The Sword and The Rose
Please join the Waldorf School of Philadelphia parent community on Tuesday, February 12th from 7-9 p.m. to hear Dr. Douglas Gerwin explore the developmental stage of “earthly maturity” — specifically the unfolding of the complementary powers of intellectuality and sexuality––in his lecture entitled “The Sword and the Rose.”
What is really happening during the parallel processes of sexual and intellectual maturing? How does Waldorf education support human development through the tumult of puberty to young adulthood? These are among the questions Dr. Gerwin will address in his talk.
Waldorf Education trains each student’s whole being. Even basic physiological functions such as breathing are trained in a Waldorf school through the care teachers take to give rhythm to each day’s activities. From early childhood through to 8th grade, we cultivate the healthy unfolding of a child’s physical as well as metaphysical nature culminating in puberty, a stage Rudolf Steiner refers to as Erdenreife or “earthly maturity.” At this developmental stage a young adult ripens not only outwardly but inwardly in order to take on the demands of the wider world.
In the setting of a Waldorf school, therefore, we understand puberty as a threshold for soul and spirit as much as it is for the physical body. As a result, from the onset of puberty and into the high school years, students need to learn in quite new ways––less through the radiant warmth of their teacher and more through their own discovery. In Steiner’s words, students need to meet the world “in such a way that it can resound over and over within them, so that questions about nature, about the cosmos and the entire world, about the human soul, questions of history, and riddles arise in their youthful souls.” Children who have been educated secure in the authority of the adults around them and held by the rhythmic breath of each day’s activities can become young adults ready to act meaningfully, responsibly, creatively, and independently in the world.
Douglas Gerwin, Director of the Center for Anthroposophy, has taught history, literature, German, music, and life science at the Waldorf high school level since 1983. He divides his time between adult education and teaching in various North American Waldorf schools. Dr Gerwin is the founder of Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program at the Center for Anthroposophy and editor of several books related to Waldorf Education.