I have been living intensely with the question: how long can we consider what we are doing in distance learning to be Waldorf education ? At what point does it become a Waldorf program, preferable, in our opinion, to any alternatives the parents may have, but no longer really an education in the sense we have come to understand that term?
The question of length is, of course, not really the most pertinent. It is a proxy for a point at which an ineffable quality of relationships gets lost, perhaps irretrievably, until such time as an actual personal encounter becomes possible again. I dare say that we don’t really know the answer to that question. I read that there are those who demand that schools shutter themselves because there is no possible way of doing Waldorf education through the internet. Others believe that this is the beginning of a whole new way of practicing Waldorf education. I don’t feel that I have a great deal of clarity yet. I live with this question and try to observe the actual experience, allowing it to percolate into consciousness in its own time. I can say that the one student who missed a lot of time before school dispersed, and who therefore has been only “visible” to me as a computer image for a couple of months now, feels less fully available (to me) as a presence.
We are now passed the etheric cycle that I mentioned in Ruminations #2, and I expect that new challenges will arise both for the teachers and for the schools. The habit bodies of parents and students will lose the immediacy of the physical locations and the people who inhabit them, and I expect that greater doubts will manifest among those who have to keep the schools afloat financially. I hope I am wrong.
Today, while sitting in the cemetery above my town from earlier than previous sunrises, I found a new way of working with the images of my students. I offer it as my little Easter egg gift to those who want a spiritual technology to counter the electronic one.
Begin by contemplating four lights:
The natural light of the sun, especially at sunrise and sunset.
The light of the mind, that allows you to see in the sense of understanding.
The light of the computer screen: controllable, available, and cold.
The warm light that can pour out of your solar plexus and see the other person.
Now take each student: (I use the plural to avoid gendered pronouns. Forgive me.)
- See their face as it appears on your computer screen.
- “Pull it out” into a three-dimensional bust, perhaps down to the top of the shoulders. See it as vividly as you can, recreating their appearance.
- From your solar plexus, let a gentle river of warm light flow and engulf the bust. Allow the river to split as it meets the bust, and let little eddies of light gently swirl around the countenance of the child, feeling the qualities present. Pay special attention to the moment where your warm light meets the gaze of the student. It can feel overwhelming, but it is also the closest I have felt to being with my students since we stopped meeting in person.
Wishing all of you a wonderful day. Feel free to respond to any of this. It isn’t meant as some party line for anyone to follow, but as a contribution towards meeting the moment.
I am really thankful to those who have sent me photos of sunrises and sunsets.
Here is a sunrise from Germany: