So why do we practice Eurythmy with Waldorf education? Movement has been felt in the child (and in each and every one of us) from the very beginning of its existence; in the womb, the baby feels its mother’s breathing, heartbeat, even her voice. As they grow older, the birds, the wind, cars, everything around them is rhythm and song, and calls to their imagination. When they’re teens, they start to develop self-awareness that can cause them to withdraw and hold back, afraid of anyone else seeing the real “me” and being criticized. Eurythmy allows them to express these feelings in a safe way and be validated in these feelings. Thus allowing them to blossom into the person they are striving to become.
In Waldorf education you hear “thinking-feeling-willing, thinking-feeling-willing” as the pattern over and over again. For those of you who don’t know what this means, like I said before, Waldorf educates the whole child; thinking refers to the brain or within their head, feeling refers to what’s going on inside or what makes them tick and will motivate the child to learn best, willing refers to their hands or hands-on activities that build character. So we see this pattern again and again. You will see this pattern too in Eurythmy; however, thinking-feeling-willing is expressed backwards! Let me explain…
From birth to roughly age 7 (the 6yo change), we focus on WILLING. Babies do it naturally by WILLING their little bodies to move. They are trying to get their arms and legs to move when they need them to. As they get older, they learn to jump, run, snap, all things that require coordination and skill. Because of this, their focus is very inward; therefore, their imagination is strong and realistic to them. As they play, for example, fairies and knights, they aren’t just creating an imaginative world, they ARE the fairies and knights.
From 7 to roughly 12 years (puberty), we shift our focus to FEELING. They realize they are full of feelings and emotions and through Eurythmy exercises, they learn how to control them and deal with them. They learn that their identities are separate from nature. Their imaginations start reaching out of themselves. They reenact scenes they have seen/heard (and can do so with toys). Now when they play fairies and knights, they are doing so with toys or puppets. They still imagine in “space.” For example, if the Eurythmy teacher were to tell a story, the class would be doing the motions with her. If the teacher jumped over the river, all the children would wait to jump over the river in the exact spot the teacher did. As they get more towards 11 years of age, their imaginations are much bigger and open and their coordination vastly improves.
From roughly 12 years (puberty) through high school, we start to focus on THINKING. They now learn that they can affect their environment and relationships around them. They can start imagining in “time.” For example, this time when the teacher tells the story and jumps over a river, they jump over the river AS the teacher jumps over the river. They can think bigger; the sky, the universe; and can remove themselves from it (THINKING again). Each child is on their own path. They no longer exist as a group.
Eurythmy helps to work with each of these developmental stages. Each stage has a different need and therefore, the stories and movements will focus on different muscles and areas of their bodies and souls. Eurythmy is fun and positive so it encourages the children to work through these clumsy stages when their limbs are growing faster than they can learn to move them! Eurythmy gives the opportunity for creative thought and expression as they work through hormones that rage through their bodies at the onset of puberty and bring up feelings and thoughts they never even imagined! Eurythmy helps develop the child in a way not found anywhere else. This is why Eurythmy was created. For artistic and therapeutic benefits to children (and adults as well)!
image from vox.com