A Unique Approach

The Waldorf School Movement at 100 Years

Welcome to Hartsbrook

Despite the most amazing advances in technology and the ability to be globally aware of the climate, world events and each other, our cultural life is increasingly fragmented and we all experience growing separation. We do not seem, in our contemporary culture or daily lives, to be developing a greater sense of connection or the attitude that how we live our daily lives overall makes a difference. Why do we struggle to have this sense that we all belong to one another and reflect that in our actions?

The first Waldorf school was founded 100 years ago in the aftermath of war and when societal renewal was an evident need of the times. The founding teachers of the first school aspired to create a better balance between the acceptance of the unique expression of each individual, along with a stronger sense of belonging to a more united human community.

Developing a Greater Sense of Humanity
In addition to offering a unique pedagogical approach, the first Waldorf school strived to work in such a way that each child had the opportunity to develop a greater sense of humanity and cultivate the ability to see and connect with the dignity and diversity of fellow human beings. This capacity to balance the freedom to be unique individuals with the ability to develop community beyond like-minded groups, was in support of a healthy cultural shift. In order to do this, the teachers were asked to work with three foundational human virtues: gratitude, love and responsibility as important parts of the overall education.

The Will to Gratitude — The teachers took time every day to exercise feelings of gratitude and inner thankfulness and to carry a deep faith in the potential for goodness in all human beings as a way of encouraging the same attitude to grow in the child.

The Will to Love — The teachers aspired to teach in such a way that the child is inspired and develops interest in learning, growing a sense that the world is not only a good place, but a beautiful, magnificent and coherent place.

The Will to Act — Finally the teachers recognized that “all education is fundamentally a matter of self education” and that the greatest influence teachers can have is by exercising a loving devotion toward what they do, inspiring the child to act in accordance with what they value and feel strongly moved to support and act upon.
Teachers in Waldorf schools have been working in this way for 100 years, and the connected, compassionate world we all so desire is still needing all of our efforts! Becoming 100 years old as a person or an organization is indeed worthy of acknowledgement and celebration, but we must remember the founding impulses and recognize that our work is far from done. We have to authentically renew what we wish to sustain as we move into the next 100 years of Waldorf education as we continue to build “one human family.”

Continuous Renewal at Hartsbrook
At Hartsbrook, we continuously take a deep look at our governance and decision-making processes and engaging in pedagogical action research to better understand and meet the child of today. For us, deep change down to our roots is not about checking off a box, but a process of reflection and transformation through inner work. Change like this takes time, listening to each other, challenging our own assumptions and deep reflection. As we engage in this process of looking at ourselves, we find that the scope of renewal enlarges and the work continues.

Be The Way Forward
We strive to be part of one human family and we need to create the forms that will allow us to work together in ways that honor the dignity of each individual and the collective good. Many forms in contemporary culture that exist do not serve us — in politics, the environment, economic life, agriculture and education. So let’s be bold enough to challenge the current paradigms and courageous enough to co-create a different world for our children to enter into.
We invite you all to join us as we work every day to see the good in each other, cultivate gratitude for the beauty of the world, and accept each other’s differences.
Let’s start this work as a community here together at Hartsbrook.

Virginia McWilliam, Pedagogical Chair
Lindsay Hunter, Administrative Chair