Under the best of conditions, adolescence is a time when an individual begins to claim his or her independence and when ideals of a new generation begin to germinate. No longer willing simply to accept anything purely on authority, the adolescent of today longs to know truth and yearns to be understood. As teachers, we have the two-fold task of supporting this process, yet accomplishing it in such a way that the student relies primarily upon his or her own inner strengths.
The development of living thinking assists the teacher in this task. It helps us to meet the needs of the students and develop the content of the curriculum within an appropriate context. By studying Rudolf Steiner’s Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom and putting it into practice, we can model the qualities we aim to inspire in adolescents in that we become more conscious of how to help each human being, live more deeply into the world.
The course develops experiences of living thinking. Through a process of reflection reading assignments, observations, and practical exercises, each participant is encouraged to develop a deeper understanding of this essential aspect of Waldorf Education. Classes focus on three central themes:
- improving our ability to observe our surroundings
- developing a conscious understanding of the relation between sense experience and thought
- exploring how this process relates to and affects our daily life and work as a teacher
The course will begin with students participating in a number of exercises that uncover some habitually fixed concepts arising as we observe certain percepts. These will be investigated further in both individual journal entries and in group discussions. Additional exercises will illustrate the challenge of finding an organizing concept in the case where the percept is apparent. Exercises involving a dynamic, lively scene in the natural world will also be investigated to illustrate the challenges posed by the observation of living nature. We will also investigate the philosophical basis upon which different individuals in history, as outlined in Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path have related to the world . After completing an investigation of the inner aspect of our thinking processes, we will then look at the basis for our actions. Drawing upon the experiences and exercises earlier in the course and readings from Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path, the importance of motive and intention will become apparent. Through various exercises in small groups and individual journaling, the relevance of intuitions in ethical individualism will become more apparent. Finally, the course will take a fresh look at what arises when living thinking is used to reflect on the relationship between the individual and the world. The importance of this approach in relationships involving both students and colleagues will be discussed.