Nettles, spots and appearances

By Mathias Maurer, November 2014

“Ow!” Julian screams blue murder. I run to him, try to console him and ask where it hurts. He points to the stinging nettles, not to the many blisters on his arms and legs. It stings. After a while he says fiercely: “They’re bad!”

Small children do not yet distinguish between the world and their own emotions. The world is ensouled, good or bad, and everything in it is experienced unconsciously by the child in a moral way. The world and people are imitated, be they good or bad. That is why it is crucial that an example of what is good is set for small children.

“Do you think Lina looks nice?” Anna asks on the way home from school.

“Yes, I think she looks nice,” I respond.

“But Micha and Doro think she looks ugly.”

“I see, and why is that?”

“Because she is so fat.”

I tell Anna that every person is beautiful in their own way and that different cultures and epochs have always had different ideals of beauty.

“Ah, so you think it is a matter of taste?”

“Yes and no, but if I like someone they are beautiful whatever they look like.”

Children during the class teacher period like to make use of the terms “beautiful” and “ugly” not just because they increasingly want to get dolled up and make every spot on their face disappear but because they can penetrate to knowledge about themselves and the world through these two basic feelings. If the world is beautiful, we are prepared to accept and understand it.

“That’s rubbish” says Sven jumping up from his chair. “I’m right here,” he states, thumping himself on the chest. We had been deep in a philosophical discussion about the physical world as appearance. Everything is supposed to be maya? All our thoughts only a reflection of reality and not reality itself? Young people seek the truth. Because without it the world would lose all its meaning, disappear into randomness. Yet if we were in possession of the one and only truth we would not do anything other than follow it unquestioningly – and would no longer be free. We experience freedom not when we are in possession of the truth but when we are searching for it. If I search for truth, want truth – then truth appears.

Truth, beauty and goodness determine education in Waldorf schools. They are forms of expression of archetypal anthropological needs which give existential orientation in a culture marked by educational insecurity and a world threatened by inhumanity.


No comments

Add comment

* - required field