Dear Waldorf School Community:
In 2016, full members of our association adopted the AWSNA Principles for Waldorf Schools as a basis of agreement for what it means to be a Waldorf school in North America in the first half of the 21st century. Principle #2 reads as follows:
Waldorf Schools Foster Social Renewal by Cultivating Human Capacities in Service to the Individual and Society: Waldorf schools foster development so that, throughout life, individuals are motivated to serve humanity with strength of will, depth of feeling, clarity of thought, and the ability to work with others. The educational program is designed to strengthen these fundamental human capacities in our students.
As the AWSNA executive team grapples with an expanding awareness of systemic racial injustice, especially in the United States, this principle provides us not only with a foundation, but also a guidepost - at the heart of which is an understanding that the social mission of Waldorf education can only be attained when equity and love are centred in every aspect of our work.
Over the past few months, we have grieved in response to what we have read on Instagram forums, where community members of colour have shared their experiences as Waldorf students and families in relation to prejudice and bias encountered. Such forums, along with direct sharing from colleagues of colour, highlight that Waldorf education has fallen short of our ideals.
We must now seize the opportunity to reflect, to respond, and to do better. As such, we have been revising, elevating, and accelerating our strategic priorities, developed in the 2019 school year, as they relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The actions listed below are not the sum of what we expect to do; the shape and details will continue to evolve as we deepen our understanding of what is needed for the future.
Initial actions to be taken during the 2020-2021 school year
by AWSNA leadership:
Mission, Vision, Values, and Philosophy
Review and revise our mission, vision, and values to ensure that racial justice, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of our work.
Reconcile the narrative of Rudolf Steiner’s writings in relation to race and ethnicity in order to redress any dehumanizing or disparaging aspects of our history and foundation that are in conflict with our values and social mission.
Institutional Understanding and Representation
Host listening forums to expand our knowledge and understanding of the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in Waldorf schools and institutes so that we can better understand what changes are needed and take actions to address those needs.
Expand BIPOC representation in AWSNA leadership and collaborative circles so that we are better able to fulfil the social mission of Waldorf education by ensuring voices of color are included in crafting strategy and driving action.
Provide racial equity training for the AWSNA executive team, board, staff, and leadership council with the understanding that education is fundamental to change.
Curriculum and Pedagogy
Reimagine Waldorf pedagogy by hosting monthly webinars that examine both Rudolf Steiner’s indications and educational ideas that have manifested as white-centric pedagogical practices and curriculum in support of pedagogical innovation for racial justice.
Develop a curriculum repository of practices that are informed by the AWSNA Principles for Waldorf Schools that support racial equity and justice.
Engage in equity and inclusion DEI curriculum research in order to further our understanding and practices that support racial equity and justice.
Facilitate engagement in Pedagogical Special Interest and Research Groups so that faculty have a space for deepened, ongoing dialogue with colleagues who are engaging in action research towards racial equity.
Initiate dialogue among institutes to support the inclusion of racial equity practices in teacher preparation and professional development programs offered by AWSNA member institutes.
Improvement of Association-Wide Practices
Engage an outside organization to conduct a climate, inclusion, and equity survey of parents, teachers, staff members, and middle/upper grades students in representative schools. The results of the climate survey will be used as a benchmark by the association and members in the development of goals and change metrics related to equity and inclusion.
Support school DEI committees by providing networking opportunities that encourage exchange of practices that support school transformation.
Utilize the member approved “Commitment to DEI” as the basis for a voluntary DEI criterion for self-study/accreditation in order to strengthen an association-wide commitment to racial justice.
Facilitation of Connection and Collaboration
Host Work-a-Like Networking Forums and provide effective practices that spur change and innovation relative to DEI in all areas of school operations, re: business, admissions, development, human resources, etc.
Support Affinity Networking Groups for BIPOC and LGBTQ+, which aim to further and strengthen diversity and inclusion in Waldorf education.
We recognize that we have a great deal of important work to do as leaders of the association. We also recognize that our best chance to succeed in addressing systemic inequity is to meet the challenges as a community, united in our commitment. As such, we are counting on the collaboration, wisdom, and perspective of all in the Waldorf movement.
We also understand that to change thinking requires deep inner work and a radical reorientation. Only through spiritual striving and love can we ensure outer transformation. There is no quick fix.
We hope you will join us as we move forward in fulfillment of the mission of Waldorf education where equitable and inclusive practices and policies are evident, and the dignity of each human being shines through our work.
Beverly, Stephanie, and Melanie
Association of Waldorf Schools of North America