Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why there is Art in Waldorf Schools Part II

Why there is Art in Waldorf Schools Part II- The Use of the Twelve Senses in Art.

The Sense of Hearing

Through the Sense of Hearing we are able to perceive noises, tones, sounds and words. Through the Sense of Hearing we are able not only to hear but to listen, to hear each other, to listen to each other. 

The Sense of Hearing builds bridges to one another; and this is why hearing brings a social element into our culture.

The tone reveals the "soul of a body... the tone expresses the individual nature and the personal note of a body so that it contributes to the sensation" (Rudolf Steiner).

Through music trains the Sense of Hearing, but also listening to language, like in poems. Students are taught to playing instruments, perform in theatrical plays, dancing, eurythmy, and recitation of poems.

The Sense of Speech

Using our Sense of Speech we perceive the thoughts of other persons. Speech consists of sounds and contents. 

Children distinguish the meanings of the sounds of words before understanding the language itself. Later on, they learn to express own opinions by means of language.

To better understand the sense of speech we can imagine how a scream of pain lets us directly experience the person's pain although there is no language to judge it by.

 "Also gestures, facial expressions and physiognomy express something simple and direct that falls just as much in the sense of speech category as does the content of the audible sound" (Rudolf Steiner).

This is why students in the Waldorf Schools put on plays and theatrical performances to experience the Sense of Speech. 

The Sense of Thought

When we understand a person who expresses himself/herself by speaking, it is the Thought Sense in which enables us to understand. All the things we hear can be transformed into thoughts and ideas, and in this way, ideas are present in speech. In a thought or idea the innermost character of a person, animal or object can be expressed.

A person comes closer to the truth by understanding the thoughts and ideas of other people. 

Working with the arts helps to develop and sharpen our judging abilities. In order to discover the meaning and idea of a work of art, it is necessary to examine it and to reflect upon it. This kind of activity with works of art is practised in school when paintings are evaluated or when poetry or plays are interpreted.

Children and adolescents also face the challenge of judging, correcting and comprehending when dealing with their own artistic works. This fosters independence and originality and provides the basis for healthy judgement.

The Sense of Ego or Sense of Self Awareness

Sense of Self-Awareness also known as the Sense of Ego. The Sense of Ego is the organ in which enables us to perceive another person's individuality. When we perceive someone's ego - the heart of his/her being - we don't perceive only his physical body or judge him on the basis of his appearance.
This is a tough concept to understand since our society tends to be more "Judge by the Book By Its Cover" and places labels based on judgement calls. 

To perceive an ego involves paying time and attention to it, and accepting it; ultimately it means aiding the person in his individual development. Slow down and really get to know the individual. 

In all group-orientated arts, the social aspect is particularly obvious in the act of doing things together and depending on one another. Children learn on the one hand to relate to other individuals, and on the other to understand and accept others in the group. By striving to achieve harmony between itself and a group a child has close personal encounters and learns take on social responsibility. 

This also occurs when playing music, singing, reciting poetry, acting, dancing and playing games.

The Sense of Sight

Veil Painting

Through the Sense of Sight we perceive the world of forms and colors. Rudolf Steiner lectured that how we perceive color is through the light. Watch one day how the world changes during a sunrise.  We do not only perceive objects around us because they reveal themselves by means of their individual shape and coloring.

 The eye is the most comprehensive sensory organ. The optical nerve is directly connected to the brain.  Using our eyes we sense if the object we're looking at is pleasant or unpleasant; we "feel" an object with our eyes. 

Through the arts, the things we visually experience are transformed into visual impressions that have an influence on our feelings. When painting, drawing, modelling or acting we have experiences and gain knowledge that enrich our emotional world and stimulate our thinking.

The Sense of Taste

The Sense of Taste penetrates deeper into matter than does the Sense of Smell. A person ingests food and dissolves it with the help of saliva; he changes it into another state and through his sense of taste becomes aware of its characteristics: it tastes sweet, hot, bitter, mild, sour, tangy, unripe, bad, etc.

Rudolf Steiner believed that the human body needed healthy and nutritious food to maintain Ones stamina. He introduced to the world Biodynaimic farming in 1924, through a series of lectures to European Farmers. He lectured that having stronger healthier, and tastier food would make stronger bodies. 

When painting and modelling children deal with colors and shapes in an artistic process that are then brought together into harmony. By so doing, they develop a feeling for beauty and goodness. 

This occurs as well when playing instruments, reciting and listening to poetry, dancing and in eurythmy

The Sense of Smell

With our Sense of Smell we are able to perceive the ethereal state of natural matter when it is present in the air. A rose reveals its finest essence in its perfume. Through our Sense of Smell we come closest to matter in its outward, physical form.

The human Sense of Smell is quite underdeveloped. While there are people who are visually and audibly orientated, a highly developed sense of smell is rare.

The younger the child, the more intensively it perceives things with all its senses. All materials it works with - paints, modelling wax, pencils or paper - should therefore be pleasant and appealing to its sense of smell.

The Sense of Warmth

Walking into a Waldorf kindergarten One notices that the walls are painted in soft hues, the furniture is all wood and it is warm, inviting, and peaceful. One parent described it as, "peaceful." 
One gains deep insight into materials through our Sense of Warmth. A world that is full of light but without warmth would ossify completely. Without warmth, no change could take place. Time would stand still.

The essence of warmth is enthusiasm. When we become enthused about doing something, we're personally stimulated to carry out an activity ourselves or with others. The Sense of Warmth makes us "interested" beings who develop fondness, sympathy and love for our fellow men. That's why we talk about "warming up" to an idea or a "warm-hearted" person.

Children who grow up without the warmth of their mother or other close persons often suffer emotional damage.

All forms of art train the Sense of Warmth that involve working with materials that change once they become warm, such as modelling with wax, clay and wax foils or painting with warm colors.

The Sense of Balance

Through our Sense of Balance, we establish ourselves in a certain relationship to the space around us. If our Sense of balance is upset, we get dizzy and lose our spatial orientation. When a young child gets up for the very first time and tries to find his/her balance and takes its very first step, it's a significant moment in its human development.

There is no other living creature besides man that walks erect. Being balanced means feeling good, taking a stand and knowing where we stand.

All kinds of symmetrical exercises train balance, such as painting, modelling or carving balanced shapes such as balls or eggs. A child also trains its Sense of Balance when it recognizes rhythmical sequences of musical notes, shades of color, words or movements.

The Sense of Proper Motion 

We need movement to discover the perception of our inner life that we experience through our Sense of Life.

The ability to move enables us to meet others, to establish contacts. And this motion takes place from birth to death. So our sense of movement leads us to pursue our individual destinies in life.

Children learn movement through eurythmy (an art of movement), by walking patterns and by dancing. Rhythmical games train their sense of rhythm. Drawing shapes, painting and modelling help to develop tactfulness, teamspirit and personal initiative.

The Sense of Life

Our Sense of Life gives us a feeling of being alive and a sense of well-being. We are not usually conscious of it unless we begin to feel bad or ill.

Our sense of life is spread throughout our whole body and constantly controls what happens there. Children experience the change from stress to relaxation or tiredness to alertness through their Sense of Life.

Everything that has a harmonizing or strengthening effect on our well-being at the same time strengthens our our sense of life. This is achieved through all forms of art, music, speech, colors, rhythm, etc.

The Sense of Touch

By the act of touching we become aware of pressure, resistance, hardness or softness. Through this process we do not necessarily recognize an object immediately, but it can make us shrink back, exert counterpressure or overcome resistance.

Through the Sense of Touch, a child comes in touch contact with the world, but also experiences limits. By touching things a child ascertains that the objects are not part of itself but separate and different. This experience helps the child to distance itself from the cosmos, of which it was an integral part. Thus, the child experiences limits but at the same time gains self-awareness through these. 

The way in which a child makes contact with the world is of utmost importance. Handling natural materials provides many differentiated tangible impressions. It's also significant that it's possible to feel not only with the hands, but also with the eyes and even with the ears.

Sculpture is the artistic discipline which trains these skills in a special way. The child models and discovers materials with its hands and shapes forms which it "felt" before with its eyes, and it invents and creates new things as well.

Meditate and give all this a deep thought.

Bless Bless


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