development, according to what?

There’s an interview with education researcher Heiner Barz in a German newspaper today. Generally, he seems to think the schools are pretty great, and research on students confirms this (he claims, but bear in mind that this research is done on students who are in waldorf, not those who have left because, e g, they were disappointed). He reminds me a little of Bo Dahlin, but that is neither here nor there, I suppose. Then he says:

‘ZEIT ONLINE: Was würden sie als die Hauptstärke der Waldorfschule bezeichnen?

‘Barz: Die Entwicklung des Kindes wird in den Mittelpunkt gestellt. In der Regelschule wird beispielsweise im Fach Mathematik aus der Wissenschaft heraus definiert, was zu lernen ist, und das in zwölf Schuljahren verpackt. In der Waldorfschule wird zuerst gefragt: Was hilft der Entwicklung zehn- oder zwölfjähriger Kinder weiter? Danach werden die Unterrichtsinhalte geplant. Die Pädagogen haben den Freiraum, ihren Unterricht so zu gestalten, dass er zu den Kindern passt. Auch der Frontalunterricht soll anders als gewohnt gestaltet sein: spannend und bildhaft erzählt.’

What he neglects to mention is the kind of theory of development we’re talking about. It isn’t exactly according to mainstream psychology. It is about the child’s development according to anthroposophy, and about how to further this development — the latter given that one accepts the premise that anthroposophy’s idea of the child’s development is correct. It’s validity depends on whether what a child is (or should be) at ten or twelve, according to anthroposophy is actually what a child is (or ought to be) at those ages. Which by no means is self evident.

Once again, it’s a pity that journalists don’t ask: development, according to what theory? What ideas are behind this? Age appropriate — how? and so forth. It actually does make a difference.

Instead, they seem perfectly content hearing that waldorf students often don’t even know the word ‘anthroposophy’, as if that were even the point. Or hearing that somehow, mysteriously, waldorf teachers aren’t as dogmatic today as in an ill-defined past. They barely even care about anthroposophy! Hey, I’ve read all this before. It’s either stupid and false, I’d say disingenuous — or a sign that the whole thing is crumbling and waldorf can’t uphold its own standards.

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8 comments

  1. curt jansson · ·

    Afraid you are right; they have troubles upholding their own standards, b e c a u s e too many of the teachers don´t give an old hat about antroposophy, it´s too much intellectual and spiritual hard work, it seems.

  2. … which eventually makes waldorf irrelevant. Well, you have the garnish on the cake, but basically no cake.

    Which means critics sort of win because of what waldorf made itself into. I’m sure that comes at a price. And even as a critic, I’m not at all sure it’s good.

    You’re right — they don’t know and don’t care. There are still those who do, of course, but most of them seem to be remarkably silent.

  3. curt jansson · ·

    They are silent after years of hopeless struggle against Indifference in every spiritual aspect. They are, sadly, like the last defenders of the last ditch, waiting for and wondering how to avoid the Enemy´s Coup de Grace.

  4. …and this in the age of michael!

    I must say there’s something fascinating in anthroposophy’s getting to terms (or avoiding to) with its own rise and (potentially heavy) fall.

  5. curt jansson · ·

    May be that now, in the Michaelic times, the organisations should fade and give way to the individuals? I do not know, but there are in the Ant. Soc. tendencies in at least two directions: Those who will defend the existing overall organisation at whatever cost, and those who individually or in smaller, inofficial groups try to find solutions better suited to our times. Divisions within the AS date, as you know from immediately after the Doc´s death, then the knives came forth, over spiritual heritage, printing rights, copyright, you name it, they are still fighting over it.

  6. Anthroposophists have an interesting relationship to simple things like agreeing and disagreeing, accepting different viewpoints, et c. An accept-everything attitude (never criticize, et c, because with such a mindset you don’t reach higher worlds) paradoxically mingling with a sectarian accept-nothing-else attitude. Argumentation and throat-slitting seem to be on par so one can as well do the latter.

    No, I’m exaggerating, of course.

  7. curt jansson · ·

    “throat-slitting”, I love that! ; )

  8. It’s almost possible to make it a sport… Or even an art.

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