Essential Waldorf

Know What. Know How. Know Why.

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The Online Special Subject Teachers Conference

for Grades 1-4
Contents

Click here to Register for the Conference

Lecture and Presentation Topics
Participants will receive links to all of these lecture/presentations on the first day of the conference, along with a Password that will enable you to access them for the ten days that you choose. You may listen to or view them in any order and as often as you wish during the 14-day conference period. Topics in
black are audio sessions; topics in teal include video or slideshow sessions. Topics are subject to change.

Note: This general description of the Conference contents will be revised and fleshed-out as lectures are recorded. Check this page once or twice a week for more detailed descriptions!

Table of Contents

Grade One

1. The First Grader 1
1.1 The Fourfold Human Being part 1: Although this may appear to be basic and familiar, it is always good to "play the scales" again and again to gain new insights into the human being. Overview of the physical, etheric, astral, and ego, with a special emphasis on the etheric body. [14:40]
1.2 The Fourfold Human Being part 2: The Etheric Body. Rhythm, regularity, and predictability are among the forces that nurture the etheric body. Health and memory, two pillars of Waldorf education. The "model body" and the "etheric umbilical cord." Heredity and individuality. [15:20]
1.3 The Fourfold Human Being part 3: Interplay of the etheric and astral bodies. The etheric umbilical cord, continued. The polarized nature of the etheric and astral bodies. The etheric body protects us -- from ourselves. The size and speed of the astral body. The inherently etheric nature of Grade One. [16:30]
1.4 The Fourfold Human Being part 4: Meeting the astral body in the First Grade Classroom. The astral body also brings beauty and movement, contrast and artistry to the classroom, but it easily oversteps its boundaries. The harmonizing capacities of the teacher's ego are needed to bring balance and maintain order as the child's higher bodies meet. The step from imitation to authority. [16:15]
1.5 The Four Temperaments part 1: Although an understanding of the Temperaments is one of Rudolf Steiner 's greatest gifts to teachers, it is often misunderstood and underutilized. The Golden Age of Temperament -- a lot shorter than you think! Etheric and astral forces, Temperament and personality. [15:30]
1.6 The Four Temperaments part 2: The work of the etheric body on the four elements of the human organism. The challenge of uniting spiritual intent and physical substance. The melancholic and choleric temperaments. [15:40]

2. The First Grader 2
1.7 The Four Temperaments part 3:   The morphology of the Temperaments. The physical appearance of the first grader is our best indication of his or her Temperament. We look at four bodily types. [18:30]
1.8 The Four Temperaments part 4: The distribution of the Temperaments in the contemporary classroom. How Temperaments serve as seed beds for future capacities. [16:45]
1.9 The Four Temperaments part 5: Meeting the melancholic child. [16:20]
1.10 The Four Temperaments part 6: Meeting the phlegmatic child. [16:00]
1.11 The Four Temperaments part 7: Meeting the sanguine child. [15:00]
1.12 The Four Temperaments part 8: Meeting the choleric child. [15:00]
1.13 Young Souls and Invisible Children: Two phenomena that may help to explain children who lie outside the temperamental spectrum. [14:30]

3. Storytelling 1
1.38 Storytelling part 1: The centrality of the teacher’s word and speech in first grade and in the Waldorf School altogether. The importance of the teachers grammar as a model for the children. Correcting children's grammar. The kinds of stories that we will be telling in first grade. [14:25]
1.39 Storytelling part 2: Stories that introduce materials and tools to children. English-speaking teachers: watch your sentimentality! Introducing beeswax crayons. [21:15]
1.40 Storytelling part 3: Imbuing found objects with meaning. The Philosophy of Freedom. Reconciling the percept and the concept and the told of the class teacher. [22:10]
1.41 Storytelling part 4: Pedagogical therapeutic stories. Not a clear line between nature and Pedagogical stories. All children carry the answers to their own questions. [18:10]
1.42 Storytelling part 5: More about “pedagogical stories.” Where can you find inspiration? The child’s inner nature and the child's angel. Stories by Tolstoy and Albert Steffen. The teacher’s relationship to nature. [16:00]

Grade One Slideshows and Instructional Videos
Writing to Reading 1: Student Work Slideshow [22:15]

Writing to Reading 2: Student Work Slideshow [13:20]

Teaching Writing in the Waldorf School, a YouTube video [10:00]

Teaching Reading in the Waldorf School, a YouTube video [10:00]

Songs and Games Instructional Videos
[3 hours]

Recitation Instructional Video
[29:30]

Grade One Storytelling Part 1: Instructional Video
[39:00]

Grade One Storytelling Part 2: Instructional Video [32:20]

Something from Nothing: Waldorf Storytelling [7:30]

Drawing with Block Crayons: An Instructional Video [41:30]

Crayon Drawing with Children, a short video
[12:15]


Grade Two

1. The Second Grader Part 1
2.1: Second Grade as the “orphan” of the Waldorf grade school. The transition from One to Two. Division and polarization as the signature of Grade Two. [16:50]

2.2: Social challenges of Grade Two. Was all that work in Grade One to no avail? The threefold school year. Bullying and benign neglect. [15:10]

2.3: The battle of etheric and astral forces in Grade Two. The central importance of the temperaments in second grade. Forces of growth and their effect on consciousness. [17:05]

2.4: The role of the Guardian Angel in Grade Two. Where does the Guardian Angel reside, and what causes this being to withdraw? The role of divisiveness in second grade. [17:30]

2.5: Identifying children’s temperaments, an important teacher skill in Grade Two. [20:10]

The Fourfold Human Being: A Dynamic Diagram [5:45]

2. Preparation
2.17: The proliferation of sources available to teachers. The Online Waldorf Library. The gift of the Internet. Use the artistic skills you need to cultivate for your students as a means of self-renewal this summer. Researching the lives of the saints. [21:00]

2.18: Organizational capacities and etheric forces. The teacher’s organizational skills as a foundation for the unfolding of children’s memory forces. Einstein’s economy of memory. Don’t waste your memory’s “storage space” on trivia; use a Day Planner, Day Runner, or digital device and save your inner memory for your class! The challenge of time -- an issue of colleagueship. [20:30]

2.19: The deeper significance of punctuality. Timeliness and incarnation. Punctuality in relation to challenges in dress and learning issues. The Michaelic nature of Waldorf education. Steiner’s social/cultural expectations for the eight grades. Wasting time. [20:10]

3. The Fables
2.25: Even if you have never read a single Aesop’s Fable, you probably feel that you “know” many of them. Aesop’s work is one of the foundations of Western culture, and is the stuff of “conventional wisdom” and cliche. Dispensing with the “moral” of the fable. [16:05]

2.26: Who was Aesop? Whether he really lived as an individual or is a legendary composite figure, he is a reflection of the transitional time to which his name has been attached, the mid-7th to 6th centuries BCE. A look at his contemporaries. In subtle ways, the second grader is recapitulating this classical transition from sentient soul to mind soul. [18:50]

2.27: A look at some fables, remarkable for their laconic embodiment of the astral world. [15:10]

2.28: Teaching the fables. They can be used as pedagogical or therapeutic stories and taught when the occasion arises, or taught weekly during a dedicated extra main lesson. Steiner’s story about the butcher’s dog and the sheep dog. The need for discussion preceding some of the fables. [16:55]

4. The Saints
2.33: The saints and the temperaments. Working with saint stories to work with children’s temperaments. The melancholic saints. [17:00]

2.34: Saint stories for the phlegmatic and sanguine temperaments. [17:55]

2.35: The choleric temperament is surprisingly strong among the saints. An example. [18:35]

5. The Path of the Teacher
2.42: The Teacher’s Path part 1: Care and nurture of the physical and etheric bodies of the teacher. Health and memory. [17:30]

2:43 The Teacher’s Path part 2: Care and nurture of the teacher’s astral body 1. The life of relationships in and around the school. [19:45]

2:44 The Teacher’s Path part 3: Care and nurture of the teacher’s astral body 2. The life of relationships in the family. [13:00]

2:45 The Teacher’s Path part 4: The work of the Ego. The inner life of the teacher. [17:40]

2.46: The Teacher’s Path part 5: Rudolf Steiner’s First Pedagogical Law. “Degrees” in modern education and their antecedents in the Mystery Schools. Working with the higher members of the teacher to advance the child’s development. [13:55]

Grade 2 Slideshows and Instructional Videos

Form Drawing 1: Student Work Slideshow [11:10]
Grade 2 Language Arts: Student Work Slideshow [36:30]
Grade 2 Arithmetic: Student Work Slideshow
[15:40]
Form Drawing: Student Work Slideshow
[11:10]

Instructional Video: Songs, Games, and Dances



Grade Three

1. The Nine Year Change 1
3.1: The central importance of understanding the fourfold human being. Third grade as a critical juncture in human life. the interrelationship of the physical and etheric body. The etheric body's contraction as a part of human incarnation. Life forces and memory forces. The etheric body as a foundation of the learning experience. [16:45]
3.2: The etheric body as the home of the guardian angel. The etheric body and its protective anabolic nature. The astral body. [13:40]
3.3: The interplay of the etheric and astral bodies. The anabolic, upbuilding, protective nature of the etheric body. Its connection with heredity and memory. Its need of rhythm. The catabolic, destructive quality of the astral body. The stresses it places on the adolescent’s physical body. The astral body’s need for variety and change. The interplay of the etheric and the astral and the birth of thinking. The meeting of the etheric and the astral and the onset of the nine year change. [16:30]
3.4: The four temperaments. The role of the etheric body in forming the temperaments. The four elements, rather than the four bodies, as a guide to a child's temperament. [22:30]
3.5: The interplay of the forces of antipathy and sympathy in relationship to the spiritual world. Antipathy felt for the physical/etheric past, and sympathy experienced towards the astral/ego future. Necessary steps for the child to go forward in life as a free being. Healthy preparation for the astral body’s incorporation given in N/K and primary grades. The progressive spiritual beings and hindering forces agreed to allow the astral body to come much too soon. This strengthening is very important. The prophetic gift vouchsafed to the third grader. [18:15]

2. The Nine Year Change 2
3.6: The importance of developing the perceptive life of the Waldorf teacher so that the nine-year change is really seen. The model body, and the child's need to transform it. The parents who do not want to see the nine-year change occurring. The “model child” and the danger of eating disorders in the future. The role of childhood illnesses in the past in transforming the model body for the child. In our time children parents and teachers must do this transformation more consciously. The role of the school doctor and the tragedy of his absence in many schools. [15:30]
3.7: The transformation of the child's rhythmic system during the nine year change. The nine year change is a breathing experience,filled with contractions and expansions. The child seems to vacillate between adolescence and early childhood. The need for “breathing space.” Waldorf teachers can warn parents of what is to come in third grade. Parents and children all get to rehearse what life will be like with an adolescent. These changes are, above all, matters of soul and spirit. Profound changes in the child's sleep life caused by the astral body's presence. The role of the bedtime prayer. [16:20]
3.8: When does a child need religious instruction? Before age nine, the physical/etheric is immersed in the divine world. After age nine, the astral body awakens the child to a duality of matter and spirit. The bedtime prayer provides security for life in sleep. This is an awakening to death. “Assurance of safety” is no longer a given, but must be requested. Death is flowing from the child's future. Life-threatening illnesses, marriage breakups, loss of a pet or home etc. are common in third grade.Yet schools are remarkably unprepared for this contingency. Separation anxiety. Fear of “robbers,”“kidnappers,” and “break–ins."The phenomenon of "astral reversal.” The teacher's path of development. All prayers are beneficial for the third grader; any type of religious instruction is helpful. [15:10]
3.9: Two real–life stories about third graders illustrating the nine–year change. [16:50]
3.10: Summary of the fundamentals of working with the nine–year change. [6:50]
Link to a video on the Nine Year change

3. The Hebrew Scriptures 1 - Introduction
3.17: The integrated nature of the odd-numbered grades as opposed to the fragmented quality of the even-numbered grades. Grade Three is particularly integrated, and everything the children learn flows directly out of the Hebrew Scriptures. The central and absolute importance of stories of the Old Testament. The most important document teachers will ever teach to their children in the eight (or even twelve) grades. [13:30]
3.18: Jewish families are finally rewarded with these stories, after two years of living with the Germanic Grimms' Fairy Tales and the Christian saints. They will want to make contributions to the life of the class. Teaching children Hebrew, sharing festivals, sharing foods. Remember that we are teaching about ancient Hebrew culture, which is not the same as modern Judaism. In Grade Two, even though the children were hearing about Saints, they were not brought into the world of the modern Catholic Church. The problem of the Jakob Streit books. Try to remain true to the actual Hebrew Scriptures, and not be swayed by the “improvements” of well–intentioned anthroposophists. [15:20]
3.19: Overemphasis on the Seven Days of Creation; what is essential for the third grader are the stories that begin with Abraham. Comparative religion course is not needed here. Working with the increasing ignorance of North Americans concerning these stories. Ways in which teachers can rectify gaps in their own education concerning the Hebrew Scriptures. Waldorf teachers must immerse themselves in the Hebrew Scriptures before teaching them, or the children will not derive their full benefit. [16:00]
3.20: The Hebrew Scriptures: Context and chronology. The challenge of assigning "dates” to the people and events. The context of the later stories, from 800 BCE on. [16:15]
3.21: Valentin Tomberg's threefold approach to the Hebrew Scriptures. Patriarchs, Priests, and Kings: the contraction of consciousness. The role of the Prophets. [15:00]
Links to Biblical Timelines and article about Jakob Streit stories

4. Language Arts
3.57: Language arts, part one. Examples of short essays written on such questions as what is good? What is beautiful? What is true? Our work is to help the child express what lives deeply with in him through the medium of language. How can we clear the path so that even today's child can write and speak with a good vocabulary good grammar and an elegance of speech? [16:00]
3.58: Reading in Grade Three. The optimum grades for reading. The excessive pressures placed on teachers to get all of the children reading. Three aspects of reading in the class: How the individual child reads. Reading together as a class. Reading groups. Bringing in parents as co-leaders of reading groups. The need for courage in the proper approach to reading. [15:40]
3.59: The structure and timing of the reading group. [14:45]
3.60: The counter-intuitive nature of the reading group. Children of mixed abilities read together. Parents, rather than teachers, are used as leaders of the reading group. These innovative aspects of the reading group can be terrifying for many teachers, who will tell you in advance that it could not possibly work. Once again, the willingness to take a risk and the courage to swim against the current are what is needed to teach children in our time. [16:50]
3.61: Teaching writing. Important changes in form (cursive) and content (non-imitative) this year.(We will look at cursive writing more fully in our
Form Drawing instructional video.) As teachers we must be increasingly aware how what we write on the board becomes a model not only of content but also of grammar and style for our children. Although most of what third-graders write continues to be copied from the teacher’s writing on the blackboard, today's child may need more opportunity to express him or herself. [17:10]
3.62: Why teach Grammar in Grade 3? Just as the inherited “model body” must be reconstructed by the child, so must the imitatively assimilated “mother tongue” be consciously recreated by the child. Importance of world (foreign) language in the Waldorf setting. Grammar in Grades 3 and 4. Grade 3 Grammar is more of a kinesthetic than a written subject. The class teacher’s own speech habits and her relationship to English Grammar is the most important factor. [17:50]
Language Arts: Student Work Slideshow [12:00]

5. Farming and Gardening & Fibers
3.63: Current interest in the greening of America has helped the educational world catch up with Waldorf schools. Steiner had hoped that farming and gardening would be subjects in every grade, but for a long time there was little interest in this subject in the Waldorf world. Suggestions for organizing the first block. Teaching children basic gardening skills, and developing a narrative imagination of a farming family and their lives through the year. [15:10]
3.64: The farm trip. Its pedagogical value: children will keep a diary which allows them to do a lot of original writing, and children will be drawing scenes from the farm – some of the first drawings that they do without the teachers model. Prepare the parents well in advance for this trip. For some families this is the first time that the children have been away from home. The children generally are looking forward to it, but there are parents with great separation anxieties. This separation from the home and hearth can actually stimulate the nine-year change in children who have not experienced it yet. [17:15]
3.65: Fibers. Reflection of the higher members in the fibers that we use for clothing. Helping the child, once again, to find a replacement for the model body. Handwork teachers and class parents can be extremely helpful in this block. The fiber fair. [20:00]
Farming & Gardening: Student Work Slideshow [31:50]
Fibers: Student Work Slideshow [9:30]


Grade 3 Slideshows and Instructional Videos

Instructional Video: Songs, Games, and Dances [55:00]

Instructional Video: Third Grade Form Drawing

Instructional Video: Teaching Arithmetic

Hebrew Scriptures 1: Student Work Slideshow

Hebrew Scriptures 2: Student Work Slideshow

Farming & Gardening: Student Work Slideshow



Grade Four
1. The Fourth Grader
4.1: The nature of the Fourth Grader. A conversation with the buildings and grounds/maintenance person in the school. Constructive and destructive forces in the fourth-grade child. A new level of energy. The Fourth Grade class as the barometer of the school. For the first three grades children are at the receiving end of the teachers capacities. In Fourth Grade, they begin to give back and reflect what the teacher has given. Odd and even-numbered grades. The unique placement of Grade Four in Steiner's original seven year plan. [15:10]

4.2: The necessity of understanding the fourfold nature of the child. Childhood illnesses: why would they come so often in the third and fourth grade years? The 9 to 10 year change-it's not over yet! Working out of Rudolf Steiner's picture of the human being at a time when the physical body is seen as the be-all and end-all of human existence. Waldorf education is more and more removed from the educational mainstream with every succeeding year. Pointing to changes in the brain as a means of justifying Waldorf education cannot really take us very far; we need to penetrate the fourfold human being. [14:30]

4.3: The interplay of the etheric body and the astral body. Forces of health and well-being versus forces of destruction and illness. It is not a matter of having one overcome the other, but finding the healthy balance and harmonization of these polarized forces. The four to one proportion of heartbeat to breath is a sign that a degree of harmony has been attained. Dreaming consciousness as the balance between etheric sleep and astral wakefulness. [15:10]

4.4: From temperament to personality. The temperament manifests in a fourfold way, but the astral body manifests in a twofold way. The blending of a etheric and astral forces results in an eightfold division in the classroom. Now every temperament has its introverted and extroverted side. In the midst of this greater complexity a more mature social life is born in the class. The problems of cliques and the severance of once secure, now broken friendships loom large in the fourth grade. [15:50]

4.5: Future Shock 1: The premature primacy of the astral body in the life of the fourth-grader. The intentions of the higher spiritual beings who created us were that we would remain like automatons for the first 35 years of our life. The astral body was meant to be incorporated much later than it is in our time. This is an important aspect of the 10-year-old. [16:30]

4.6: Future Shock 2: The higher spiritual beings had to accept the rule of Lucifer in the first half of Earth evolution. Along with this came Lucifer's intervention in human development at the time of the Fall of Man. We are not constituted to be able to handle the power and speed of the astral body at age 10, yet this arrangement in the spiritual world necessitated the coming of the astral body at this time. The astral body is quintessentially social in nature, so good deal of our work in grade four is teaching children how to be social beings. The challenge of social media and computer games. [16:45]

4.7: Future Shock 3: Lucifer and Ahriman. Both have their place in Earth evolution. Lucifer opened up the early incorporation of the astral body: in our time Ahriman is able to work on this body as well. Children not only need to learn how to be social in one another's presence, but how to be social via technological means as well. Waldorf schools don't necessarily want to accept this, but it is a growing necessity of our time. [16:35]

4.8: Future Shock 4: The child's future is streaming towards him or her in grade four. This is a good year in which to honor and celebrate something more mature that will flash up now and then. Drama can be very helpful here. This is the year when a big and spectacular class play is a necessity. It is also good if you can create shorter plays drawn from material in main lesson blocks that are performed every two months or so. Ask your colleagues to be forbearing, because fourth-graders need to appear in public more often than other grades. This grade is like a Boot Camp for you, the teacher, in learning how to deal with the more complex social needs of the astral body. [15:10]


2. The Fourth Grade Curriculum

4.17: The Grade Four Curriculum. [11:00]
Norse mythology
Zoology
Local geography
Language arts and grammar
Arithmetic and Fractions
Form Drawing
Class Play
Class Trip

3. Form Drawing

4.18: Form Drawing. The most important subject in Grade Four. Learning how to draw knotted and braided forms is more than just a skill. It is an active and creative means by which the child harmonizes the etheric body that has sustained them for the first three grades and the powerful, dynamic forces of the astral body. [16:30]

Form Drawing Teacher’s Guides:

1. Part 1: Knotted Drawings [35:10]
2. Part 2: Braided Drawings [38:00]
3. Drawing with Pencil [8:00]
4. Student Work in Form Drawing [22:40]

4. Norse Mythology
4.23: Norse Mythology 1. Norse mythology is one of the most memorable of all subjects Waldorf students learn. Powerful awakening forces contained in the minutes. Steiner's insights concerning Norse myths are often revelatory. Direct experience of the gods as opposed to dream like recollection. The nature of the Norsemen, and the experience of their myths. [16:30]

4.24: Norse Mythology 2. Myth and history. Be cautious about spending too much time on the Norsemen and the Vikings. It is the mythology that works most strongly on the children. "The Dreamsong of Olaf Asteson" and "The Kalevala": great works of art, but are they are appropriate for grade 4 students? Misunderstanding about the relationship of common geography and the appropriateness of subjects. [17:10]

4.25: Norse Mythology 3. The Germanic myths and the Niebelungenlied. Siegfried, the human hero, eclipses the gods in importance. This epic may be better taught in grade six, as part of Medieval History. Monotheism and polytheism. Rudolf Steiner's vision of the Spiritual Hierarchies. [16:30]

4.26: Norse Mythology 4. Who are the "gods," particularly the Norse gods? Angels, Archangels, and Archai and their path of evolution. "Fallen" beings and beings who choose to hold back their own evolution. Lucifer and Ahriman. [16:35]

4.27: Norse Mythology 5. Vanir and Aesir. What is conveyed by "families" of gods, with parents and children? More developed gods are "parents," e.g. Odin, and less developed gods are "children," e.g. Thor. The "Human" stages of spiritual beings. [15:25]

4.28: Norse Mythology 6. Source materials. Three very wonderful retellings of the Norse Myths are available. The most poetic one is from the first third of the 20th century, the most visually delightful one is from the second third of the 20th century, and the most scholarly is from the last third of the 20th century. Any one of them can be your single resource, but it would be good if you could work with two or even three to see which one is most suited to your narrative style. [14:15]

4.29: Norse Mythology 7. Presenting the stories. Two blocks are sufficient, but three blocks would be even better because of the triadic quality of the myths. Try to really digest these stories over the summer and before you teach, so that you can make eye contact with the children as you narrate them. The main purpose of the Norse Myths is to introduce the child's astral body to the child's physical body. [14:10]

5. Zoology
4.54: Zoology 1. This block not only serves as a culmination of Grade 4 but also lays the foundation for future Natural Sciences blocks. Like all of the natural science subjects in the curriculum, it is deeply connected to Anthroposophy, whether we know it or not. [10:50]

4.55: Zoology 2. Why is it called "Man and Animal"? Evolution? Creationism? Intelligent Design? Upon what foundation are we building this main lesson block? Darwin and Haeckel. "Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny." [17:10]

4.56: Zoology 3. Steiner's imagination of Earth evolution. The natural world and its sacrifices. The earth as a classroom. The challenging quality of Steiner's evolutionary worldview. [19:50]

4.57: Zoology 4. Epimetheus and Prometheus. The price of perfection in the animal world is one-sidedness; the compensation for imperfection in the human world is versatility and inventiveness. [14:40]


Grade 4 Videos and Slideshows
Painting with Patience
Although this instructional film was developed for the Grade Five Online Conference, it has been viewed by thousands of class teachers in all grades. The student paintings that appear in the Norse Mythology Slideshow were created using this technique. [40:00]

Norse Mythology: A Slideshow of Student Work [1:05:15]

Thor Triumphant Part 1: Excerpts from the Class Play
[18:35]

Thor Triumphant Part 2: Excerpts from the Class Play [9:50]

Zoology: A Slideshow of Student Work
[54:15]

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