Teaching through handword
Teaching through handword

This program is designed to develop the professional skills of the teacher in understanding and meeting the developmental stages of the child as they pertain to handwork as well as broadening skills and techniques in the practical arts for the teacher.

It is expected that program participants are already teaching or plan to teach and therefore already practice many of the practical skills necessary for the work. Knowing this, the development of transferable skills, inner linking between manual, practical and cognitive work, the teacher will further their abilities in bringing balance and harmony to the art of teaching. A special focus will be on the indications for the arts and handicrafts set out by Rudolf Steiner and their implications, as well as a review of the new pedagogical research being done to meet the child of today.

We will investigate the role of the arts and crafts in the human journey through time and how the influences of technology affect our relationship to these activities today.Most importantly, how does this affect the education of the growing child? What is needed and why?

The inner work of the teacher will be a major thread that weaves through the program. We will hone our skills in observation through the study of the temperaments and the twelve senses as defined by Steiner.

Collegial work, parent work, and the festivals are some of the special topics. The most valuable, and immeasurable aspect will be the time allowed for the sharing of our mutual concerns, talents, and experiences. This will be the thread that binds us together in our common goal as teachers.

This part-time program in Handwork meets in three-week sessions for three summers and one week in spring for three years, with continuing independent study, and observation in Waldorf schools during the school year. Foundation Studies is offered as the first week of intensive study each summer for three summers. It is possible to apply for exemption from the first week of the summer portion of the program if the applicant already has completed a foundation studies program. This program offers teachers and aspiring teachers a way to earn a Waldorf Specialty Subject certification through part-time intensives.


I. Developing the Artistic Capacities of the Teacher

An exploration of the artistic process though many different media in order for the student to gain an experience of the arts as a path of self-transformation, knowledge and renewal.

  1. Renewal of the Senses – Learning by doing ascends from the limbs to the head and in between is the mediating realm of feeling. Explore the role of sensory integration and its distinct relationship to the soul forces of thinking, feeling, and willing.
  2. Eurythmy – Explore and experience the elements of movement and form that engage the whole human being, integrating bodily movement with movements that arise within the soul, thus creating a harmonious relationship between the soul –spiritual element and the body.
  3. Painting and Color – Explore how shape arises out of color and the subtle boundaries between colors as well as the characteristics of each color.
  4. Speech – Proper speech is an essential tool for any teacher. Participants will learn how to use their voices effectively and hygienically.
  5. Woodworking – Explore and compare the experience of bringing form to wood as opposed to soft sculpture work of grades 6 and 7. What are the rules and boundaries?
  6. Clay Modeling/Sculpting – How can clay work be used to communicate the language of form? Pliability, fluidity and rigidity will be explored through this medium in order to deepen our understanding of line and form in grade 1-8.
  7. Form Drawing – Explore the activity of drawing related to form. A way in which form is expressed in movement and rhythm – feeling for balance and harmony. How are different points of perspective experienced and the forces of thinking, feeling and willing engaged in this activity?
  8. Dark and Light Drawing – Explore the interplay of light and shadow in creating line and form.
  9. Spatial Dynamics – Through bodily movement explore the experience of the ‘back space’. The dynamics of movement is progressively internalized from outer movement in space to the ability to picture the movement inwardly through the hand and arm.

II Conceptual Foundations of Waldorf Education

Classes which focus on the philosophical framework of the Waldorf curriculum which educates the whole child and addresses the child’s changing consciousness as it unfolds through stages of development.

  1. Inner Nature of Handwork and Crafts
    Participants will make an in-depth study of Rudolf Steiner’s writings and lectures on the arts and crafts which has lead to the practical, artistic and spiritual foundation for the teaching of handwork in Waldorf Schools.
  2. Waldorf Handwork and Crafts Curriculum
    Participants will study and discuss Steiner’s original indications towards building a handwork and crafts program based on an understanding of child development in grades 1-8. Explorations will include current study, research and practices of Waldorf Schools and their geographical settings.
  3. Evolution of Consciousness Through Crafts
    Through lectures, images and examples, the history of crafts will be presented as a tool for the understanding of human consciousness. Particular emphasis will be given to the development of crafts here in America.
  4. Handwork and the Physiology of the Human Being
    Participants will study Rudolf Steiner’s writings and current research on the use of the hands and it’s affect on the development of cognitive thinking. Specific topics will include the human hand, the twelve senses, the breathing organism, speech organization, and the brain. III Curriculum, Methods and Practical Skills

Considerable time is spent in preparing the student with hands-on practical skills with which to implement the Waldorf specialty curriculum.

  1. Handwork Curriculum through the Grades
    Participants will explore classroom presentation practices for the unfolding handwork curriculum. Specific aspects of the curriculum will be traced from grade 1-8, and practices appropriate for each grade will be demonstrated and practiced.
  2. Skills and Techniques
    Participants will develop their skills in particular handcrafts used in the Waldorf curriculum. Special attention will be given to how these skills are brought in order to develop the capacities of the children and why. In addition is a study of the four temperaments as described by Rudolf Steiner and indications of how to work with them to enhance the teaching capacities of the teacher.
  3. Songs, Verses and Stories
    Participants will explore, study, and expand their use of songs, verses, and stories in the teaching of handwork and crafts in the Waldorf School. The use of puppetry will be an important part of this study.
  4. The Teacher as an Artist
    Participants will be encouraged to bring new and original work to the child by taking a concept and making it their own. They will explore ways of looking at this work with the question of: “Is this age appropriate and why?” “Is it beautiful in both color and design?” And, “Does it serve a need?” Attention will also be given to quality and use of materials.
  5. Plant Dyeing
    Participants will experience the use of natural dyes in preparing materials for the grades. The importance of color and how it is used through out the curriculum will be an integral part of this.

IV Foundations of Human Experience

An exploration of the threefold nature of the human being: nerve/sense, rhythmic and metabolic systems; thinking, feeling and willing. The significance of waking, dreaming and sleeping in child development; the need for awakening the intellect though imagination.

A series of evening lectures over the three years of the program to bring in experts in various fields with both practical and theoretical interest to the specialty subject teacher.

  1. Therapeutic Application
    A discussion of how color therapy can be used in art.
  2. Collegial Relationships
    A discussion of the social dynamics between specialty teachers and grades teachers, and suggestions for how to foster good communication, and effective collaboration.
  3. Classroom Management
    Suggestions and strategies for creating an attentive space for specialty subjects with the Waldorf classroom.
  4. Festivals and Seasonal Crafts
    A look at the inner dynamic living within the school festivals, and the ways in which appropriate handwork projects can be brought for each of the holiday festivals. We will explore various handcrafts which can be used to enhance the mood or feeling during these times. Examples might include candle dipping, lantern making, rose windows, and Ukrainian eggs.
  5. Parent Education and Community Building
    A discussion of the ways handwork teachers can be more articulate and involved in parent education about why we do handwork in Waldorf schools. Also, explore ways in which the handwork curriculum can be more visible to the community.
  6. Color’s Healing Effects
    A brief introduction to the therapeutic nature of color and how it can help in the child’s environment and working with the temperament of the child.
  7. Cycles of the Year
    An overview of the cycles of the year and how to introduce them into the handwork curriculum.
  8. Early Childhood and Handwork
    Some simple activities that can be used in introducing handwork to the very young child.

VI Practice Teaching, Observation and Mentoring

Working with students under the guidance of a mentor in assessment and individual lessons.

VII Curriculum Project

A final project that communicates the Waldorf grades curriculum through the student’s unique creative expression.