Mansfield Steiner School: Year 9 Outdoor Program

Mansfield Steiner School

Education for Adolescents
Journal for Anthroposophy, Spring 1979
This text consists of excerpts from a lecture given in Stuttgart on June 21, 1922. In a few cases, the repetitions appropriate for spoken style have been omitted and sentences condensed. Translation by C.B.
When children come to the age of puberty, it is necessary to awaken within them an extraordinarily great interest in the world outside of themselves. Through the whole way in which they are educated, they must be led to look out into the world around them and into all its laws, its course, causes and effects, into men’s intentions and goal… All this must be brought to them in such a way that it can resound on and on within them — so that questions about nature, about the cosmos and the entire world, about the human soul, questions of history — so that riddles arise in their youthful souls.
Year 9 Outdoor Program
Up to now, students in the Year 9 program have approached their time in the outdoors with great enthusiasm, it has been easily joyful, but coming into the sixth week there is an expected push back. Questions begin to arise, natural enough for the emerging adult. Why are we going away— again? What’s the point? The point is many-fold. Asking how many of them were missing home when away, nearly the whole class raised their hand or if unwilling, their eyebrows and looked to the ground. How many of you expected to miss home? Only one hand. What are you missing about home? “comfort.. television.. my own room.. eating whatever I want, whenever I want”.

The Outdoor Program creates a community of learners who need to solve problems not only externally but within themselves, in real-time. They cannot retreat to their bedroom, hide behind a mask for the six hours of the school day or avoid the issue (unless they don’t want to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and company—you need to eat, even when it is teeming with rain).

It was unsurprising then that compulsory journal time has shifted from a thing to be moaned at, to a time where students seek reverent spaces, looking over the ocean or cliff-top or more recently out over the Alpine mountains and bemoan having to stop these musings to return to the group. In these journals, they are free to unravel the questions arising naturally within themselves. It is a small but wonderful revelation as an adolescent to admit to yourself that you take for granted that there are clean clothes and hot food put before you, as if by magic each day, and that perhaps you should have more gratitude for that wonderful gift.
Suzanne Van Wyk
Secondary Coordinator, SLT