Graduation Speech

By Uma Baker, SWSF Class of 2021, Student at UC Berkeley 

My generation has been born into unprecedented times. We are facing an existential climate crisis, an ongoing pandemic, as well as major social and political division which seems to prevent us from taking significant action to address these and other critical problems. Most of these problems stem from the mistakes and flawed thinking of the people that came before us, but have now become our burden. We will not solve these problems by thinking like those who came before us, the way of thinking that got us into this mess in the first place. Our issues can only be solved if we think in a new way.

In another time, my Waldorf education may have fed my creativity or my artistry. I might have been a cellist, or a trapeze artist, or maybe an astronomer. But in this time, I believe that Waldorf has been preparing me to face these challenges. We won’t get a new kind of thinking from memorizing, retaining, and regurgitating stale information, or by following instructions and rules. We need imagination, connection, respect, and real creativity in our work and thinking. We need to understand the complex interconnectivity of the world around us, we need to understand how the flight of a butterfly could cause a hurricane. These are the Waldorf tools, and with these I will go into my future and whatever challenges it brings with the confidence that I can make a difference.

Waldorf teaches to the whole being. Our learning incorporates art, music, movement, creativity, connection, and analysis. We develop the capacity to use all of these parts of ourselves. This holistic approach teaches us to think – not in straight lines or small pieces – but in a way that allows us to consider whole systems, or maybe the ultimate system. This holistic way of thinking is not just conceptual or practical, it includes all the aspects of life, critical and original thinking, creativity, feeling and spirituality. This way is what we need right now, but that’s not all that’s needed. I have had the privilege of witnessing the faculty, staff and extended community of Summerfield as they bring their time, energy and dedication into making Summerfield what it is. Those models have shown me what people are capable of when they come together to work on a collective vision. I am so grateful to what these people have shown me, because without such a level of commitment, no novel way of thinking or being will be enough to change our future.