During our in-service week, we spent time re-imagining our mission as a school in the light of the changes our community, nation, and world have been experiencing. As I stated previously, to describe the essence of Waldorf Education is not a simple task. Yet that week I tried to distill what it has become to mean for me. As we are currently studying the founding of the nation in our 7th/8h grade history block, I found that the format I used reminds me of a kind of declaration of sorts. So in the spirit of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, author of the Women’s Declaration of Independence, I will take the liberty of repurposing our founding document. Perhaps these truths are not so self-evident, yet just maybe they will help us to form a more perfect education that will lead us to be able to say one day we have finally fulfilled those promises of freedom to all human beings. Here goes…
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bonds of standardized curricula and testing and to assume among the powers of the earth the weighty responsibility of educating individual beings, unique in spirit and soul, to which the laws of Nature and Nature’s God has evoked in them, a decent respect to the opinions of parents and educators requires that they should declare the causes which propel them to innovation. We hold these truths to be self evident, that…
Our role as educators is to make possible the free development of the individuality, endowed with capacities through freedom of thinking, warmth of feeling, and strength of will.
Our education is an education that believes the essential nature of the human being exists in relationship to the other. And therefore requires a school community to serve as the vehicle for the education of the child.
Our education is an education built upon a unique striving to understand what it means to be truly human and therefore seeks to preserve and inspire the most human qualities of each individual, student, teacher, and parent.
Our education is an education based on a spiritual view of the world, awake to the influences that straddle the balance found in the human being. We do not work out of fear or ego-filled pride, but through loving interest of the other.
Our education seeks to understand what it means to be truly human in the midst of a technological revolution; this requires a clear understanding of the world we live in. Though this unfolds through a thoughtful, un-rushed, and developmentally appropriate curriculum, a curriculum that mirrors the evolution of consciousness of humankind. It also provides an understanding of the relationship of the human being with the natural world through various means, but especially through hands-on work with the land.
Our education follows the pedagogical ideal as stated by Rudolf Steiner. It is not the expertise or knowledge of the teacher that enables and inspires the students to learn, but the striving of the teacher. That the higher bodies of the teacher is what educates the developing lower bodies of the students. Therefore it is an education that demands consistent conscious effort toward growth and renewal among the parents and teachers.
Our education accepts that the difficulties found in carrying out our task are actually karmic opportunities toward growth and therefore do not shrink from challenges, conflicts, or criticisms, but seek to find harmony through our inner work.
Our education is a healing education for the child, the teacher, the family, for human-kind and the planet in which we live. It is an education that prepares a student for the future, today.
The side effects of our educational model are multifaceted, including a life-long love of learning, interest in the world, confidence to take on the tasks in creative new ways, flexibility of thought, and excellent communication skills. However, these benefits are just the symptom and not the reason we educate.