Simon’s look

By Mathias Maurer, August 2016

Simon sits on his mother’s lap and is eagerly following what is happening on the stage at the monthly gathering; he watches a eurythmy piece performed by upper school pupils. This is followed by an English poem. At this point he asks quietly: “Mummy, when will the angels come back?” – “What angels?” – “The ones from before, the kings with the lovely clothes.”

The five-year-old has intuitively grasped the essence of eurythmy with the angels and kings in lovely clothes. In our own life kings no longer exist and in everyday school life the eurythmy angels tend to be about to hit a brick wall. The “unique feature” of Waldorf schools, “eurythmy”, is in some places fighting for survival. With no funding – the axe about to fall, misunderstood by parents an pupils, eurythmists under constant pressure to justify their existence, and jealously regarded by other teachers because of their necessarily lower teaching load – it is much easier to reduce this “troublesome” provision or remove it from the timetable altogether. After all, the only things that matter, as they move closer, are the school leaving exams, the only things that count are the “rigorous” subjects.

Three things are required to give eurythmy a new lease of life:

Information about what eurythmy is and why it is done – particularly for parents and pupils in upper school. The best thing is to provide a practical experience of it in courses, parents evenings, performances and lectures. The most effective thing is to experience eurythmy by doing it ourselves. A lasting effect through artistic self-experience.

Research, showing academically that eurythmy is not some exotic art for its own sake but exercises a holistic and sustained influence on the development of a person’s skills, not just in movement but even in doing sums, for example in the subject of mathematics. It has been known for decades, high-speed cameras have provided the evidence, that human beings are constantly unconsciously doing eurythmy movements – even when they are listening. Persuasion through facts.

Qualification, training eurythmists in school first and foremost to be teachers. The focus must be: how as a teacher who teaches eurythmy do I make the content of my subject accessible to the pupils? Not the other way round. For it is absolutely useless to step up in all professional pomp and circumstance if the spark of the pupils’ willingness to learn and the support of the parents fails to ignite. Assertiveness through the educational profile.

“Can you dance your name?” It is becoming extremely tedious to hear this question which is turning into a synonym for Waldorf. Shouldn’t it be: “Are you still dancing or have you advanced to movement?” We would do well to look at this high art through the eyes of little Simon.


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