Crafts and art

By Mathias Maurer, September 2020

Everyone knows it – school practitioners, educational theorists, brain researchers, indeed entrepreneurs confirm it: the “creative forces of aesthetics”, the “emotional boost of artistic expression” belong to the basic prerequisites of education.

Without artistic proficiencies, we cannot develop a meaningful relationship with reality. What, then, do they particularly advance? Precise observation, the adequate handling of the “material”, discipline, perseverance, creativity, autonomous action – central key skills, then, which we consider essential and need in life in all different fields of activity.

Art and crafts are not some kind of nice adjunct to the cognitive communication of knowledge but a central educational tool which because, or on the basis, of its importance in the general education of the human being occupies a central position in Waldorf schools starting in class 1.

And yet the intensive occupation with art and crafts cannot shed its “hobby flavour”. These subjects often lead a shadow existence, are seen as a nice supplement to the curriculum, serve the regeneration of “hard” subjects; they are constantly under threat of being reduced in or cut from the timetable altogether, or of being taught by teachers who have not been trained in the subject because savings either have to be made or other priorities are set in a bid to conform. Their central educational concern – training the senses and the will – is thus under threat of being lost from sight. Yet the occupation with art and crafts strengthens the powers of judgement and imagination of the pupils like hardly any other subject.

The present issue gives an impression of the way that the teaching of art and crafts – from handwork through the crafts to art and art appreciation – lives in Waldorf schools in the various classes.

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