Imitation, Interaction and Recognition Communication between Children and Adults in the Waldorf Kindergarten

Arve Mathisen, Frode Thorjussen

Abstract


In Steiner’s educational lectures, there is a strong focus on the role of imitation during a child’s first years of life (Steiner, 2003). According to Steiner, imitation provides important impulses for childhood development and later manifests itself throughout life as a source for independent thinking and sociability. However, imitation in Steiner’s oeuvre is mainly presented through an emphasis on the responsibility of adults as role models and through explicating the processes children undergo when they imitate adults. There is little discussion of mutuality and interacting communication between children and adults. This article focuses on why interaction, recognition and mutuality should be given a more prominent position within Waldorf kindergarten pedagogy. By highlighting selected educational thinkers and research, a transition during the 20th century is illustrated, demonstrating a shift from a more individual-focused pedagogy to an orientation towards interaction and relations. Relevant and contemporary approaches to understanding interaction and communication between children and adults are presented. The idea is that these perspectives may inspire an expanded understanding of imitation and a reconsideration of what is at stake in the interaction between children and adults. The argument is that Steiner’s statements regarding imitation will not lose their significance, but that an element of dialogue and response can be added and thus enrich the understanding of human and material encounters in the Waldorf kindergarten.

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