“Nothing great was ever done without enthusiasm!”Some Waldorf classroom recitation
I went to a type of school called a “Waldorf” school for primary education. It’s a pedagogy that believes education should balance intellectual pursuits with artistic and physical ones to develop a well rounded human. A popular coinage is “head, heart and hands” but that’s honestly way too hippie dippie for what is a very practical and grounded approach to learning to be a human that has need for physical, spiritual and cerebral training.
Instead of staring at books all day you spend quite a bit of time on more classical pursuits to balance out traditional subjects like math and histories with music, drama, and a wide variety of physical education. Now you may think ok that’s just gym or music class right? Well, sort of, in the same way learning the alphabet is useful for reading. You need building blocks first. Small children aren’t particular good with javelins, Greek tragedy or the flute so they start you out small. Think “Sound of Music” Do-Re-Mi but for every subject.
One of the techniques Waldorf uses to help children learn to manage their bodies (likely also emotions & mind) is regular recitations. You memorize poems, chants and pieces of drama. You then physically practice run in a group or individually. Often a sequence of rhythmic clapping, chanting, stomping or other ways of integrating your body to the mental act of memorization is part of the process. It can be as complex as a portion of the Bhagavad-Gita (yes I’ve done this) or as simple as a sports chant.
“Nothing great was ever done without enthusiasm!”
I’ve got a fond memory of a classroom teacher insisting we start the day with energy and enthusiasm by using what is basically an arena chant that would be suitable for cheering on a sports team.
She’d have us get on our feet and in unison recite back “nothing great was ever done…..without….EN-THUS-IAAAASMMMMM!”
We’d repeat it over and over again with a 1-2-1-2 beat upfront and then a pause between done and without, and then a great push to pull out the word enthusiasm, with well, as much enthusiasm as we could muster.
By the end the entire class would be all smiles taking huge breathes to push out all the air they could through their diaphragms to put as much emphasis on “enthusiasm” as they could deliver. We’d be standing tall with our shoulders pulled back to give us the maximum advantage for our breath work. I swear these kids had a better grasp on Wim Hoff breathing than an Olympian. For a 5th grader it made use of multiple lessons we’d been taught over the years on diction, posture, physical presence, poise, timing, control and energy. Lessons that then served us well as we went on to sing Handel’s Messiah or learn Greek wrestling.
Plus it was a terrific reminder that all great things require our full selves. Enthusiasm is the path to greatness. Sure hard work and intelligence matters but if you love something with enthusiasm that puts you in the right path. So I try to remember that if I want a big outcome for something I need to feel real enthusiasm for it. And I’ll recite that chant in my head. Because that’s one of the building blocks I use to create success.