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The Spoken Word: The Conversation Between the World and the Individual

Alabama Waldorf School is pleased to have guest speaker, speech artist and educator with us this week to work with our faculty, staff, and Grades students.

teacher and child

Language Nourishment

It is a signature of Waldorf education that it takes place through the spoken word. How this plays out specifically is informed and differentiated by the changing relationship between the world and the growing individual. In her book Endangered Minds: Why Children Can't Think and What We Can Do About It, Jane Healey points out (in reference to research by Pricilla Vail): "Most learning disabilities are related to underlying language problems, yet increasing numbers of youngsters are permitted to be 'linguistically malnourished'…" (p.102). The nourishment needed is different at the various developmental stages of the child and young adult. The underpinnings of clear thinking and the development of the capacities for independent discernment and judgment, for example, which come increasingly into their own in the high school years, are intrinsically connected to linguistic activity.

Pedagogical Aspects: Health and Inner Engagement

The teacher's speaking is one of the most prominent and formative sense impressions in the classroom. Through working with speech as an art, we have the possibility to enable speech to be filled with life. We discover qualities of speech beyond its informational character alone. The more abstract speech becomes, the more we become separated from each other. The healing forces of process-filled speaking that carry warmth, light and presence allow us to come to ourselves more fully. Depending on what is spoken and how, very differentiated experiences are engendered, giving rise to varied expressions of the meeting of the individual with the world and with itself. This is supported by an age-specific, daily speaking practice that calls on many artistic aspects. For listener and speaker alike, the how of what is heard is part of the what: the qualities of the consonants and vowels, of rising and falling rhythms, the ‘sound-pictures’, the ‘thought gestures’, the poetic styles, and all other nuances of the living word. When choosing a work of poetic art for a class, artistic-pedagogical considerations are taken into account as well as the content of the poem: how can the inner activity mobilized in the student when working on a particular piece support and strengthen his/her development? In this respect, the speech work in Waldorf education is an integral part of the curriculum as a whole. Language and speaking become a source of nourishment for the individual.

— Helen Lubin


Helen Lubin

Helen Lubin completed her training in artistic, pedagogic and therapeutic speech in 1985. Her main focus is work with classes, teachers and individual children at North American Waldorf schools within the context of Speech Arts in Waldorf Schools in North America, which she founded in 1994. Helen also teaches in teacher education programs, works in private practice, and is co-founder of The Steiner School of Speech Arts. She has 10 years’ experience in curative education. MA Human Development; BS Speech Pathology and Audiology; BS Special Educational Studies; international Camphill Seminar in Curative Education; TESOL certification.

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