Home: Freunde Waldorf

Fostering individuality and brotherhood.

Individualisation is only possible in the community. Waldorf education is committed to building bridges from person to person, from one people to another. Rather than relying on competition – judging one pupil's achievement against another's – it fosters keen interest. The interest one person expresses in another's work will bring out what is best in every individual. The real challenge for young people is not, "Can I be better than you?"; but "How can I do better than I have managed up to now?". Waldorf classes have pupils of varying abilities and diverse social and ethnic backgrounds. They thus offer manifold possibilities for the individual´s development of social abilities.

How can we enable children to grow up to become adults who can take up their places responsibly within a community? This is essentially a matter of day-to-day practical education. Neither general, abstract instruction nor working out a set of rules to live by will be very much help.

In classes at school, there is no "hierarchy of age". Nor is there a hierarchy of family backgrounds. Intellectual differentiation and selection by means of competitive examinations can hardly be regarded as an influence that fosters social coherence. In Waldorf schools children are neither streamed nor put back into a lower grade. This calls for a very conscious look at the motivation of the developing human beings to do his best without being "rewarded" by special prises or high marks in a numerical scale or "punished" by the opposite. The pupils stay together for the whole of their schooling because this enhances social awareness and cultivates a mutual sense of responsibility. They may become aware that their classmates are going through troubled times, that development does not go on in an uninterrupted progression but in very individual leaps and bounds. They become aware that school like the world is a place where very different individuals have to learn to work with one another - if they don't or can't, the consequences lead to social disintegration and worse.

Living together also leads to crises in the social structure. These may be so deep as to pull everything apart and to cause pain to all involved, to parents and children, to the teachers going through the crisis as well as to the school as a whole. Learning to weather such critical times means sticking together until a new level of consciousness is reached. Such "class crises" often occur in puberty and reappear when the group consists of young people who are going through the critical times of individualisation, of finding themselves. They experience the others as human beings who have the same rights as they themselves have, although their gifts and views may be worlds apart.

Artistic work is an ideal field for the practice of such social faculties and abilities. That is one of the reasons why classes act a number of plays during their years at school, either in their mother tongue or in either of the two foreign languages that are usually taught from Class 1.

In the cooperation of parents, teachers, children and adolescents a social texture is developed. It can, even on occasion assume the qualities of a work of art, created by all those participating in it and turning the school into a place that is really a centre of social development. It becomes a cultural forum in the best sense of the word.

Hartwig Schiller

Empower & donate now
Empower & donate now