Sophia Mundi Rudolf Steiner School
Term: 3 Year: 2009
In our school art forms a major pillar supporting the children’s learning, as well as being a satisfying means
of expression in itself.
In a Steiner classroom you see the walls covered with the children’s art and craft. And the pieces themselves
tend to have a certain quality about them; a sense of being hand made and wrought out of the individuals striving,
as opposed to the more polished and finished products of computer technology. The later is respected but kept firmly
in perspective as but one avenue.
When one asks “what is the source for inspiration for art” we answer “all the work we do in the
classroom.” This requires a curriculum that is capable of supporting such an output. So, when in class 7 we
study the life of Pythagoras and the power of numbers, the children are also asked to take a subjective approach
and consider the way numbers affect us emotionally. Further, they look at and draw the beautiful manifestations of
geometry in nature such as honeycomb and crystal. These suggest a refined and precise technique offered by strongly
pigmented coloured pencils. The history of traditional aboriginal life is another example of a subject, allowing
for an artistic as well as an intellectual response. Likewise story writing and the whimsical image of the girl on
the horse overlooking the sea* that emerged from a narrative. Or images that come out of the Arthurian stories and
speak to younger adolescents of the yearning they feel.
Art can come out of history, science, economics etc. We also study the various arts themselves, historically and
in terms of the ideas and images they produced. The history of art* and the history of architecture* provide weeks
of delving into the past, with the requirement that the students be able to reproduce particular work and create
their own personal responses. An example is one student’s model of their “ideal home.”
For us the need for art goes way beyond the ability to express oneself in a physical medium. It provides constant opportunities
for exploring the world both observationally and through the imagination. The value of a powerful imagination in
supporting a strong intellect has been referred to by many educators and such luminaries as Albert Einstein. To us
it is self evident that the creative and lateral thinker needs to have developed their imaginary powers, and the
deep well of feelings and strong pictures that underpin that faculty. Also, the ability to turn these ideas into
actual products. The capacity to conceive something, map it and create it is at the heart of technological and cultural
The embedding of art in the curriculum generally is complemented by lessons that focus on specific materials, subject
matter and techniques. Thus, the fish collages* play with the folding, rolling and cutting of paper and the quality
of surfaces, textures and coloured washes. The veil painting technique “of applying washes of colour over previously
dried layers”, to create colour depth and interest, is demonstrated in the sunflower and bushfire paintings.**
and the subject of portraiture appears in most year levels as a way of registering the self on the journey to adulthood.
Hence the clay head*, the pencil self portrait*, and the surreal portrait of a clay foot.*
Finally there is the framing of each year level by a particular mood. Class 9 has as its mood the idea of Polarity.
During that year students work with black and white drawing to both mirror their somewhat polarised (black and white)
dispositions at that point and calling on them to seek out the subtle greys of life in between. So, the folding ribbon
drawing* demands careful rendering of the range of greys from light to dark.
At Sophia we put a premium on the use of quality materials to enable students to develop a fine appreciation for their subtle
possibilities. This generates an atmosphere of care, an appreciation of beauty and an eye for detail. Those qualities
are not confined to the art sessions but extend to other subjects as well. The crossover effect is remarkable. Students
in a recent science class were awestruck by the exquisite shapes and sheen of molten lead that had been dropped into
iced water. A perfect opportunity emerged for a 2B pencil drawing and an imaginative excursion into what the shapes
reminded the students of in the everyday world. Ships, fish and mountain ranges were common themes* Thank god for
the imagination. What might have remained a clinical observation session became a much fuller exploration. It gave
the children a greater feeling for the possibilities inherent in each moment.
Sophia Mundi Rudolf Steiner School Abbotsford