The Life Affirming and Future-Oriented Nature of Waldorf Education
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
This is traditionally a season that calls for courage as the light fades, nights become longer, and we head into winter. This year, in addition to seasonal changes, our world is testing us and calling for courage on a daily basis. A series of disasters, natural and human, is taking its toll on our sense of security and wellbeing. After hurricanes and earthquakes, the latest, the mass shootings in Las Vegas, have left many on edge and feeling insecure. For school administrators and leaders, messaging and providing support for children, teachers, and parents has become a too-frequent task. There is inevitable concern about our ability to receive repeated terrible news as we struggle to find the right words and actions in response to multiple, major events. We send our thoughts, best wishes, and sympathy to all those directly affected or with families and friends who have been directly impacted.
As Public Waldorf educators, what can we offer to our children and families as we navigate these troubling times? Help is available in the successful intervention practices of trauma-informed education in general and the remarkable work of the international Waldorf “Emergency Pedagogy” team in particular. Key, familiar principles emerge:
- Creating or providing a safe space; the importance of routines and rhythms. It is reassuring when the everyday life and demands of school continue.
- Relationships, important for all of us, bringing a feeling of “I see you and care about you”.
- Movement, and the opportunity it provides to integrate responses and release feelings.
- Arts, for the many ways they provide outlets and the chance for self-expression.
- Connection to nature for its powerful healing and grounding qualities.
- Stories, for the positive and life affirming images they can bring.
- Restricting exposure to the repeated, graphic images of disaster scenes that are streamed into lives on media.
- When speaking with children, allow them to take the lead; respond to their questions and gauge their level of comprehension and their desire and ability to know more.
- Extra attention to bedtime as a place where fears may be expressed, reassurance sought, and again the importance of predictable routines.
- Active engagement our wills and contributing to our communities through volunteer work (chores are included here), helpful deeds, or similar.
- Self-care for the care providers, found through practice of the above with children or alone, through collegial work and discussion, and through inner reflective practices.
It is noteworthy that all of these are features of Waldorf education and are reflected in our Core Principles.
I was always grateful for the life-affirming and future-oriented nature of Waldorf teaching. Taking a lead from Mother Theresa, teaching gives us multiple, daily opportunities to practice small deeds done with great love. May we all find
peace of heart and the satisfaction of meaningful work in these challenging times.
With best wishes,
Liz Beaven, President