Welcome everyone! My name is Karmin Guzder, and I'm a teacher at the San Francisco Waldorf School!
Today we are celebrating 100 years of Waldorf Education!
In 1919, Rudolf Steiner, the founder and visionary behind Waldorf Education, believed that society needed to take a new and more positive direction. Europe was in turmoil in the aftermath of World War I. People were becoming increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic. In schools, children were segregated and girls and boys were taught separately. Girls were not given the same opportunities for learning. The humanities became narrowly focused.
Steiner envisioned a school where children would recite a morning verse that upheld the human spirit and its potential. Girls and boys together would learn woodworking and knitting along with a wide range of academic subjects that included humanities from cultures around the world.
He believed that this kind of education would create Social Renewal. 100 years later we can see how Steiner's vision has grown into a movement that has changed the lives of people around the world.
Today there are more than 1,000 Waldorf Schools worldwide and over 2,000 Waldorf kindergartens in more than 90 countries.
Every school has it's own particular feel grounded in the culture and society it has risen out of. Every one of those schools was inspired by people who shared Steiner's vision for a better, more just society.
This includes schools in Cape Town, Beijing, Seoul, Santiago, Reykjavik, Mumbai, Nairobi, Guatemala City, Tokyo, Singapore, Honolulu, Auckland, Sekem, Sarajevo, the Lakota Nation, and of course right here in the San Francisco Bay Area! These schools were all started by parents who wanted a holistic and meaningful education for their children.
A teacher who started a Waldorf school for Israeli and Palestinian children to learn and work together everyday said that, "Waldorf Education is an inner education of compassion and humanity without fear of the other." We know fear stems from not being able to see someone else's humanity. At the heart of our movement is human connection, relationship, and community.
Waldorf education is centered trying to understand who we are as human beings. How can education bring forth uniquely human capacities? In our thinking life, humans have the capacity to think critically and independently, and to have vision. In our feeling life, we have courage, compassion, and creativity. And in our will, we have perseverance and determination.
An education for the future must not only call forth these human capacities, but it must also integrate them within the child if he or she is to meet the demands of an increasingly global culture.
Steiner believed that fundamentally all education is self education. When a child is seen as a person with an inner space, and when a lesson is reflected within so that a deeper understanding is reached, something profound happens. The child can then look out into the world with confidence and a sense of truth.
Most importantly for the future, that child grows into an individual who has an inner openness and curiosity and for another person's humanity. Through education, a space has been cultivated for empathy. And empathy is the first step towards Social Renewal.
With a great deal of hope and faith, I can say that a 100 years from now, Waldorf Education will continue to change the world the better.
I think I can speak on behalf of my colleagues today that we are proud to be a part of this world wide movement, and that we are especially proud of what this education cultivates in our students for their lives ahead!
Thank you, and enjoy the celebration!