Waldorf Education Form Drawing

form drawing Oct 17, 2023
Waldorf Form Drawing Deep Dive

A question I love to ask parents is, “What spoke to you or drew you to Waldorf Education?”  The reply is often: the gentle approach;  the age appropriate curriculum;  my child was able to still be a child; the appreciation of nature and the integration of it in the curriculum; the color and beauty in the children’s work. Truth, goodness and beauty are central, these answers are universal and although they are sometimes the draw cards to parents they speak of what is perhaps lacking in an education or the world the families used to find themselves in. Form Drawing, although unknown to me before I came to teach in a Waldorf school, is an area of the curriculum that enlivened me from my first year of teaching and continues to nourish me. It has been one of  the bridges to relationship building in my years of teaching, whether it be with children, parents or fellow teachers.

Physically moving a form whether it be with your whole body, your foot, your arm, your hand or your eyes - to then creating it in string/thread/clay or beeswax and finally committing it to a form on paper are ways of approaching any given form. The flow of the form is felt in one's movement and holds deep therapeutic resonance. “Movement come to rest” is an accurate description of form drawing.

The education of form drawing comes through the activity and not the end result - and although a new subject introduced by Rudolf Steiner in the first Waldorf school in 1919,  new aspects and applications are still explored and even today it continues to unfold far reaching therapeutic ripples.

Rudolf Steiner says in The Kingdom of Childhood, Lecture 4: ‘In this way one educates the child toward a real feeling for form, toward a feeling for harmony, for symmetry, and toward a feeling of relationships. In this way one can guide the child into those harmonies which also exist in the world around us.’ ‘…the child will develop on the one hand more thoughtfulness in his observations and on the other hand more intuition in his thinking.’

Steiner believed the foundation for learning is laid by the development of the four lower senses: The sense of- touch, life, movement and balance. Through these sense perceptions the child becomes more at home in their body. Those working with children today will be  aware of imbalances in some of these lower senses in the modern day child, for this reason from drawing is essential to children's education in our times. All four of the lower senses are  enlivened  in form drawing - for example physical touch with one's work surface, observation of the teachers movement, inner visualization of where the child is to move or draw within a certain space, physical movement in all directions of the form, even retracing ones steps or alternating forward/backward movements, wakefulness in the change of direction or pace also alters a child’s breathing as does, over under weaving for the child after their 10th year.

These senses enable the child to be grounded, co-ordinated, agile and strong and Form Drawing works deeply for children whatever their need may be.

Estimation, balance, spatial orientation, weaving, transformation,moving from point to periphery, symmetry about the horizontal and vertical, running forms, metamorphosis: Are some of the guidelines in the Form Drawing curriculum addressing the age appropriate development of the child and progressing in complexity through the grades.. The teacher, through following curriculum guidelines and embarking on their own form drawing journey, will essentially develop in themselves an inward feeling of form and thus an awareness of why they bring such work to the child.

The sense that form drawing is good to teach children is supported by a myriad of reasons, the most simple being the development of hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills to support writing. Thereafter one can not discredit the reality that the hand is educating the brain and an aesthetic sense and feeling of form and flexibility of thought is awakened. Form Drawing challenges the child, absorbs them, inspires them. The child requires focus, control of movement and is required to practice patience.

We guide the children on their own form drawing journey that they are then able to feel the form and “see” with their hands. Through the living description of the movement of the form, the form is worked with until it is incorporated in the child and this is why the drawing itself is but an echo of the process of movement. As experience will naturally afford us, a certain perfection is wished for but always the process is of greater value. If the process is properly worked through then the product will be pleasing.

Through Form Drawing our creative forces are enlivened - these forces are essential for us to meet the demands of modern life and in bringing this to our children we are preparing them too. Developing their sense of  individuality in conjunction with strengthening their will, Form Drawing has the potential to develop healing life forces that will accompany the child beyond their school years.

~ Ms. Mandy ~

More on Form Drawing HERE

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