A Talk by Peter Guttenhöfer
Recorded on 27 June 2023 in Cape Town
This talk was offered as part of an event entitled: “At the Foot of the World Cross” held at Sophia House, Cape Town in June 2023.
The two talks were cautious contributions from the North and the South to the understanding of the world historical situation, offered by Peter Guttenhoefer, and Michael Grimley.
Peter started with a presentation of Russian landscape paintings, and spoke about characteristic traits of the Russian soul and spirit.
This was followed by a consideration of the spiritual catastrophe expressed in the current political development of Central Europe between the East and the West.
(For info about Grimley’s talk about “The Fog of Untruth”, please click here.)
About Peter Guttenhöfer
Peter Guttenhöfer is the father of six children. He has a PhD in history, history of literature and history of art, was a secondary school teacher for 35 years at the at the Freie Waldorfschule Kassel. He was co-founder of the Waldorf Education Teacher Training Seminar in Kassel and lecturer at the University of Kassel. Dr Guttenhöfer is now active worldwide in teacher training and school consultancy. He has been more recently involved in the Pedagogy of Doing .
Some Background on Pedagogy of Doing
“The term “Handlungspädagogik” was coined for the extension of the qualifications of educators in the artistic, craft and agricultural fields. The exercise goal for adults and children is called: “considered ability to act”. The basic conditions are: “moral imagination for the future of the earth and, inspired by this, authentic place-based streams of work.”
(Manfred Schulze, in: Menschen und Tiere lernen voneinander – erziehungskunst 03/2013, p.24).
The educating adults must be busy! And not with the direct education of children, but with the activities that establish and shape life. In the first seven years, the child’s learning is mainly characterised by imitation, in the second by imitation. This gives rise to images of sensibly occupied adults whose occupations are worthy of imitation and which can also be imitated or imitated because they are expressed in visible actions, in concrete movements guided by reason. And the genius of the child, who lives in the environment of these occupations, consists in practising his self-education through imitating and imitating activity. This is what we call play.
Occupations to be imitated are above all in the areas of agriculture and horticulture, handicrafts and home economics, i.e. in those areas in which fundamental values are created, through which the basic needs of human beings are fulfilled. It is precisely in these areas, however, that present-day humanity is becoming more and more acutely aware that a reductionist view of the world and the egoistic pursuit of profit can lead to a threat to the very foundations of our lives. We can see this in the disastrous effects of industrialised agriculture on soils and landscapes, bees, the quality of food, etc.; we can see this in the torment of our farm animals, the dying of the forests.
Destruction of ecosystems and dangers of climate change wake us up today and demand new action. This is where ideas come together: Adults turn back to the earth, say goodbye to increased profits and factory farming; respect for our fellow creatures who are willing to serve us becomes the guiding principle for action. And they take the children with them! They do not lock them away in kindergartens, after-school care centres, school rooms, but work together with them, the little ones playing, the older ones gradually taking part in the activities of the adults, as Novalis wrote. There we feel the need for a new quot;curriculum”; we see a new evaluation of subjects according to major and minor subjects, there the worldwide sacred cows of mother tongue correctness, national literature and mathematics are placed in the same rank with new major subjects like horticulture and
A learning environment in which children can experience how people, together and of their own free will, engage in meaningful activity and create value in a responsible and sustainable way is particularly valuable from an educational point of view.
We want to offer the children opportunities to discover how beautiful it is that we can create something together, that we can discover something together, that we can care for the earth, the plants, the animals and also for each other. Through these learning opportunities, these so-called pre-frontal, executive brain functions can be better developed. Such an environment makes it possible to enjoy learning, to put oneself in the place of other people, to plan actions, to assess the consequences of actions, to control impulses and to endure frustration.
- Promotion of body and movement skills: Body awareness, body feeling and gross and fine motor skills develop through varied movements such as regular walks, playing and working in the garden, as well as handicraft and artistic activities. Physical mobility activates the language development process.
- Promoting sensory and perceptual competence: Understanding the child as a sensory being and offering healthy and natural stimuli for sensory care.
- Promoting language competence: Annual and festive stories, songs, verses and finger plays that are repeated daily provide the child with a meaningful speaking environment. The cultivation of a warm relationship atmosphere and the use of figurative language supports language acquisition.
- Encouraging creativity: “Man is only fully human where he plays” Schiller. We offer the child sufficient time and space to creatively realise his or her play impulses. The natural play materials and the courtyard environment support the development of the child’s imagination.
- Promoting social competence: The kindergarten sees itself as a place of learning where the children can learn social rules of life and orient themselves by them. The structured daily, weekly and yearly routine offers them orientation and security.
Salutogenesis: We strive to create conditions in which the children can develop in a physically, mentally, spiritually and socially healthy way.
Please consider making a contribution to our sister Group of the Society, being “The Anthroposophical Society in the Western Cape” to help cover the costs of making this video available to you, and to support Peter’s work in the world. The bank details are: Nedbank Current Account. Account name: ASWC. Account number: 1043053050. Reference: P Guttenhöfer.
Thank you for your support.