How has Waldorf pedagogy adapted to Social Distancing?
Can we continue calling ourselves Teachers during these times of implementation of distancing between students and tutors?
“The study of men” is a text written by Rudolf Steiner as the fundament for Waldorf Education, this text gathers 14 conferences from which he guides the practicing teachers and people interested in this pedagogical approach by knowing the man through the psychic, spiritual, and corporal planes, it was by these knowings that he structured the curriculum for this pedagogy.
At the same time, the teacher learns in the knowledge of man, the discovery of his or her own process, septennial by septennial until reaching the verification by him or herself, the truth on the fundaments and the application according to ages and corresponding grades.
Regarding this fundaments, the teacher structures his lessons knowing the need of nurturing the students, paying attention to the three basic faculties shaping the being; thinking, feeling, and doing, which will have the adaptation needed according to the regarding grade. This means, the curricula are planned according to the nature of the children and moves forward according to their growth. And so, the teacher slowly becomes one with the students, and over this base built with trust, the psychic, cognitive, and creative development of the group can be achieved.
It is inferred then that the presence of the tutor in front of the classroom activities is indispensable for what he is and for everything that makes him be the accompanying teacher of the group of children: his bearing, his gestures, his diction, his way of declaiming or narrating the themes, shaping or rounding off every day’s presentations.
The global situation currently experimented has established the need for the implementation of virtual encounters between children and teachers. They have generously accommodated to these ways of working, novel and attractive, but highly harmful in a long-range term when pursuing the achievement of an autonomous individuality and freedom, which is the central subject in Waldorf education.
Teachers have replaced their classrooms with cold virtual meetings, where you can only share the technical-academical knowings and the general subjects regarding the institution as the actions planned for each week.
Plants and gardens have remained at the mercy of one or two keepers, and this is what they are doing, watching, and protecting the physical facilities of our school. But the institution, as a living being, impoverishes in the silence for the absence of whom are its blood, children, and teachers, coming and going through its trails, running, jumping, singing, yelling, and lively learning.
The absence and the distancing from the others and from ourselves – since it is in the encounter in which our being achieve the mirroring and therefore the polishing of the human stages – brings the questioning of the why is humanity passing through this situation.
Regarding our labor as teachers: How are we doing it? How much of ourselves is transforming at the sight of our students to reach the heights of role models? Are we understanding the contrast with the virtual encounters and digging out the teachings to give even more life to those who will come after this stage ends? Are we achieving to transmit to the families that the virtual modality is transitory and that we must go back to the classroom where a learning experience is an act of warm breathing in which we give and receive as a group, as a family, and as an institution?
This too shall pass! And will leave greater learnings for us, being one of the most important to realize of the great need of a kind gesture, the sight, and a hug that recognizes us as human beings, worthy of being called the Crown of the creation.
Gloria Elena Londoño / Pedagógica Director, Escuela Caracol.