Leisure 4.0

Henning Kullak-Ublick

In 1950 there were 515,000 cars in Germany, in 2017 it was 46 million. In 1955 Lufthansa resumed its operations with two aircraft which could each carry 44 passengers, in 2016 statistically at least every second inhabitant of this earth made at least one journey by air. The last manually operated local telephone exchange in Germany closed in 1966 – today 63 percent of all ten- to twelve-year-olds and 93 percent of thirteen- to sixteen-year-olds possess a smartphone. So, we have the technical means to lead an unfettered life but, equally, are faced with the pertinent educational question how our souls and the souls of our children can still – or rather: again – keep up with this.

In the federally organised education policy of the German states, studies are launched from time to time about the infectious spread of “urgently necessary measures”, studies which are mostly triggered in some way by regional elections, or connected with the Bertelsmann Foundation, industrially influenced lobby groups and ignorance about education – but always with the fear of missing a trend.

A particularly successful illustration of this is the introduction of the “turbo Abitur”, the idea of shortening the period in secondary school to the final school leaving exams (Abitur) by a year,  which meanwhile has been or is being abolished again in most of the German federal states because those affected, that is the pupils, teachers and parents, cannot cope with the associated stress. Another example is the propagation of ever new waves of digitalised learning which under pressure from an industry worth many billions is being driven forward under the motto: “Once we have the technology, we’ll think of something for which it can be used.” (Secret addendum: “By that time it will be out of date anyway and we can sell the next generation.”)

Stop! School is one of the few remaining public spaces today in which we can refuse to participate in the rat race of the economisation of the whole of our life trimmed to machine-compatible efficiency. More than anything else, the important thing here is that adults, just as children and young people, practice observing with precision, feeling with perception, thinking in living concepts acquired out of a contemplative power of judgement, obtaining depth and security in life through repetition, and involving their will in the creation of a world in which what currently makes it ill can heal again.

In order to be able to see, feel, think and create connections and relationships, our children need leisure. Re-conquering the latter is perhaps the most radical revolution in education of the present time. Let’s do it!

About the author: Henning Kullak-Ublick, class teacher from 1984 -2010 at the Flensburg Free Waldorf School; board member of the German Association of Waldorf Schools, the Friends of Waldorf Education and the International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Education – The Hague Circle, as well as coordinator of Waldorf100 and the author of the book Jedes Kind ein Könner. Fragen und Antworten an die Waldorfpädagogik.