Thursday, February 2, 2012

Observation of Children

we were having a weekend with Craig Holdrege from the Nature Institute, he explained the main parts of Goethean Observation. It is a way of observing nature that consists in establishing a relation with the world.

The first step is to observe with our senses, eyes, tact, smell, etc...the object of study, and to notice with detail all that is there to be noticed, without implementing our models of explanation or logical thougts into the phenomena. Craig gave us an oak leaf and after giving us some minutes to observation, he removed them from us.

Usually the second step involves a drawing, sketch or some depictions of the object of study.

The third step is an imagination, a picturing in our mind's eye of the same object. (At this point many times you realize that your observation is not complete, you had forgotten to take notice of many aspects if it is difficult to conjure the image up). It is also at this point that we realize how helpful would be to have had a checklist of things to observe, a matrix of elements to take into consideration. -This is why we have lists of physical/etherical/astral qualities during our observation of children too.

Finally we start to move these images in time, as we picture different stages of the leaf and try to connect them in our mind's eye, connecting with metamorphosis that would had happened in between. That final step, which concerns the discovering of forces and laws, it is also done when we bring the images into the spiritual world, either by going backward from the image to the drawing and finally the object of study in our mind, or by having a sleep in between, etc... In observation of nature Craig recommended having observations once a week, with the steps of observing, depicting/drawing, and imagining in them. This summer at Dennis Klocek conference, he suggested doing three days in a row of observations and bringing all that to the night each day.

There are obviously manifold ways of working, but mainly in the waldorf schools I studied they use it as follows: First they choose a child that they think would benefit from observation and choose a date to do it. If the child is sick that day or he does not show up, it may be a sign that he or his parents are not consenting spiritually. If the child shows up, the observation is done with a preparative verse, to take the reverence needed for this kind of work, perhaps lighting a candle, reading the verse of the calendar of the soul for that child's birthday, etc...then there is the writing down of observations following a list that goes from physical qualities of the child to etheric, astral qualities and environment of the child. When the observation is done, usually some night/s are left in between and then the teachers gather together and listen to the observer/s presenting the facts observed. At this time, also with due care and trying not to "play" with the child's observations, we may happen to find some clues/insights as to how to help that child.

Below is guidelines list and we can choose to either do a whole child study with one of our children or perhaps just choose one of the children whom we will observe, noticing attentively but without doing the guidelines list, in order to find insights for his/her health.

We would do good in remembering one of the quotes of Steiner in the book The Study of Man: "It is in the fact of observation itself that you are already helping the child."

-head: big/small
-hair:strong, fin, shiny
-nose: big, small, pointy, flat, fleshy
-mouth: big, small
-ears: pointy, round, facing
-teeth: change and situation
-proportions: harmonic/disharmonic, head/body/neck
-back: low, pointy, square
-extremities: long/short
-hands: fingernails: smooth, with lines, points. how's the hand? cold, warm, wet. what does the hand usually do? pocket? moving?
-trunk: shape of the belly. when it is round? morning, midday, evening
-legs: short, long, thin, thick
-feet: toes, the feet what direction thye point to, inside or outside. how he walks, observation of the sole of the shoe
-weight(conforming age)
-height(conforming age)

-how he walks, inside, outside, slowly,. with the heels, tip-toeing, lightly, heavy, stumbles and falls, jumps, seems to be glued to the floor, jumps on the rope, on strings, runs, stopped, without aim.

-movement of the yes, glasses

-hands, still or in movement, what is the biggest characteristic

-position: body activity in sitting down and standing up or in movement.

-voice: high, low, speaks slowly, fast, lots of vocabulary, shyness in words.

-sings: high, low, a lot, very little, with enthusiasm, alone, with others, fluidity in language.

-according to age, which are the difficulcties in language? vowels? consonants?

-complexion: rosy/pale

-breathing: fast/slow shallow/deep through nose or mouth


-imitation ability

- imagination

- how he starts the play, is helped by othre children, or adult, continuity with the materials he play, changes often the play, attitude when he is not playing, easy to distract, if wants something goes straight to get it or goes around without asking for it.


-is included/excluded

-is dominant/dominated

-has relationships with other children

-what kind of children choses as friends

-what is the role of the friends

-relationship with the teacher/parent


-ability of action with his surroundings


-order in the home, parents together or apart, situations among siblings, profession of the parents, what age thye have, what illnesses and how the family lives, physical tendencies.


-pregnancy, birth, when starts walking/talking/to say "I", illnesses....

-favorite objects, thumbsucker, sour, sweet, salty or bitter/tart

-sleeping habits, how he wakes up, when was diaper free

-food habits, breastfeeding or bottlefeeding for how long

-megacefal or microcefal. fantasy rich/ fantasy poor/ terrestrial/cosmic *

-temperament and variability, choleric/sanguine/melancholic/phlegmatic

-pictures of the child and drawings he has made

* Children with Microcefal tend to be fast, they need warmth, they act first and then think; the Megacefal children tend to be slower, they need coolness, they feel like kings and their head may be big and warmer. the Cosmic children tend to be like lost in the stars, whereas the Terrestrial children tend to work with the soil, or car toys, they are very tactil. The children with rich fantasy are those who have a lot of imagination, whereas the ones with poor fantasy have less so. A child can be any combination of these qualities, though usually ther are those who combine more often. As usual these qualities are to be helpers to our work and not labels which we endorse a child with.
I am attaching below some copies that are distributed to parents in waldorf schools regarding observation.

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