Today I finished reading Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash. The book talks about how while traditional education focuses on mental growth, Waldorf education seeks a balance between physical (playing outdoors, learning household skills, sports), emotional (art, music, theater, stories, poetry) and mental. Petrash tells the story of one boy who always struggled with academics, but had a deep appreciation for art and excelled in kindness, conscientiousness, sincerity, and open-mindedness. At 8th grade graduation, this student read the following, which is attributed to an unknown Confederate soldier:
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything that I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.
I think if I just read this, I might not like it, because I would think of the illnesses and injuries that have affected me and people I know. I object to telling people disabled by illness that they should be grateful for their conditions, because of the lessons they can learn from it. However, in this context, I appreciated it, because it seemed to me that it was about this particular boy humbly accepting his academic limits, and shining as a good person in his own way, rather than being resentful about his limitations.