another conference

A waldorf education conference will take place this year in Vienna. It deals — somewhat obscurely perhaps but all the more fascinatingly — with the ‘educator’s view of the human being’. As you know, anthroposophy has its own curious view of the human being. In a marvellous feat, the organizers — the majority of whom are associated with anthroposophical institutions, academic or otherwise — mention psychoanalysis and theology in the conference presentation, but somehow rather mysteriously manage to leave anthroposophy out, for whatever reason, be it intentional or an error, I can’t say which, only that it appears a bit odd. Read all of it, but here’s a snippet:

The intention of this Congress is to initiate a discussion on the meaning and consequences of different views of the human being in schools and in higher education. Empirically-oriented research will be presented alongside theoretical and conceptual approaches. In a broad range of areas including the economization of educational systems, the current debates about inclusion, the role of the arts in education and the development of learning theories and concepts, the  potential implications of both the explicit or implicit understanding of the human being and the supporting scientific paradigms (brain research, sociology, information technology, psychoanalysis, theology, philosophy, economy, biology, etc.) will be open to examination and discourse.

Perhaps anthroposophy only belongs to ‘etc’ these days. Or perhaps it’s like this: the organizers realize that although anthroposophy offers an understanding of the human being — it clearly does, and one that is pivotal to waldorf education, too — its supporting ‘scientific paradigm’ is lacking? But given that the anthroposophical understanding is so important — in this context — and that anthroposophy also claims to be (sort of) scientific, in its own way, and certainly is hovering around the borders of philosophy (occasionally), I think it belongs to that list. Its understanding certainly has ‘potential implications’ and should be ‘open to examination and discourse’. Or maybe that’s where the problem is — it’s better not questioned? And in any case — it’s also possible to raise objections to psychoanalysis and theology, ‘paradigms’ which are more foreign to waldorf education than anthroposophy is. All I’m saying is — isn’t it a bit funny not to mention anthroposophy? Truly, if one conception of the human being is relevant at any conference associated — even loosely — with waldorf education, it should be the anthroposophical. Or am I missing something?

One has to agree though that ‘scepticism [against normative views of human beings] can be readily justified insofar as such normative concepts were often closely linked to narrow ideological principles’. From the same page.