I’m reading a document I found a while ago at the website of Goetheanum’s pedagogical section. It’s a newsletter [pdf]. You almost get the impression that the Goetheanum worries about waldorf schools not being fundamentalist enough:
Is it possible that elements have crept into the lessons which are alienated from the study of man? [p 3]
Oh no! What if something crept in that has not been directly derived from the study of man (as it was devised by Steiner… that’s the only way to know it isn’t alienated from the origin, after all!). Apparently they aren’t concerned about stagnation or the inability to meet contemporary demands. (They should be.)
To reassure you, let me mention that in 2012, two important conferences will take place at the Goetheanum. One for kindergarten teachers and one for school teachers, both addressing ‘the relationship of our Ego to our physical body’.
The article I’m most intrigued by is the last one in the newsletter, which happens to be a presentation of these 2012 conferences. On p 21 a ‘theme’ is mentioned which must be, it is said, carried through and ‘transformed into meaningful practice’ in kindergarten and in schools:
This has to do with the incorporation of the “I” into the body. Expressed in other words: what dynamic relationship between the true I (self) and the body is created through education?
In the first lecture of the Study of Man (GA 293) this relationship is spoken of as the task of education itself: “The task of education, conceived in the spiritual sense, is the harmonizing of the soul spirit with the life body must come into harmony with one another; they must be attuned to one another, for when a child is first born into the physical world, they do not as yet fit one another. The task of the educator, and of the teacher, is the mutual attunement of these two .”
See Study of Man. [In the quoted quote above, I edited an obviously misplaced punctuation mark.] The newsletter continues.
The mighty process is described through which the “soul spirit” comes to inhabit, step by step, the bodily sheaths.
Waldorf education is not based upon religious beliefs? Oh, come on… Then they go on about the etheric body becoming freed and:
At each stage, there is a relationship to balance. How deeply will the “I” penetrate the body – will it perhaps be held by the body as a prisoner? Or how loose is the connection to corporeality?
After this, the author reminds us that these are great tasks for a teacher to handle (and ‘prepare’ and ‘tune’ the ‘individuality’ — I will avoid saying what I think this sounds like) and that the responsibility is great. And:
This task is at the same time a universal one, for all human beings in the most diverse cultural realms around the world.
Oh, really? I wonder if it is that simple for waldorf education. It’s easy to speak of great tasks and universality and the inclusion of all human beings — another thing entirely to put this in practice. As long as the underlying issue is ignored — i e, the race doctrines of Steiner’s teachings — the big promises and lofty ideas seem futile and rather hypocritical and, most importantly, they are utterly deceptive. What about the ‘transformation’ into ‘meaningful practice’? What about basic honesty? That would work for a start.
Edit: It’s worth noting the recommended literature teachers are supposed to study in preparation for the conferences — the list consists of nothing bust Steiner! The already mentioned GA293, of course, but also GA 302 and 302a as well as Steiner’s The Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual Science.