My husband and I were fortunate enough to spend a fortnight travelling and exploring the Melbourne area and Tasmania in Australia. With my connection to Waldorf Education I naturally visited a few Steiner Schools as they are referred to, hoping to quell my insatiable curiosity of I wonder what the Waldorf Schools are like in Australia? When one travels away from one’s home country the world appears so vast but ‘lightening technology’ has made it possible for people to meet, travel and explore living and working in other lands too making the world not such BIG place after all! As is the case with many Waldorf Schools around the globe is their initial motivation for opening the school: where the school is in its development, a city or more rural location and the wish of the community to foster diversity and tolerance. This is something quite familiar to Waldorf Schools here in South Africa too.
In gazing and walking around the grounds and buildings I felt immediately ‘at home’ – a sense of belonging and connection to a task and vision that is shared by others too. Not to mention the affirming visual evidence of colour in the buildings, teachers’ expressive artistic drawings on good old chalkboards, soft natural furnishings like a luxury sheep pelt for each child to sit on) but more importantly evidence of happy relevant learning taking place in the classrooms and dedicated passionate teachers and staff. And what of the children, well they were simply being children chatting, singing, freely and energetically moving around familiar beautiful spaces.
Returning to Gaia Waldorf School in the Oude Molen Village, we too are exposed to beliefs, opinions and wishes of people from various cultural backgrounds which at times are a challenge particularly when suggestions come forward to alter aspects of the Waldorf Curriculum. How incredible it is that Waldorf Schools share this common vision of striving to lay the foundations for an education for life drawing on the knowledge of the human beings true nature and needs, ‘Anthroposophy’ meaning the wisdom of the human being which Rudolf Steiner based his work on direct knowledge and science of spirit for anyone willing to exercise clear and unprejudiced thinking.
In this light, guiding children through the Waldorf Curriculum can only be enhanced and enriched by factors such as the schools location, religious, historical and cultural backgrounds of its community. But more importantly it’s an opportunity to meet each other as human beings bringing our own history and future aspirations into the mix; to nurture what ‘unites’ us human beings and not the opposite. Wishing the children, teachers and parents, those who have an opportunity, to enjoy a restful break.
School Projects Officer