of his heart beat, and reach puberty at the age of 15 in a mature way.

 

It's together, and only altogether that we can achieve this.

 

And this is the end of my speech. I thank you for your attention.

 

Last minute addition:

 

Recommended reading:

 

Our Twelve Senses

How healthy senses refresh our soul

By Albert Soesman

ISBN 1-869890-75-3

 

will update soon with more good books.