Detroit Waldorf School Celebrates 100 Years of Waldorf Education
Our school rose out of civil unrest in the city of Detroit, a reaction to inequality and division. In 1966, Amelia and Dr. Rudolf Wilhelm had a vision for a place where Detroit children would receive an education that changed the future in powerful ways.
This vision grew out of the early musings and philosophy of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, a visionary in Germany in the early 20thcentury, who developed a process and a way of life for bringing out the best in people, mind, body, and spirit.
Just as Detroit Waldorf School features full classrooms and eager children running, playing, and creating on the playground and in the historic Albert Kahn building they inhabit during the school year, the entire world celebrates a century of Waldorf education last month – a testament to the veracity and power of this approach to education, and to childhood.
On September 19th, Waldorf education marked 100 years since it began in Stuttgart, Germany. More than 1,100 schools and nearly 2,000 Waldorf kindergartens in more than 80 countries marked the day with celebrations, chalk drawings, singing, video and more – and for months, we have all been connected on social media as we share images of this powerful approach to educating our young.
As a global movement, Waldorf education shares the tagline, learn to change the world, and we firmly believe this is what’s happening. This philosophy focuses on social renewal as an important value in and out of the classroom, graduating students who truly care about one another, and the world around them.
On our campus in historic Indian Village, parents, children, staff and faculty, even alumni gathered together to celebrate this historic occasion. Our grades classes went out into the city of Detroit to volunteer. Later, we reconnected on our campus for song and refreshments. We exhibited a quilt of Waldorf school T-shirts from around the world compiled by some of our dedicated parents and teachers.
This is a moment in time that means more than we can probably share in words. Every day, people walk through our wooden gates and a feeling of calm and assurance envelopes them. Children balance and swing, run and exclaim joyfully. Parents chat with their tea and coffee, lingering by the entrance, infused by the calm and nurturing atmosphere our campus evokes.
It’s not just the neighborhood or the building, the people or environment. It’s the whole picture, a picture drawn by the vision of Rudolf Steiner so many years ago, an enduring vision.
There is something intangible about Waldorf philosophy that seeps into your soul and stays there. It comes from the central concept that the whole person must be integrated in every experience – mind, along with body, along with soul and spirit.
This happens in the classroom, where children are seen, known, and heard. They begin their day at the doorframe, eye to eye, in a handshake with their teacher, who greets them by name and through smile and eye contact.
For parents, too, this feeling of being a part of something, a feeling of welcome permeates the entire experience. You enroll your child, and you become a part of a community that cares about its members.
As we sang together as a community, as one voice comprised of many voices, we realized this profound movement of growth and acceptance has truly permeated every corner of the world.
A century is a long time in some ways, and yet it is a moment in time. We look to the future for our Waldorf graduates and our alumni families to be the change we desperately need to create a world of inclusion, of acceptance, of peace.
Happy 100 Years, Waldorf Education! We are so pleased to be a part of this important movement, doing our part in Detroit to bring people together, to bridge divides, to heal gaps, to create a true community of whole, happy, connected individuals. Here’s to the next 100 – and beyond.