Waldorf schools integrate Arts in all academic disciplines for children from preschool through twelfth grade to enhance and enrich learning. In this interview Henning Kullak Ublick, representative of Waldorf German Association and Coordinator of Waldorf100, explains us how Arts require students to use soul and body at the same time.
«Practicing arts brings the emotional, the cognitive and the will forces together»
Practising arts is something which involves many different activities within your own soul and your body at the same time.
For example if you play guitar or you play violin, you have this instrument and you really have to work and practice to get the technical things together to be able to play it. At the time you do this, you have to be very aware of what you do because you cannot play a violin without being totally focused. It’s a very demanding cognitive process as well.
So you have the cognitive activity, you have the creative static feeling aspect which is transforming your feeling capacities into perceiving capacities at the same time. This is what happens in any artistic process.
And then you have to very very conscious of using your fingers and having all this motor capabilities that you have to develop. Everything in the human being is connected with each other.
So the arts are an extremely important part for any learning if you want to bring the capabilities of thinking, emotional capabilities and you want to bring your will forces in connection with each other.
«The children don’t need fantasy. They need imagination»
You find people today, which is a characteristic of our time, that is disconnected of what they feel. What they feel has to be filled by Netflix and also Hollywood movies…I am exaggerating. The will forces are running wild and egoistic and it’s grab and grab things…. What makes human being human is that this forces are in connection with each other. What I think can be judged by my feelings, «Is this right or is this wrong?». And what I think and feel I can actually do.
I can actually don’t know how the world would be if it would be better but what I know is that I can participate in changing the world, and I can do what I think should be done. So any kind of arts bring these forces together.
In the learning process itself it’s a wonderful way of, if you listen to a story for example, or better if you listen to a fairy tail, a good one, you have lots of imagination in yourself. You have hundreds of images in yourself, you have a whole drama that is going on in your own consciousness. And in order to be able to do this, you have to think very strongly using your imagination. And if children recreate this by listening again, it’s something which uses the imaginative forces and gives them the precondition of being able to think individually. Because they know how to active their will forces in their thinking, in the imagination. They don’t need fantasy, they have the imagination.
«Your individuality is needed but it’s not about you. It’s about the community»
So that’s basically what happens. You have to be aware when drawing a picture, you have to be very aware of what is there. Then you have to connect to what is there already and create something new so you are very conscious, very focused and you have to change yourself right into your fingertips so that’s what art does.
And if you take something like eurythmie for example, or play in an orchestra or sing in a choir, then you also have this social aspect in it. You have to perceive what the others are doing, and then you have to connect to this. The whole thing depends on you but it’s not about you. It’s about something which goes beyond your own personal things at the moment but you are necessary. Your individuality is needed but again it’s also the community so it’s a way of being in contact with others and that gives you social skills which we need in order to be able to be mature adults.
«Block lessons allow us to go deeply into the topics and relate to them from different points of view»
We don’t use finished text books which was specially made for school lessons but we use books of course but those are books which you can get anywhere and we want the children to create their own textbooks because when we have a certain subject it goes for three weeks.
Each morning they have the first two hours early on this subject and the lesson is structured, they have some artistic parts in it, they have the actual learning part, they have the experimental part, the creative part and usually at the end they get a story which is being told which is related to the topic or not.
Create their own textbooks is a challenge with which they have to cope with each and every day and it show them where they are because they can compare with the others and they can also se their own development within one of this block lessons.
The block lessons help to focus on a certain topic. If you have mathematics for three weeks or geography or history or geometry then you can really go very deeply into what you do. If you have geography and we speak about Greece with the fifth class for example, you could ask them make a greek dance for example or they could cook a greek meal or something. If we speak about Spain it might be empanada haha.
So is always about having all your senses and many many different experiences connected to the same topic so that children can actually relate to it from different points of view. Some children they very like the practical part, others will rather like the artistic part, others will like the more intellectual cognitive approach and they are all wonderful. But it’s good if the more cognitive related children have the artistic experiences as well just as the children who were sort of very practical can feel or can sense that this goes right up to a cognitive perspective on the same thing.