The twelve senses—part 1
Monday, January 21, 2013
We have spoken a lot this year about how a child absorbs everything through his senses. In her chapter on indoor environments, Sharifa Oppenheimer speaks about nourishing the senses. I thought we could spend a little time looking at Rudolf Steiner’s view of the senses. Steiner speaks about 12 senses. In his time, it wasn’t agreed on as it is now that there are five senses. One useful way to look at these 12 senses is to divide them into 3 groups of 4. While we all have all of the senses throughout our lives, certain senses develop more at certain ages. During the first seven years of life, the senses that develop the most are called the foundational senses. These are the sense of touch, the sense of life (or well-being), the sense of self-movement and the sense of balance. In the middle years, the senses that develop the most are the senses of smell, taste, sight and temperature. The senses that develop during adolescence and into adulthood, and the senses that we may not think of as senses are hearing (we know that one, of course), sense of speech of the other, the sense of the concept of the other and the sense of the ego of the other. The first four senses develop our sense of our bodies, while the middle four connect us to the world and the four higher senses connect us to other human beings and ideas.
In Waldorf Early Childhood classes, we give the children many opportunities to develop their lower senses. Like laying the foundation of a house, if these senses are strong, the child can build on it as they grow and learn. There is a wonderful book, although the name is a little misleading, entitled Working with Anxious, Nervous and Depressed Children which focuses on the working with the four foundational senses. If you are interested in reading more, I highly recommend this book. Beyond the Rainbow Bridge also has a nice, brief description of the twelve senses.
Also, I am pleased to introduce you to Shihhan Chou. She will be student teaching in most of our parent child classes for the next few weeks. Shihhan is a student in the Arcturus Early Childhood Teacher Training program. She also participates in parent child classes with her son Yee.