Hygienic and Therapeutic Eurythmy in Waldorf Schools August 14 2015
Hygienic and Therapeutic Eurythmy in Waldorf Schools
How can I read the child? Let me count the ways!
In our world we have accomplished wonders beyond imagining in this beautiful, material world of ours. Human beings have surpassed records of accomplishment in ways unimaginable in the past. We can feel satisfied at the miracles that have been wrought as we take material thinking and development to its outer limits.
This leads to a consideration of what might be the right way to proceed from here. We cannot push or pull human physical capacities any further without assistance from drugs or devices. The logical next steps are to go inward, and to understand the more ephemeral, non-physical capacities that people have and have not yet explored, or not fully at least.
Arianna Huffington recently made a call to change the inspiring cry of “Upward and Onward,” to a new call of “Upward, Onward and Inward!” Inward is a way to find new capacities for advancement in human development and in solving human needs.
Eurythmy, as has been explained a bit in a previous blog, works beyond the physical body into the life forces that surround it. In Waldorf Education these forces are called etheric forces. Invisible to most people, these etheric forces are those that help a person feel robust and full of well-being. In Waldorf Education the teaching of Eurythmy helps young people develop capacities in these etheric forces. Teachers in Waldorf schools often ask for children to have therapeutic (or curative, or hygienic) Eurythmy in addition to this to strengthen the child, mitigate limitations, or to release something locked up inside of a child.
Special training is required to become a Eurythmist. Additional, specialized training is required for therapeutic or hygienic Eurythmy. These therapeutic Eurhythmists work closely with doctors and teachers to diagnose what might be unwell in a child’s life forces and physical organism that can be helped through exercises in therapeutic or curative Eurythmy.
Here is one example to consider the power of curative Eurythmy. In a recent Research Bulletin for Waldorf Education article (reference: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/Journal_Articles/rb18_2saltet.pdf) a carefully documented research over twenty year of correcting children’s crooked teeth in Germany and Austria using no braces and only curative Eurythmy and a soft rubber retainer each night when a child sleeps. The results of this work are stunning. Teeth are straightened over a period of three years (on average – more quickly the younger the child) using carefully selected yet simple Eurythmy exercises repeated twice or three times daily over blocks of six weeks. The exercises change as the teeth begin to move. There are no cases of recidivism in these corrected straightening and teachers in the children’s schools reported improved behavior and concentration in school as the children’s teeth were corrected.
This experiment started in 1995 with a child who was allergic to having metal in his mouth whose teeth urgently needed attention. The dentist of the child is an Anthroposophist and knew of curative Eurythmy and contacted a friend, who is a curative Eurythmist, and who asked her to consider helping this child. She agreed and a long collaboration began. Both kept careful records of each patient’s progress including plaster casts of each mouth as the therapy began, during the progress of the therapy, and after the therapy was completed.
The dentist also checked periodically with the children’s teachers about any changes they witnessed in school as each childs’ teeth were straightened. The reports were consistently positive in the children’s behavior improving as their teeth corrected themselves with the Eurythmy practice.
This is one of thousands of examples of the effective use of curative Eurythmy over the last century since Rudolf Steiner inaugurated Eurythmy as a dance form, as an essential aspect of Waldorf Education, and as a therapeutic tool.
This provides a very visible example of working with and from the etheric or life forces of a human being instead of merely manipulating the physical body or suppressing the symptoms that manifest in illness.
Increasingly, in preparing Waldorf teachers, Therapeutic Eurythmy is included as part of the education of the teachers to enhance their capacities in child observation and intuitive discernment of the needs of the children entrusted to their care. Teachers increasingly need to discriminate what each child needs in order to proceed in development and capacities. The therapeutic Eurythmist can help teachers in this pursuit.
Children tend to speak in their own special language, infused with pictures and symbols that are meaningful to them and often obscure to grownups. They offer clues in movement, in drawings, in songs they sings and games they play what is really going on inside of them and what is really troubling them. Our task as teachers, therapists, doctors, and parents is to increase our skills at “reading” these symbols, signs, clues, and cries accurately to best assist each child on a path to maximum capability and clear thinking.