A need to connect

By Mathias Maurer, June 2014

It was about something greater. The first Waldorf school set out its stall as an “Association for a free school system” – not as the provincial alternative in an educational niche. We can thank an anthroposophical entrepreneur for its establishment. What Emil Molt wanted above all for the children of the workers in his “Waldorf Astoria Cigarette Factory” was education – and by that he envisaged an education which was independent of state and business interests and influence.

The Waldorf school is a child of the so-called “threefolding movement”. It saw itself as part of a movement which wanted to introduce a new social order. Rudolf Steiner intervened in politics with his appeal “To the German people and the civilised world”, wrote books such as Toward Social Renewal and gave lectures on “Education as a force for social change” – all of them still offering highly relevant “material” which should not be absent from any teacher training course. But Steiner’s approach was not just to rehash the three ideals of the French Revolution – “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” – or to criticise the capitalist and communist social systems, from whose onesidedness we are suffering globally more than ever today. On the contrary, he conceived of a threefold social order which built on the anthropological laws that govern the life of human beings without being in functional and structural conflict with them and could thus have a health-giving effect.

It can easily be understood that freedom has its source in human thinking. It forms the basis of our cultural and educational systems. Social togetherness is only possible as an equal among equals. Equality forms the basis of our legal life. Fraternity lives in the “metabolism”, in the production, distribution and consumption of goods, in the economic life of our society – we rarely consume what we have produced.

Each of these three systems requires relative autonomy and regulated interfaces both in human beings and in a social organism.

In concrete terms, we need an economy which brings business, the producers, consumers and retailers together, ensures fair prices, production conditions fit for human beings and sustainable production, which satisfies real human needs, instead of egotistical competition at any cost. We need an autonomous educational and cultural life, free of economic interests or state control, in which imagination and intuition can freely develop. And we need a legal and political life which restricts itself to guarding and enforcing general rights and in which everyone has a say in accordance with democratic rules.

The idea of “social threefolding” should not be withheld from any Waldorf pupil in view of the burning issues of our time and belongs in every curriculum. It seems to me there is a need to connect. This is about something greater.


No comments

Add comment

* - required field