Our schools, whether public or private reflect the state of our society. Many would agree we are not doing well today as we see materialism, competition, and technologies evolve without any concern for human values and long term thinking. Unfortunately, our schools have a tendency to reflect those values.
Schools that reflect our society are most often restricted in their curriculum. Teachers, many of whom really have their heart in helping their students develop into conscious, contributing members of society with a sense of self-worth, are hampered by teaching only for standardized tests. They never have the opportunity to develop more than superficial relationships with their students. Oftentimes, they must deal with children and adolescents whose family, social, and psychological background “is what it is” in a world of declining values and “virtual reality” where real educational influences are few and far between. Despite a rise in spirituality, the paradigm of technology and artificial intelligence in all its forms is on the rise.
In an ideal world, education is about something else. What if education was about nurturing a new generation of human beings who are integrated in body, soul and spirit – individuals who can think for themselves and actually express compassion for others, not just spout off textbook knowledge to pass an exam. Perhaps the world would change under these circumstances.
The Waldorf School, guided into existence by Rudolf Steiner in 1919 is one such school with this end view. These schools have evolved, from the first one in Germany, to many in the U.S. and abroad. They are future-oriented, based on a holistic worldview which is simultaneously humanistic, scientific, and spiritual. These schools are a healing model of what education might become and has become in some instances.
Using the Waldorf Schools as a model, I believe it is time for communities to think about new ways of educating children. Some Charter schools have taken the first steps to their credit. I am sure over the next several years, a new awareness of the objectives of, and necessity for, the Waldorf Schools will arise.