creativity *and* some science — in a waldorf school!

This headline would shock you awake; I just knew it! Look at this: a waldorf teacher in Lübeck makes bombs with his 5th grade students.

Ein Lehrer an einer Waldorfschule in Lübeck hat offenbar Fünftklässler zum Hantieren mit Sprengstoff animiert. Die Kinder füllten laut einem Zeitungsbericht Rohrbomben mit Schwarzpulver und zündeten sie anschließend gemeinsam mit dem Pädagogen.

Read more!

Or, if you prefer, there’s a longer article in Lübecker Nachrichten.

Tatsächlich sei das Bombenbasteln auch nicht in den Unterricht eingebettet gewesen, der Lehrer habe den Versuch lediglich „aus Spaß“ unternommen, sagte N. Als die Bombe hochging, hätten die Schüler nur 30 Meter vom Ort der Explosion entfernt gestanden.

[…]

Nach Angaben von Ulrike N. soll die Bombe aus Metall gewesen sein und die Größe einer Literflasche gehabt haben. „Die Explosion war so heftig, dass die Kinder die Druckwelle im Bauch gespürt haben“, sagt N. Auf Beschwerden der Eltern hin habe die Schulleitung den Vorfall „heruntergespielt“. Es sei nur eine Abmahnung gegen den Lehrer ausgesprochen worden, der bei Eltern und Schülern wegen seines anschaulichen Unterrichts als sehr beliebt gelte.

The teacher is facing charges.

I wish we had been taught to make bombs instead of the crap we were taught. Making bombs is far more interesting and far less tedious than endless wet-on-wet painting. I can’t even criticize this: finally a waldorf school teacher who actually does something that doesn’t bore children to death.

14 thoughts on “creativity *and* some science — in a waldorf school!

  1. Incidentally, I’m not joking. I’ve never seen anything with such a potential to redeem waldorf education. I bet this teacher is competent enough even to teach the kids some basic science. No, I’m not joking. I definitely am not. This is better than anything offered in the waldorf curriculum.

  2. Ha! I made bombs at home. Chemistry sets were more exciting back then. My home environment made up for my deficient education. :-)

  3. I believe doing things like that makes science more fun. And, as far as I can remember, the chemistry and physics experiments at school (post-waldorf, in my case, in waldorf there was little science) weren’t always safe… because we were young and clumsy and didn’t always understand what we were doing. Not that we were making bombs, but anyway.

    I remember that, after I’d left waldorf school, one of the first things the female chemistry teacher in the other school told the class was that it was quite simple to build an atom bomb if you know chemistry and science. Everybody was like: ‘wow! you can build an atom bomb!!!’

  4. Sorry Alicia, This can’t be real Waldorf pedagogy … There is no rigid order of progressive stages. How can the teacher know how to stifle this natural “Bang-impulse” in the kids without that? It might still be possible to develop, though. I suggest starting with having the children imitate the teachers shouting a small explosion-colored “bang”. Black bombs and blowing up the school should not be allowed before puberty. AnsdOf course the parents shouldn’t be told that the ultimate goal is that after seven times seven incarnations the pupils will be reborn as advanced spiritual scientists capable of releasing a Big Bang.

  5. And, nota bene, the children are only in 5th grade and already exposed to science!

    It may not be waldorf as we know it, but I think this teacher deserves a rose. Or many. I hope the school will support him. I fear though that they will think it’s safer to stick to eurythmy and flute playing. At least, they’ll think, that won’t render Spiegel articles. And it’s so wrong to expose young kids to any sounds but sing-song voices. Science! Boom!

  6. I’m thinking bomb explosions are probably off the pentatonic scale. They probably cause the child to fully incarnate too early, like rock music (“too grounding,” Waldorf teachers say).

  7. ‘Black bombs and blowing up the school should not be allowed before puberty.’

    Why? It’s the best time. You’re no fun at all.

  8. MORE BOMBS!!! LESS EURYTHMY!

    This is what I’ll say in the future when people tell me I don’t have any positive contributions that would actually improve waldorf. (As if that were my job.) It would be the truth.

  9. Alicia: “I believe doing things like that makes science more fun.”

    Absolutely. This teacher is probably the sort that kids will remember fondly in later life.

    I can’t resist sharing a link to the chemistry book that inspired my garden shed experiments as a kid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Book_of_Chemistry_Experiments
    There is an urban legend that it was banned by the US government for being too dangerous. It’s still available as a PDF. I wish I still had my copy – it’s worth some money!

  10. I had this vague memory of an explosion in the Stuttgart waldorf school… Steiner, Faculty Meetings,

    p 447:

    Dr. Steiner: There shouldn’t be anything in the physics room that could cause an explosion. It is, in any event, troubling that something like that could occur. I once knew of a student in an upper grade who poisoned himself because the chemistry teacher was not paying attention to things. In any event, you should have left it at giving the student a warning. You should not have written anything. You never think how difficult it is when I have to fight against these things, and that people say, “That’s quite some leadership when a ten-year-old is allowed to create an explosion.” Do you think you can still do that, considering the situation we are now in? It is horrible how people think only about how they can protect themselves, but never about what the school looks like publicly. This is really astonishing. His mother is really a nice woman, but you need only imagine what kind of an impression it would make upon her to learn her boy caused an explosion. Everyone she tells this to would say, “Don’t send you child to the Waldorf School.” That is obvious. We cannot have many such occurrences.
    Always feel responsible. Didn’t you think about how it would affect the school? If you provide the material for an explosion, then any boy would cause problems. I do not want to ask who was responsible for this, but someone must have left the material there. It was in the physics and laboratory rooms. The doors need to be locked.

    p 455:

    Dr. Steiner: I do not understand why the laboratory is not locked. This is a really beautiful situation. Explosives and poisons are kept in the laboratory, but it is not locked so the students have easy access to them. It is quite apparent that it is not sufficient to agree that students should not be in there. It is also clear that no laboratory teacher was there when the boy was. These kinds of things are always happening.

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