“A CHILD SHOULD BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD!”
“Now that we’ve eaten, we can get on with the third principle of punishment – that of separating a child from the ‘herd I as we call it’; standing it with its face in the corner, sending it out into the corridor, whatever – only when it’s naughty of course; er, I think. Some modern schools have developed this into an art form, establishing a ‘solitary’ room, in which the recalcitrant are confined to work on their ‘attitude’. This self-awareness program is enhanced by the level of sensory deprivation in the room. But I’d like to welcome our next speaker, a representative from the prisons system. He’s here to provide us with handy hints on dealing with the more obtuse members of society – Governor Sol Eatary! (polite clapping) Thank you Sol, er, may I call you … would you like the lectern heightened? No? Over to you then.”
Sol was, as you’ve gathered, a big man, with a stern set of jaw. His body language, feet apart, hands on hips, demanded attention – and he got it!
“Now listen well, I’m only going to say this once – I don’t suffer fools, opponents, pimps or ratbags gladly – especially opponents.
So if you have funny business in mind, you might find yourself having to listen from the cupboard at the back – and I have the only key!” He jangled a large ring hanging off his belt in emphasis.
“Now we have a simple working principle ‘inside’ to control the fractious factions – divide and rule. it’s hard to have a riot on your own – bah, bah. (Apparently Sol has a sense of humor too.) But perhaps we should start at the beginning – with you lot!
“I wouldn’t have a job if you did yours properly; there’d be no need for goals. Some people obviously had better schoolteachers than we do, Well I was interested in the picture given before lunch of the three ‘problem’ child types. First the Learning Difficulty, the Thinking Disturbed children. Because of your failure to cultivate what they do have, like perhaps technical or artistic talents, these children more often than not finish up on welfare. Oh, how impressed we all are on Education Week when – you display your successes for all to see. Perhaps you’d like to shine the same spotlight on these low-achieving children for a change, the dust under the Educational Carpet. The idea is to equip the children for Life – not create failures by coercing them through an exam system they are patently unsuited for.
“The Feeling Disabled children, the emotionally disturbed, after being strapped into the straight- jacket of an artless education, find that life is so barren and meaningless, that they finish up in the nuthouse, suffering from one of ~he equally meaningless ‘disorders’ like ‘paranoid schizophrenia’; a term applied indiscriminately to serial killers and compulsive nose pickers alike!
“And at the gaol we get the third lot, the Behaviorally Disturbed, that is after they’ve graduated from the College of Rape, Rip-off and Riotous Behavior. Why didn’t you cultivate the Will of these motivationally restless children? Put tools in their hands so their energies could be released constructively. Or in adolescence create life threatening challenges for them – that’s right, life- threatening, like scuba diving or abseiling. This provides powerful limb expression for those young people who regard most school activities as mamby pamby at best. Those who have not had their Ego forces so strengthened, can enter life with a rampant, untested Astral Body. These forces possess the individual, goading him to cheat and assault his fellow man in order to serve his nefarious desires. Instead, the Will should be serving the Ego. Do you know what WE do with these willful, astral-dominant people with their weak Egos? We lock them up in a cell – a hollow cube, the form of the Ego. We impose this Ego restriction to restrain the rampant Astrality. Our various levels of confinement are based on depth of depravity – from open-air, minimum-security farm prison to 1The Hole’ of solitary confinement.
“So, whether it’s welfare, asylum or gaol, it is within the potential of schools and teachers to make these institutions redundant.”
The Chairman looked anxiously at the audience; would anyone have the spine to respond? – ah, there is a raised hand. And that was all it was, a hand poking up from behind one of the seats – this conference was supposed to be for adults only.
“Er, would you stand up please?” At this, the owner of the hand walked slowly out to the front, climbed up onto a chair, and addressed the audience “I was standing up! Yes, I would like to address some of the Governor’s remarks.” The hand (and the rest of the tiny body) belonged to Rosebud, a dwarf. She was very pretty in a doll-like way, with a perfect little rosebud mouth framed by soft golden curls. Expressions of delight and dismay quickly changed to masks of bored normality, but she was used to this.
“I’m a schoolteacher, but believe me it hasn’t been easy, especially the discipline bit (they did believe her). “I’m particularly interested in this ‘segregation’ principle of control; you see, not being ‘normal’, I was subjected to a fair bit of segregation myself. We ‘little people’ are a minority group you know.” Nobody laughed, they weren’t quite sure whether she was joking or not, and her commanding presence did not encourage a guess! “Anyway, I became aware of the principle of the ‘herd’ in primary education; from the solitary world of the infant, the under-7s, characterized as the ‘hermit’ stage, we enter at 7 the period of the ‘group’. These ‘Etheric’ children express most perfectly through their social life – they are true ‘community’ beings (speaking generally of course). They grow in a healthy way only in company with other Etheric dominant beings, other children; although the child is infinitely more complex than the social system to which he belongs – the Class.
“7- to 14-year-old children regard their social life above all else; note the feverish interest when they hear of another child about to enter the Class – and in so doing, change the social dynamics forever. This preparation provides them with community skills for the rest of life. ANY practice which cuts a primary child out of the herd is suspect.”
Rosebud looked up to face the Governor then addressed the audience again. “This includes removing the aforementioned ‘learning difficulty’ to special or remedial classes. It is the Class Teacher’s job – and goodness me they have 7 years to do it – to widen their understanding of the child and its needs. And only the Class Teacher can find the deeper solutions. These ‘special’ classes are yet another craze of modern psychoanalysis, its most virulent outcome, to render the Class Teacher irrelevant.
“The latest one creeping over the educational horizon is more insidious than most – it is based on exorcism through exercises – or is that exorcism through exorcises? Just joking. This is an archaic and degenerate religious practice, inappropriate for a modern education.
“The method used assumes of ‘possession’ – the child is possessed by demonic beings of one kind or another.
“Except to drive these Al1rimanic forces out of the child, living rightly as they do in the lower limbs will ultimately leave him incapable of relating in a properly grounded way to this earthly incarnation. That’s precisely why these Beings are there, to brace us in the hardness of matter. In extreme cases, the child subject ed to this ‘therapy’ will be unable to even stand upright as an adult! This kind of tampering could bring the whole of our, up till now highly respected, educational Movement into disrepute.
“These Beings share the temple of the Lower Man with the Spirits of Movement, the Dynamis. If indeed the Dark Ones are to place the Gate of the Heart under siege (as is their wont in this T.V. infested age), then rather than expel them, we strengthen something else. We give support to the Spirits of Movement through the sublime forces of Eurythmy – a heart-movement art without peer. The scurrilous practice of exorcism is in direct opposition to Eurythmy – the first ultimately weakens the human being, the second empowers. These Ahrimanic forces are only inimical when they are out of their preordained region, when they rise -into the realm of the higher Man, above the heart. An intelligent and continuous Eurythmy program, emphasizing an artistic response to inner troubles, prevents this soul-threatening ascent.
“Purveyors of these most dangerous of all child- care practices have even been known to insist that, for some fallacious reason of convenience, young children enter formal schooling earlier than they should, resulting in problems which they will attend to – ad infinitum. they have also penetrated the legislature of schools, incorporating in their constitutions that parents must (‘Bravo!’ from the fascist right.) consent to their children taking part in ‘special class’ at the school’s (or the ‘therapist’s’) discretion. This is not only a denial of human rights, but mischief of an unprecedented dimension enshrined in law. This movement is attempting to transform ‘normal’ schools to those for children in need of special care – handicapped schools. A wicked blurring indeed.
“The very term ‘remedial’, with its medical associations, is damaging to these poor little souls’ self-esteem; medical is ‘sick’ – there must be something ‘wrong’, sick in the head even! In a child’s mind, that’s tantamount to being mad!!” Rosebud was getting excited now, she rose to her full height – still something below Sol’s navel – and continued
“So, we Governor Fatary, do the opposite; we do not separate, or even segregate, the obstreperous child, we bring it closer. Instead of ‘Out you go and stand in the corridor!’, it’s ‘Bring your chair down and sit next to me.’ The first is a clear abrogation of duty; the second our holy responsibility. The teacher’s task is to teachthe child, not have him chilling his kidneys (in more ways than one) out in a drafty hall. One can clearly see that this is counter-productive, engendering only sullen contempt in his heart. To have the little rascal right under your nose is where the real control – and continued instruction – is.
“If the child is especially restless, you can even reach up and put your hands on his shoulders. This is the Ego region, that of Gemini. To place one’s hands (Ego again) firmly on the shoulders has a very beneficial effect – control with love you might say.
“This consciousness of the collective Class Being, the ‘herd’, relates the teacher to a living spiritual reality. A Being is actually ‘created’ with the establishment of each new primary class. It travels with the children right through the 7 years, modifying to conform to the inevitable changes that occur, especially in relation to the arrival and departure of various members of the class. The Being is the ‘leader of the herd’ you might say, it abhors the loss of one of its own through ‘special classes’ and mindless ‘Out you go!’ punishments. Why I even recall one frazzled teacher sending a very young child out to stand in a corridor which, when the door was closed, became a pitch-dark hole. The child’s screams of terror alerted another teacher who came to the rescue. ‘Why didn’t you respond to its cries?’ she asked ‘Because he was only doing it to get attention’ was the unconvincing reply.”
“A child standing outside the door is clear evidence of the shortcomings or (to be generous) inexperience of the teacher on the other side.” said Ms. Uncial “That’s what I always thought when I passed a classroom with a lemon-faced outcast looking as if he’d been hung on a hat peg – oh, sorry.” Rosebud smiled sweetly at the journalist’s enthusiasm and continued.
“It is much easier for teachers if the school has a clear proscription against this dereliction of duty. That way the teacher must (now that’s a good ‘must’) solve the problem in the classroom, where the solution so obviously is – instead of pushing it out the door – Or into the cupboard!
“A lot of restlessness in class comes from teaching the individual child instead of the Being – or Etheric Umbrella as I ‘ve heard it called. When you are giving ‘individual attention’ to one, the other 29 may feel at a loose end, and invent ‘diversions’ to brighten up the day. You only realize when you cop a paper airplane in the ear! Children who are well~ taught rarely require individual attention, but men they do, it is best given by other children. Those that are more skilled in the subject. In fact, on an individual level, children are better teachers than adults, explaining things in their own simple but comprehensible way – speaking each other’s language.
“Some children feel intimidated by a colossus of a teacher leaning over them, all halitosis and dandruff. I make a point never to lean over children.” Rosebud scanned the wide-eyed audience for signs of a smirk, but there were none.
“So this Class Being is appealed to by the teacher, it hover s somewhere just over the children’s heads – teach IT, and it in turn will instruct them; not directly, but in the sanctuary of sleep. Night School you might call it. Ah, sleep, the memory of one’s past, the merciful forgetting of the present – and the prescience of the future. Er, where was I? Oh yes, it is also this Being who, especially if acknowledged, actually helps raise the discipline standards of the class – and a mighty ally it is too!
Replaced however by another spiritual reality in the high school – an Astral Being. This gradual departure of the Etheric Class Being can clearly be seen in 13-year-olds – yet another reason to conform to the 7-year human-development cycle in school organization. The Class Teacher, or Primary years, extend from 7 to 14 – Class 1 to 7. Teachers have often observed in the latter stages of Class 7, a psychic ‘walking away’ from them by their children – this mirrors a supersensible event, the walking away of the Class Being with the genesis of puberty in the children. If the Class Teacher continues, in an ill-advised way, to push through to Class 8, then poor student-conduct rides on his hapless heels (pupils become students in Class 8). Another (unnecessary) reason Class 8 is often considered the most badly behaved in a school.
“As Francis Bacon said, ‘Nature is commanded by obeying her.’ – this certainly applies to children. To change from the Authority of the primary Class Teacher to the Equality, in spiritual terms, of the high school Class Guardian when that same change (Etheric to Astral unfoldment) is actually happening, at the end of Class 7, is to heed this dictum. And now I suppose it’s time for afternoon tea – I could eat an elephant!”
Important Earthschooling Notes
Copyright Alan Whitehead & Earthschooling: No Part of this book, post, URL, or book excerpt may be shared with anyone who has not paid for these materials.
Alan speaks in a very symbolic and esoteric manner in some parts of his books. Although they can be read anthroposophically, passages speaking of Atlantis, archangels, gods, etc. do not need to be taken literarily to be meaningful. The more you read, the more you will realize he uses many different religions to express ideas in a symbolic manner and not in a religious manner. His writings are not religious. In some places his writings are meant to refer to religious events in a historical way. In some places he is using religious figures (from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, Ancient Roman and Greek Religions, etc.) in a symbolic manner. However, at no point is he promoting a specific religion or speaking from a religious point of view.
I have kept the writing as close to one-hundred percent original so you will also find that he speaks of Australia often and some spelling or manners of speaking may be cultural. Any words I have changed are presented like this: <word>.
Also keep in mind that these books are written by a Waldorf teacher with decades of experience who also studied with a Steiner student himself, so he speaks to an audience that is dedicating their lives to the Waldorf method without exception.
Because of this, all of his views are not reflected in the Earthschooling curriculum and not all of them may be ones you want to embrace or are able to use. In all of Alan Whitehead’s writings the opinions are his own and may not align with Earthschooling or Waldorf Books. In some cases, we will be updating some of these chapters in the future with additional and/or updated information.
Ultimately, however, as I read through these passages I find I can distill wisdom from even those paragraphs that do not resonate with me.
We invite you to read with an open mind and heart and with eagerness to learn and discuss.
Alan has presented dialogue in his writings in an expressive form, where he tries to capture the accent of the person he was with to give his writing more authenticity and to allow the reader to “be with him” in his experience. In no place in his writings is he using expressive language to make fun of or demean the speaker. So, as a person with a linguistics and anthropology degree I find this enriching and informative to me as the reader. Thus, we have made the decision to leave all expressive writing in its original form.