|Scene from The Juniper Tree|
All my life i have written essays like this: i read and read and read. Often i do not make notes. then i feel completely overwhelmed at the size of the topic chosen. Being sanguine of course i would have chosen a mountiain of information to have to digest. Then i forget about it. Then i panic. Then i become very organised and read stuff again, and panic some more as i realise i completely have forgotten everything i have read. Then i think about it, a lot, but don't do anything about it. Then i start to make notes. Then i reread it. Then when the essay is due last week i start to write it, two days to my extension deadline.
Usually i do ok.
It is a terrible indictment of my will.
It has been exceedinly hectic for me though recently. However i have managed to read Study of Man seven times, panicking a little bit more each time i read it because it is so profound and i develop new ideas each time i read it. To be honest, the firt four times i did not understand it. It was only in the last three readings that i developed some kind of understanding. At least now i can see how the book is flowing. Previously it all seemed quite disjointed and random. I can see it is neither now.
So ideas about what the essay should contain. It needs to be practical in its application. That is the overwhelmingly attractive thing about Steiner education. It needs to be what works - but not what works on a superficial level, what works at a deep one - most importantly.
Take the forgetting and remembering cycle in learning. Remembering is working with the sleeping will. We help to develop the will when we remember, when we call forth. But in order to do this, we must also forget...this is a tiny aside in chapter eight.
I noticed this technique at work today when we were doing the times tables. I counted in threes with the class today. It was such a delight to see that those who should have been able to were able to recall the three times tables with no prompting at all. I could see they had grasped the concept of multiplication AND the patterns involved in the counting in threes. But most importantly i could see the effort in the joy of recalling the times tables. They were making the effort, but it was an enjoyable effort. They were actually gleefully doing this and it was honestly one of those magical moments when i went, Steiner education, it works.
There was something which my sister said today which made me think about what teaching really was.
I must rethink and rexamine what i do in the light of what she said.
She said, that in her school, someone said, they were able to carry out their lesson plan for the first time in their life.
What is education? I wondered then, silently to myself. It is not about passing exams. Exams are a very small part of what is REALLY important in life. Somehow as a society we have entered this delusion about what education is, and teachers are actually the people who best know that this is a delusion, but there is nothing we/they can do about this.
It is both deeply frustrating and depressing when you think about it.
HOWEVER, i currently teach in a system which recognises this. Teaching/education can be done in freedom without tests - AND understanding and applying something like The Study of Man is the key to this...
Going back to the developing human being. What it means to be human...i was watching my class the day before yesterday singing, but also watching them grow up. I observed and thought - what we want is for the inner core of each child to be strong. To work on the inner soul of the child so that their physical and etheric bodies are capable of receiving, holding and doing the work of their astral and egoic bodies. They need nourishment. They need support. Everything that we do in teaching needs to give this. We teach them through this. We do not drain them, we replenish them, we help to make them shine. To do this as a unit, a class. For some reason we have all been brought together in this life to grow together. It was a tremendous learning for me really.
If i fail to grasp this, then i fail even if they learn to read and write and count.
This is what reading the Study of Man has given me. A grain of courage to recognise this. Because i admit i can get too fixated with the literacy and numeracy, i am after all, human. But the Study of Man has made me realise that honestly and truly, it is a means to an end. And then end is so much much more than i could ever imagine and realise: it is the development of the cosmos for each person is a microcosm. Each of us is the universe...forget about searching for parallel dimensions, the multiverse is occurring right in front of you, each time you encounter another human being. how profound is that?
It is right at the end of telling fairytales for a year that i have finally understood their meaning. The hero's journey is each of our own journeys. It is a recapitulation of our physical birth here, to learn the lessons in this incarnation and then after hopefully overcoming the trials and tribulations faced by life to reenter the spiritual realm again, to be born spiritually - that is, death. when put into this context, the gruesome nature of the fairytales becomes less gruesome, or possibly not gruesome enough.
It is the story of our lives here, told over and over again in fairytales all over the world...
SO, i have done Russian, English, German, Indian, Nepalese, American Indian and Chinese fairytales. I can recognise the subtle differences between a fairytale and a folktale. They all have differing folksouls, according to where they originate from, but they most certainly have archetypes as well. I was struck when i began reading Folktales from the Simla, how similar the Nepalese fairytales were to the Grimms fairytales. Yes, there were allowances for the cultures, but this ejection into what appeared to be a hostile world to face trials and tribulations, but having divine helpers, was really quite amazing.
Oh my god, i am rambling...think i'll stop here now.