The Social-Spiritual Organism

of a Waldorf School Community

by Joel A. Wendt

The essay below was submitted to, Renewal, a Waldorf parent's journal, in the Fall of 1998.  See also the essay: Waldorf Charter Schools in America: some social observations

[Some remarks regarding the method of research follow this essay.]

A healthy social-spiritual organism for a Waldorf School community is threefolded in two ways - a spiritually integrative gesture in which the threefolding takes a form analogous to that already known structure, which describes the human being as simultaneously spirit, soul and body; and, in a socially integrative gesture, similar to that of human physical form, which is so organized that functionally it displays, as aspects of a whole, those capacities which are realized in head, heart and hands.

Thus, there are two gestures in the social-spiritual organism of a School, which integrate in such a way that morphologically they can be symbolized in the image of the Cross combined with the image of the Circle.

The Circle is the social body of the school, and has the qualities of a Chalice. The Cross is the soul-spiritual body of the school and has the qualities of a Radiant Sun.

The various human beings associated with the organism of the school have different roles depending upon whether they are, in any given moment, contributing to the Life of the School, as an aspect of the Chalice, or as an aspect of the Radiant Sun. In one kind of meeting or action someone will be acting in one way, and then two steps and a minute later, in another. Much of the social confusion that arises in Waldorf School Communities comes about because these rapid changes of role are not understood.

I came to understand the above, in part, because I was a member of the Pine Hill Waldorf School (in Wilton N.H.), shortly after the moment of its own spontaneous social threefolding. This generative social event occurred as a response to a large tuition increase from one year to the next (on the order of 25%, as I recall), which drove the parent body first into a state of panic, and then to an organized attempt to grasp more firmly their relationship to the school. As a result there came to be three functional, and predominately, social organs, each of whose individual role in the social and spiritual life of the school was different. These three bodies (after the third added itself) were: the Board of Trustees, the College of Teachers, and the Friends of Waldorf Education (the parents).

The Friends had a rather narrow conscious focus in that, within this essentially social organ, an attempt was made to equalize and mediate, among the parent body itself, the burden of the huge changes in tuition. The Friends, as a whole, contracted with the School, to carry the tuition of all its members (all those parents who joined the Friends); while among themselves, the Friends distributed the costs in a way compatible with individual incomes. Non-parents could also be members of the Friends, but the core group were (and had to be, as a social necessity) parents of children attending the School.

Now those familiar with Rudolf Steiner's social ideas might easily think that because the Friends dealt with economic matters (funding the tuitions), that this body would be analogous to Steiner's Economic Sphere. But this is a mis-perception of the social facts.

The core problem the Friends dealt with was only incidentally economic. Its true center was the social life of the school - namely, how to help people get along with each other in the turbulent and dynamic social tensions of the school community (following the large tuition increase). The Friends mediated and balanced the social pressures, in the course of their meetings and through their relationships with the other functional organs of the School: the Board and the College. At a functional level, the Friends were the social heart of the school, the middle element, analogous to Steiner's Political-legal Sphere.

The Social Life of the School is the Chalice, which itself supports the Spiritual Life, the Radiant Sun. What is involved in Teaching - that is, what is predominately involved in the Spiritual Life - cannot be accomplished without this support. Let us now look more closely at this supported activity.

The teacher stands upright in the classroom as a human being. It is this example, as much as anything, that teaches. The student first imitates (kindergarten to 4th or 5th grade), then walks beside (4th through 9th or 10th), and finally meets this teacher, this particular human being (l1th and 12th), as another ego being, another individuality.

Now it is not the teacher, or the student, who is the Radiant Sun. Rather it is what happens between them, what is born in the relationship, which is the Radiant Sun.

Thus, as a spiritual organism, the school is organized as follows. Analogous to the individual spirit in the human being, one finds, above the social body of the school, that there exists a community of spiritual beings: the angels of the children, the dead who have an interest, the hierarchies that inspire and so forth (one should not think of this above as toward the sky, but rather that this above represents a qualitatively finer form of existence).

Below this purely spiritual community exists a second community, which is analogous to the soul of a single human being. Thus, the Soul of the spiritually integrative gesture of the School Community is centered in the community of teachers, whose inner discipline and work is necessary for the spiritual life of the School to exist. It is the teachers who consciously carry the work of integration between the community of spiritual beings hovering over the school and the needs of the children. The teachers are the spiritual heart of the school, in the same way that the parents are the social heart.

Now both the parents and the children are inspired by the spiritual world as well, but their spiritual role is different and does not require the same degree of consciousness - the same attendant responsibilities as carried by the teachers. At the same time, the parents' social role is greater and more central then that carried by the teachers. It is here, where this difference is not perceived, that much that brings illness to the social life of the Schools is born.

The parents' responsibility is the Chalice, the social organism of the school, and the teachers' responsibility is the Radiant Sun, the relationship between student and teacher.

Let us now review the two primary threefoldnesses.

In the vertical-like gesture, the school is organized as follows: Above, the purely spiritual community of inspiration; in the Middle, the Soul-full community of the incarnated - centered in the inner work of the community of teachers; and Below, the social community, the social organism (body) of the School. The vertical-like gesture is an integrated organism of three communities.

In the horizontal-like gesture (that is socially), the school is organized as follows: the functional head, the directing and deciding organ, is the Board of Trustees; the functional heart, the social mediating and balancing organ, is or should be an organized parent body (Friends of Waldorf Education?); and the functional hands, the actualizers of the art of education, is the College of Teachers. The horizontal-like gesture is an integrated organism of three socially functional organs, within the lower, or most nearly physically expressed, community.

It may occur to some readers to ask where do the children fit into this picture. I would describe it this way: The Children drink (absorb) the wisdom of the Radiant Sun from the fount that is the Chalice. The combination of the Circle and the Cross serves the Children.

[Now, some students of the Steiner's threefold social order may wonder about this picture, and well they should. At the same time it may help them to reflect that we are here looking at micro social dynamics, rather than macro social dynamics. At the macro level, the ideas associated with the Economic, Political-legal and Cultural Spheres have validity, but at the micro level one has to be able to clearly see the purely functional relationships, free of any abstract associations in thought.]

For example, in practice, this is the way the school social body might work. The teachers express a need for something in order to carry out their work, the trustees decide to meet that need and plan how to carry it out, while the parents make sure the whole social community understands - feels integrated with - the totality of the process. Each organ carries out a different role, but each is necessary to the other.

Neither the trustees or the teachers should carry out the understanding function; that is, the social health of the school community is not their problem. At the same time, both the hands and the head must understand that the heart, the social middle, is the central necessary organ in the social life of the school. If this organ is unhealthy, which it most often is in modern Waldorf Schools, then the social functioning of the school is lamed, and all the many related problems going on in Waldorf Schools cannot be solved, because the social heart, the Chalice, is not vitally organized.

It may help some of the naturally arising confusion here to recognize that the parent body is a free association, and that teachers and trustees can participate in it, according to its rules. The inspiration of the Pine Hill parent body, to call their newly born association: The Friends of Waldorf Education, should not be passed by without deep consideration. The social life of the school has a heart, and it is in the social organ dominated by the activities of the parents (but not necessarily exclusively theirs). The total social body of the school includes the Trustees and the Teachers, but the most intuitively correct knowledge of what is socially right to do, rests within the central organ, the Friends.

Let us continue our examination of the spiritual-social organism of the School by exploring more deeply the symbolism of the Circle (the Chalice) joined to the Cross (the Radiant Sun).

The Cross is the symbol of vertical-like integration, between the upper and lower aspects of spiritual life (inner, psychological life) and the relationship between that act (of vertical-like integration) and the possibility of horizontal-like (or social) integration - participation in the life of Community.

The Circle is the symbol of social integration, the cojoined purposes uniting the different individual members of a social community, yet having (absent the Cross) an empty center, recognizing the simultaneous autonomy of each individual member.

As individuals (as Cross bearers) we can sacrifice in a vertical-like gesture - upward toward the higher aspirations of our own individuality, and downward, by accepting our individual flaws. We can also sacrifice with a social (horizontal-like) gesture by holding back our individual perceptions and intentions on those occasions where the needs of the whole, the community, seem to require it.

As members of a community (as Circle bearers) we can hold within ourselves the nature and needs of the other members (individually and as a group), while at the same time, along with this inward beholding - an act carried out together - we unite ourselves in common purposes and processes.

We combine these two symbols, when through acts of unification we create the Chalice, and when through acts of sacrifice we create the Radiant Sun. These acts are not independent of each other, but have a reciprocal reinforcing nature, so that the stronger and more effective the social organism is (the Chalice), the more support there is for the act of sacrifice which allows the spiritual organism (the Radiant Sun) to arise in the relationships between individuals. Conversely, the stronger the act of sacrifice is carried out inwardly, the more capacities the individual develops in support of participation in the Chalice (the social community).

From this then we can see just how, in the Waldorf School Community, Rudolf Steiner's most poignant social insight is made manifest: "The healthy social life is found when in the mirror of each human soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the community the virtue of each one is living."

Let us next carry forward this contemplation, by considering again a problem noted at the beginning, concerning the fact that in one instance an individual may be acting as an aspect of the Radiant Sun, and in another instance, moments later, an individual may be acting as an aspect of the Chalice.

A teacher is teaching in a the classroom, and as he or she moves among the children, the teacher is, to the degree able, consciously open in a spiritual gesture, inwardly empty and calling forth inspiration, while simultaneously humble, realizing they are also human and flawed. In between the teacher and the child, as this goes forward (the child does instinctively, in the beginning, what the teacher has to strive to do consciously) the Radiant Sun is born.

Now class ends, and the day is over, and parents enter the class room to conduct their necessary part of the activities. The teacher and parent converse and the subject concerns the social life of the school, not the nature and practice of the pedagogy. At this point the teacher defers to the intuitions of the parent, because it is in the vertical-like gesture of the soul life of the parent that the intuitions concerning the social organism are most present. Between them, the parent and the teacher, a Radiant Sun is active, while at the same time, in the acceptance of the different roles (for the parent defers to the teacher as regards matters of classroom activity) the Chalice is carried.

When the individual parent tries to dominate the pedagogical (spiritual) aspects of the school life, they are interfering in the necessary upward and downward stream which needs the teacher for its focus. When the individual teacher tries to dominate the social aspects of the school life, they interfere in an analogous way. If there are pedagogical concerns among the parents, these can be refereed to the College of Teachers, but what parents need to recognize, is that in the organism of the School, it is the teachers who must be free to determine these matters. Without this freedom, the vertical-like integration with the community of inspiration is impossible. On the other hand, when a pedagogical problem needs to be explained to the parent community, it needs to be translated through the consciousness of the parent body itself, because it is there that the inspiration exists for how to mediate common social understanding.

For example, when there are crisis meetings where teachers are sitting facing parents (creating an us and them social environment), at that moment the social-spiritual organism of the school is dead, and cannot carry out what it needs to, regardless of how much talk or other efforts are expended. At that point the needed living social process (the Chalice) has been fractured into pieces, and without its support the Radiant Sun cannot properly shine.

Perhaps it will help to think of it this way. In the social organism of the school, as distinct from the spiritual organism, there is an interpenetration between the active element (the hands) and the mediating element (the heart). What are the healthy processes, socially, within this field of interpenetration? The heart element needs to empathize with the needs of the hands element, to understand those needs. The hands element needs to defer to the heart element to distribute this empathic understanding to the whole organism. The hands are incapable of carrying out the function of the heart.

Now a crisis may contain more than one characteristic. The pedagogical characteristics (the art of teaching) belong to the College to define. The decision making characteristics (the art of making policy and long term goals) belong to the Board to define. The understanding making characteristics (the art of social integration) belong to the Parents to define. Social leadership in a crisis belongs to the Parents, who then enable, through their mediating function, the head and the hands to act in the ways best suited to those organs. But all must work together, because dominance by one or the other will mean disease and disorder.

The heart might say: "this is what is right to do". The hands might say: "this is what we need in order to do what is right". Then the head can say: "this is how we shall go about doing what is needed and is right". So at Pine Hill, the hands had said, this is how much we need to live and to operate the school according to our pedagogical goals, and the head had said, okay this is how much the individual parents are going to have to pay to meet these needs - both leaving out any truly balanced dialogue with the parents - balanced in the sense of understanding what the social organism of the school needed in order to deal with the huge tuition increase. Then the parents said, ouch, and afterwards solved the social problem out of their own insight, saying that what is right is that the money needs of the school should be handled among the parents in a particular social way (The Friends of Waldorf Education).

Accidentally then, they ended up working together in a more or less healthy social way, but over time, there was insufficient consciousness of how to carry this into the future, and the old habits reasserted themselves.

Social processes, in this age of family emancipation from community, and individual emancipation within the family, are very difficult. Where these difficulties intersect, in the social life of a school, all the worst tendencies manifest themselves; and, Waldorf Communities struggle constantly to live in a ocean of mixed and confused social realities. Hopefully, these words above will provide some small bit of a map for the future navigation of these turbulent seas. Remember, however, that the map is not the territory, and each School will have an individual manifestation of the general social-spiritual configuration described above, and therefore have highly particular and individual social and spiritual needs, which must be perceived, understood, and healed.

The crux, such as it is, is to remember that the school organism is both social and spiritual in nature, both Chalice and Radiant Sun, simultaneously (a cojoined Circle and Cross). In one sphere the intuitions of the parents need to lead, and in the other the intuitions of the teachers. [It may well be that this social -spiritual organism, in its micro-nature, is an archetype for all other micro community threefolding dynamics. It remains for the future to discover if this is so.]

One final point, speaking as a former parent. The College of Teachers and the Board of Trustees need to very carefully free the parent body to follow its own intuitions in the creation of its own (the parents) social structure, intentions and purposes. All that arises needs to come from the initiative of the parents themselves. They only need be shown this article, or otherwise inspired to begin to express themselves as the stewards of heart of the Chalice.

In many schools the parent body already carries a great deal of the social life - school parties and celebrations, and the social structure and nature of fund raising events. More crucial, and not well developed, is the role of the parent body in relationship to the wider community in which the School community finds itself. This as well, this outreach gesture, belongs to the parent body to initiate and mediate - it is a gesture of the social heart of the school community. The teachers must trust that the parent body will, over time, find the appropriate healthy way to organize the heart relations of the school community toward the other surrounding communities. Teachers and Board members should make themselves available to serve certain roles at the request of the parent organ, but the initiation of outreach is a social matter, not a spiritual one.

Moreover, as some students of Waldorf School dynamics may know, Christopher Budd has criticized the Schools (and anthroposophical organizations in general) for failing to appreciate the needed economic relationship for the funding of the schools. The school, as a cultural form, must be funded out of the surplus capital generated by viable economic enterprises and not by what is essentially a tax on the parent body.

The use of tuitions from the parents to fund a school is a major underlying factor in the social disharmonies, because many parents intuitively recognize that something is unfair here. But lacking the necessary idea on which to understand what should be done, and desiring the education for the child above all else, the parents undertake to financially support the school. [Of course, this is different in countries where the State provides funding, but even there the school is not financed in the appropriate fashion. There still results a social disharmony. It is just displaced into another arena. In American this has manifested in the activity of PLANS, which opposes (correctly) public funding of Waldorf Schools. Truly free Waldorf Schools should not be funded by parents or by the State, but directly from surplus capital. [PLANS by the way (while an understandable social response to certain excesses with the Waldorf community in the present), is itself an excess of displaced passion and anger.  But a deeper discusion of these problems belongs to a whole other essay.]

It is essential to the future social health of Waldorf Schools, that not only should the parent body organ become more highly developed and socially active, but the fundamental financing arrangement of the school itself needs to change. This financial change can be one of the first matters set before the parent body, as the arbiter of what is right in the social organism, not only within the school, but in terms of the school community's relationship to the wider social life. For it is within the entrepreneurial spirit of this wider social life that the needed excess capital is to be found. The contribution of this capital to the school is a social deed, as is the seeking after it. Just in this then, the hidden social genius of the newly developing strong parent bodies can make a giant step forward in the future life of Waldorf Schools [try to remember why the schools are called Waldorf - the original school was funded directly from the excess capital of an active business organization].

Then, through this social deed, will the Chalice discover its path to maturity
 as the support of the Radiant Sun.

Joel A. Wendt

In the Season of Michaelmas, 1998

Subsequent correspondence with a friend in the Phillipines lead me to the following addendum, which I copy from a e-mail that I sent to her:

    I have been thinking about what you have shared and have become very surprised at the thoughts that have arisen.   Basically I am taking my lead from the phenomena being reported by you and trying to bring out its picture qualities as these reflect life processes in the social.  Always my approach is not to judge these events, but rather to appreciate what they reveal.

    What I have been thinking about might be called "the birth of a Waldorf School".

    Certainly this is an event that always happens, doesn't it.  But how does it happen?  In describing this, and in referring to what you have shared about the local version of this, it seems entirely appropriate to use terms belong to the birth of a human being (as this human organism is the archetype of social form).  What follows is how I picture it in what you have told me.

    First there is a meeting of a social father principle and a social mother principle.  The former is an active social force - a group of people with a specific initiative (in this case to form a waldorf school).  The latter is those aspects of the social body who the initiative people will act upon, who are essentially passive and receptive, and who become impregnated with the initiative.  From this results an embrionic period, during which the initiative more and more takes on form.

    The period that we (you and I) have become involved together in, seems to me to be the birthing process (or perhaps the later term embrionic - you may know more details that will clarify this).   I picture the birthing process because of the pain involved and the need to bring in the midwife (you), who initiates a contact with her backup physician (me).

    Now when a human child is born there is a very definite structure to the form (please remember form follows function).  The head (nerve-sense pole) is most highly developed, while the middle (the rhythmic system) is less developed and the limb (metabolic will pole) least developed.  So we could say that phenomenologically, when a social form is born its head is most formed, its heart less formed and the hands least formed.  In the case of the social-spiritual organism of a waldorf school community, this means that what will later be the Board of Trustees is most developed, the parent body less developed and the pedegogical aspects least developed.

    We can appreciate this if we concentrate on the form follows function rule and remember what I wrote in the original essay about the role of the Board. "The decision making characteristics (the art of making policy and long term goals) belong to the Board to define."  Now what is functionally the most active principle in the present, but the need to set and define all kinds of matters so as to give direction to the incarnation of the school.  Most of what people do, whether they have originally been in the father prinple or the mother principle, lies in this realm of "direction giving".  The next most dominate activity concerns the struggle over the balancing of the social relationships (more later).  The least active element is the actual pedagogical function.  In fact, don't we usually expect in new organizations that it will take some time before "it is able to stand on its own two feet".

    So nothing is in the "form" it will be when the school is more mature, but everything is seeking to "function"  at the most appropriate level in accord with the stage of its development.

    Now always we want to be concerned with the middle, for the healthy rhythmic system is essential to all other aspects of the organism.

    So the parents can play a very special role here.  First, on the basis of what you have conveyed, I suspect that it is important for the parents to realize that the teacher's desire for some concrete commitments as regards the economic life of the school is rooted in a quite human need to have some physical security.  They need to see that their ability to focus on the pedagogical work will not be interferred with by demands that they also find the funds to run the school.  And like most of us, going toward this goal they try the most direct and apparently secure way.

    The parents can perform a very vital "function" by doing whatever is possible to respond to this need.  All they need to remember is that whatever "form" that matters take in the present, does not need to be the form it takes in the future.  Moreover, the more they can work together as a group, their own internal social vitality will flow out into the whole developing organism. Early divisions and mistrust within the parents will become an illness later in the life of the school community.

    It is possible also to look at the Board as a work in process.  Think of the face of a newborn, they tend to look very much alike.  Over time the Board will become something quite different.  For example, if the parents later develop a true threefold economic source (excess capital from an existing business or businesses), people from this sphere will naturally take an interest and become included on the Board.  Likewise the general social community in which the school sites itself, will, if the social relationships the parent body fosters there are healthy, also be a source for members of the Board.   In this way the Board in time will become much broader in its outlook than it must be in the present given the immature stage of development.

    People might do well to take a very lively interest in everything that is happening, keeping in mind that if they can step back from making it all too personal, they are participating in something not unlike the miracle of birth.  In this case it is a school that is being born, a school whose real meaning is not found in either the board or the parents or the teachers, but in the children that will drink from it that inner nourishment that will help them become who they truely want to become.  In this we find the higher good which moves through all the tribulation of birth and parenting - those many adult lives that will flourish because they were once nurtured in a healthy waldorf school community.

    Now let me speak to some of the concrete aspects of what you reported.  First, the parents division into rich and poor.  Now the rhythmic system is itself twofold in a certain way - heart and lungs.  So the parents are also twofold, and what on the surface appears as a "class" division also represents a differentiation of skill and capacity.

    The rich might well do the best in the pumping of the blood (the money), while the poor might well do best in the social integration of the school, both within itself and outside itself.  The rich will after all understand money better, and will also out of self interest, not want to be trapped as the sole source, but will eventually seek some other kind of permanent solution.  They have a need like the teachers have a need.  So the poor parents let the rich parents "control" the money issue.  At the same time the rich parents need to recognize that the social patterns of the school (how people meet and get along with each other etc. may involve skills more richly possessed by the poor parents.  So these initiate helping everyone get along and appreciating all the work each other does (social gatherings, a newsletter, greeting of new parents, supportive involvement in finding "free" things for the school etc.).

    The parents should never doubt that the stronger their vital functioning, the stronger will be the rest of the school.  Rightly done, without seeking to interfer with the pedagogical function (arguing about the "spiritual" aspects of the school), the teachers will feel this support and more and more come to trust and rely upon it.

    The parents should realize that there is no hidden agenda, by the way, for what the teachers are about with their anthroposophy is exactly the same thing that goes on in a regular school.  The subject matter is the same (how do you teach children), and the only difference is the language used to express that in a formal way.

    I suspect that the parents are mostly of the mother principle in the social sense described above, and have a habit of being acted upon by the more assertive father principle living in those who initiated the school.  So go ahead and be the "mother".  Bake the cookies, make sure everyone is warmly dressed when they go outside, care about everyones health and did they eat their vegetables.  This nurturing social force will over time work wonders from a true social heart of the developing social-spiritual organism.

    As you desire, share this with my new friends along with my sincere good wishes for their common work. Emerson said it best, in his lecture at Harvard called the American Scholar: "In self trust all virtures are comprehended".

* * *

I would like now to briefly outline the thinking discipline from which the perspective in the main body above was derived. While readers of this essay will have quite a variety of backgrounds which they bring to it, I did feel it was necessary to elaborate something on the methodological problems connect to the development of the pictures presented. Thus, these remarks are not an essential aspect of the more central matter, and may, without too much concern, be overlooked by those readers who find no interest in them.

Some people are at least minimally acquainted with Rudolf Steiner's ideas concerning what he called: The Threefold Social Order. To my perception, most serious students of these ideas work with these concepts in a purely ideal way. This is to say that these students appear to obtain some conceptual mastery of the ideal form of the social organism, as laid out by Dr. Steiner, and then consider how to realize that form in various kinds of actual social circumstances. In effect, Steiner's ideas are treated as a utopian scheme toward which the social order can (and should) be developed. The author of this essay considers this approach, if it is the one often taken, to be an understandable, but grave, error -- first as a method of thinking, and second, as a social process in and of itself.

In my experience, in order to deal with social situations it is first necessary to learn to perceive them. This capacity for perception of social reality can be developed by training the cognizing "I", by bringing discipline to the method of thought, as well as to the processes of sense observation. This discipline can be given birth from a study of goetheanism, as that method is applied to the study of the natural world (c.f. Steiner's: Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception, as well as, Ernst Lehr's: Man or Matter). Once this has become understood in practice, it is then possible to began to translate the relevant perceptual and thinking disciplines into a method for the study of the social organism itself. Perhaps a concrete example will help.

Most people familiar with goetheanism have heard or read descriptions of the process of looking at the series of differentiated leaves from a single plant, leaves which were formed over the life of the plant. This series is then recreated in the imagination, so that the picture-thinking disciplines itself to remain solely in the actual sense phenomena that the plant produces, i.e. the forms of the leaves.

In social science such a discipline is much more difficult, because a great deal of social phenomena are not visible or otherwise apparent to the senses; that is, they do not appear in physical reality the way nature objects do. A family's social arrangements, or the social structure of a particular community cannot be perceived with the sense organs - these relationships have to be "thought" first. This does not mean, however, that goetheanism has no application.

The essential aspect of the discipline of perception in goetheanism, as I have been able to understand it, is to remain descriptive of actual facts, and to hold back the thinking faculty's judgmental tendency to bring ready made concepts into contact with the perceptions. This can be applied in social science by learning to think about social facts in such a way that only a descriptive picture emerges from the thinking. The usual tendency toward analysis or seeking after causation is held back, and only the observable (to cognition) facts are elaborated, in picture form, through pure contemplation or indirectly supported through descriptive writing.

My own experience in applying this is as follows: Over time, as this descriptive discipline was practiced, then behind the social facts themselves (as inwardly beheld) cognition began to perceive secondary layers of activity, as if the described facts rested on living organic processes, which were always in motion. This appears especially if the social facts are being pictorially described in their relationships over time, much like the reimaginative contemplation of leaf forms. For example, one is describing (inwardly picturing) first the social structure of the family today, and then describing the social structure of the family twenty years ago, and then describing the social structure of the family earlier, and so forth, on into the past. Then this process is reversed, and the descriptions begin with the earliest understanding of family life, and its relationship to the wider community. As these descriptions are brought forward in the imagination, then it begins to appear that the now emerging observed changes over time have a living organic quality and are in movement.

For example it can be seen that the family in modern times has become progressively more and more emancipated from the general community structure into which it was previously embedded; and, that within the family itself, the individual has separated itself, and its identity completely out of the prior family identity. No longer do children regularly aspire to emulate the life work of the parents, but rather presume that all such choices lie within their own prerogatives.

Thus, it is possible to observe two processes, one working on the family from the outside, and being a lessening of cohesive community structures (mostly due to the over-reaching into social life of purely economic forces), while from the inside outward, the development of individuality overcomes the ability of the family and community to create, or otherwise support, social conformance. This is observed today, superficially, in the so-called family values crisis. However, this crisis is the result of generations of gradual devolutionary (tradition destroying) and evolutionary (evolution of consciousness) processes, which act together to create conditions of social chaos.

Into this social chaos then comes social-form giving inspiration, such as described above regarding the spontaneous threefolding of a particular Waldorf School Community.

I know that these remarks are very partial and incomplete, but it is my hope that they will point in the direction of the method used in the development of the theme that has been elaborated.

It also should be understood that the picture, of the social-spiritual organism of a Waldorf Community that was presented above, was not derived from thinking out what the ideal form should be. Rather, it was my privilege (as briefly indicated) to be a member the parent body of the Pine Hill Waldorf School, in Wilton, New Hampshire, shortly after it spontaneously socially threefolded under the pressure of certain social dynamics. While this threefold nature was only present for a few years, it was on the basis of the observation of this actual phenomenon that the ideas expressed in this essay came to be developed.

home page -o- next in sequence -o- return to source page -o- e-mail