This concerns the question of the future of Waldorf education, the question of strengthening democracy, climate change and – unsurprisingly – the handling of the required coronavirus protection measures. Often I experience that the tension can no longer be borne and we pass the tipping point that leads to irreconcilable splits. I have had to experience this painfully in my circle of friends and in the college of teachers.
What can help to counter it? For example the awareness: tensions are good! They are based on diversity because they arise from different points of view on a topic. This brings depth, perspective and colour into life. I have my own point of view. Others look from other points of view. This enriches me and gets me out of my one-sided perspective. We talk and argue. This is how we create the world as a common location.
For this to succeed and for us to experience the positive energy that lies in such tension, we need to have some skills. This in turn lies at the core of the educational mission of school. The Waldorf school has a lot to offer here. We should reflect on this! I don’t have to adopt the other person’s point of view, but we must agree on a common method of accessing the world. The motto of the upper school is: “The world is true!” That means accepting that it is not as I would like to see it, but that I look at things and let observation teach me. Such an access to the world by each person can be practised excellently by means of phenomenology. We owe that to our students. But they have to experience this ability in us.
In order to be able to act, we have to make democratic decisions. That this can be done without discord should be exemplified by the “adults” in the schools. Also that it is possible to accept the binding nature of group decisions without first resolving conflicting views. There is nothing wrong with that! Within the methodological rules of democracy, binding decisions are made for all group members. This binding nature must be accepted. Until the same group changes the decision and democratically reverses it again.
We need a positive relationship to tension and should practise using it as a source of energy and elixir of life. Art shows us how: what would music be without the tension of dissonance and consonance? What would pictures be without form and colour tension – what should a drama live off? Isn’t it fortunate that no one knows everything, that we have the freedom to decide and that we can learn to use tensions as sources of energy? If the basic feeling of living in a true world is there as a basis!
Hans G. Hutzel is a board member of the German Association of Waldorf Schools.