Leistung und Vertrauen –  Vertrauen und Leistung

A report from Israa Hegab.

I first learned about Anthroposophy during my teaching years in Sekem, but the term was not used explicitly. The weekly meetings with Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish were my only source. They reinforced my longing for a deeper meaning of life. Every Saturday for three years, my mind, soul and wellbeing were enlightened, strengthened and penetrated with the idea of Anthroposophy. I was excited and scared at the same time. Seeking knowledge is brave and going for the unknown can be frightening.

Although these meetings were a big step in my path, they were too short and too few to fulfill my curiosity. But after joining the International Master’s Course at Freie Hochschule Stuttgart last year, I can gather more of the missing pieces to get a complete image.

The thoughts I had formed in those weekly meetings were quite simple, not detailed and could only be considered as an introduction. However, I could not find another source for this kind of wisdom, as spirituality is not a common goal for people of my background. On the other hand, the lack of another source of spiritual knowledge lead me to develop my own thoughts and beliefs. Those thoughts stayed in my heart and mind until I could read and hear them in a different form during my studies.

I heard the term Anthroposophy for the first time on the day I arrived in Stuttgart. During the eighteen months of the Master’s Course, I found a concept to give names to my thoughts and ideas and I started to develop a lively image of them. My path to understand Anthroposophy had begun with uncomfortable feelings which resulted from my longing for the meaning of life and the truth beyond it. I was searching for the meaning of plants, animals, humans, stars, planets and the universe, the connection among them and with the spiritual world. The spiritual world exists in my inner being, as a reflection on the observation of the physical world received by my senses. When I read Rudolf Steiners ›Theosophy‹, the highlight for me was how he defined truth and goodness as meaning essentially the same. This welcomed me into his worldview

The distractions around me are shouting at me all the time. They have created a wall between the spiritual world and myself. I have a strong feeling that originally I came from a high and faraway place. I believe that I hold, in my being, a part that belongs to a whole, which is the spirit. Moreover, the spirit is always there as I belong to it. The connections we create and build with another human, a plant, an animal or the cosmos are deep and vitally important. I mean this in an empowering way – not as a debilitating superstition. We can listen to the cosmos, to nature and the music of the spheres they create. That’s what I’m trying to develop as a skill while listening to these spiritual messages trough my physical body by way of sensible perception. Studying Theosophy helped me to comprehend how we act and behave in different situations, using what we have in common with natural beings like minerals, plants and animals.

I believe we share our physical body with the minerals, our etheric body with the plants, our soul with the animals, and we share a part of the highest world, the spirit. I also recognize that it is a duty to serve those other elements  and beings through our human qualities. Our deeds and actions can be more true and good if we connect our inner self with the spirit.

Using education to serve the enlightenment of humans in their childhood is a suitable process for keeping this connection. Waldorf schools and education are trying to open the children’s senses to hear, look, touch, smell, taste, feel and see. On the other side, a continual class teacher for six to eight years helps both the children and their teacher to reach a deeper connection. It also helps the class teacher to better understand his pupils and to develop him- or herself. This kind of connection and understanding enables the pupils to safely explore the territory of knowledge of our world and the spiritual dimension behind it.

Using education to serve the enlightenment of humans in their childhood is a suitable process for keeping this connection. Waldorf schools and education are trying to open the children’s senses to hear, look, touch, smell, taste, feel and see. On the other side, a continual class teacher for six to eight years helps both the children and their teacher to reach a deeper connection. It also helps the class teacher to better understand his pupils and to develop him- or herself. This kind of connection and understanding enables the pupils to safely explore the territory of knowledge of our world and the spiritual dimension behind it.

I didn’t have an educational degree before my Master’s Course, but I have worked as a teacher for four years. During this time, I found that students need guidance more than the conveyance of knowledge. They can learn by themselves, but they need the tools to understand how they can reflect on what they learn and how to transform it into a real knowledge of the world. Before joining the faculty of Sekem School, I only had some suggestions to improve the education system. I would like to share some of them with the eager readers now: a free curriculum that is adapted to the surroundings of the child; outside lessons at least once every other day; a teacher who listens to his students, reacts to them and provides a wide range of practical experience. Those ideas were almost fulfilled at Sekem School when I have approached some teachers and attended their lessons. The only missing point was the free curriculum because the general curriculum as defined by the ministry of education is obligatory if the school wants to keep its status. On the other hand, experienced and well-trained teachers are able to create a space for the Waldorf curriculum, mainly in the form of projects. The arts and handicrafts like woodwork or knitting are also applied.

But I didn’t get the full picture of Waldorf education until I began my master’s course. My first, primitive definition of Waldorf education would be, that it is an initiation to reach the origin and the essence of what is taught. Painting and drawing, for example, have helped me to touch the essence of colors. This has helped me to form an image of a particular color, which I can convey to my pupils so they can create their own images in their souls. But it doesn’t stop there. It is touching to watch people express what they feel through the colors. They are able to reach their spirit.

Now I understand both the practical and the theoretical aspects of Waldorf education. This movement has spread across the world, in different cultures and countries. It is a global initiative that works for Change.

What I would like to implement when I start working as a class teacher is the idea to give the children more guidance in their process of learning. I have noticed that they are more aware than previous generations; this could be a result of the present dominance of the intellect. This guidance could be provided through the delegation of some responsibilities in the classroom, or in the form of a free teaching lesson, where a pupil leads instead of the teacher. The frequency of this will depend on the grade level and the pupils in question. Nowadays, teachers are asked to grant more openness, a wider space in education. I would use the term »teaming up« to describe this new relationship between pupils, teachers and the mutual process of learning.

Israa Hegab

From Egypt and pursues her master’s degree at Freie Hochschule Stuttgart. She is a member of an Arabic translation team that widens the gate for Waldorf education in Egypt and the Arab countries.