To what degree is Waldorf education of its time? Is it contemporary? These questions are put forward by Neil Boland, senior lecturer at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. He looks towards possible futures and finding new forms of and for education. This is his second article; the first, “A sense of place within the Waldorf curriculum”, asks how Waldorf pedagogy can find its place within local cultures and the extent to which it localises itself when it moves beyond its European beginnings.
I would like to address a second audit – one of time, of being of one’s time. It needs to look at how time is treated, where in the flow of time the Waldorf movement places itself. Waldorf education’s relationship to place is important. I have come to think that the importance of realising our relationship to time and to the needs of the time we live in is nothing short of critical.
Education for today
I think many of us at some time have heard Waldorf education called ‘an education for the future.’ Maybe even ‘THE education for the future.’ As a concept I don’t have difficulty with this, though I would argue that we need to be an education of today, rather than for tomorrow.
In lecture one of “The Foundations of Human Experience”, Steiner says: “We must have a living interest in everything happening today, otherwise we will be bad teachers for this school. We dare not have enthusiasm only for our special tasks. We can only be good teachers when we have a living interest in everything happening in the world” (1).
Waldorf education has had a documented tendency to self-ghettoise itself (2), to live in a bubble, to isolate itself from wider education debates and from other education professionals. The older the student, the more important is it for them to know that their teachers are keenly interested in everything happening in the world, up with every trend and topic, ahead of the game in their area of expertise and are actively ‘people to today.’