We are talking about the future and cosmic human being

We are talking about the future and cosmic human being

10 September 2019 Wolfgang Held 5079 views

The first Waldorf School opened in Stuttgart 100 years ago. There are now 1,180 Waldorf schools worldwide. Why was – and still is – the Waldorf School so successful? An interview with Pedagogical Section leaders Claus-Peter Röh and Florian Osswald, with questions posed by Wolfgang Held.

Where did you first encounter a Waldorf School?

Florian Osswald
In Aberdeen, at the Camphill School. It was the teacher's gaze. She didn't look at the children with their severe disabilities, but rather 'looked through' them. That really touched me a lot. I felt that what she saw was a person with a disability and not 'a disability'. How can one have such a different way of looking, to see people so differently? In her eyes I also saw that the children were a mystery to her. That touched me so much because even in my school days I was often only 'that one' with the three older brothers.

Claus-Peter Röh
I heard that there was a large Waldorf school in Rensburg when I was studying education. So I visited the school for a day and it happened to be right during a Trimester Festival. The bustle of children of all ages in the auditorium was already something new to me. As soon as a class began their performance on stage, whether the 5th grade with their hexameter or the 12th grade with a recitation of modern poetry, the bubbling restlessness would ebb away in the auditorium. There was a sense of breathing, a silence in the room as the students began to reveal themselves. I had never experienced anything like it before. Then I also understood the teachers' patience with the rustling and whispering, because they knew that the pupils would pay attention when the real event began.

There is nothing like the way Anthroposophy has entered the world as with Waldorf Education. Why is that?

We are especially privileged with Waldorf education as Rudolf Steiner himself created this pedagogy. There are hundreds of plans for schools. And Rudolf Steiner worked as school director for over five years and noticed what worked and what didn't. We are incredibly grateful for Christoph Wiechert having reissued the School Conferences from those early years.We can now form a clear picture of how the idea became a reality and came to life. Anthroposophy means that something spiritual becomes tangible, otherwise it doesn't exist at all. Rudolf Steiner was able to follow this path with Waldorf Education. In addition, Anthroposophy as a whole is concerned with the human being in the process of becoming. In this respect the schools occupy a key position.

Learning means that something is summoned into existence that is not there yet, but is possible. Learning means being able to get a sense for which questions and goals the children bring into their lives. Parents, after experiencing the mystery of birth, also feel that something is present in their little child that extends far into the future, something that wants to materialise, and then they ask where this can continue to flourish. Of course there is something spiritual in everything, but in children it is closer, more tangible.

There are already many teachers working in the 1,180 Waldorf schools. Part of this work is that each day, indeed each lesson, you experience that you want to change something together with the children. It is an impetus from the future, the impetus of transformation.

How is the Waldorf movement doing and what should we wish for it?

In Goethe's poem it reads: "As on the day that you were bestowed upon the world, /The sun rose to greet the planets" –and then at the end: "And no time and no force divides. / Shapedform that evolves with life." [M1] This can be applied to every single person, but also to Waldorf education. Founding a school often means struggling for years until parents, teachers, pupils, and a building resonate together in such a way that the being of a school can be present. It is not always present in any given school. As soon as a lesson or even an entire school coagulates too much into fixed forms and patterns, the school being threatens to disappear. So much is dependent on whether it is possible to continually recreate the school, the lessons, the individual encounters. If this is done, I have the impression then that school beings can unite with their respective schools, and we can wish that this is possible for every school.

Today we ask ourselves what a school actually is and can become in the future. In any event, it is a space for encounter, where out of encounters between people it becomes possible to become a free person. How this place is and how it can be becomes ever more a question of conversation and of being together.The more that machines now penetrate into schools, the more clearly we will see what actually makes us human, and what the value of human interaction is. The ego, the "I", is formed by encountering others. This core idea of Rudolf Steiner and Waldorf Education becomes central in digital culture. I also wish for the school movement that we include others. That we open ourselves with the feeling that we are making a contribution for everyone, and to invite everyone to help us with it. That we have beautiful schools is not the most important thing. Waldorf schools are beautiful when they become a place of encounter for other people, where we can discover and strive together to find out how the school of the future can evolve. The foundation for this is the Teacher Course from 100 years ago. It is an example of how it is possible to create the true and ideal human within oneself. There is the human being who has descended into the body, and there is the great cosmic human being. I hope that we will gain this understanding of the cosmic human more and more clearly[M2] , and then pour this knowledge into teaching.

Source: Weekly journal ‹Das Goetheanum›, Issue 37/2019 from 13th September 2019

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