German Film Club

4 May 2016, 19 hKedai Kebun Forum, Jl. Tirtodipuran 3, Yogyakarta



Director: Erwin Wagenhofer, 2013, documentary, 113 min., div. languages with English subtitles



with Horst Hellmann, expert on Waldorf / Steiner teaching in Asia.

Poster AlphabetSYNOPSIS

Our current economic and political systems are being increasingly challenged by critical developments, and the solution is nowhere in sight. Those who hold political and economical power were educated at the best schools and universities. Their helplessness is evident, and they have chosen to take the route of short-winded actionism instead of offering long-term prospects.

It has now become apparent, with frightening clarity, that the boundaries of our thinking have been set too narrowly since childhood. Regardless of what school we went to, we find ourselves functioning within thought patterns which stem from the early days of industrialisation. Back then, people were being trained to become well-functioning cogs in a structured, production-based society. The content of teaching has changed radically since then and schools are no longer places where authoritarian drills take place. But the fixation on normalised standards dominates education more than ever.

A rough wind has been blowing recently in the schools. “Performance”, a fetish of a competitive society, has become the relentless method of measuring absolutely everything. But the one-sided focus on technocratic learning objectives and the flawless rendition of isolated knowledge content lays playful creativity to waste. This creativity is what we need to help us find new solutions without the constraint of fear of failure.

Erwin Wagenhofer views the topic of “education” in a much more comprehensive and radical manner that usual. Almost every discussion on the topic of education is reduced to advocating a competitive environment in every type of school, forcing pupils to provide their best performance. Wagenhofer, however, embarks on a search for the thought patterns which lie behind it. The things we learn shape our knowledge, but the way we learn shapes our way of thinking.

After “We Feed the World” and “Let’s Make Money” comes ALPHABET, which is the final part of a trilogy. It picks up the themes of the previous two films and examines them with a magnifying glass.


The film “Alphabet” by Erwin Wagenhofer criticises that children today are often from very early age under pressure to compete with their peers and to present best performances. Instead of fostering their natural abilities and creativity, kids and even babies are already put into globally standardized education patterns.

Alternative pedagogic concepts like Waldorf education, which was developed in early 20th century in Germany according to the pedagogic system created by Rudolf Steiner, offer kids more freedom of creativity and slower, but intensive and individual development of their skills.

About our guest:

Horst Hellmann has spent over 30 years teaching in Waldorf schools. Since 1982 he has been conducting seminars to train Waldorf teachers, in Australia, India, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines. He was involved in setting up 14 schools and initiatives across Australia and Asia. Presently, he is setting up a Waldorf-inspired school in Davao, Tuburan Institute, and Dulyapat in Khonkaen, Thailand. He is also a Mentor for Waldorf Primary Programme Singapore and Main Trainer for Waldorf Primary Teacher’s Training Modules in Singapore. He now came from Singapore to Indonesia to support some new Waldorf initiatives in Bandung, Jakarta and Jogja.



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