The People Pool: 11: World History: Suzie Quattro and the Captain: South-east Quattrosphere: Human World: Middle Lesson: Class 2
By Alan Whitehead
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. Additional note by Kristie Burns of Earthschooling.
Alan speaks in a very symbolic manner in some parts of the book. Although they can be read anthroposophically, passages speaking of Atlantis, archangels, gods, etc. do not need to be taken literarily to be meaningful. 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 the teacher-students of Steiner himself so he speaks to an audience that is dedicating their lives to the Waldorf method without exception. Not all of his views will be reflected in the Earthschooling curriculum and not all of them may be ones you want to embrace or are able to use. However, as I read through these passages, I am finding I can distill wisdom from even those paragraphs that do not apply to me.
We invite you to read with an open mind and heart and with eagerness to learn and discuss.
Return to the Main Page of the Golden Beetle Curriculum Guides Here
The sleek little yacht, Sing-Sing, rocked gently on its mooring in the small harbor as a full moon rose like a glowing orange out of the sea. The Captain, a young man of undoubted capacity, judging from his strong, brown hands, helped the teacher down the thin gangplank. Suzie, as was her name, was rugged up in her woollies. After all, she was going to sea – or on a boat at least. But the surprisingly large cabin was cozy with the gleam of golden timber and shining brass.
The conversation began rather stiffly but warmed up as the excellent New Guinea coffee took effect.
“That’s Niu Gini by the way,” said the Captain, “in teaching geography, it is necessary to keep track of these country name changes which was quite a challenge in Africa where I sailed up the Mozambique Channel.”
“I’d love to hear about it, but time is short and I’d rather like to stay with our own South-east Quattrosphere. That’s what this Class 2 middle lesson is about. It occupies the Thinking, or Human World strand in the Discovery stream. As a ‘human’ lesson, it is concerned more with culture than geography. The discovery streams each year contain 3 units, each one appealing to Will, Feeling, and Thought and this is the thought unit. The discovery is the etheric organ of the four middle lesson streams, the other three…”
“Yes I know,” said the Captain smiling indulgently, “the other three are Literacy, Numeracy, and Performing Arts, educating the ego, astral and physical bodies respectively. So you want stories of the South-east Quattrosphere, eh? Of our immediate neighbors?”
“You are correct! The equivalent lesson was last year in Class 1,” Suzie’s large, brown eyes were diverted for a moment by a soft splash followed by an amused kind of ‘squeak’, just outside her porthole, “last year we did Aboriginal stories but in Class 2 we step off the continent to meet the neighbors – the closest first. That’s why we don’t yet venture out of this South-east quattro.”
“This area is only loosely defined, stretching from the equator to Antarctica. Its eastern boundary is somewhere mid-Pacific – and to the west, mid-Indian Ocean. Actually we don’t deal with Antarctica, even though it occupies a big slice of our quattrosphere – there are no people there! Unless you count those wicked whalers – but they don’t qualify as people!”
A fairly violent splash right outside interrupted the teacher’s monologue, “er, no people. This is, after all, the Human World strand. Each of the four quattros is a separate world in itself, embracing all latitudes from 0° to 90°. As such we try to recognize the ‘being’ of each – what kind of a being do you think this region is?”
The Captain spun the small glove at this side, “I’ve traveled extensively in all four quattrospheres, and you are right, each one is distinctive. The only one with which ours does not share a common border is the North-west. This stretches from the equator to the Arctic, and from the Caucasus westward to the North Pacific, including Europe, North America and the North Atlantic. This NW Being is an (and I repeat only an) expression of the ego of the earth – culturally that is. Actually you and I are the cultural products of the NW.”
“Our western neighbor, the South-west Quattrosphere, contains Africa and South America, including the South Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Oceans. These two continents are the ‘lungs’ of the earth, not just in shape, as is so obvious, but, due to their massive tropical rainforests, function as well. Therefore this is the etheric quattrosphere. As well as our western it is our eastern neighbor as well.”
“To our north, the North-east Quattrosphere, with its limitless land mass of Asia, represents the physical body…”
“Yes, yes – but what about ours!?”
The Captain did tend to ramble on a bit but in cultural education, it is always good to look through the eyes of someone who has actually been there – hence this visit – or so she thought!
He continued, “we are the driest continent on earth in the wettest quattrosphere, nestling happily as we do among the also ‘limitless’ Indian, Southern, and Pacific Oceans. Our neighbors at best are only islands. They are big islands to be sure, like Niu Gini, New Zealand and Indonesia, but still islands.”
“And that water-dominance is the key to the South-east,” interjected Suzie eagerly, pointing to the large areas of blue on the globe, “water is the element of the astral world, so we in the South-east express astrality in our cultural life. After all, that is what ultimately the human strand is about – culture.”
“Last year we dealt extensively with Aboriginal Dreaming Stories – an astral culture if ever there was one. But even in the three cultures living adjacent to us, the Polynesians in the east, the Melanesians to the north, and the Malays to the north-west, this rich, astral, imaginative life is evident. Indeed before the European colonization of the region, astrality was common in the cultures of both the Melanesians and the Polynesians.
“Hmm, three cultures, eh?” the Captain stared through the porthole as it mimicked the now yellowing moon. Was that a curved fin rolling through the liquid gold water?
“I wonder if it’s a coincidence, but in a study of the world cultures, the three you mentioned, the Malaya, Melanesian, and Polynesian (thought to derive from the South American Indian), represent the forces of youth. The three ‘old’ cultures are the Mongols, Semites, and North American Indians. Caucasians are neither old nor young, being the culture of the ‘present’. But through the medium of the arts, any of these cultures can be ‘present’. For example, the Yothu Yindi are from an ‘old’ culture and there is an Aboriginal opera.”
“Our three neighboring cultures, the Malay, Melanesians, and Polynesians, were originally ministered to by three great planetary oracles, those of Venus, Mercury and the Sun respectively – all planets of youth.”
The Captain turned in interest from his task of toasting crumpets. He glanced at the teacher’s shoes and then his own ‘ancient’ Persian carpet and began quietly, “having traveled widely among the three groups, I have observed a qualitative difference, one which provides cultural balance to the region, and hence a degree of harmony – more than most other places on earth anyway. The Malays are the most devotional people I’ve ever met. Their eternal concern is to acknowledge the gods, placing little flower-and rice offerings on the busy road to please the Spirit of highways and Byways or creating a festival almost every day of the year in a continuous celebration of the Divine. They seem to be a Prayer People.”
“If the Malays (and I use this term generically, referring to people living from India to Timor) represent the Spirit, then the Polynesians culturally manifest the Soul. These richly passionate ‘Song’ folk love life as no other. The soul rejoices to singing, dancing, feasting, and just plain being in the sun. They created the nearest thing on earth to Paradise.”
“And the Body? This expresses culturally through the Melanesians, with their concern with matters of earth. They are essentially a drum culture, the drum is the ‘body’ instrument, and most of their celebrations and rituals are based on physical survival, food procurement, initiation rites, or fertility. Often this manifest as fear, with much of their imagery being a descent into the darkness of matter. This is mainly in specific areas of the Niu Gini Highlands. Around the coast, the people are more subject to the culturally moderating effect of the ocean – one by which the Polynesians are almost exclusively fashioned.”
“The Polynesian, meaning ‘many islands’, being a ‘sun’ race, originated in South America; a truth known to spiritual researchers and confirmed by the great seaman, Thor Heyerdahl, on his Kon Tiki expedition. So from Singapore to Dunedin, we are surrounded by the trinity of Spirit/Venus, Soul/Sun and Body/Mercury people – a rainbow arc, to use an apt astral image, of cultures and customs to which we must relate as good neighbors. If we relate culturally, we will be greatly enriched, but if we reject, patronize, intimidate or otherwise scorn the folk in different areas, we will probably have to go to war with them one day. A central goal of this lesson unit for your 8-year-olds is bridge-building – not fence-building!”
“Oh yes!” agreed Suzie, turning back from the porthole. She had been listening though, in a dreamy kind of way.
“We are going to do all kinds of corollary activities to bring the lesson alive. We might learn a Maori Poi dance or perform a Balinese Shadow Puppet Play. And we’ll decorate the classroom with arts and artifacts from the region.”
“We will invite people of the various cultural backgrounds to come and talk to the class or I will take them to shows, exhibitions or performances. And we will have a ‘feast’, maybe a mild Indonesian meal cooked by the children or Island style, the food being slowly roasted on hot rocks in the sand. We can make coconut, fruit, and fish – yum! We might even learn a few language skills such as simple phrases and so on.”
<In a few of my Earthschooling classes we created handmade ‘passports’ in the classroom and then used them to ‘travel’ to different cultural grocery stores around town. We visited a Mexican, Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Indian grocer. At each store the children were allowed to choose one item each and they were able to ask the store manager to write one word in their passport in their native language. Everyone was happy to oblige and it was a fun trip for all. We then returned to the class and sampled the foods.>
“But I guess the most important thing will be the story – an allegory really – the cultural biography of the Being of the South-east Quattrosphere, with its separate elements transformed into living images. I was wondering about a theme, a unifying principle. What is one which, while allowing endless diversity can show the differences in those various human elements. What is a unifying theme that would draw attention also to that which is similar? I would use it just as an example of course.”
“How about ‘youth’?”
The Captain kicked off his white deck shoes and dug his brown toes into the rug, quite near hers.
“The three youthful peoples/cultures could be depicted as children, who had wandered away from home (Atlantis), and found this wonderful, flower-filled garden (the astral quattrosphere). Here perhaps they squabble before defining their own ‘gardens’. The ‘children’ should be individualized of course, perhaps along the spirit-soul-body lines we discussed. Then the garden has a late visitor, an older boy, a Bossy Boots (colonizers), who, apart from damaging and pillaging the garden somewhat, lords it over the other children. Then a greedy old man (World War II) peers over the garden wall (remember, this is only for 8-year-olds), and really upsets the place. He makes our bully boy look saintly in comparison! The boy, then, with the help of the three children, drives the old man out of the garden. But in so doing, the boy has to leave it himself (the collapse of the various colonial adventurers). And perhaps end with a statement that he is still welcome to visit.”
“The story could then continue a bit more. Sadly the ‘children’ have learned some bad habits from the interlopers and proceed to plunder their own gardens, or something like that. Anyway, you would have to work out a satisfactory end, employ a bit of fortune-telling even, and predict a wholesome future for our quattrosphere. If it is visualized in the hearts of the coming generation, it is more likely to become reality. I am not sure how you’d represent Australia because it should be a bit-player in this unit, focusing as it does on our neighbors. Perhaps it could be an old stone-man perhaps? He could be watching from his dry and barren garden.”
“Hmmm, that sounds very good! Fortunately, it will be an allegory as there are aspects of the story that would get up just about everyone’s noses. But of course I have to deal on a factual level as well – and yes, I understand that the children shouldn’t have the various images translated for them – the less they consciously know, the easier access it has to the subconscious, where the moral messages are reallyeffective.
We have to discriminate when bonding the children’s sympathies with different cultures. For instance in New…Niu Gini, I would prefer to case-study the coastal people whom the children could relate to more than other people in the same culture. A good method of arousing children’s sympathies is to view the culture from a child’s perspective. Children are interested in food, games, school, nature, family, village life, and things like that. They are not interested in politics, capitals, or economics! We might even organize pen pals in the various countries – you must have some contacts there?”
“Oh yes, I have many friends in the region,” the Captain’s eyes glazed over for a moment, “one in particular, well her family anyway because she’s …she’s gone now. But you’re right, the Sing-Sing is a welcome sight in many gentle, palm-fringed lagoons. The people come running down to the beach like children, weeping for joy so the ‘youth’ theme can’t really go wrong for your story. Of course there are any amount of others. This child-like quality expresses in a zest for life, a deliciously innocent sense of humor and great physical beauty. In fact it is even more than that, it is a natural sense of style.”
The Captain turned and stared intently at his guest, “how about a stroll out on deck?”
The two leaned on the polished timber rail, watching the dancing silver crescents on the black water. Suzie spoke first, and very softly,“this lesson unit is quite near the beginning of the new year, after the long holiday. It shows you how keen I am, lesson programming in my head already. I just don’t want to make mistakes by rushing. The whole Class 2 syllabus (or any class for that matter) is like a delicious menu; one from which one can choose the various subject delights and arrange them in a balanced way. For instance I would never program a social studies main lesson, like Regional Geography, with a social studies middle lesson, such as this one. That would be like having ice cream for main course followed by ice cream for dessert! They are just too close. The success of teaching 3-unit streams, main, middle and block, is based on change. Although there are occasions when a block lesson in craft can supplement the main. Balance and variety, that’s the ticket …now where were we? Oh yes, I’ll be spending most of my annual holidays programming…”
“Or sailing round the Islands,” said the Captain out of the blue – or indigo really. Grey eyes met brown, “holiday are for taking a much-deserved break, for breathing in new inspirations for the next long year’s teaching. You don’t want to go stale do you?”
“Oh I couldn’t stay, I’m sorry it’s impossible. I have so much to do…”
“That’s okay, think about it anyway, the offer stays open till I cast off in last December. Who knows where the wind might take us? New Zealand, up to Tahiti and along the north coast of Niu Gini to the Celebes, and then to Bali for a week…”
“Oh no, I…don’t think…”
“Of course you’d need a passport – that little book of freedom.”
Two dolphins churned the water to argent eddies, quite near. Had they been eavesdropping? They turned moon-wards and swam lazily out to sea.
“I’d love to come! What date in December do we sail?”
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