DEIJ Study Group
If anyone in our school community is interested in joining our work, please contact us at DEIJ@mountainlaurel.org.
The Mountain Laurel Waldorf School was founded on and espouses principles of respect for all human beings. Though grounded in the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner, who created the Waldorf model in late 19th century Europe, the school recognizes that history, education, and culture are works in progress. As such, we look to events in the present moment as critical reminders that our children are inheriting a world with tremendously complex and deeply rooted injustices. We are at an inflection point in our country’s awareness of White and Eurocentric bias. As a community, we have a responsibility to better understand and interrupt these unjust systems. We know that our role as parents and educators is to help our children recognize the need for change, and to see the possibilities available for transformation. We must offer them faith in their ability to do better than has been done before.
At the foundation of Waldorf education lies the mission of social renewal.
As Waldorf educators, we hold the dignity of life and the human being at the center of our work. It is our responsibility to bear witness to what is happening in the world, to elevate the voices of marginalized people, to change the course of inequities, and to break down structural prejudice in all forms where it exists, particularly in Waldorf education.
Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has recently been one of the guiding forces behind AWSNA’s (Association of Waldorf Schools in North America) strategic priorities, and Waldorf Schools around America are taking on this important work.
As our first step Mountain Laurel Waldorf School has established a DEIJ Study Group with a mission to start this vital, necessary, and on-going work.The committee has begun first as a study group consisting of teachers and parents committed to interrogating racial and social injustice, raising consciousness about our own complicity, and developing and implementing principles to combat it. A major foundation of this work is the understanding that we must be vigilant. Justice, like culture, is a dynamic system, and requires continuous recalibration of policies, practices, and systems. We will never be finished, and that is a strength, not a failing.
The study group aims to serve as a resource to Mountain Laurel as it seeks to establish, publish, implement, and review policies and communication that promote equity and justice. It brings insight on how to better respect, affirm, and protect the dignity and worth of all members of the school community. As such, it seeks to support the ongoing education of the board, family, students, and all school personnel as part of the process of creating and promoting an equitable, just, and safe community.
Let’s together look racism in the eye and call out those who deny the freedom, peace, and dignity of others. Martin Luther King’s words: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” never rang so true as today. As a school, a community, and as a nation, we can do better. We must. The onus is on us to materialize the transformation of our school, our community, and our nation. We all bear this responsibility in different ways, but a community requires that we make it a collective investment.
Can we end this terrible scourge, erase the stain on the fabric of our nation? It is now more important than ever that we act diligently and with purpose.
If education is not the answer, what is?
We must ask ourselves:
- How do I participate, consciously, or unconsciously in systemic racism?
- What meaningful actions will I take in service to the leadership and agency of people of color?
- Where are the possibilities for me to prioritize racial justice in my work to further Waldorf education?
Below are resources we put together covering best practices around talking about race with an understanding of child development.
CNN article on how to present information to different ages in a developmentally appropriate way, acknowledging differences in how families from diverse racial backgrounds will need to speak to children accordingly.
Practical parent-centered advice from a white father about how to help children move through difficult emotions that are brought up by the protests.
If your young children are confused or scared about the protests taking place because they equate them with anger and loud noises, or if you are planning on bringing a very young child to a protest and want to prepare them thoughtfully.
For white parents who are ready to take a deeper look at their family culture:
A podcast episode that goes a little deeper, focusing on white parents who may not feel comfortable talking about race
An article from the Atlantic Magazine that looks into research showing how white, liberal families inadvertently perpetuate racism
National Museum of African American History and Culture: Talking about Race Web Portal
And for a truly extensive list of resources: