8th Year at Gaia

Let me start by saying how grateful I am to everybody involved in the decision making process three years ago which allowed for an 8th year position to be included in the budget. This means that after completing class 7 in the primary school and 7 years in playgroup and kindergarten each teacher is given a terms sabbatical or less depending on the class they started teaching in the primary school, for example some teachers step in to take over a class when their class teacher leaves. As I sadly took leave and said farewell to my class at the end of 2013 I also happily looked forward to a full term of rest.

I have just returned to Gaia after my terms sabbatical, feeling grateful, rested, refreshed and ready to meet the many challenges of a growing school. A week before returning however my colleagues and I attended the National Waldorf Teacher’s conference at Roseway Waldorf School in Durban. This conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other teachers and schools to share our successes, trials, inspirations and to gain a deeper understanding of the impulses which Waldorf education stems from. Although there are many lectures, discussion groups and artistic workshops to attend we all feel that our lives and thinking have been enriched in one way or another and the attitude of having lots to learn continues to guide our teaching.

On my sabbatical I spent a lot of time running around ordering bricks and lintels for our second building contractor because our first one turned out to be a rogue who ran off with our money, but that’s a story for a different newsletter. I also spent time in quiet reflection on the past seven years I spent with my class. This I now realise is a necessary activity that has to take place in order for the fruits of the previous seven years to ripen fully. Nothing is ever fully completed and there is always some new seed that may spring from the decay of an old plant. Our children need to learn in an environment where there is an appreciation that knowledge is something that continues to grow and unfold.

I did not have the privilege of a Waldorf education when I was younger and I have viewed my years of studying and teaching as a re-education. Having finished primary school I can feel the subtle benefits in the way I feel about the world around me. It’s difficult to describe or put into words as it is so ethereal and subtle that even I have difficulty holding onto it and understanding it sometimes. It is beautiful though and as a mother I am very clear that I am giving my children the best education possible.

One of the discussions that arose during our conference was why Waldorf education is not known or chosen by many people and how this can be changed. Answers and reasons were given and guessed at and it may always remain one of those things we will never know, but I think it’s an education you arrive at when you are ready to receive it for your soul’s growth. It is an education that I arrived at through my children. Many others parents are there because of their children without knowing too much about what Waldorf is and how it can enrich their own lives. It is a journey well worth exploring. I have forgotten the author of this quote but it has always stayed with me. “A mind that has been changed by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions.”

My gratitude ultimately lies with Rudolf Steiner, the genius behind Waldorf education.

Melanie Francis