FondsGoetheanum: Climate

"Experiencing the whole process shapes you".

Rediscovering Closeness to Nature

Steiner Waldorf Education was founded 100 years ago. Here the pupils experience the existential connection between man and nature firsthand at school.

A Friday morning in May 2019: a group of pupils is on their way to the meeting on the market square. Hand-painted coloured posters show the drama of climate change. The younger pupils in particular show their existential dismay at the state of the earth in plain and simple, direct language: "O, o! Five to twelve! - time to act now!
The deep sincerity of so many young people who speak out beyond mere reason and party affiliation is countered by the current reports on the increasing global warming. The glaciers are receding. On a North Frisian island, vines have now begun to be planted - at the same time the large outer dikes there have to be raised further due to the rising sea level.

Investment in agency

In view of these situations, every form of education today is challenged to invest in young people's energies and ability to act for the future. How, can an existential connection be formed between man and nature, nourished by a deep inner connection to the earth and its natural phenomena?

It begins already in childhood

This existential belonging is formed in childhood, when the child can experience ever deeper its relationship to nature and the world through its own activities. Every resonance between actual mental and spiritual development and real encounter stimulates the child's own inner impulses. For 100 years, Steiner-Waldorf education has been offering children this personal, deep experience in and with nature and the world.
In the years of infancy and kindergarten it is basic experiences of the senses and the will, that shape the connection with the environment. In the early school classes, these experiences are increasingly combined with emotions, which, for example in stories, create a deep spiritual closeness to the forces of nature.

From the field to baking bread

In the agricultural epoch of a 3rd or 4th class, parents and their children can experience the whole process up to baking bread - from cultivating the fields to sowing, harvesting and grinding the grain up to preparing the dough. The children realize that growth and maturation processes are strongly dependent on the climate.
In this way, the love of the surrounding nature has been anchored in joyful activity and nurturing, and the following years expand this connection to the whole of the earth: In experiencing the animal, plant and mineral world, the phenomena of the natural kingdoms are always elaborated, along with their significance for our human development.

Taking responsibility in nature conservation projects

From this awareness of belonging arises a further level of a sense of responsibility. In middle school classes, this is deepened in nature conservation projects, e.g. beekeeping, bird conservation or the renaturing of the moors.
The path described also poses a major challenge for the upper school: How can the complexity of climatic and ecological phenomena be captured and made aware in a lifelike context today? The holistic Goetheanistic natural sciences form an approach that leads from a thorough study of the phenomena and the many individual facts to an understanding of the living wholeness.

Signs of hope

The fact that so many students today express their emergent, legitimate ideals is a sign of hope. It challenges education to demonstrate responsible human behaviour out of an existential bond with nature and climate. It is the task of the schools to deal with these questions in a profound and humanly comprehensive way.

Claus-Peter Röh, Head of the Pedagogical Section at the Goetheanum