Free spaces

By Mathias Maurer, April 2021

We start 2021 with somewhat mixed feelings. What did we wish for at New Year? What did we resolve to do? Will the New Year bring the longed-for return to normality, as it once was in 2019? What of our wishes goes beyond that?

Inevitably, deeper, more existential, more global questions follow because it is easy to see that our normality and prosperity are largely at the expense of other people, of the environment as a whole. It is necessary to widen our gaze to include the well-being of the very big and the very small in the world. The desires that relate to the external circumstances of life, but also the desire to fall back into our “intellectually comfortable” (Rudolf Steiner) constitution, refer indirectly to the question of what constitutes the human being in essence: what sustains me inwardly? Is it my opinions? Convictions? Values? Is it my own knowledge? Or even higher insights and potencies? Would I walk through fire and water for them? What social consequences would I accept for them? Or do I stand back for the sake of peace?

Love and knowledge seek each other – without the one, the other cannot really be had. Steiner called it ethical individualism, symbolised in the uprightness of the human being which can only maintain itself through inner mobility. The priorities of our own way of life will change, as will those of external conditions. A potential increase in our alienation from the world can only be counteracted by free spaces that bring inner and outer life back into a meaningful context. This is what the motto “receive in reverence, educate in love, release in freedom” of Waldorf education stands for. The fact that a system of education has the free human being as its goal can almost represent a provocation in these times.

About this issue: the acceptance of social work is growing at Waldorf schools. What to do when more and more teachers reach their limits? They can increasingly find support from social work which sees school as part of a complex environment and can thus give rise to overdue reflection and developmental movement. We would like to thank Fridtjof Meyer-Radkau from the Waldorf School Social Work Network for helping to initiate this thematic focus.

On our own account: after fifteen years of editorial work on the journal Erziehungskunst - Waldorfpädagogik heute, published by the German Association of Waldorf Schools, Ariane Eichenberg left us at the end of last year. She continues as editor of the journal Erziehungskunst - Frühe Kindheit, published by the German Association of Waldorf Kindergartens. The editorial team has been joined by Matthias Niedermann, who is already working in the public relations department of the Anthroposophical Society in Germany. We wish him a good start.

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