An Unobserved Element in Education
Audrey E. McAllen
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One of the first things Rudolf Steiner told the original Waldorf School teachers was: teach the children to breathe and sleep properly. Audrey McAllen, a remedial teacher of no small genius, can be said to have devoted her life’s work to this directive.
In The Extra Lesson, she developed therapeutic exercises for children and diagnostic tools for teachers — the goal: to help children integrate more fully into their bodies and develop their capacities to the utmost. It is in this way, not through superficial and inappropriate breathing exercises, that the breath becomes rhythmic and regulated in a child’s developing body.
In Sleep, McAllen goes on to look at the inner significance of children’s sleep, particularly its relationship to education. McAllen notes that children take their daytime experiences over into their sleep life; from that she offers both insight and artistic exercises to help that sleep be everything it should be for the child. She also offers meditative material for adult contemplation, for who but adults create the world our children live in?
This is a deep and profound work which addresses an aspect of life that is often hidden and overlooked, but is nonetheless at the heart of our children’s well-being.