Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why Is That? An Art Workshop on Waldorf Curriculum

By now you must know that my son Santi goes to a Waldorf school. Truthfully, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am pleased that he goes to a school that heals, not only the child, but the teacher, parent, family and community as a whole. Read on to know more about their very interesting curriculum!

The Kolisko Waldorf School organized a workshop called "Why Is That?" so parents, faculty and staff can better understand the WHYS behind the Waldorf Curriculum through drawing, painting, discussing Grimms Fairytales and archetypes these share with local Filipino folktales.

Susan Quimpo, an Antroposophical Art Therapist and one of the founding members of Kolisko Waldorf School led the 2-day workshop. Here below is one of her pieces displayed in her healing space called I-House in Quezon City.

We started the first day with a Rudolph Steiner verse and some Eurythmy movement to help ground ourselves in preparation for the day.

Waldorf is best known as the school that discourages the use of TV. I remember attending a workshop many years ago (when Santi was only about 2 years old) on the electronic media's effects on our kids. Bella Tan (founder of Manila Waldorf School) said that it is the medium itself (TV), not only the content, that is not appropriate for the kids. Because of it, the children are suddenly paralyzed little couch potatoes when they are supposed to be moving their limbs in free play in order to grow healthy.

See a study on the ill effects of television on children. Note that this study does not even include other electronic media like the iPad, iPhone and other video games.

"Many children today have difficulty playing. They are very awake and cannot seem to find their way inside to their own fantasy forces which are also linked to bodily development. There is a relationship between how play bubbles up from inside the young child and how the drawing motifs rise to the surface. The more awake children are in their conscious mind, the less likely they are to be able to draw upon these deeper realms in an unconscious or dream-state way."

And this is one of the reasons why the Waldorf Schools have so many movement in their curriculum. Movement is healing. Art, too!

For our first art exercise, Susan asked us to draw a tree on a piece of paper. Most of us began drawing starting from the trunk then the leaves came next.

She explained that Waldorf children first learn how to draw a border. This is so that they may have the space to be free within those safe boundaries. Many adults still don't have boundaries. I'm partially guilty of this myself becaused it showed in my work below. Apparently, art does not lie! See how the leaves of my tree go beyond the right border? 

Susan then demonstrates how a Waldorf child and teacher would draw a tree- the drawing starts from a seed, growing roots and stems then a trunk and finally leaves. Just as nature would. This is mirroring reality from observation. Because we are showing the truth to our children. 

"Classroom walls must be painted with a transparent wash so that pupils can see through them into the spirit world" -Art Inspired by Rudolph Steiner

We began a discussion on colors as experienced by humanity in our history (which also happens to be the same outline of child development and guess whatelse? The Waldorf School curriculum!). In the wise words of Steiner, “Color is the soul of nature … and when we experience color we participate in this soul.”

The first color is Magenta which also represents our time in the womb. This is the color of ultimate creativity, says Steiner. 

Susan asked us to blend magenta by coloring the paper with blue on top and red on the bottom. "Until when do we blend?", I ask. "Until your soul tells you to", she answered. How simple yet, how deep and true. 

As I began my first approach into the wet on wet technique, I hurried into it; my conditioned competitive streak came out but Susan reminded me to slow down and perhaps sync the gentle rhythmic brush strokes with my breathing. So much like yoga, I thought. 

See our collective wet on wet paint works of Magenta. They look so pretty hanging together to dry.

Why does Waldorf Curriculum use the Wet on Wet Painting technique?

Because we first teach the child about color in its truest nature vs form. There is no limitations when working this way. When the colors are able to evoke feelings to the artist (you or your child), it brings about the healing effects, too. Again, there is no hurry into the world of form just yet. I particularly love this explanation in one of my favorite Waldorf Education blogs called the Magic Onions here: 

Lavender Blue homeschool shows you what materials needed to start here:

Here is my personal experience of orange.

Mixing to find green.

Here is a chart map of journeying through time in color. What I found interesting was that people during ancient civilizations only saw magenta and carmine as depicted in the cave drawings. The Egyptians during their epoch could not see past their hues at the time. Only the high priests with open fontannels could see the full spectrum of color as we could see today (such as the rainbow). 

There is solid proof of an awakened consciousness in the Indigenous Filipinos through the color of their art. The T'nalak is a traditional cloth made by the T'boli tribes people in Mindanao for important passages in life such as birth, marriage and death. They are called the dream weavers because they only weave what they have dreamt. Photo below from

The Waldorf Curriculum is rich in stories to unfold archetypes that will strengthen the inner body. Where is the Filipino identity in teaching the children Aesop's Fables and Grimms Fairytales? Teachers and parents can use Filipino folktales that are appropriate for whatever challenges the child is undertaking. I love reading Hindu Mythology to Santiago but also like reading in Tagalog local folktales and  Ibong Adarna is one of Santi's favorite Filipino epics. Share with me what stories you tell your children?

Then we proceeded with another technique for adults. (Not to be done with children or to others without the presence of a fully trained art therapist) this time we worked with charcoal and soft craypas. We boarded using tape for "safe boundaries" then blended charcoal with both of our bare hands. Same technique applies to the royal blue craypas over the quiet gray to slowly emerge INDIGO. Then we were asked to smudge a tissue paper on top to place a source of light.

Then we added a person on the bottom, journeying alone towards the light. What does this image represent to you? It's such a meditative image, don't you think? 

Susan says that we are currently in the age of Indigo (a time where people have forget or have a hard time breathing hence the rise of respiratory diseases like asthma) and that we need the archangel Mikael to help us through the darkness to see the Light. This is precisely why the Waldorf Schools have such a close affinity with Archangel Mikael and celebrate Michaelmas each Autumn Equinox so that we can strengthen THE WILL of our children in their lives. Do you know grown children or adults that have no drive, no passion, no will?

Before closing the workshop, Belai Gruenberg, another Waldorf teacher and consultant talked about the different temperaments of the child (or adult). I found a chart below with corresponding colors. Can you find yourself in the wheel?

The 2-day workshop is over but the teachings will live on with my parenting and also in my personal growth and healing. I can't get enough of Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education so I am signing up for the 15-day Intensive Beginner's Coure with Bella and Jake Tan. This blog is all about manifesting dreams and one of my many many dreams is to become a Waldorf teacher so a I am journeying within for it to happen.

Interested as well? Please read more details in the poster below. I hope to see some familiar faces there!

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