I am supposedly on a sabbatical! Yet being away from the context of Waldorf Education comes with heavy withdrawal symptoms! The role of a teacher in our culture has changed over the years – from the ‘sacrosanct’ to the secondary place that they are now being given in competition with the machine. As my thoughts weave in and out about the role of a teacher, I realize that though my context could be viewed as limited to ‘Waldorf Education’, in reality it is universal. Universal, since the psychological structure of human beings bears a certain homogeneous pattern. But the homogeneous pattern hides within its sheaths, highly individualized beings, who need to come to fruition. Perhaps the right approach to teaching can lead to this blossoming and fruition.
I recall my daily experience in the school bus. As my school bus drove down the roads, many large hoardings bearing advertisements of schools would meet my gaze. They had an ‘in the face’quality highlighting all the technological advantages that the child had by being in the school! Somehow computers, audio visual aids and electronic equipment have captured the imagination – or rather the lack of imagination of our times. Welcome to the Technoschool age! Don’t get me wrong. I am no hater of advances of these kinds. The big question is what is the right place for these technological advances? Where do they belong?
Every day as we got down from the bus, a little girl greeted my colleague with a hearty smile and a lovely ‘Good morning Sireesha teacher’. A daily ritual that sprang right out of her heart. Her eyes sparkled. Her whole body delighted in having set eyes on her teacher. It was given and received as a gift. A tinge of envy ran through all the non-Sireeshas in the bus! Can’t imagine a computer being greeted thus!
Many parents who approach Waldorf Schools wish to know the difference between other child-friendly alternatives and Waldorf Schools. It lies in the place that Waldorf Education gives to the human being. Both the teacher and the taught. They are right there in the centre. In the relationship that develops between the teacher and the taught, blossoms the process of learning. The two are not separate! In the process of delving through what is psychologically homogeneous, the core being that is unique, surfaces – not just in the child but in the adult as well. Often the teacher becomes the taught in this dynamic process.
The author has been connected with Waldorf education in Hyderabad since 1996. She is now involved with teacher training in Waldorf and other educational contexts. She is based in Chennai and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.