Newsletter January 2018
Dear friends of Waldorf education near and far,
we wish you all the best for the new year, and that you enjoyed a happy and strong start of 2018!
We are now just one year before our great jubilee, with even more activities and preparations for Waldorf 100 than in 2017 - after all, there are "only" 600 days until our important birthday party in Berlin on September 19, 2019.
Until then we have - all of us! - a great deal to do, since we have to find the strength and attention for the really essential things through our work with children and in the awareness of the great questions of our time. After all, we want to bring Waldorf education into the next century with positive momentum, and a quality oriented towards the nascent human being.
Of course, this work always involves our very concrete "projects of the heart" that benefit all students around the world. The global postcard exchange is already in full swing. I'm sure you've already received a lot of colorful postcards from different countries, right? Have you found a way to make all these small works of art apparent to everyone? We are looking forward to receiving photos of them! We would also like to ask you to send the postcards now, if you haven't already done so, to make the "Global Art Exchange" become really visible to all.
By the way, we are always happy when you let us (and those who visit our website) participate in the projects you create by submitting them to us, because Waldorf 100 thrives on everyone's participation and commitment!
In this spirit, we wish you inspiring reading,
your Waldorf 100-Team
Core projects – To all Waldorf students in the world!
Young authors wanted!
Dear students between Alaska and Hawaii, Tokyo and San Francisco, Irkutsk and Patagonia, Cape Town and Helsinki, Christchurch and Cairo, Tel Aviv and Moscow, Flensburg and Alanya – in short, anywhere in the world where you attend a Waldorf school:
We want to invite you to take part in a project that is unique in the world. Send us an essay, a philosophical reflection, a poem, a song, a rap, a (short) play or some other piece of writing in which you express your thoughts, feelings, hopes and expectations on the subject of "Where is humankind?" Waldorf 100 is a festival that wants to make the whole world visible in its diversity, beauty and complexity, and because it is of course about you, the students, we also want to hear your voices on such an important question as the one asked here: "Where do humans fit in? Where do you see humankind, what is important in being human, how do you wish a human world of tomorrow to look like?
Please only send us texts that you have written yourself or together with others. Since we want to publish as many texts as possible or even all submitted texts on our homepage www.waldorf-100.org, we need your permission to do so. So please send only texts that you simultaneously release for publication. Depending on the response, we may publish a selection of your texts again in 2019, perhaps as a book or online. It is therefore important that you only send us texts if you agree to their publication.
Of course you can write the texts in your own language, but it is very important that you tell us which language or sometimes which dialect it is. We will then publish them in the original version, but also in a German, English and Spanish translation, if the text allows this (with poems or other rhyming texts this is not always possible). If you send it to us in two languages, we would be very happy!
Besides, it would be great if you could send us some information about yourself, besides your name, your country, your school and your class (these four pieces of information are mandatory to make sure that no one else sneaks in...): What would you like to tell us about your country or yourself, why did you send us this text?
We are looking forward to your feedback! Please send us your text in one of these formats: DOC, DOCX, TXT or ODT by e-mail attachment.
If you want to add a photo, please get permission in advance that all people on it agree to its publication. We are happy to receive photos without this permission (which you have to add to the photo), but then would not be allowed to post it online.
Henning Kullak-Ublick greets you on behalf of our Waldorf 100-team
School projects – "Brush the way"
Action for a worldwide "artistic design" of unpopular public transit areas
For six years now, the Freie Waldorfschule Stade (Germany) has been experiencing that the annual artistic painting of the train station underpass by the respective 11th grade has contributed to a positive change in the once oppressive atmosphere of the space. It also showed that this passageway has been less graffiti-sprayed and polluted since the project was initiated. Every 11th grade also takes over the "artistic maintenance" of the underpass during the school year, i. e. the treatment and transformation of inappropriate expressions or destruction of artistic surfaces.
The pedestrian users of the underpass, several thousand people every day, appreciate this commitment. The city and Deutsche Bahn are also aware of the advantages and support the initiative, which has been often reported in the press, especially during the design process.
By contributing to the design of "forgotten" public spaces worldwide in a networked action in 2019, Waldorf students can break into the consciousness of the world's public. To ensure that this networking, a lively exchange of experience, and cross-border preparation and coordination are successful, all schools wishing to participate in the action according to their individual possibilities are called and invited to contact this e-mail address. For further information on the initiative have a look here and also in the Januar 2013 edition of "Erziehungskunst" (in German only).
Hans-Wolfgang Roth, art teacher at Freie Waldorfschule Stade
Three questions to… Michaël Merle
Michaël Merle has been at the Roseway Waldorf School in Durban, South Africa since 1999 where he has taught Classes 10, 11, 12 and 13 (the state exam year). He has taught Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography and Religion Studies as well as mentoring teachers in History, Literature and Drama. He has been the high school pedagogical mentor since 2004 and co-ordinator and principal lecturer for the Foundations of Waldorf Education teacher-training programme at the school. In 2003 he joined the Council of the Southern African Federation of Waldorf Schools where he carries the portfolio of High School Co-ordinator for the country. In 2013 he joined the International Forum of Waldorf/Steiner Schools (formerly The Hague Circle). He has also trained at sister schools in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Windhoek(Namibia)as well as running training workshops in Israel, Kenya and Australia. He is, as of 2017, a priest in the Christian Community and is married with two sons.
How are the Waldorf schools in your country doing?
The Waldorf schools in South Africa continue to face the dual challenge of expressing who they truly are so that those who wish to access and engage with this extraordinary education can do so - and the on-going effects of the world-wide recession.
Does your school already have specific plans for the Waldorf 100 Anniversary?
The Southern African Federation of Waldorf Schools along with the Constantia Waldorf School (which is the oldest in South Africa and which will be celebrating 60 years in 2019) are planning a very special festival of learning as part of the annual National Waldorf Teachers Conference. It is hoped to include pupils (past and present), parents and the wider public (in some form yet to be determined) at Easter time 2019. It is foreseen that all 18 Waldorf schools in South Africa will actively participate.
How would you describe the essence of Waldorf pedagogy in a very personal way?
For me, what makes Waldorf education so special and what is essential about it is that it addresses our time - the time of the consciousness soul -and that it uses content and carefully chosen experiences to teach the child. In this child centered approach focussed on developing a full, integrated and conscious human being we are able to make school an essential and vibrant place where children truly love to be and are encouraged and loved as they become who they truly are.
Waldorf 100@World School Conference in Córdoba and Buenos Aires, Argentina
Waldorf 100@Congres for young Waldorf teachers, Mannheim, Germany
Waldorf 100@Weleda, Germany
The main lesson as a work of art
By Johannes Braun (Source: Erziehungskunst November 2016)
Main lessons are one of the particular features of Waldorf education. For several weeks a class deals with a subject which is worked through with the teacher from all different aspects. A main lesson is all the more successful the more the lesson turns into art.
In planning, carrying out and reviewing a main lesson, it has become increasingly clear to me that the artistic element can come to expression in a great variety of ways. Indeed, the more completely and comprehensively the artistic element pervades the lesson, and the more it shapes the material for the children and with the children, the greater will be the impression which a main lesson makes, the greater the satisfaction with which we can look back on it together.
To begin with, the question arises: how do I start? Because the introduction and conclusion are as important as the frame of a picture without which it cannot come to full expression, which arouses interest, leads us into the picture and gives it the appropriate space.
Just as a piece of music contains the three basic elements of melody, harmony and rhythm, so in a main lesson we can also embark on a search for these three elements and keep them in mind as we plan it.
What is melody in our main lesson? Nothing other than our subject, the thread which runs through the weeks, develops, perhaps appears in variations, aims towards a climax and finally comes to an end. The more interestingly and at the same time simply the subject is formulated, the better it remains in the ear – that applies to music as much as the main lesson.
The subject must resonate everywhere, both in the smallest detail which is being described and in the great arc to which we keep referring back. The melody is the dimension of moving forwards, progress. It is close to the thinking in the soul forces.
The element of harmony corresponds to the harmony between various aspects of our subject in the main lesson. The descriptive narration of the teacher is part of it as much as the lively discussion in the lesson. This can be supplemented in middle school by pupils working on subsections of the subject in writing and verbally in small presentations.
Structuring the subject in the main lesson books, reciting a poem together, singing a song or going on an excursion with the class are just as much a part of the field which in music corresponds to harmony. Harmony brings the subject to life, expands it gives it colour and enriches it. It addresses the feeling above all and is much more difficult to grasp than the linear thread.
But the most mysterious of these three things is rhythm. It is connected with the will and is largely removed from our waking daytime consciousness because it arises equally from what we do and what we do not do, what we experience as breaks and relaxation. The beat of the heart and the alternation between day and night as well as the rhythm of the breathing can provide inspiring models for our work with the pupils.
The effort of the day, undertaken with care, must be handed over trustingly to the night, confident that what has not yet been achieved can be brought at least a little bit closer to fulfilment the next day. All work must include a phase of active absorption, breathing in, and a phase of breathing out, of giving back if we want to avoid becoming asthmatic.
In the lesson, too, this balance must be observed with the greatest care to ensure the healthy development of the children. Thus concentrated listening must alternate with independent activity, movement with calm, joint work with individual reflection, cognition with creativity. Rhythm creates the power to get to the bottom of things, but also to grow through them – the vertical dimension.
Bringing all three things – melody, harmony and rhythm – into equilibrium means creating a balanced, beautiful three-dimensionality which does justice to the soul abilities of thinking, feeling and the will which are to be developed. This is the demanding challenge both in the art of music and in the art of education.
Main lesson books
The design of the main lesson books offers a wonderful opportunity for the pupils to reproduce in creative activity what they have absorbed through the teacher. This establishes an intensive connection between them and the subject matter. Constant encouragement that the work should be undertaken with care and loving attention can build in them a respect not just for what they have learnt but also for their own effort. The deliberate emphasis of artistic design can also support their aesthetic education:
- Framing is important, both in the form of an attractive title page and a proper table of contents, and in the form of a short introductory and concluding text; but also on each individual page through a nice regular edge or its colourful or other decoration.
- Text and drawings, lists and diagrams should alternate and support one another.
- Value should be placed on a well-proportioned division of the page with headings which are clear and, if possible, colourful and well-spaced.
- If from the beginning attention is paid to regular, proper writing and this is practised – not on ruled pages but with the help of a ruled sheet – then this can make a significant contribution to a lovely overall impression. Continuous effort by the teacher to write beautifully on the blackboard has model character. The children should write exclusively using ink.
- Similarly inspiring and motivating are the teacher’s beautiful, carful drawings on the blackboard. In the book they should be prepared not using uniform and thus relatively dead felt-tipped pens but variable wax crayons or wooden colour pencils.
- Brief texts prepared by the teacher are increasingly supplemented by texts and small essays by the children themselves on given subjects. Poems are also suitable.
Rudolf Steiner’s comment that children in the period between the replacement of the baby teeth by the permanent teeth and puberty are fundamentally informed by the attitude that the world is beautiful may perhaps be supplemented in this approach by giving the child the feeling: “The world is beautiful and I can contribute to its beauty through my own action.”
About the author: Johannes Braun is a Waldorf class teacher, first in England, Kenya and South Africa, today in Balingen.