Deepening our Roots and the Social Mission of Waldorf Education

The following is an excerpt From Deepening our Roots and the Social Mission of Waldorf Education, written by Marti Stewart, Administrative Director at the City of Lakes Waldorf School in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Rudolf Steiner shared a verse that has been entitled the Motto of Social Ethics and reads this way:

“The Healing Social Life is found—When, in the mirror of each human soul —The whole community finds its reflection—And when, in the community— The virtue of each one is living.”

The social mission of Waldorf education is related to this verse. One aspect of the social mission is to support our students in becoming human beings who take real interest in the world and in other people and who understand, in a fundamental way, the relationship and interconnectedness of all of humanity in a time in which there is a rise of isolation, divisiveness and polarities. Another aspect of the social mission is to assist our students in developing the capacities of objective judgement and discernment; to discern what is real and truthful in an age where we are confronted by a multiplicity of conjectured truths—and manufactured images—and are immersed in virtual realities. A third aspect of the social mission of Waldorf education is to awaken within our students the will to work on behalf of others—to put the welfare of the earth and humanity before their own self-interests and to work in service to a greater good. This includes developing the desire and ability to cooperate and collaborate with others to achieve more than they could achieve on their own.

But the social mission of Waldorf education can perhaps best be found at the very heart—or within the essential purpose—of the education, which is not to prepare your children for a successful high school or college or professional career—though they will be well-prepared for all of those experiences. We have a different end game. I would say a much bigger and more important end game. Waldorf educators have the very tall task of recognizing, awakening, and nurturing the full extent of human capacities within each child so that each child is free to fulfill their unique and individual purpose or destiny. Rudolf Steiner said of the task of Waldorf education: Our endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. You can imagine that when human beings are living into their highest capacities they inevitably make a mark upon their communities. They see and bring out the best in others, they share and collaborate and contribute in meaningful ways, they become the change that we all want to see, they are courageous in bringing their gifts to the world, and they are happy and fulfilled because of the quality in their living. This outcome is at the heart of our greater social mission.