Recently, Helle Heckmann and Louise DeForest, two experienced educators in Waldorf were in our town for one week. They are traveling through America to check on the Waldorf initiatives.
Helle Heckmann directs a kindergarten in Copenhagen called Noken, also the title of a book she wrote. Talking about her experiences could make a whole post, but you can read here more about her impressions on educating children. They had a workshop for teachers and I asked to participate.
The most important message I got from that meeting with those ladies, is the importance of the inner work while working-living with children. Our influence on our kids is much more about ourselves than about what we want them to do or learn. They learn what we give as ourselves.
They talked about a lot of things, but here I want to focus on the simple and yet hard task we have to fully understand who we are.
The ladies suggested a few meditative exercises that were thought by Rudolf Steiner. I can quickly describe in no depth at all a few of them. One was about imagining an object for 5 minutes, every day for 1 month. One was about observing a tree or a plant every day for one year. One was about making a movement every day.
All should be done at the same hour of the day. These are all exercises to improve strength, self-motivation, control, initiative, and awareness.
I especially like the ¨review of the day¨ exercise. ¨Each evening, going backward through the day recalling its events, its sequential unfolding (experienced here reversed in time), the people one has met, etc.¨
I do it with Luísa now. I ask and talk about my favorite part of the day and so I recall a bit of it all to choose one. And I did it spontaneously when she was a few months old too. It used to be a good way for me to put her to sleep, having what to talk about in a soft voice.
Well, I actually learned about the retrospective about ten years ago, when I was going through 3 months of Anthroposophical therapy and I can´t explain directly how and why this helped me to understand more about myself back then.
But back to the point, why learning to be self-aware is important when being with children.
If you are not self-motivated, you can´t ask your child to be. But if you work on it, on yourself, the child can see the change in you.
If you don´t have self-control, you can´t teach self-control (it makes me think about me eating chocolate).
You can think of many statements like this yourself: ¨If you don’t X you can´t expect X.¨
It´s not what you say, but what you do.
In the meeting, Helle said something like: ¨When you are with a child, you are always confronted with the question: ¨Who am I¨? And to answer that question every day, it´s what teach kids¨
The workshop was for the Costa Rican teachers in Waldorf kindergartens.
It was really nice to know that this education teaches its teachers to be self-aware, as the only way to have kids learn it as well.
Or, in the words of Rudolf Steiner: ¨You have no idea how unimportant is all that the teacher says or does not say on the surface, and how important what he himself is as teacher.¨