‘on earth as it is in heaven’

that’s the title of an article (published by the impressive sounding Waldorf Research Institute) about how the work of the waldorf school college of teachers is supposed operate at its most efficiently (every waldorf school is run by a college of teachers). The article is s a little gem which Mark H tweeted a while ago. It’s full of interesting bits and pieces like this:

In The College Founding Steiner revealed how anthroposophy can be brought to earth: by creating a connection between our activity and the activity of spiritual beings. He encouraged teachers to be conscious that they do not work only in the physical plane of living human beings, and he characterized the founding of The Waldorf School as a ceremony held within the Cosmic Order. Strengthening the anthroposophical foundations of Waldorf education remains as important today as it was when the first Waldorf school was founded. The College must serve as the font of inspiration for the processes by which teachers can learn how to transform what is gained through anthroposophy into truly practical instruction. It must support these processes through study, through artistic activity, and through the opportunities and means for anthroposophical professional development. Steiner described the founding of The Waldorf School as a ceremony within the Cosmic Order. I think that the founding of every subsequent Waldorf school also has cosmic significance. Just as we celebrate the birth of a child because a soul-spiritual being has chosen to enter the earthly realm, we may celebrate the founding of a Waldorf school because it strives to bring the soul-spiritual into the realm of human life. This feeling of celebration should also permeate the founding of the College, and it can extend to each College meeting because during our meetings we can experience ourselves as working within the Cosmic Order to midwife the birth of spirit into matter.

This is what you need to know, of course. It continues a few passages further in the text:

As Waldorf teachers, we need to be informed about and to understand the prevailing view of the human being. We must be careful, however, not to allow that view to erode our recognition that the child is a spiritual being who has come to earth to do what it was not possible to do in the spiritual world. […] We must love the age in which we and our students have incarnated because it presents us with exactly what we came to meet on earth.

Later we learn that the college of teachers is responsible to spiritual beings and the spiritual worlds. Teachers should ‘form a connection with the spiritual powers’ and let themselves be guided and supervised by the beings of the third hierarchy. Angels and archangels are very helpful, supposedly, altough I can hear all the beings of all the hierarchies laughing right now when I’m writing this.


16 thoughts on “‘on earth as it is in heaven’

  1. Alicia,

    The tragedy of the waldorf school movement, at least in Sweden, is mainly due to the fact that the abovementioned words by Steiner is, to a great extent, left unheeded. Far more than laugh, I think the Hierarchies turn aside in dismay over such poor cooperation from those who should be their earthly collegues. This, of course, is related to an earlier discussion in the kiosk or on Fb (don´t remember) on how much anthroposophy there really is
    in the schools a n d in the teachers. Your own experience confirms my view that this crumbling of the fundaments started a long time ago, and has accellerated since then, regrettably.

  2. In England also.
    Peter Selg has written that less than 5% of Waldorf teacher’s are anthroposophists now.
    I don’t know how he arrived at that figure, but from my experience it is true there are not many in the schools.

  3. It is my impression that when I was at school, the vast majority of teachers were committed anthroposophists. This is a long time ago, though.

    5% seems unrealistically low.

  4. Nobody actually “admits” they’re Anthroposophists. I’ll bet if you polled many well-known Anthroposophists, fewer than half would admit they are Anthros. It’s a game they all play apparently.

  5. “Peter Selg has written that less than 5% of Waldorf teacher’s are anthroposophists now.”

    That’s completely ridiculous.

    This results from the well-known phenomenon whereby often even extremely serious students of Rudolf Steiner deny that they’re anthroposophists. Anybody who doesn’t believe me, check it out by just asking around on serious anthroposophical mailing lists. Just see if you can get anyone to agree they’re an anthroposophist.

    When asked to self-identify in public, anthroposophists are very, very rare, shy creatures.

  6. Furthermore, in Waldorf schools, the salient issue is not so much who counts (or counts themselves) as a “real” anthroposophist. What matters is how many of the faculty is willing to take marching orders from zealous anthroposophists (who are often in charge) – that is, who is willing to do everything anthroposophically, which means a certain specific way because Rudolf Steiner said so.

    The answer there will be “Most of them.” In a way, it is better (from the POV of the upper echelons) if a high percentage do not call themselves anthroposophists. The ones who do are the really deadly serious ones, and they tend to want to give orders. They don’t tend to be flexible, easy going people, interested in hearing new ideas or compromising with people who don’t agree with everything Steiner said.

    Sometimes, the junior people do not call themselves anthroposophists because it would actually offend their superiors, who consider it a term of respect – an *earned* appellation, from many years of study. Junior people are sometimes not supposed to call themselves anthroposophists because it would be seen as putting on airs, or not being sufficiently “reverent” toward their elders.

    In effect this makes things run *more* anthroposophically, because you have really zealous, glint-in-the-eye anthroposophists setting down for junior faculty just how things will be done, down to the last detail. When you have a bunch of anthroposophists all on the same level of the hierarchy trying to sort things out, they fight. (It’s like a law.) It works better (anthroposophically speaking) when the Grand Dragons aren’t getting back a lot of flak from junior people.

  7. Wow!

    “Steiner described the founding of The Waldorf School as a ceremony within the Cosmic Order. I think that the founding of every subsequent Waldorf school also has cosmic significance.”

    Now that’s a lot of significance ;-)

  8. There’s also the issue of “membership” in the Anthroposophical Society. Those who aren’t card-carrying members use that as a distinction between themselves and ‘Anthropsophists’.

  9. Diana, of course it’s a dangerous amount of significance. If it isn’t a sign of full-blown psychotic delusions of grandeur, at least views like this should warn parents to keep their children safely away from people beleiving stuff like this. For example, should there be a conflict of interests, it isn’t just your family against the school, it’s you against Cosmos. Somehow I’d prefer a conflict with a school which has only God on it’s side. But how could you discuss with someone who has exclusive access to the ultimate meaning of the whole Universe?

  10. Though I have not been active in any school for a number of years, Diana´s picture of proceedings may have a point. There will always be a number of people who take the stand that things should be done this way and that, totally oblivious of the fact that Steiner himself was always open to compromise or reasessments should Reality come in the way. Thus the necessary amount of common sense is banned from faculty work. I have seen it happen both ways, even the compromise that laid the pedagogical idea dead. It happens when Wills clash and the majority succumbs to something that seems more “spiritual” than the other alternatives.
    Faculty work does not work, unless e v e r y member respects and cherishes the freedom of the other, which rarely happens when in a tight spot. Tragedy unfolds in the wake, and the whole school system seems to be on the last (and final) lap.

  11. Ulf: ‘…should there be a conflict of interests, it isn’t just your family against the school, it’s you against Cosmos.’

    Yes. That is the problem. Some anthroposophists find it very difficult to accept that anyone can disagree or remove their kids from the school. And look at the exaggerated war terminology used by some waldorf defenders. Criticize waldorf, and you’re on a ‘crusade’ and a ‘war’ against Cosmos itself.

    Curt: I suppose it’s difficult to compromise when the only person who had access to higher answers is dead. And when trying to mimic him is more important than to think for oneself. And when it becomes a matter of who is highest up the spiritual ladder, and for that reason the one to have the most influence. DIfficult to cultivate any respect for the ideas of others, perhaps even difficult for people to dare express their ideas and to stand their ground against those more powerful. Just speculating now.

  12. Alicia, speculating is what we allow ourselves here in your delightful Kiosk. The difficulties of working in an environment of negativity against anything out of the rail-track is known to many, as it is a general flaw in so many (not only Antro) institutions. The main fault might be that they are allowed to become Institutions in the first place, as these tend to get rather stuck in their own ways, with Armed Guards seeing that no one steps in or out without leave….

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