Education for the Whole Child – It’s the Equitable Thing To Do

Children have strengths and vulnerabilities that school systems generally overlook.

As a matter of fact, children often get punished for being children in schools. In many ways, the purpose of education systems still is getting the child out of the student – as early and as fast as possible. 

And so I am an education reformer and my mission is to close what I am calling “the Whole Child education opportunity gap”.  The so-called achievement gap is preceded by a gap in the opportunity to learn as a Whole Child in School. 

There’s a new book about the Whole Child and education reform written by Jonathan P. Raymond who served as Superintended of the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD).

Wildflowers: A School Superintendent’s Challenge to America by Jonathan P. Raymond

– You has me at “Whole Child”. – Karen Pittman, President, Forum for Youth Investment

Right now, I’m working with Orland Bishop, Founder and Executive Director of the ShadeTree Multicultural Foundation and others to host the becoming of a publicly chartered TK-8th school serving the needs of the Whole Child – Head, Heart, and Hands – in the so-called “high needs” community of Watts in South Los Angeles. The proposed ShadeTree Community School will apply the Public Waldorf Education approach to education reform.





















Learning to engage with the community






Future parents hearing about education for the Whole Child and the Waldorf approach to teaching and learning at the Watts/Century Latino Organization.  All 22 parents attending signed the petition to demonstrate their support for the school to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). School will open as a TK-2nd in 2020.

I like to solve hard problems. I’m particularly interested in applying systems thinking to the complex issue of reforming the educational system. Teaching to the Whole Child – woke head, woke heart, and woke hands – is the key to self and social consciousness. Whole Child Education is  the missing link that could finally realize the unrealized vision of public education in the 21st century.

The purpose of this site is to explore what systemic reforms would best close the Whole Child education opportunity gap? Why would we do it? How would we do it? Who would do it? When would we do it? 

Looking back, I see I began acting as an education reformer as a child in school. I convinced the principal in my middle school to allow girls to take shop and boys to take home economics (cooking and sewing). I convinced my high school principal to provide supervision for kids not interested in attending football pep rallies and to stop marking us as truant.  

What excites me the most about what I’m doing is constantly having to change my attitude and examine my beliefs. I am learning that both the necessity and the possibility of getting off it happens in community with the other – especially the really other. ?

As a futurist and education reformer I resist a constant feeling of frustration and shame at not completing what I start.  At the same time, a long-term patience is what’s needed. I know that what I help to set in motion today well not get completed in my lifetime – maybe it won’t even be Waldorf education, as I know and love it, that will drive the system over the tipping point. All I know for sure is that Waldorf education – operating in a bubble – will not be enough, that we must join with like-minded others, and that, there is NO ONE PERFECT UTOPIAN ANSWER anyway.

Before helping to lay the groundwork for this school, during and after, I will continue to facilitate a different conversation around education reform: Access to Whole Child education for all is a social equity issue and a human rights issue and a humanitarian issue.

So, while education reform is about Child Learning, what really interests me is its prerequisite: Adult Learning. Although I trained as a Waldorf teacher at the Waldorf Teacher Training Center at Highland Hall Waldorf and subsequently taught German there, I don’t consider myself primarily a teacher of children. It’s about Adult Learning to  see, hear, understand, and accept the Whole Child as the clue to education reform and the need to reform our educational system around the needs of the Whole Child – connecting heart to head, head to heart and engendering the will and action towards a more human future.

– Joan Jaeckel