This month marks the 100th anniversary of Dr Rudolf Steiner’s first training course for teachers as they prepared to open the world’s first school based on his methods. In September 1919 the school opened, and 100 years later we are enjoying the fruits of their pioneering labours.
Six years after this moment, the lectures of this first training course were published, and in the Foreword, Dr Steiner’s widow Marie Steiner summed up the essence of the complex, organic whole that is Steiner education with the classic words:
“Our highest endeavor is to produce young men and women who out of themselves are able to give meaning and direction to their own lives.”
How contemporary they now sound! At the time, schools were either based on the old, grammar school model of classical languages and learning, or the newer industrial model producing technical professionals and workers for industry. Many schools were founded on a religious base with the aim of producing more adherents loyal to that religion.
Here Dr Steiner is proclaiming an education that would foster individuals able to build their own meaning and direction out of themselves. He was founding a new education that was for the future, and that future is now, the 21st century.
Over the years Glenaeon has expressed the essence of our work and aspirations for our students with a motto. Unfolding Individual Journeys has been a valuable phrase expressing so much of who we are for the past decade. As we examined our work and curriculum, it became apparent that Marie Steiner had uniquely captured an essential statement of our aspirations as a school, one that lifted Unfolding Individual Journeys to a new level.
Every individual journey is unique and precious, but what makes each one most precious is when it has meaning and direction. Whether a bricklayer or a brain surgeon, such a life is a successful life, when the individual journey is owned and guided by the individual himself or herself, and not from without, but from within. Hence there was no better way of describing what we do and aspire to offer our community than…Meaningful Lives.
We felt this moment in the 21st century is right to own such a profound statement, and bring it into public view as our identity. Meaningful Lives is our new motto and this week we formally launched this strapline as part of our website redesign. On Tuesday there was a presentation to staff, and we celebrated the launch with a morning tea and a cake, with an official celebratory cake-cutting by students.
Over the coming weeks we will present in detail on how we build meaning and direction in our students in a structured curriculum underpinning everything we do, from Early Childhood to Year 12: each of our foundational programs Academic, Aesthetic, Artisan, Altruistic, and Active Wilderness contribute an essential element to the sense of meaning and direction.
As a first step I invite you to look at our new website at www.glenaeon.nsw.edu.au .