Teacher generations at the Uhlandshöhe. An outline

By Alain Denjean, October 2018

The Uhlandshöhe Waldorf school with its almost hundred-year-old history has seen three generations of teachers. Yet being a member of one of those generations was not something that the teachers working there thought much about.

A distinction is mostly made between the first and the second school, that is the school until the ban in 1938 and the school after the War, from 1945 onwards. But this distinction disappeared at the latest in the 1980s when gradually the colleagues from the “second school” were no longer in the college of teachers either. The designation “mother school” was also associated with the “first” and “second” school, a designation which for a long time was spoken with awe by colleagues from elsewhere.

The flood of new schools being established at that time meant that Uhlandshöhe became one of many schools and in the college of teachers one or the other teacher even began to refer to the “grandmother” school. Today many young or new Waldorf teachers know, at best, that this school is one of the Stuttgart Waldorf schools.

Now, looking back over almost a hundred years, we can notice a structure which was not apparent to the teachers involved in day-to-day matters, which may indeed not be of any great interest to them, but which is nevertheless visible.

The first generation (1919-1952)

Although a few other new schools were set up soon after 1919 (Hamburg, Basel, Zurich, London) the first generation of teachers at the Uhlandshöhe school (1919-1952) did almost everything: teaching, managing the school itself, but also looking after and leading the growing Waldorf movement, training new teachers, organising conferences, editing the journal Erziehungskunst, and deepening the work in the Anthroposophical Society.

They must have been charismatic figures whose work was fully supported by their families. They were unbelievably fond of most of their pupils even if they had their weaknesses. They worked incredibly hard – because they knew themselves always supported by the supersensory world.

The culmination of this work became visible in 1953 when the reconstructed main building could be occupied once again. But the independent work of the German Association of Waldorf Schools became less visible, which after 1953 disengaged itself from the direct leadership of the school (after Erich Schwebsch).

But quiet colleagues, who did not write books or give lectures and whose names are not particularly well known, put their imprint on the school and the teachers’ meetings with equal vigour: that is how I experienced the old, long-retired music teacher Eugenie Haueisen, who still attended the teachers’ meetings. A small, delicate woman who in the few years that I experienced her never said a word in the meetings but accompanied everything with an incredible inner presence and activity. I sat in the row in front of her, did not see her, but sensed the strength emanating from her. And when she happened not to be there, the meeting was different.

The second generation (1953-1986)

In the second generation (1953-1986), the pupils of the first school continued their work with teachers some of whom had been there previously and some of whom were new, and consolidated the foundations of Waldorf education. If in the first generation Caroline von Heydebrand’s curriculum was 40 pages long, a new one was published in 1976, compiled and composed by E. A. Karl Stockmeyer, which had grown to 200 pages.

Building, in the sense of an expansion, was a major subject. The new festival hall was built, the college building with its extension, a new kitchen for the pupils. But these buildings turned into a blessing for the expansion of the school movement: the new teachers were trained in the school grounds and ever larger conferences could be held in the new festival hall.

In daily lessons there was many a teacher able to inspire their pupils – thus for example Alfred Schmid in his upper school classes. His trips to the Alps fascinated the young people who through him developed an intensive relationship with the landscape, learnt to discover plant communities and practised climbing with a rope.

The third generation (1986-2018)

For the third generation (1986-2018), it is difficult to pick out individual teacher personalities. We may note that collegial work had to replace the dimming charisma of previous teachers. I remember many internal meetings (school management meetings) at which 50 colleagues grappled with issues so that next day they could reach a good decision in consciousness of their full responsibility and the certainty that the many deceased colleagues and the beings of the spiritual world, whom they called on day for day in their meditation, were present in a helping way.

Outwardly, the centre of Waldorf education at the Uhlandshöhe, where until 1985 the autumn conferences had grown ever bigger, divided in 1986  into three locations of deepened spiritual work: Hamburg and Prien joined Stuttgart. And in Dornach the first world teachers’ conference took place at Easter 1986.

The curriculum volume of the third generation (Richter Curriculum), the most recent edition of which comprises over 600 pages, shows the diverse, varied and different ways that Waldorf education can be approached. Yet for all the diversity, what seems typical to me for the Uhlandshöhe college of teachers is the constant joint search for and work on the sources of Waldorf education, the methodological and anthroposophical questions, the understanding of the nature of the human being.

Soon we will celebrate one hundred years of Waldorf education. Then something will have its official beginning that is already present: the fourth generation. “There is budding under the leaves – they call it autumn”, Hilde Domin once wrote. As an already retired teacher of the third generation, who mentors many young colleagues, I know that in the third autumn, too, new buds are developing powerfully in the college of teachers.

About the author: Alain Denjean was a French and religion teacher at the Uhlandshöhe Waldorf School (Stuttgart) and lecturer at the Freien Hochschule Stuttgart – Seminar for Waldorf Pedagogy. He advises the German Waldorf schools in matters of foreign language teaching.

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