On a recent flight to New York, I had the privilege of sitting next to Anna, a teacher in the Waldorf style of education. Based on the approach of Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential, and academically rigorous approach to education. They integrate the arts in all academic disciplines for children from preschool through twelfth grade to enhance and enrich learning. Waldorf education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities.
Anna was telling me that she frequently lights candles in her classroom. When she does, a sense of calm settles in the room, the students gather around, and they know it is story time. The candlelight coupled with the story transfixes the youngsters and they become rapt in the scene being described.
In his book, The Little Book of Lykke, Meik Wiking tells of a family who installed a candlelight chandelier in their dining room. Each evening, the parents would light the candles and call their three children down for dinner. At first, the kids poked fun at their parents and wondered, “what’s up with the romance?” Mom and Dad just chuckled and kept at it. Within days, they noticed something happening… the candlelight seemed to foster conversation, the boys were sharing more stories about their days, dinner time extended for at least 15 additional minutes. It was lovely.
As I thought about these situations, it occurred to me, in my own home, my husband and I love to have people over and, when we do, we light candles. We find that it enhances the coziness and warmth of our gatherings. Indeed, candlelight has that effect. Everyone leans in a bit, people feel connected to one another, sharing stories seems more natural.
Trying to get people to feel closer to one another? Eager to encourage them to open up and share their own tales? Light a candle and gather ‘round…