The Challenge of the Will: Experiences with Young Children
This small book is a tremendous offering for anyone interested in deepening her understanding of the will and how it works in many facets of human life. Steiner characterized the will as an aspect of human life to which we are asleep. The authors, both Waldorf teachers of many years experience, offer some guidance for our own waking up to the working of the will in young children and in human beings of all ages. The various levels of the will, as described in lecture four of The Study of Man by Rudolf Steiner, are presented in a very accessible manner. From there, we are led through the penetration of will into the development of walking, speaking, and thinking.
Other topics include distinguishing between imitation and empathy, and a look at how rhythm for the young child is related to will development. Of particular interest, scattered throughout the book are pictures of how we as adults speak to the child and what might best serve the child’s development. The tone of the book is very much one of question. We are not told what to do, but through the pictures that are offered we can make decisions as to how to meet the young child in the realm of the will. And finally, the book looks to the self-education of the adult as a key to the child’s healthy development. When we can wake up in our own will, when we can act from higher levels of the will, we serve the needs of the children and are in alignment with the intentions of the creator beings.
Living with the young child, we notice a lack of conscious observation and of thinking. Instead we are struck by the child’s urge to shape his unique future out of the influences which play from all sides into his unconscious. In Rudolf Steiner’s terminology, this takes place in the realm of the will. We feel challenged to learn to understand and to work with the inherent dynamics of the will.
—Meyerkort and Lissau
This book is a rare treasure that penetrates to the heart of what it means to be human. Its portrayal of the magical world in which children live, the world of the will, is accurate and true-to-life and brimming with that joyful life which is the child. It is a world easily forgotten by the intellect, as Wordsworth and Traherne so poignantly observed, yet a world accessible to and indeed indispensable for parents, teachers, and all of us who wish to know children as they truly are, and wish to know the hidden child in ourselves as well!
—Philip Incao, MD
A wide spectrum of readers will appreciate this book by two very experienced Waldorf school teachers, a book which makes Rudolf Steiner’s wealth of indications accessible to every person who is concerned about the dilemma of early childhood education today. For people who are not actively engaged with the young child, but perhaps with a teenager or even with adult questions, much can be gained from the research recorded here which proceeds from the human being as a wholeness and only then regards his or her various stages of development with special emphasis on the early years.
—Virginia Sease, Goetheanum, Switzerland
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