Steiner’s Address at the Christmas Assembly
You see, my dear children, there are beings on earth that are not like human beings — for example, the animals around us — and we might often think that we should envy these animals. You can look up and see the birds flying, and perhaps then you might say, “Oh, if only we could fly, too! Then we would be able to soar into the air.” We human beings cannot fly like the birds because we have no wings. However, dear children, we can fly into the element of the spiritual, and we have two wings to fly there. The wing on the left is called “hard work,” and the other wing on the right is called “paying attention.” We cannot see them, but these two wings — hard work and paying attention — make it possible for us to fly into life and become people who are really ready for life. If we work hard and pay attention as children, and if we have teachers that are as good and capable as yours, then what makes us fit for life will come to us, and on the wings of hard work and paying attention we will be able to fly into life, where the love of our teachers carries us.
You know, you can sometimes think that there are things that are more fun than learning. But that is not really true; there is no greater joy than learning. You see, when you enjoy something that lets you be inattentive and does not make you work hard, then the joy is over immediately. You enjoy it, and then the joy is gone. But when you enjoy what you can learn, when you are flying on the wings of hard work and paying attention, then my dear children, something stays behind in your souls. (Later on you will know what the soul is.) Something stays in your soul, and you can enjoy that over and over again. When we have learned something good and proper, it comes back again and again; we enjoy it again and again with a joy that never stops. But the other fun things, the ones that come only from inattentiveness and laziness, they come to an end.Rudolph Steiner, Address at the Christmas Assembly, December 21, 1919, RSarchive.org
The above quote is just a portion of Rudolph Steiner’s address to the children. I thought it a fitting reminder for all of you that spend your days helping children to work hard and pay attention. I also wonder how I could bring this sentiment to my students this season?
Hard Work and Paying Attention
One way that we already talk about hard work in my class is with a middle school growth mindset tool I use.
I ask my middle school students to “tap in” and “tap out” of class by jumping up to touch the motto above my classroom door on the way in and out of class. (Part of the fun is that most 8th graders don’t need to jump anymore to touch the motto.) On the way in the motto is “I can do hard things.” On the way out they have to choose what made them successful in class today. The choices are, “I worked hard,”” “I’ve been practicing,” and “I kept trying.” A really skilled jumper can touch all three in one jump.
I’d love to hear your ideas for bringing Work Hard and Paying Attention messages to your young people. Share your ideas in the comments below, won’t you?