Putting the Subject to Sleep in Waldorf Education

sleep Sep 27, 2021
Letting the subject go to Sleep in Waldorf Education

One of the unique features of Waldorf education is introducing a subject on one day and revisiting the subject the next day. Or, working with a topic for a period of time and then taking a break and revisiting the subject. In Waldorf parlance this is called putting the subject to 'sleep'. As a teacher and homeschool mom I have seen this help the students in ways that are beyond the 'hammering the subject' day after day. Let us see why this works. Have you ever said, "let me sleep on it?". It is because sleep allows a subject to deepen in our being which can be brought forth the next morning with a fresh perspective.  According to Steiner, during sleep, astral and ego bodies travel to the spiritual world and when the student/person wakes up, their understanding of the subject has deepened.  Here are a couple of perspectives to look at: in the neuroscience world, there are studies which show that during deep sleep, cerebrospinal fluid moves and washes out the toxins. In the yoga world, the world is made up of 5 basic elements - earth , water, fire, air and ether. Ether is said to be the vessel which holds all other elements. All these 5 elements nurture us and give us life also known as 'prana'. Prana from air is taken in during breathing for e.g. in pranayama. Prana from fire is taken in from sun, prana from earth and water is taken in through food and drinking water. Prana from ether is taken in during sleep! So in a very simplistic sense, sleep creates space in our being. This space is necessary for thoughts and feelings to move. And when things move, it leaves us with newer understanding and memory! So, let's just "sleep on it!"

~Ms. Vidhya

(Seasons of Seven high school science teacher)

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