HOST (IN SLOVENIAN): Forward-thinking viewers, welcome to this week's edition of Good People, Good Works featuring an innovative form of pedagogy that provides new impetus for the growth and development of future generations - Waldorf Education, also known as Rudolf Steiner or Steiner-Waldorf Education. Bringing out the best in his or her children is every parent's dream, and the Waldorf Education system is designed to provide the ideal conditions for making this goal a reality.
Begun in the early ２０th century by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the Waldorf approach strives to transform conventional education into an art that cultivates and enriches a child's whole being, including body, mind and spirit. At the same time, it promotes individual initiative and personal worth to the greatest degree possible. Dr. Steiner was also the founder of anthroposophy, a method of inner development and spiritual research born out of the philosophy of freedom that arose in the １９th century.
For more than ２４ years Dr. Steiner pursued a healthy, plant-based diet, practiced meditation, and sought spiritual advancement. All the while, he also wrote numerous books and articles, and lectured around the world on topics related to spiritual science and human development. Having an early interest in tutoring, at age １４ Rudolf Steiner took on his first pupils, preparing lessons in various fields from mathematics to bookkeeping.
Through his experiences as a tutor, the young Steiner came to realize that effective education should not only be an intellectual pursuit but also an art based on true knowledge of the human body, mind, and spirit.２ Thus, on September ７, １９１９, under the auspices of factory owner Emil Molt and guided by Dr. Steiner's call for renewal, the first Waldorf School was founded in Stuttgart, Germany for the children of the factory employees.
The goal of the new school was to prepare students academically and also as 『whole humans』 with practical life skills through the development of creative thinking, confidence in their own ability, a reverence for life and other humans, and a sense of personal responsibility. Waldorf teachers strive to present curricula in such a way as to inspire and motivate each child's creative, inner forces and thus generate an enthusiasm for life-long learning.
So how is a Waldorf School different from conventional schools？ Dr. Steiner believed that children pass through three basic stages: from birth to ６ or ７ years old, from ７ to １４, and then adolescence from １４ to １８ years old. Children of different age groups enter preschool／kindergarten, elementary and high school, respectively, and receive age-appropriate instruction. In Waldorf schools, beautiful, loving home-like environments are cultivated, with classroom walls typically painted in lively colors and adorned with student artwork. These vibrant atmospheres combined with enthusiastic teaching welcome students into a world of imagination and creativity.
Waldorf preschool or kindergarten provides a bridge from home to school, supporting the development of young children through imaginative play, purposeful work, movement, social and artistic endeavors, and language development. Students are introduced to domestic, practical and artistic activities including baking, painting, gardening and handicrafts, using １００％ natural materials such as wood, stone, metal, and cotton. No plastic or electronic devices can be found on the school grounds. Students stay with the same teacher for the duration of the school year, so that the teacher is able to recognize the individual strengths of each child. The heart of the Waldorf approach is to view education as an art.
In Waldorf elementary schools, all subjects, such as arithmetic, biology and English are presented through direct experience and usually associated with art, poetry, music, drama and movement. New material is introduced as a personal exchange between teacher and student rather than from a textbook. Evidence of student activity can be found in every corner of a Waldorf school, and the desks hold beautifully written and illustrated main lesson books created by students for each subject.
In addition to math, English and physical education, subjects such as foreign languages, art, music and eurythmy, also known as movement, are taught through hands-on methods. As the Waldorf motto states, 『To truly educate a child, the heart and will must be reached as well as the mind.』
Students who graduate from Waldorf schools tend to be highly successful in later life. Today, the Waldorf system is the world's fastest growing, independent, non-denominational educational movement, with over １,０００ schools and １,４００ kindergartens in Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Georgia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Israel, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Japan, the United States, Canada, and ３５ other countries.６
The schools exist in large cities, small towns, suburbs, and rural villages. Although each Waldorf school is independent and no two are identical, the basic tenets of the Waldorf method are common to all. Stemming from Dr. Steiner's philosophy, many of the schools also offer nutritious, environmentally friendly, vegetarian meals for lunch.
In a １９２４ lecture entitled 『Nutrition and Health』, given to workers in Dornach, Germany, Dr. Steiner discussed the benefits of the vegetarian diet as follows.
VOICE (f): 『If a person decides that he can change over from a meat to a vegetarian diet, he will feel stronger than he was before because he is no longer obliged to deposit alien fat in his body; he makes his own fat, and this makes him feel stronger. I know this from my own experience. I could not otherwise have endured the strenuous exertion of these last twenty-four years！ I never could have traveled entire nights, for instance, and then given a lecture the next morning. For it is a fact that if one is a vegetarian, one carries out a certain activity within one that is spared the non-vegetarian.』
HOST: In February ２００８, in memory of the passing of Slovenia's beloved president Dr. Janez Drnovšek, a renowned author and hero to countless people who worked to create a better world, Supreme Master Ching Hai traveled to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana to express her deepest sympathies to Dr. Drnovšek's loved ones and people.
While in the country, Supreme Master Ching Hai met with government officials and members of the Slovenian press, including Ms. Barbara Žgajner Tavš, parliament member and representative of The Foundation to Help Children, and Mr. Iztok Kordiš, Waldorf School headmaster in Maribor, Slovenia, who is a vegetarian.
Slovenia is a beautiful country located in Central Europe with Italy on the west, Croatia on the south and east, Hungary on the northeast, and Austria on the north. It also has a small strip of coastline along the Adriatic Sea. The country has two Waldorf kindergartens and lower schools in Maribor and the capital Ljubljana, and also an upper school in Ljubljana. Altogether, about ４５０ students attend Slovenia's Waldorf kindergartens and schools. The principles of Waldorf education also apply to schools serving special-needs children.
Iztok Kordis (m): What we are now doing in the project is also the project for people with special needs.
We have these different disabilities of the children, and so now you help children that need more help but they reach the normal standard, and then you help children who can not reach (it).
Iztok Kordis (m): We are doing it already here in Waldorf School also, because our policy is to include all different kinds. So, it's not only that this is a special school for this and that kind of children, but those children can come in the normal school and be a part of the school with their abilities because what's quite usual is that every that kind of child has very highly developed one quality, but low developed the others. So, and in this quality he can really contribute to the others.
HOST: Mr. Kordiš became the headmaster of Ljubljana Waldorf kindergarten in ２０００. His own children also study at the school. Upon learning of the school's dedicated efforts to help youngsters in need, Supreme Master Ching Hai graciously donated €１０,０００ to help support a special project for those students.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: These are for your school, for your office.
HOST: During her visit at the school, Supreme Master Ching Hai expressed her deep concern about the dire condition of our planet and the urgent need for people to switch to the life-saving vegan diet.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: I always think Waldorf is vegetarian.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: I think Waldorf school is a very idealistic school, it should be for environmental.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: There is not a question of choice. It is life and death right now.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Meat eating is damaging to the environment a lot.
We have only several years, have only one or two years to change our life otherwise we don't have a planet not to talk about meat or not meat. So, we must , I think Waldorf School should change their policy to make an example for other schools.
I always look upon Waldorf School
in my heart. I always thought it's a very natural inclined school; it's teaching the children in a higher method and higher ideology. I always have admiration for Waldorf school. So if, for this reputation, if you start all-vegetarian diet, that would have been a very big influence for the world's schools.
HOST: While not all Waldorf schools currently choose plant-based meals, Ljubljana Waldorf Kindergarten, fortunately, has always offered vegetarian food since its inception. Headmaster Mr. Kordiš observed that there has definitely been a positive shift in attitude toward the vegetarian diet.
Iztok Kordis (m): We already have an influence. Because at the beginning when we started, it was a big attack because we had also this vegetarian food.
Iztok Kordis (m): But now it has changed.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Everywhere in all the schools？ I
ztok Kordis (m): Every other school they have a choice. And now they are talking even that everybody, every school must have a choice.
HOST: After their auspicious meeting, Mr. Iztok Kordiš sent a letter expressing his gratitude for Supreme Master Ching Hai's caring generosity, which has made a significant difference in the lives of hundreds of Slovenia's chronically ill children in need. The letter reads as follows:
VOICE (f): To Supreme Master Ching Hai, On behalf of the Waldorf School Ljubljana, I thank you for your generous donation to our school. It would be of great help in the field of developing good work for the needs of children. Sincerely, Iztok Kordiš
HOST: With Heaven's grace, may other schools soon join Waldorf School Ljubljana in the compassionate circle of education, including the offering of life-enhancing vegetarian meals for their young and beautiful students. Our salute and appreciation, Waldorf Schools, for your devotion to continuing the important legacy of esteemed pioneering educator and vegetarian Dr. Rudolf Steiner. Your good work has contributed greatly to providing a safe, nurturing and creative environment for each child to develop optimally in body, mind, and spirit.
We wish all the staff abundant God's blessings in your noble endeavors. May the students' future shine brilliantly on a kind and sustainable Earth.