Updated: Apr 28
I will be perfectly honest and tell you that I am not sure where the advice, which I want to share with you, originated. It could have been something that was spoken by Rudolf Steiner to the first Waldorf teachers. It could have been someone else entirely. I heard it directly from the director of my Waldorf Teacher Training program.
I could go straight to the advice, but I hope you will read this little fable from Aesop first. I assure you it is relevant.
"One day the sun and the north wind were debating who had the greater power. Amid their discourse, they espied a traveler below them upon the open road. The North Wind spake: "Come, let us take advantage of this moment most opportune. Shall we agree that whosoever shall part this traveler from his coat is indeed the mightier?" After careful consideration, the Sun agreed to these terms and the contest commenced. "Please, sir," suggested the Sun, "I would urge you to go first." The North Wind was more than happy to do so. North Wind prepared himself and then began to blow with great force upon the unfortunate traveler. The wind rose to nearly gale force as the North Wind exerted his force in full measure. Alas, as great as the North Wind blew, with equal vigor did the traveler cling to his coat. Spent and weary, the North Wind shook his head and stood aside for the Sun, who calmly strode forth to beam his warmest rays. At a very short interval, the traveler removed his coat himself."
In many publications, you will find a moral following such a fable. It is tempting to provide a pithy quote to any listener, especially if we sense that the listener does not seem to instantly grasp the value of such a tale.
Ah, but this would cut short in invaluable process, one that has become rarer and rarer in our world of convenience and instant gratification! And now we come to the advice of which I spoke earlier. We should not give such morals; rather, we should allow the other person time and space to reflect, to consider, to ponder, and contemplate.
I know that Rudolf Steiner did urge the first Waldorf teachers to bring poems and verses to the students and to avoid, especially before puberty, the practice of examining such things, of explaining their meaning and poetic devices, to avoid laying bare the craft of metaphors.
But why? Would this not help the student have an even deeper understanding? Would this not help the student reach a greater appreciation?
I think these are fair questions. To remain in keeping with this article's primary message, I shall attempt to share the answer to these questions, and perhaps many more, with another story.
"A simple man and a simple woman lived together as husband and wife, with lives as ordinary as any other but in one regard. They owned a goose that laid a golden egg each day. Sure that their lovely goose must contain great amount of gold inside, they resolved to slay the innocent bird, and did so without delay. Much was their dismay to discover that the dead goose was like every other goose inside."