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Waldorf Journal Project

The Waldorf Journal Project, sponsored by the Waldorf Curriculum Fund and published by AWSNA Publications, brings to English-speaking audiences translations from essays, magazines, and specialized studies from around the world.

Journals are published twice a year and all articles in issues from 2002 to the present are available on the Online Waldorf Library.

Waldorf Journal Project 6: Craft and Morality

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by Dr. Thomas Weiss

I have always known that there is an intimate connection between craft and morality.

Everyone knows that in craftsmanship, in its activity and aura, something utterly moral is centered. But just why there is this connection is not easy to answer because morality has become a very problematic and exclusive concept.

I will try first to turn to the question of crafts and would like to look at the problem from the point of view of history and of mankind. Then I would like to go into the question of morality and the connection between craft and morality to the individual.

It is difficult to find the first beginnings of craft. We know that it was at its height during the Middle Ages. But if one looks back into primeval times one finds that craft did not exist separately, and it is probable that man’s creativity started as art and not craft. The more that becomes now known of primeval human activity the more one sees that in the beginning of time, humans created artifacts, things they made with their own hands, for magical but not practical purposes. Probably the first dwellings were not built for men but for the gods to inhabit. Probably the first things were made in an attempt to communicate with divine beings and forces rather than to deal with the needs of earthly existence. We know countless paintings that are 10, 15, and 20,000 years old. We know sculptures of these times as well as articles of daily use. But as far as one can assess the primeval epochs of mankind, it seems that the physical material creations were, to begin with, of a religious and cultic nature and only gradually of a practical nature. This would seem to be an indication that craft may be a further step from art.

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Waldorf Journal Project 6: Empathy

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by Dr. Thomas Weiss

‘Empathy’ is a word which has been used fairly frequently over the last few decades. I think one can consider the meaning of this word when thinking of the tremendous change that R. D. Laing’s work has brought about in the psychiatric understanding of mental illness. Up to about ten or fifteen years ago when one studied any textbook on psychiatry, then mental illness, schizophrenia, psychosis, was a condition in which a person dropped out of a context that was humanly understandable; he became ‘insane.’ That was a universally held view but one which has been removed. One can imagine that there were hundreds of thousands of such people at any moment on the earth who were completely incomprehensible, ‘mad.’ Now that is different because of the intense empathy of some men. Empathy has brought about the possibility for not only psychiatrists but also so called ordinary people to understand a great number of their fellow men.

I have drawn on what I have absorbed of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings in my approach to the problem of empathy, and the first question that arises is whether or not empathy is the beginning of what Rudolf Steiner describes as the natural, psychological condition to which mankind will attain in the next epoch, the condition of total compassion. Rudolf Steiner has said that in the total change of human consciousness, in the human mode of experience, what will increasingly come about within the next few thousand years is that one will not be able to see the suffering of another person without experiencing it exactly as much as if it were one’s own suffering.

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Waldorf Journal Project 6: Youth Guidance and Empathy

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by Anke Weihs

The individual in the period of adolescence is like a small boat leaving the security of the harbor and setting out to sea full of the spirit of adventure. The boat has to go through turbulence—as well as moments of calm and peace— before reaching the shore of adult life.

R.D. Laing, when writing about behavior and experience The Politics of Experience postulates that we see each other’s behavior but cannot see the experience of the other which underlies his behavior. Thus “experience is man’s invisibility to man.”

As anthroposophists we cannot accept the finality of this statement, but we can use it as our point of departure on a path setting out to reach the true experience of the other’s experience in an act of empathy.

Rudolf Steiner often spoke about the evolution of human attributes or faculties. Thus he attributes the birth of the faculty of compassion to Gautama Buddha; he was able to take up the untold suffering that he met in the world when finally leaving his sheltered home and make this suffering his own experience.

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Waldorf Journal Project 6: Organology and Physiology of Learning Aspects of Educational Theory of the Body

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by Wolfgang Schad

Physiological aspects of young children’s drawings
The scribbly drawings of young children are very helpful if one wishes to study the interaction between physical development and the direction taken in inner activity. In spite of considerable individual differences, we see characteristic themes recurring at particular ages.1,2

The first drawings are uncontrolled vortices coming from the motor functions of a small hand moving in circles, the movement of life. (Fig. 1) Rocking hand movements produce tracks that move to and fro. The nature of the forms is partly determined by the structure of the joints and the degree to which hand and arm muscles have matured. The many variations seen in the second and third years of life, soon with highly expressive forms, will not be covered here.

The middle or end of the third year is of vital importance. Let us consider what happens when a young child stands at a small table, breathing hard, and awkwardly draws a curve on the paper (Fig. 2). Using every ounce of concentration available, the child endeavors to make the line, however, uneven, close up in a circle. Now the breath is let go, indicating deep satisfaction, for something has been achieved. An enclosed space has been set apart from the world of infinite possibilities. The child will try again, and yet again, as if to confirm the achievement. For some days circles are drawn on one sheet of paper after another. This is also the time when a child begins to say “I” to her- himself with meaning, discovering him- herself to be something that does not exist again in the same way and stands out from the whole world around it. The child has been an “I” for some time, but only now becomes conscious of this.

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Waldorf Journal Project 6: Thoughts on the Idea of Evolution

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compiled by Arthur Auer
from the writings of Wolfgang Schad, Rudolf Steiner, Jos Verhulst, Hermann von Poppelbaum, and Martyn Rawson

Preparatory materials for discussing the question: Is the human being an animal? (with major implications for questions on human freedom and morality).

The Idea of Evolution in Pedagogy: Human Ancestors and the Development of Humanity
The discoveries [of the six million year old hominid orrorin tugensis and seven million year old sahelanthropos tschadensis] tell us that the shared and original ancestor of our close relatives the human-like apes and of human beings is, in fact, a mixed or combined form (Mischform). And this is indeed logical because the common primeval form (Urform) of this ancestor must have contained the potentiality for both directions of development. Both the lineage of apes and the lineage of humans arose out of this common ancestor’s potentiality. The ancestor apparently possessed not only the potential for both, but also the capacity to impart form to both (Formgebung).

These oldest of recent findings of early humanity fit the portrayal Rudolf Steiner has presented of the ancestors that apes and human have in common. He put forth the following analogy:

. . . [the separation of the animal forms was actually necessary to the human being. Each animal form which separated in bygone times from the general stream signifies that man had then progressed a step further. Imagine that all the qualities distributed throughout the animal kingdom were in the human being. He has purified himself from them. Through this man was able to develop further [Translator)]. If we take a muddy liquid and allow the gross matter in it to settle to the bottom, the finer part remains at the top. In the same way the grosser parts which man would have been unable to use for his present condition of development have been deposited like a sediment in the animal forms. Through man having cast out of his line of development these animal forms— his elder brothers, as it were—he has reached his present height. GA 104, The Apocalypse of St. John, Lecture IV, p. 81–82)

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Waldorf Journal Project 6: Three Kinds of Milk- A Tale from the Swiss Alps

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by Conrad Englert-Faye

A long, long time ago in the Hasli region of Switzerland, high upon the Breithorn Alp, a herdsman and dairyman was grazing his cows for the summer, just like he did every year. His name was Res. Every evening, when the sun started turning golden, he would run around jumping and shouting and crying out for joy so that the sound echoed loudly off the cliffs all around. But his singing was raw and ungainly and the tone was shrill and piercing. Because, you see, at that time the beautiful yodeling that we know today had not yet resonated through the Swiss Alps.

One evening, after the sun had sunk below the mountain tops and Res was finished with his jubilant shrieking, he went into the hut, climbed up to the hay loft and stretched himself out on his straw mat. He was very tired from the long day’s work and soon he fell into a deep and peaceful slumber; but not for long. In the middle of the night he was suddenly awakened by a noise. It seemed to him that he could hear the fire sizzling downstairs. He rubbed his eyes and quickly slid off the mattress—and looked! But he just as quickly, and almost lame with fear, looked away again. My Lord, my Lord! What did he see!

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Waldorf Journal Project 6: Waldorf Education in South Africa

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by James Pewtherer

A report on the work of the Hague Circle – May 2005

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it. The road climbs seven miles into them, to Carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa.
– Alan Paton in Cry, the Beloved Country

That this country of South Africa would be beautiful, I had no doubt. That it would be so stunning was beyond anything I imagined. It is a society of many colors, of eleven official languages and of almost 45 million people, 35 million of whom are black. Every conversation we had inevitably made reference to the 1994 election as the turning point for what South Africa is to become. Numerous times, we heard, “Everyone who lives here is a South African.” Everywhere, we met hopefulness. From the white people who now find themselves as the disadvantaged ones in seeing that their grown children cannot find work; to the mixed race people (the so-called coloreds) who wonder if they are now invisible to the black government leaders; to the blacks who strive to become part of the middle class; there was always an optimism that South Africa will be different than any other country in the world.

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Waldorf Journal Project 6: A South African Elegy

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by Margarethe Mehren

Waldorf Journal Project 6: Encouragement for Sculpture

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A lecture held at the Craft Teachers’ Conference of German Waldorf Schools in Mulheim/Rühr on March 28th, 1999 (Artistic Feeling for Form: Developmental Suggestions for Early Modeling)

Many class teachers find sculptural modeling (plastisches Gestalten) to be difficult to do regularly or at all with their students. Frequently responsibility for this activity is given over to art specialist teachers. This can mean that students only begin to model in the ninth grade in high school. Modeling is felt to be messy and dirty, and Rudolf Steiner’s statements on the pedagogical justification and vital importance of this artistic activity are often overlooked or ignored.

These few short provocative comments should already indicate that what we have here is basically a problem of will and courage. And yet we have at our disposal a quite sufficient wealth of warm, enthusiastic insights and basic knowledge to fire up our wills and inspire us to model again with our children.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 6: Encouragement for Sculpture

Waldorf Journal Project 6: Memories of a Former Waldorf Student

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by Margarethe Mehren

“But where there is danger, the saving force grows as well.”
This quote from Hölderlin has taken on an ever-deeper meaning throughout my life, and so it shall preface this attempt at writing an account of my experience as a student of the Waldorf School, Stuttgart.

The Beginnings
I was born on May 21, 1933 in Stuttgart. My father, Ernst Mehren, originally came from Bendorf near Koblenz on the Rhine. He would have liked to become a professional musician, but he had to choose the career of a merchant, and it was hoped that he would later manage the business of his father. However, these plans were never realized, as a result of World War I—in which my father served as a young volunteer soldier—and the ensuing worldwide economic depression. He settled in Stuttgart, where he had met my mother during a business trip. Later attempts to return to the Rhineland and to start a business there were always thwarted by my mother, who couldn’t bring herself to leave Stuttgart. Every few years we planned a move to the Rhineland; we children already were saying goodbye to our classmates, the moving truck had almost been ordered, but at the last minute the move was always cancelled. This gave me a sense of living ‘on the edge,’ so-to-say, during my early years.
My mother, Melanie Mehren, born Klemm, was born in Ludwigsburg, but she grew up in Stuttgart. She was talented in painting and drawing and was interested in art and literature. As a housewife she surely felt unfulfilled. Life in a small rental flat in a house of nine families was in itself a burden. I heard the grown-ups say time and again “If I had been given the chance to study when I was young? If I only had taken a different decision? I wish I had?” Would this happen to me, too? How could I avoid it?

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