I write to express my concern surrounding the recent announcement to the parents of the rising first grade class of the hiring of (Teacher) as teacher of their children next year. In my view, there are two fundamental problems that need to be addressed: 1. The legitimate concern that the skills and expertise that (Teacher) has developed over her professional life would not find an appropriate home in a lower school Waldorf classroom. 2. The lack of transparency in the decision making process that led to her selection.
I have taken the time to watch some of (Artwork produced by Teacher), of which (Teacher) is identified as being the co-creator. That this is a piece of art that has it’s place is not up for debate. Our society is awash in entertainment filled with gratuitous violence and sex and this is a slightly more nuanced treatment of these topics. (Teacher) has every right to spend her time and energy exploring and offering these themes to society. But, these are adult themes and the position (Teacher) is seeking is to be a keeper of the sacred realm of childhood.
There is a fundamental conflict here that cannot be overlooked. Children are incredibly open and receptive to the moods that the adults in their lives bring them. It would be impossible for an adult who has spent such energy and time exploring the dark aspects of the human experience to bring the levity and lightness that is required to guide children through these precious early years.
Rudolf Steiner said that we must not consider only the beautiful, but ugliness as well. Nor did Steiner shy away from engaging with the politics of his day. But, these burdens are reserved for adults and adults alone. Our job as parents and teachers is to preserve the innocence of childhood, to model goodness, beauty and truth so that our children can grow up to face the uncertainties of the future with moral purpose. That (Teacher) feels that she could bridge this divide—have one foot in the world of darkness and one foot in the world of light—indicates a fundamental lack of reverence for our children’s ability to discern authenticity, or an overestimation of her abilities to successfully lead such a double life.
As a humbled student of the works of Rudolf Steiner, I know how very little I know. But, what I do know with absolute clarity is that my work in this world is to bring light to the darkness. Even in our art, if we must explore the dark, we must carry the redemption of that darkness or we become tools of the forces of chaos. (Teacher’s) work is ambiguous on this point, so I really cannot discern where she stands and that renders her unfit for the position of a Waldorf grade teacher. I believe her talents would be better suited for a different setting and regret that the teacher selection process progressed so far without a more thorough vetting of her qualifications.
Which brings me to the second point: the teacher selection process. There is broad consensus that the process was obscure. Please note that I don’t have the first clue to whom this letter should be addressed. No one seems to have any information on how the decision was made and (Teacher’s) selection is obviously controversial. Did the decision makers not think that the parents would be concerned? This runs at cross purposes with one of the founding principles of Waldorf education as articulated by Steiner : “The school…will not be administered from above. We must not lean back and rest securely on a headmaster; we must be a republic of teachers…”
Unfortunately, this is symptomatic of conditions that I have observed since I joined the community two years ago. We must allow the free flow of communication and not be afraid to hear different perspectives and trust that together we can arrive at the best decisions for the community and above all, for the children. I dearly hope that this controversy that (Teacher) has brought will bear fruit by giving us the courage to transform this dark into light and awaken a renewed free cultural life at our school.
In the Light of Goodness, Beauty and Truth,