eurythmy in school: ‘to aid the incarnating processes of the growing child’

The Eurythmy Association of North America asks the important question ‘What is Eurythmy Doing in School?’ and answers it in this blog post, by a Michael Hall school eurythmist. The answer(s) is (are) not complicated. Here are a few:

The most important educational task of eurythmy is to aid the incarnating processes of the growing child …

… the eurythmy teacher can lead the class through a Paradise, where they can learn to know the created and the creator.

… the child spirals into his own inner  world, and out once again to the outer world. Repetition of this form with various verses strengthens the individuality in its first awakening.

Through the consonants eurythmy continues the work of the divine in the forming of the physical body and organs. Through the vowels eurythmy nourishes the growing soul forces.

Mathematics and grammar are learnt through eurythmy too (which is nonsense of course). So why don’t the children appreciate eurythmy? Why do they often hate it? No, honestly, I don’t expect the Eurythmy Association to admit it has to do with eurythmy. But, sure, they find many other factors to blame but eurythmy itself. Predictably:

The world in which we live at the moment is a materialistic one.

The author continues:

In our time of material values, when everything must be weighable and measureable, eurythmy enters as something totally alien and can be easily dismissed by our conditioned materialistic thinking, and this can already be manifest in the growing child.

No, the problem is not materialism manifesting in the child. It’s that a eurythmy is a hopeless school subject, taught by hopeless, desperate, child-hating eurythmists (who rarely deserve to be called teachers). Lots of children enjoy art, music, literature, and so forth. Most children despise eurythmy. And eurythmists blame materialism. Now, if there is any kind of school where they children are consciously kept from the materialistic horrors of this world — technology, popular culture, et c (the article mentions ‘television, films, and newspapers’) — it would be the waldorf school. And those schools, incidentally, are the only schools with eurythmy on the curriculum. And waldorf students — shielded, as much as possible, from materialism; instead taught about gnomes, angels and blob painting — hate eurythmy. Strange, isn’t it? Is it perhaps not time to ask if there’s something about eurythmy — and/or about the competency of the people who teach it — that causes this aversion? Back to the article:

… we must recognize that in doing eurythmy, we are revealing our innermost selves, laying bare our soul life and showing it in an artistic form to our audience, or teacher.

Oh, bullshit. This, again, is imagining the causes of children’s reluctance towards eurythmy — instead of finding out the real causes. Fantasy instead of reality — as usual.

… eurythmy is actually a very painful experience for most pupils.

Indeed. Because it is experienced as meaningless and boring. And sometimes because the children, bored as they are, attack each other.

This the teacher must recognize and carefully lead the pupils through this time, bringing a greater objectivity to the work, but at the same time seeking to enrich the inner experience that the pupils are having. With the right approach, eurythmy can help the pupil through these difficult years.

Luckily, the author has misdiagnosed the problem, because the eurythmist surely isn’t capable of dealing with the consequences of the mistaken diagnosis. Eurythmists aren’t mental health workers. They usually have enough personal problems themselves. Much less do they know anything about children or how to deal with them — and even less should they meddle with anyone’s inner experiences. I never saw one eurythmist who wasn’t entirely absorbed by her own inner experiences, and mostly ignorant about the needs of children and the teacher’s duties as a teacher.

The performances are then enjoyed by the whole school …

No, children dread having to watch eurythmy performances.

Thinking of life at school one can see how fruitful and important it is to have at least two eurythmists working together.

And sometimes it’s a necessity, because one eurythmist can’t keep unruly and bored children under control all by herself.

When we meet the little child, he has eurythmy around him, is carried by beautiful life-forces undisturbed by heaviness.

That’s why we see infants flying through the air, I presume, undisturbed by heaviness (and their inability to walk).

More and more the child grows down to earth …

This is pure anthro-speak and, sadly, some parents probably don’t know what this means. But it sounds cute. Or does it?

Teacher and pupil both strive towards eurythmy in its highest quality as art.

But, really? Come on…

15 thoughts on “eurythmy in school: ‘to aid the incarnating processes of the growing child’

  1. All right Alicia, this article proves just what a troublemaker you are. Therefore you should be well able to answer the following questions raised by Mary Watson, the eurythmist at Michael Hall, who calls eurythmy itself a troublemaker:

    ————————-
    But yet, isn’t eurythmy also sometimes a trouble-maker, a bit of a stranger?
    There is so much we don’t know about it.
    Why does it want special surroundings?
    Why does everybody have to do it, if people in other schools can manage without it?
    Where do all the children’s efforts go?
    What do all their efforts develop into?
    Why do these particular gestures arise?
    And why has the eurythmy teacher so many extra wishes?
    ——————————–

  2. ‘But yet, isn’t eurythmy also sometimes a trouble-maker, a bit of a stranger?’

    It is not eurythmy which is the trouble-maker, but the boredom generated by eurythmy.

    ‘Why does it want special surroundings?’

    Because it thinks it is important because it believes it does things like helping people incarnate. It is, in other words, slightly megalomanical. Its self image does not accurately reflect its true (lack of) importance.

    ‘Why does everybody have to do it, if people in other schools can manage without it?’

    And do better without it. Beats me. Good question.

    ‘Where do all the children’s efforts go?’

    Wasted.

    ‘What do all their efforts develop into?’

    Nothing. Or, maybe, resentment.

    ‘Why do these particular gestures arise?’

    Which gestures?

    ‘And why has the eurythmy teacher so many extra wishes?’

    Because they think they’re terribly important. See previous answer above. Their self-image is artificially inflated.

  3. Now, this subject is a compulsory part of the curriculum in waldorf schools:
    http://eana.org/wordpress/?p=147

    ‘A tension, a dynamic holding together in equilibrium characterizes this region. The human being then acts as giver or receiver of world experienced every time he goes out of himself into the ‘other’; thus the H movement expresses how the arms become the instruments of the forces of Gemini.
    Now a great transition occurs: the formative forces seem to turn the orientation of structure inward, as air enters the chest cavity and is transformed by the magic of the blood. The figure faces away from the H figure and directs itself toward the T figure. The T corresponds to that organ wherein the transformation is perceived by the ego organization. The ribs enclose from without, the lungs from within. Doublely embraced, the heart (Leo) an organ of blood perceives itself.’

  4. I love eurythmy and I know that it has the capacity to be the most amazing thing, an unbelievable connection between the forces in the human being and the world. But people don’t like it and I’m tired of that, even though I can really work out why. By the way, I can control a class very well even though they don’t love what I teach. I wish they did.

  5. Hello anonymous.

    Alicia wrote previously:

    “I never saw one eurythmist who wasn’t entirely absorbed by her own inner experiences, and mostly ignorant about the needs of children and the teacher’s duties as a teacher.”

    This sums it up.

    Maybe you should reconsider your career. If you like eurythmy, hey, have a ball. You can do eurythmy all day, no one’s stopping you. You are inflicting it on children because it does something for YOU.

    And in that context, noting that you are able to control the class despite the class hating the activity does not give me a good feeling. That’s not the GOOD kind of classroom management – that’s kind of weird shit.

  6. Well argued. I’m curious, eurythmy must have been a terrible experience for you and, although you dislike it, you are involved in conversation about it – I’m intrigued. Thanks, by the way, as you offer a valuable perspective; not that it’s one I haven’t considered. Do tell more!

  7. I’m often involved in conversations about things I don’t like. The other day I conversed about crime with a friend. Not because I particularly like or support the behaviours we discussed, but because the topic is interesting.

    I think there’s a (at least one) more recent thread about eurythmy — have you seen it?

    I have to agree with Diana, eurythmy seems to be there for the eurythmists, not for the children, and that

    ‘noting that you are able to control the class despite the class hating the activity does not give me a good feeling.’

    This control may be easier when the kids are still very young (1st and 2nd grade) but it’s not exacty right. What use is eurythmy when the class hates the activity, even if the children comply (outwardly comply)?

    It’s not like maths or reading and writing — skills which they will inevitably need as they grow up.

  8. >I’m curious, eurythmy must have been a terrible experience for you

    No, not at all. I’m talking about my observations of eurythmy with children.

    >and, although you dislike it, you are involved in conversation about it – I’m intrigued.

    Newspapers must really blow your mind, not to mention everyday conversations on many topics.

    I don’t have time to tell more at the moment, but Alicia’s blog is full of explanations of what is wrong with eurythmy. In short, it’s adults on a weird spiritual trip. It has no benefit for children and they generally strongly dislike it.

  9. thank you for finding the threads, Diana.

    Sometimes eurythmy was terrible, sometimes it was just a waste of time. It is for adults, whose participation is volontary and who enjoy it or find it meaningful.

  10. I found your site today after my family attended a music recital of a dear friend. Much to our surprise, Eurythmy was on the program! First the performer explained feverishly that this was NOT DANCE and that we would be SEEING THE MUSIC. She invited us to JOIN IN but requested that we not videotape the performance so we could SEE IT WITH OUR EYES. Her silent eunuch-like sidekick nodded benignly while she prepared us mentally for what we were about to see. Then they went up on tippy-toe and did NOTHING SPECIAL for about 13 minutes while my friend played a beautiful piece of music that she had written on the piano. The rest of the recital was accomplished musicians playing original music. The Eurymatic Finale made a big impression, let me tell you. Everybody figured the spinning lady and her eunuch were higher than kites and I am not sure it wasn’t a bad bet. Came home and went to the internet to try to figure out what just happened. Thank goodness for this blog, to help me make sense of it all.

  11. Let me assure you — many people leave their first eurythmy performance completely befuddled! What is this, they ask, is this for real?

    Yes, it is, I say. And they make children do it!!! Several times a week, for 12 years!

    I’m sure you can imagine that this leaves indelible scars even on the most hardened of souls…

  12. I don’t have that experience of children (specially the little ones) hating eurythmy, I have to admit that i put my on twist in my classes because i have been on the other side and have been bored out of my mind, so i don’t speak with the weird voice, we run, we crawl, i try to make it more lively and less “angelic” look alike, we do have a moment for sitting and calming down.
    I just really think that is not eurythmy that is bad, i think eurythmist are!!!! why? most of them (not all, and lately i have meat some pretty cool ones) are in a spiritual path and have found that eurythmy gives then the calmness they need, the light for their soul, and the path of self knowledge which is great, for them. But i believe that pedagogical eurythmy is something else, it needs to be real, down to earth, its spiritual it is because it done my humans and we are spiritual, children don’t need eccentricities they need real things, i it works just as folk dance, just as physical ed. works.
    High school my friends is something else….

  13. I think young children are more likely to go along with it, because that’s what small children are more likely to do. It’s different once children start to approach puberty. Then, at this stage, what was not a problem becomes one. (Or protesting and acting out come more easily.)

    But you’re right about teachers — the teacher is an important factor. I do believe — contrary to you — that the subject, eurythmy, is a problem on its own. But a bad teacher doesn’t help. And good teacher might introduce ways of making it work a bit better.

    I had decent one during the first years — at least she didn’t hate working with children and she wasn’t so deadly serious about everything that the later one was (she failed completely).

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