Clear Relationships

By Mathias Maurer, June 2021

Those who seriously want to work together must learn that their opinion is not the law – unless they are a despot or simply paying lip service to cooperation.

Anyone familiar with the school environment knows how quickly agenda, conventions, and structures become meaningless when they no longer reflect real social realities and become hollow patterns of superficial, empty ritual in which only bureaucrats seem to feel comfortable – this might bring to mind many a committee meeting which only seems to have taken place for its own sake.

So what does teamwork mean then?  First of all, it brings chaos to order – all the more so for those whose valuation of a free spiritual life and individual judgement is limited purely to sermonising.

However, it’s not that simple. Successful cooperation requires absolute transparency about motivations for action and issues to be discussed. And, especially in self-governing institutions, there is a danger of informal networks developing in which the course has already been set before any decisions have been made.

Teamwork involves a continuous process of disempowerment. For we have to relinquish our personal position in order to be able to engage with others. The various “parties” can only come together if they look towards a third way, a common goal. And this goal must be clear to everyone involved. In Waldorf education this means: education towards freedom. This actually poses a paradox between a normative method and a non-normative objective that cannot be bound by any norm.

This paradox is also reflected on the level of dialogue and interaction:

Part of being a (Waldorf) teacher is knowing what kind of freedom is meant and how to achieve it – not only in the classroom, but also at parents’ evenings or in teachers’ meetings – and rightly so! But as soon as you are actively involved in a social event, this “knowledge” has to take a back seat and you have to look at what the children, parents and colleagues are actually saying to you at that moment. In this sense you have a complete lack of knowledge. To put it very bluntly, this is a journey from power to powerlessness. For only those who have internalised that one can only lead if one has learned to let oneself be led – and this through the common ideal that Rudolf Steiner anchored in the foundations of Waldorf education, the ideal of the free human being – are capable of working in a team.

For it is not those who solely cooperate with others as a function their office or according to a formal statute, but rather those who have the presence of mind to notice who is spiritually closest to the common ideal in a given situation and let them go first, who contribute to the clarification of the situation. Those who don’t aren’t taking things seriously.

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