An observation of the recitation of an ancient poem
Wang yanmei, a fourth-grade class teacher, described her observation of children reciting ancient poems.
After entering the primary school, the children would sing and chant ancient Chinese poems in their morning circle every morning. In the first and second grade, the children chant while making movements in the morning circle, and sometimes beat some rhythm with their bodies. These movements and body rhythms, along with a poem, are repeated for two to three weeks. In the first grade, the teacher will not explain to the children the meaning of the ancient poem or what is said in it, because an ancient poem is a whole, and the whole is like a complete picture. Chanting is to "draw" the picture with emotion, which is how the children experience the ancient poem with emotion in the morning circle.
But in second grade, the teacher would ask the children to tell how they felt about the poem, or to share what they had found in it, whether it was seeing, hearing, smelling or even tasting. Because of the repetition for many days, children can easily recite these ancient poems. Take this one:
Du mu（Tang Dynasty）
Far on the cold mountain stone alley oblique, white clouds living place has a family.
Parking to sit in love maple forest so late, maple leaves because of cold weather become red than February flowers.
The teacher did not explain and translate the poem word for word, sentence for sentence, the children first with emotion to experience the whole picture. After that, the teacher asked the children to share what they saw in the poem. Some children said they saw a mountain, some said they saw an alley, some said they saw a house, and some said they saw red leaves.
Until one day, on the way back from the study tour, the children in the bus see a hidden farm yard in a high mountain, one of the children was very excited, loudly said, "look, 'far up the cold mountain stone alley oblique, the white cloud where there is a family', I saw, I really saw the 'white cloud where there is a family'." In fact, the child wanted to say that I saw the painting in the ancient poem, and the reality was the same as what I "saw" in the ancient poem.
Repeating, remembering the poem, experiencing the emotions inside, and then waiting for a moment, through sensory stimulation such as seeing, hearing, and smelling, they can extract the images from their memories.
By the third grade, they can use this route to learn and understand more new poetry more quickly. In this process, the child reads the seemingly repetitive poem, imitates the teacher's voice, tone and movement, and experiences the emotion in the poem. Finally, the content to be expressed in the poem is extracted and echoes with the real scene. Across the emotional bridge, they move from the will to the thinking.
In mathematics learning, the help of will
Liu lin, also a fourth-grade class teacher, made observations about math.
'There's one kind of mathematical problem which has a lot of steps,' she says. Although when child know the multiplication table then he can do that problem, but that problem has a lot of steps and continuous cycle, to get accurate answers, children need to be very careful and patient. So if you multiply four digits times three digits, you have to multiply it many times. For the more determined children, they can calculate patiently and carefully until they get the right answer. There was a child who seemed to be "quick on the trigger," and he was quick on the trigger. However, he is prone to making mistakes in the process of calculation, and his method of solving problems is relatively simple, and sometimes he lacks the patience to listen to others' method of solving problems. This kind of children, if they strengthen their willpower, will be very helpful in the face of these types of problems.
There is also a kind of multi-solution math problem, in the face of this type of problem, the value of children's willpower will be more prominent. In general, it is easier to find the answer in the way you are best at. However, if not satisfied always with one way of solving a problem, the child needs to continue to assume, to try, to calculate, until they find another or even more than one different ways of solving a problem. There are also many parts of mathematics that require children to repeat their memory and practice, and after many repetitions, they will become proficient.
I've heard her share, then I asked teacher Liu lin, how can these two observations explain the relationship between thinking and will? Strengthening willpower can help children think more consistently and deeper, she says.
Physics block comes from life experience
Lu lu is the seventh grade class teacher, and her sharing has to do with physics.
Because of the new coronavirus outbreak, the children have not yet started school study, Lu lu is at home to prepare for the seventh grade mechanical block. Here's what she thought as she prepared for the physics section.
Most of the tools used by humans are extensions of the human body, such as a shovel, which is like an extension of the human arm. Starting from kindergarten, the child closes the door by himself. At first, he does not know where it is easier to close the door. Gradually, he will find a place where it is easier to close the door. This is the child's early life experience. As they get older, like sixth grade, they use a shovel, and they find out where it's easier to hold the shovel and where it's harder to hold it. Especially in the seventh grade, they began to be more conscious of their bodies. When they were working, if the ground was hard to be dug with a shovel, the problem would trigger them to think about how to use tools to achieve the result of labor saving. This is from living experience to thinking. I hope it will be easier to get into the mechanics block by starting from the experience the students had.
When I ask, what does this sharing infer about thinking and will? She said, because this block has not been taught yet, it can only be said that thinking cannot exist independently, it has something to do with will.
The way children skip rope
The observations that followed were from Wang dami.
The younger children in elementary school would skip rope between classes, and I once saw a girl in third grade who could cross the rope forward. I said to her, "you do it so well. Can you teach me to do this? Skip the crossed rope forward. I can only skip this crossed rope backwards."
In fact, before this, I have tried to break down the movement, imitate others to jump in slow motion, but always failed, I would get stuck somewhere. For example, in the forward crossing, stepped on the rope and stopped, or only one foot jumped over.
The girl hesitated and said, "yes. But I don't know how to teach you to jump." I asked her to slow down so I could watch from the side. But when she tries to slow down, she can’t do this anymore. She gets stuck in the moment of crossing just like me.
"Why don't you try it?" she said. I took the rope, rehearsed in my mind the movements I had just seen, and then broke down the action to jump.
At that moment, I found that I was using my "head" to skip, and the nine-year-old child is using the "skip" in the skip. When she started thinking about it, she couldn't jump, and I did the opposite.
I gave up asking her to teach me, and she can do it again. In the case of skipping rope, How thinking and will translate becomes a question. Maybe I'll have an answer when I can skip as easily as she can.
All this observations may be a process of discovery and experience, we‘re just beginning.
Wang dami, reserve class teacher, Waldorf school, Chengdu, China. She hopes to find a way to understand the growth of human, the nature of human, in the process, she was lucky to meet anthroposophy, is about to become the next first grade class teacher. If we plant a plant, and it takes about a year, we can understand the process from sowing to fruiting. Putting this process on human, it's much more complicated and the cycle is much longer, so how to see this process very clearly, how to support this process, this is what she particularly wants to go through. It can be said that her interest in the growth of human and her desire for continuous growth are her driving forces.
Chengdu Waldorf school is the first Waldorf school in China. It was founded in 1994. Unlike Waldorf schools in other countries, it was established by parents. Dissatisfied with the traditional education system and preferring their children to receive a proper education, the first three founders (parents) chose to set up a Waldorf school. So far, many parents have chosen Waldorf for the same reasons. In China, when Waldorf education is still relatively young, due to the imperfect evaluation system of students and teachers, parents will oscillate between "expecting children to receive a humanistic education" and "traditional evaluation system", which brings great challenges to the work of teachers, although we are already doing the evaluation. Another challenge is how to teach traditional Chinese culture. When Waldorf first came to China, most of what the teachers taught was western history and culture. Now, 15 years later, how to stand on the local culture has become a new topic.
* ‘The First Teachers Course' includes Rudolf Steiner's lectures on 'The Foundations of Human Experience', 'Practical Advice to Teachers' and 'Discussions with Teachers'. The core questions arose during the anniversary conference of 'The First Teachers Course' 2019 at the Goetheanum. Many thanks to the preparational help of Claus-Peter Röh, leader of the Pedagogical Section. The interview was conducted by Katharina Stemann.