not incarnating enough

Quoted from a report on a conference in Dornach in November:

‘Claus-Peter Röh was a founding teacher of the Waldorf School in Flensburg, Germany, and has been a class teacher there for 27 years. He is a musician and artist, and he gave an inspiring and eminently practical presentation –  replete with music, children’s drawings, stories and movement — on the harmonizing within the body of the “above” with the “below.” How do both streams (physical body and I; past and future) come together in the growing child? Can we notice the moment when the incarnating child “finds his or her own way.” In the ensuing discussion, we considered incarnation, excarnation and how to help children who are either incarnating too strongly, or not incarnating enough.’

These ideas surely seem eminently practical in education.

‘Today’s adults are obliged to do more so that the I of the youngsters can incarnate; the educators must — with his own “I-force”  — create a “space” for the young person. In the schools the task of the teachers is to work on the physical body in such a way that the young person’s I can then become active in the body.’

From the report it also becomes apparent that all these leading figures in waldorf education — those who have a say in its development — are 1st class card holders in the Anthroposophical Society (see the reference to the 5th of the class lessons). It’s not about education. It’s about the spiritual tasks perceived by anthroposophists as a necessity and a duty — for humanity, not for individual children.


24 thoughts on “not incarnating enough

  1. and a talk on large-headed and small-headed children:

    Another presentation, which also related to the theme of the World Teachers’ Conference scheduled for April, 2012, was given by Tomas Zdrazil (from Czechoslovakia but working in the Teacher’s Seminar in Stuttgart) based on lecture XI of Study of Man. Tomas gave a detailed exposition on the upper and lower human being in relation to the polarity of large-headed and small-headed children. (The entire presentation will be published in the Christmas edition of the Journal of the Pedagogical Section.)


  2. Yes, amazing stuff. I was very small-headed. You have to worry about the anthroposophical implications of everything. It’s not just the difficulty in finding hats and eyewear that will fit you. I wonder what they made of my tiny head.

  3. Oh Dog. He’s actually measured children’s heads, this waldorf school doctor.

    ‘Grasping the polarity of the constitutions of large-headed and small-headed children opens up a holistic understanding of the emotional, intellectual and physical development of a child.’

    ‘During the last 30 years, my work as a school physician led me to a number of Waldorf Schools in the Northeastern United States. Observations came about during the respective examinations that were always especially helpful in getting closer to the essence of the being of the child concerned. The examinations included painting or drawing of a human figure, measuring head circumference, frequency of pulse and breathing, determining the dominate side of the hands, eyes, ears and feet, as well as noting the color of eyes and hair.’

    ‘This reminds us of the morphological relationship between the younger child and the large-headed child. The ratio of head circumference to height in children becomes less and less with each passing year. Largeheaded school children are often more child-like and dreamy than their same-age companions with a smaller head circumference.’

    It seems I, having a small head, ‘should’ have a slow pulse, but I don’t.

  4. Zooey,

    How exciting that you are a Pinhead because I am a certifiable Fathead! Now the whole polarity of Fat-headedness vs. Pin-headedness involves the forces of sympathy and antipathy from the Cosmos. You see, Fatheads are the darlings of the Universe, as it were. The Universe loves Fatheads, which is why the Fatheads are so dreamy and ungrounded. They live out in the cosmos where they feel at home. So they are literally spaced out, thus exemplars of true “space cadets.”

    On the other hand, Pin-heads suffer deep antipathy from the Cosmos. They don’t like the Universe and the Universe hates them back. Pin-heads are then too grounded, or, rather, they erect personal boundaries with the universe that are too rigid and with other people that are too thick. Also they are highly sensitive to other people transgressing their boundaries.

    Whereas the Fat-heads are like reeling drunkards; they could care less about other people’s boundaries because they don’t even care about their own. I actually have a theory that if we measured the hat sizes of a group of say 25 Waldorf critics and compared them to the hat sizes of 25 random Waldorf defenders or Anthros, that the critics would be more pin-headed while the Anthros would be more fat-headed.

    Also Fatheads tend toward megalomania, while Pinheads tend toward paranoia. That’s understandable again because of the boundaries issue. For example, with myself, I like to say “My megalomania knows no bounds.” Of course if it DID know bounds then I wouldn’t be a megalomaniac, right? Therefore I would be pin-headed and prone to paranoia.

    Think of people who hear voices in their heads. When fat-headed megalomaniacs hear voices, they are always identified with the self. But when pin-heads hear voices, their boundaries are so rigid that they actually ascribe many of the voices to other people or other beings outside of themselves. And that is the very definition of paranoia. Also, that’s why it’s so much more problematic for paranoiacs. They give away their personal power to other people.

    On the other hand, that’s why I’m glad I am a megalomaniac. I know that every voice I hear in my head is my own, so I live always in a blissful state of totally self-absorbed Narcissism. And I’m actually “ahead of the curve,” as it were, because I read now that the DSM-V (shrink catalogue) wants to do away with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) as a disorder just like they erased homosexuality as a disorder 30 years ago.

    So, Zo, would you be willing to supply your vital statistics so that we could evaluate quantitatively your pin-headedness? All we need is your height in cm and your hat size in cm. (You can skip weight if you like.)

    Here are my statistics:
    Weight = 268 lb = 122 kg
    Height = 6’2.5″ = 184 cm
    Hat Size = 7-7/8 = 64 cm
    Ratio = Head/Height = 64/184 = 0.348

    I would estimate that if you are a true Pinhead that your ratio should be around 0.28 or 0.29. Normal people I think should be around 0.30 to 0.32 but I’m just guessing based on a dimly remembered conversation with an Anthro doctor I had 30 years ago.


  5. Zooey,

    Just wanted to orient you and everybody about where the report came from.

    BACWTT stands for Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training.

    This Center is located in San Francisco, where Dan Dugan lives! The Bay area Center grew up as an urban adjunct to Rudolf Steiner College, which is located in the suburbs of the Sacramento area (Fair Oaks) which is 90 miles East-Northeast from the Bay Area.

    Also, Zo, check out the slide show because it shows and names 3 or 4 teachers and/or Anthros from Sweden and you may have heard of them.

  6. Tom,
    as always: thanks for the entertainment.
    When I need a break, I go to some place where I know you post comments, and – voilà!
    (For the moment, I was reading the Swedish Teacher Union regulations).

  7. yes Tom – you make me laugh out loud, or lol as they say on twitter. And your satire is razor sharp in your last comment at DC’s – you’re practically a Brit.

    Just leave a little water in the pool – a tiny bit for Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove to splash about in, in his water-wings, with his beach-ball and his flippers.

  8. But, Thetis, Tom can’t (leave a little water in the pool)! He’s telling us!
    “I am a certifiable Fathead! ”

    Tom’s way of being a certifiable Fathead is a FAR MORE entertaining way than the politicians’ way of being certifiable Fatheads (by the way).

    (@Thetis: “you’re practically a Brit”.
    Didn’t Tom tell us, somewhere, he has Irish ancestors?)

  9. Just read it.. Zooey, I have trouble remembering that real people believe in all this shit – so very depressing – damn I could do with a smoke….

  10. It really is a mind bender, Nick. It’s disorienting, trying to wrap one’s mind around not just the nutty stuff but the fact that people who run schools *believe* this stuff.

  11. Tom — ‘Pin-heads suffer deep antipathy from the Cosmos. They don’t like the Universe and the Universe hates them back. ‘

    It seems this guy must be a pin-head:,18556/

    ‘”Dave has good reason to say the universe is conspiring against him, because, well, it is,” said the cosmos, acknowledging that it has thwarted Schwartz’s hopes and dreams from the moment of his conception. […] In addition, numerous ethereal essences and karmic forces stepped forward this week to come clean about “really piling it on” during periods of Schwartz’s life when he already had enough on his plate and couldn’t be expected to take much more cosmic punishment without snapping.’

  12. Diana — true, it’s not fiction, thus sad.

    Tom — I’m 174 cm. Had to measure my head, depending on where I place the measuring tape, it’s either 52,5 or 53,5. I suspect this will make me an extreme pin-head. Thank Dog I take credit for all voices in my head — they’re great, after all, can’t attribute them to some nitwit — other than when mr Dog claims propriety over them… oh well.

  13. OMG, Zooey! That’s incredible. I ought to be writing for The Onion. On second thought, you and I really ought to put our heads together (and what polar heads they are! tee-hee!) to come up with a version of The Onion featuring Anthroposophy and Waldorf! I mean with my fat head and your pin head and Mr. Dog’s caninosophical guidance, we could be doing serious spiritual scientific Internet vaudeville on the net!

    As for the voices in your head, remember that becauseyou are prone to paranoia, it’s a healthy strategy to keep assigning to Mr. Dog all the voices that you feel do not belong to you. My only concern is that you might get a little too expansive or inflated, which would really piss off the Universe even more at you and I’m afraid that in such a case, the cosmos would sic Sune on you.

    Now thank you so much for providing your vital statistics. I averaged your head measurements to 53.0 cm and subtracted 1 mm for your hair which makes 52.9 cm.

    With a height of 174 cm, then your HHR (Head to Height Ratio) is 52.9 / 174 = 0.304

    Now I had predicted HHR = 0.28 to 0.29 for you, so this is pretty consistent with my estimates of the range in the general population. OK, on that note, now I can set up a statistical model and to see where everybody else fits in.

    I will assume that the general population distribution of all their HHR scores will be a Normal Distribution (meaning Bell-shape curve) around the mean or average.

    First we need to calculate the mean or average, which will be the average of my score and Zooey’s. Just add ‘em up and divide by 2!

    [Tom HHT of 0.348] + [Zooey HHT of 0.304] = 0.652. Divide by 2 = 0.326

    This score should be the most prevalent HHR score in the general population and I call this number the “Goldilocks Ratio” because it signifies a head that’s not too big, and not too small. It’s a head that’s — of course — “just right!”

    (Diana, I predict that you will have a Goldilocks ratio, give or take 0.005. That means somewhere between 0.321 and 0.331)

    Now you may have heard the term “standard deviation.” That’s a special measure of the difference between someone’s score and the average.

    I further assume the distribution of scores will be symmetrical around the Goldilocks number and my score of 0.348 will mark the spot where we are TWO standard deviations above the mean (0.326 + 0.22); and Zooey’s score of 0.304 will be exactly two standard deviations below the mean (0.326 – 0.022).

    Thus one standard deviation or SD = 0.011

    What this signifies is that 68% of the population – just about 2 out of every 3 people you meet, will have an HHR between 0.315 and 0.337

    Now much as it pains me in my vast megalomania to admit it, by putting myself only TWO standard deviations above the mean, I am conceding that 2.5% of the general population will have a fatter head ratio than I do. (That’s about 1 person in 40)

    To be more systematic here, by putting myself at two SDs above, and Zooey at 2 SDs below the Goldilocks mean, then 95% of the general population will have their HHR scores in between mine and Zooey’s. That also means that 1 person in 40 will have a smaller head ratio than Zooey.

    OK, I believe we have the model in place. So let’s start taking measurements of our heights and our heads. (Just a note to those in the USA and UK. If your tape measure only has inches, that’s fine. As long as it’s inches by inches or cm by cm, the ration will be the same.)

    Maybe we can publish the results in The Onion.

  14. “I’m afraid that in such a case, the cosmos would sic Sune on you.”

    Uh … the cosmos *did* sic Sune on her, haven’t you noticed?

    I am *not* going to measure my head for this nuttiness, Tom :) though I admit you’ve had me looking at myself in the mirror thinking about it … quite honestly I think my head is perfectly in proportion to my body, neither large nor small. I suppose that is very good news, spiritually speaking.

  15. Diana — if nothing else, it’s good materialistically speaking. Most hats will fit! (In the end, this, I feel, is more important than spiritual concerns.)

    Tom — ‘That also means that 1 person in 40 will have a smaller head ratio than Zooey.’

    Something for hat and eyewear manufacturers to consider, I would think!

    By measuring the heads of all of humanity, we could perhaps finally show that there are very valid commercial reasons to cater to the needs of people with other headsizes than the dreaded, and misnamed, ‘one size fits all’ category of hats.

    ‘Just a note to those in the USA and UK. If your tape measure only has inches, that’s fine.’

    Mine has both!!! Just bragging a little.

  16. Tom: “Ratio = Head/Height = 64/184 = 0.348”

    My H/H is 0.344; that would make me almost in parity with you, Tom. How could it be? RS must have been wrong.

  17. ‘RS must have been wrong.’

    OH NO!!! It’s not possible!!!!!!! ;-)

    It makes me wonder what Steiner’s head/height ratio was. Was he a fathead or a pinhead or in between? (He doesn’t look like a fathead.)

    Is it possible to be a fathead trapped inside a pinhead?! (Tom probably knows the answer to this question?)

  18. Zooey,

    Breaking scientific head and brain size news!

    Even though you may have a pinhead, you might nonetheless have a humongous amygdala! Conversely, fatheads could have itsy-bitsy ones. And you don’t have to go through the hassle and expense of getting a brain scan. This article reveals the secret to figuring the size of your amygdala — you just note how many friends you have on Facebook.

  19. What a relief! I wasn’t very attracted to the idea of having a brain scan anyway. Who knows what it could reveal.

    I must have a rather small amygdala then! Perhaps one to fit my head, how balanced of me!

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