What really sets Waldorf schools apart from mainstream education

What really sets Waldorf schools apart from mainstream education is the soul content of the curriculum. In class two this soul content comes in the form of animal fables and saint stories.The symbol of the circle defines the class one child, at one with the world and all that is in it. In class two this unity metamorphoses into two parallel lines and the children, or more accurately, the eight year old child starts to feel and live into the dual nature of the world, good and evil, black and white, our base natures and our highest calling.

The eight year old also starts to feel everything a lot more acutely and expresses it with the oft repeated phrase “but …… (insert name or pronoun) hurt my feelings.” They start to quarrel more and can become quite incensed when someone cheats at a game or pushes into the line. They sometimes feel very lost and alone in the world, without a single friend.
There are so many fables to tell that a year is not long enough to get through them all. They highlight our darker natures, pride, greed, jealousy but they also point the way to more virtuous qualities like humility, gratitude and charity.

The saint stories are based on historic figures, who, have reached beyond our human frailty and accomplished great tasks and miracles. The children, with their pure spirits, hear these stories and never question how these miracles could have been accomplished and they simply accept them as true. It is through the telling of the fables and saint stories that the eight year old’s soul is fed. There is no moralising or intellectualising of the content, the story is left to work into their dreams and touch their feelings. These stories allow them to find the balance between their emotions and their actions on earth.

The energies which were used to form their bodies up to the age of seven are now freed to awaken in their feelings, feelings of wonder, joy, pity, tenderness and sorrow. Manette Teitelbaum expresses it beautifully in Waldorf Education – A Family Guide, “A class two child is like a butterfly who has just emerged from the hard chrysalis and sits upon the leaf waiting expectantly for those glorious new wings to dry and strengthen. They are truly poised for flight.”

“These feelings are the currents of air on which these new butterflies will rise and find their relationship to the world around them.”

Melanie Francis
Class two teacher