The six-day pedagogical conference held in July 2023 in the city of Juiz de Fora, in eastern Brazil, was a great inspiration. With 450 participating teachers, it was the largest conference in the history of the Brazilian Waldorf movement so far. The togetherness will certainly impulse and change the educational movement. The power and the necessity of new beginnings, which arise when people pay attention to the reality of the other and the others, could be experienced directly.
Three great challenges of today's art of education could be experienced very impressively in Juiz de Fora:
- The importance of academic discourse, where the education’s distinctive and authentic voice can be heard. In the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Rudolf Steiner was described by university representatives as one of the most innovative pedagogical figures of the 20th century.
- The active dialogue with public Brazilian institutions that enable children and young people from financially weak backgrounds to access schools that work according to Rudolf Steiner's pedagogical impulse.
- The direct social encounter with each other. The painful experiences of ethnic exclusion in a country like Brazil were discussed openly, clearly and with important perspectives for the schools and their environment.
The pedagogy and the way Rudolf Steiner's impulse stands in the world lives in the world context in which these schools participate.
This happens, for example, when in a state school in the mountains of Minas Gerais all the teachers have Waldorf teacher training and the school community in the town is held in great esteem across all changes of government. Change also takes place when a school initiative on the north coast of Brazil, where the children go raft fishing with the teacher on Fridays, is supported by the families. Together they maintain the school well and share the drinking water.
What is decisive is that this – like every accomplished action that serves the human being as a human being – is also perceived.
*GA 297a: Lecture of 1 November 1922, 1998, page 113