Anxiety is everywhere!
Hopelessness shows up in everyone no matter your age. Maybe it comes from the disconnection caused by our internet age or maybe the insulation and isolation caused by a world seemingly divided into opposing sides. It seems there are more problems to be concerned about every day.
Instead of wallowing in the trouble of our time, we must work harder than ever to find and navigate new paths to not only help to heal our individual selves but also our world.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what would need to change for our youth to learn the skills needed to be better stewards of humanity’s future. What tools can I give them? How can we help them best ride—with confidence—these large waves of trouble that seem to be constantly on the horizon?
The most obvious place to start is with education.
My path, as both a mother and a teacher, has been irrevocably altered by education theories, developed almost exactly 100 years ago, by a man named Rudolf Steiner.
After working in many fields Steiner came to education in the most natural of ways, he became a teacher of a young boy with many challenges. Through his work he discovered methods that were unheard of in his time but are now being corroborated by brain research.
Waldorf education, the name given to schools in the United States, focuses on the development of humanity as a whole, not only individual development. Whole humans develop not only a nimble intellect but their own sense of determination to work towards the good. They also develop open hearts full of empathy and compassion for others.
Steiner believed it is not only what children are learning but that they learn it in the right way at the right time. Steiner discovered imaginative play is the healthiest path toward the development of intellectual capabilities and whole humans, and he believed that skills involving social/emotional intelligence as well as problem solving skills were especially important in a child’s development.
Now, I know the problems plaguing our modern world will not be fixed with excellent problem solving skills alone. They run deeper and closer to the soul of humanity.
In Waldorf education, the arts are the balm for human turmoil. Studying Music and Art practically brings to light self reflection and expression while also illuminating a path to exploring our common humanity. And music and art create valuable interconnections with academic subjects from history to math, language arts, and geography.
Teaching our children to play and create, to sing and to dance, math, science and and humanities at large—all in the right time—means that our children are learning with more depth how to make a better world and a better future. The Waldorf philosophy is truly changing hearts, hands and minds every day.
Written by Bianca Bevard
4th Grade Waldorf Teacher