why gnomes?

The presence of gnomes in waldorf education explained in a rather magnificent manner by a Steiner school in the UK:

Gnomes are the embodiment of the life of the earth as a mineral entity. Thus they are associated with rocks and mountains, deep mines and caves, their quick-witted intelligence encompassing the whole earth. The gnomes are important because they encourage us, or simply help to keep alive the possibility that the mineral earth still holds within it the faintest glimmer of life. Without the help of the gnomes, we might be inclined to let go of such a thought entirely. … Because of this, gnomes have a significant role to play in children’s education. … However, though gnomes may be represented and spoken of a real within the school, whether parents or children believe gnomes are real, or symbolic of something else, or how they are spoken of in the home, is up to them.

(I think, in the last sentence, it’s supposed to say ‘spoken of as real’.)

Ht The Quackometer.

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5 comments

  1. Eva Tombs · ·

    From what I remember of childhood, my childhood anyway, gnomes were rather real to me, more realthan say Martians, or Mickey Mouse anyway. I used to build little houses for them in the woods which they really appreciated. I don’t think I could have interacted with Donald Duck in that way.

  2. Well, whether they’re elemental beings or cartoon figures, they’re only as good, real and alive as the stories told about them, either by oneself or by someone else.

    Not that you’d meet Donald Duck in the forest or build huts for him, exactly (while, I suppose, you could tell yourself anything about gnomes in the foret!), but depending on the quality of the cartoon, he could certainly come ‘alive’ in stories. Old DIsney cartoons are amazing in that way, but the newer ones suck.

    Not that they’re ‘real’ in the same way as imagining whatever to oneself, because it’s a story told by someone else — but still!

  3. Anonymous · ·

    At the Rudolf Steiner Seminar we are attending we were explicitly asked to believe in gnomes… And that’s part of the indoctrination

  4. Tom H-S · ·

    ‘Indoctrination’, web dictionary definition = teaching someone to accept doctrines uncritically. The question for me regarding anonymous’s comment is , ‘How did they react to this request?

    Did they just cave in and accept it uncritically?

    It only becomes indoctrination when the person rolls over on their back and does accept it uncritically, when someone abdicates moral responsibility for their own choices.

  5. Yes, openly *requiring* a belief in gnomes doesn’t seem like indoctrination. Quite a silly thing, but anyway.

    (Indoctrination wouldn’t necessarily be the person rolling over on their back — but, yes, there must be some kind of, often insidous, bypassing or overcoming of critical judgment.)

    If I’d paid for a course or a program that required me to believe in gnomes I’d consider asking for a refund ;-) If such requirements had not been advertised beforehand.

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