Sweepers, Feathers and Rainbows

This article is from waldorf-resources.org. It’s the website created by the Pedagogical Section at the Goetheanum on behalf of the International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Education. -Ed.

Joep Eikenboom is a class teacher and teacher for educational support in the Netherlands. In this paper, he explains how important it is for teachers to perceive the human being as a whole and to pay attention to detail. Joep shows us here some drawing exercises which help children to hold the pen or pencil correctly. It is important that the exercises are not taken as recipes to be followed, but rather as places of departure. Teachers are encouraged to try the exercises and to observe the children very carefully, to then look back on the process and to plan the next steps accordingly.

“If people would only cultivate more power of observation of this kind, the terrible things would not develop in schools which one unfortunately so often sees today. One scarcely sees a child now who holds their pen or pencil correctly. Most children hold them wrongly, and this is because we do not know how to observe properly. This is a very difficult thing to do, and it is not easy in the Waldorf School either. One frequently enters a class where drastic changes are needed in the way the children hold their pencils or pens. You must never forget that the human being is a whole, and as such he must acquire dexterity in all directions. Therefore what the teacher needs is observation of life down to the tiniest details. And if you are especially desirous of having formulated axioms, then take this as the first principle of a real art of education. You must be able to observe life in all its manifestations.”
– Dr. Rudolf Steiner (i)

Rudolf Steiner pointed at the importance of a proper pencil grip. Nowadays, almost 100 years later, we see more and more children having difficulty with movement and fine movement skills.

This series of Hand Movement Form Drawing Exercises is a recapitulation of the developmental process for the arm and hand in relation to drawing and writing. These exercises can be done in grades 1 through 3 or in individual lessons for any age. First, the motions are large, gross motor gestures of the whole arm from the shoulder joint while the non-dominant hand holds the paper. Next, the motions originate from the elbow while the upper arm rests relaxed next to the body. Then, the motions are mainly from the wrist and lastly, the fingers do the moving. The child always chooses the colours.

Please read the rest of the article and discover the exercises at waldorf-resources.org