Perhaps your child, like mine, has been coming home singing a song about throwing the 45th President on the barbecue and flushing him down the toilet. And perhaps, your inner voice has said, “You learned that song in a Waldorf School? I signed up for that?” And hopefully, your outer voice calmly said, “That song is not nice. Even though we don’t agree with some people, it doesn’t mean we ever want to barbecue them or throw them in the toilet.” We say this because even though the metaphor is completely lost on younger children, the moral sentiment of a loving adult goes deeply into the souls of our children.
As the election season approaches, what are we as a Waldorf community to do about shepherding our children through it?
I suggest adopting a community agreement called “Practice Waldorf Politics: Truth, Beauty and Goodness.”
We can all do this in two easy steps!
Step 1: Turn off the noise! This applies to everyone, but especially to our youngest students in the Early Childhood through grade 3. Childhood is the only time in a person’s life where they truly get to live in a magical/spiritual place of Truth, Beauty and Goodness, absent of adult “noise”—if we let them. So, you’ve never uttered a word of adult politics to your child and shielded them from all those yard signs and bumper stickers, but the inevitable still happens… Let this be an inspirational script:
Child: “Mommy, who are we voting for?”
Parent: [Shift the focus from the personality to the issues!] “We believe in kindness, fairness and loving mother earth.” [Then, artful redirection and action!] “Let’s go dig in the garden!” or “Let’s bake cookies for our sick neighbor!”
Waldorf Politics! Truth, Beauty and Goodness!
Step 2: Shift the focus to local politics! This applies mostly to grades 4 and up.
Child: “Parents, who are you going to vote for?”
Parent: “We vote for [insert your own values, eg. equality, public safety and protecting the environment].” Then, “Let’s volunteer with Friends of Trees,” or “Let’s volunteer at the food bank,” or “Let’s organize a clothing drive!” Also, “We can call our local representative and tell her that we support environmental issues!”
Again, after shifting the focus from the personality to the issues, and then by shifting the focus to local politics, and then serving our communities, we can inspire and empower our young people.
For example, when my students were in 5th grade, we wrote letters to Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba (a real person!) and to Governor Kate Brown in support of the plastic bag ban. The students received letters back from the leaders’ offices and a few months later… the plastic bag ban had gone into effect in Milwaukie.
Participation! Action! Results!
- Local politicians are generally more civil in public discourse.
- Local politicians generally get more done!
In the spirit of our Waldorf community, please consider honoring this proposed community agreement: Practice Waldorf Politics: Truth, Beauty and Goodness!
Alynn Nelson is a PWS class teacher and parent.