“With such thoughts will we meet one another”. Being a teacher in times of Corona

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Matthias Braselmann, teacher at Windrather Talschule, Germany

In the book Towards the Deepening of Waldorf Education we read on page 58:

“With such thoughts will we meet one another”

At the end of the faculty meeting of September 26, 1919, Rudolf Steiner expressed a thought which he would express for the last time in his farewell letter to the teachers: "May active power of thought unite us“. In the faculty meeting before he had said: "It is most important that there is always contact, and that teachers and pupils form a unity."

If we ask for a unique characteristic of Waldorf Education, then it is this: that we seek a connection with our students that is not limited to external encounters - in the classroom, in the school building, in the playground, on the road. We are also looking for encounters beyond that, when we reflect - for example when thinking back on the lesson - on the riddle of the individual child or young person, or when we share our experiences during a child conference. We have a thing or two to say about the effectiveness of such efforts.

The way we use the morning verse is another possibility for encounter:

I had my first experience with the morning verse for the Lower School during a work experience when I was training to be a class teacher. At that time it suddenly became clear to me that something tremendously important happens every day in all Waldorf schools around the world: encounter!

When I look back today on my 35 years of experience with the morning verses, various thoughts run through my mind:

I stand in a circle with my students. They have stood up and are "attuned" in very different ways to what comes next: sometimes graciously  engaged, sometimes joyfully devoted, sometimes with an attitude of "let’s just get through this again", sometimes crabby, some even reluctant, but often they are also quite open, so that  a conversation can develop afterwards. I myself try to turn towards the speakers, to "take hold of them” - and shape, from there, the next step that can take us further on this morning.

What can we do in the time of Corona"?

On the one hand, we can try to keep in touch through social media; with the one or other certainly also by phone. Assignments can fly back and forth, videos can show images of faces, appointments can be made for applause - music – songs. But a very simple possibility could also be to "go through" ourmorning verse at the usual time and try to take hold of the students who are normally in the classroom with us. In this way we could create a network of interweaving thoughts around the globe.

The teachers’ meditations could be another means of encounter, providing the possibility to meet as teachers, too, in times of social distancing. Both - the morning verses and the teachers’ meditations - but above all the encounter made possible by them - can give us strength and courage in these times.  

This would not only give weight to the special task of Waldorf Education as a cultural act - as Rudolf Steiner repeatedly reminded us - but also awaken interest in realms that we can hardly fathom with our modest means.

translated by Margot Saar

Literature: Pedagogical Section of the School of Spiritual Science, Dornach (ed): Towards the Deepening of Waldorf Education, Dornach, old edition of 1991