Reflection on Vital Virtues
While John helped us examine our relationships with money, Douglas, who also gave a Parent Education lecture in February, spoke with teachers about the three virtues that are essential for a healthy institution. These he said were Faith (not blind faith but a type that is embedded in knowledge), Love, and Hope. And while we strive to live into the light of each of the virtues, we are also vulnerable to each virtue’s own shadow: Doubt (shadow of Faith), Hate (shadow of Love), and Fear (shadow of Hope).
During our recent election season and the many events since, we have had to awaken to tremendous amounts of doubt, fear, and even hate in our country, much of which we had been blind to. And we’ve had to ask many difficult questions in recent months. How do we see these events and not feel despair? How do we not numb ourselves or become disengaged from the world? How do we see these shadows, really see them, and then awaken to our task of transforming ourselves to live into the light of these virtues? How do we raise and educate children in this world context?
I’ve discovered there is hope. Let’s take the virtue of Love for example. Love, we might say, is the capacity to discern the divine spark in every human being. When we lose sight of the divine spark of someone else, Hate arises. Not just “hateful” people, but I think we are all vulnerable to this. Yes, well-meaning Seattleites too… So, once we fall into Hate, how do we move back towards Love?
The logical step would be to make a reconnection. But that is far easier said than done. The underlying capacity that we can develop is Imagination — to be in one position, step into another, and then come back into one’s own — for if we truly step into another’s shoes it is impossible to hate him or her. This ability to rock from one perspective to another opens the possibility for reconnection and thus back to Love.
Here I think the strength of Waldorf education really comes in. Daily the children hear stories, and in the process picture themselves into the scenes and characters that are described. In the following days, we work with what arose in their imagination.
On one of the days during the week before our break, I asked each desk group of four children to reflect upon the story from the day before, to talk amongst themselves what left a strong impression, then choose a scene that they could collectively express as a statue using only their bodies. I then asked them to agree upon and write down the title of their sculpture. Each group came up to the front of the classroom to present their human sculpture and held the pose for five seconds. We had a chance to guess the title before they revealed what they had written.
Article by Daichi Hirata (grade two class teacher at the Meadowbrook campus and SWS alum), published in the Chalkboard newsletter on 3.8.2017.