One of the anthroposophical parts of Waldorf Steiner school is the child study.
In the teacher’s handbook, mentioned previously, there is a detailed description of how it is done (page 47).
First of all you have to know that children at these schools are taught according to the four “temperaments”. If you look up temperaments you will find they refer to the ancient, now discredited concept of humorism, where bodily fluids were supposed to affect your behaviour.
The temperaments are sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholy and choleric.
The teachers decide on a temperament for your child and deal with her accordingly. Maybe they tell the parents what they decide, I don’t know.
More on the temperaments here.
Now back to the Child Study.
First the “soul calendar”. This is about the child’s birth date. Since neither the child nor the parents would normally be present, I am guessing there will not be cake and pass the parcel.
Next in the child study the child’s physical features are discussed in detail; her ears, nose, gait, speech “disturbances”, build, facial expression and gaze. The teachers discuss these among themselves and decisions are made about progress accordingly.
I find this kind of thing creepy. If it was my child I would be pretty annoyed. In any other kind of school it would be considered highly unprofessional to discuss a child’s appearance in this way.
These discussions can also have a tendency to spill over in to coffee time in the staff room, in my experience. It is disconcerting to witness such odd goings on in a school situation.
Kevin Avison (compiler) says that the Child Study is a “schooling of perception”. I wonder what that means to the average Waldorf parent.
I think most parents would be as baffled as I am about much of the “spiritual-speak” in the handbook. The parents are not anthroposophists. They do not know what is being done in their names.
Talking about staff meetings, Kevin says “…our educational work strives to be the highest possible expression of spiritual-cultural goals for our time, our meetings work into, and draw upon, the intentions of the future . (Q.v Towards the Sixth Epoch). The realisation of this presents an enormous challenge, and the very nature of it indicates that its fulfilment is not to be expected in the immediate earthly present.”
Are Waldorf parents au fait with all this? I don’t think so. I don’t think they were visualising the sixth epoch when they first took their little one to kindergarten.
In case you were wondering, the sixth epoch is the Venus stage of world evolution (according to Steiner). We are currently in the fifth post Atlantean epoch, hence the need to prepare for the sixth. The seventh is the Vulcan epoch, apparently.
At the end of the meeting Kevin suggests a simple eurythmy. Have you looked up eurythmy yet?
One former student said “We portrayed angels and archangels and the fulfilment of God’s commands.”
By the way, I really would recommend the handbook as an excellent way to find out what is in store for your family with Waldorf. It’s worth the investment of £12.