The first time I had noticed it was in class 9 when he worked at a blacksmith’s and she on a farm – there had to be horses, of course. They inhabited their bodies in a different way. She had dirt under her fingernails instead of nail varnish on them; he very quickly changed his Baggy Pants and white Chucks for work clothes and steel-capped safety boots.
And so it went on: in class 10 it was an internship – this time with a graphic design business and a theatre costume designer. Then in class 11 it was a work placement in a social setting – with a Hamburg food bank and in the neonatal department in Tübingen – and they kept growing that little bit more beyond themselves, could see themselves as a farmer, blacksmith, tailor, social worker or doctor.
But work placements at Waldorf schools are not primarily intended to function as career guidance. There are work placements because in educational terms they follow the development trajectory of the growing person: it starts with supporting the development of practical judgement skills and then, building on that, theoretical judgement skills. This is followed by social and, finally, individual judgement skills. In other words: the objects in the world of work educate us to act in the right and appropriate way: the seedling cannot be planted with the roots facing upwards and iron turns into a firework if the forge becomes too hot. Such knowledge which is obtained through experience is deepened through the science of materials in the widest sense: how does that work and why? What work techniques are there? Then there is the interpersonal dimension of work and in conclusion, as the crowning glory, doing something on our own responsibility.
Today they work in completely different professions – he is a hotel manager and she is a bookseller. But something has stayed with them from that time – the time when she was a farmhand and he a blacksmith. It is something which their classmates in class 9 gave them because of the enthusiastic way they reported back about it: their nicknames Fury und Pixie – and the skills they can call on everywhere and always for the whole of their life.