Development for Adults and Children:

The Donkey in New York


Donkey image

 In February, The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN) held its annual conference in Chestnut Ridge, NY.   Patricia Rubano gave a keynote address on the challenges of self-development in adulthood—and its vital importance when one works with children.  She was given a standing ovation!  The audience—350 educators from across the country—laughed uproariously as she entered the stage in donkey ears and were moved to tears by her deep understanding of the difficulty of meeting oneself in modern life.  “It’s hard,” she acknowledged repeatedly.   The following comes from Marca-Maria Boggiano who was there.

 The theme was “Nurturing the Sense of Life and Wellbeing in Young Children and the Adults Who Care for Them” and Patricia was the third of three keynote speakers.  The entire audience in Rose Hall of Green Meadow Waldorf School was brought to their feet in appreciation of Patricia and the being of Biography Work and Social Art, which surely stood behind her!

I too was deeply moved, and had wondered to myself while she spoke whether it was just that she was speaking to my love of biography work.  But no—she was moving everyone! 

It just so happened that the Eurythmy Spring Valley Ensemble had performed The Donkey for the WECAN participants, on Saturday evening of the conference, and the next morning, our dear Patricia came on stage wearing donkey ears and a tail! Oh, the power of the fairy tale! Patricia referred to it throughout her talk, and through her humor and humility, seemed to touch lightly on the deep mysteries of birthing the consciousness soul, caring for our inner lives so we can attend to the other, cultivating interest and warmth, guarding against the enchantment of aloneness and isolation, and honoring the sacred journeys that are our biographies. She even had us converse in dyads with our neighbor for two minutes each! Her gentle way of speaking, tales of her own uncomfortable awakenings and the discomfort of development, put everyone at ease and we took in what she offered. It was a feast.

I saw in that room that the time is NOW for biography work! Participants from as far from Spring Valley as Alaska went home with enthusiasm for it.


Why on Earth?

Biography and the Practice of Human Becoming

jpeg Why on Earth?

Signe Schaefer’s new book “Why on Earth? – Biography and the Practice of Human Becoming” is now available from SteinerBooks or through Amazon. A signed copy is available from the Center for Biography and Social Art .

The book explores many aspects of human development today, such as life phases, gender, temperaments, inner development and freedom. Here is a brief excerpt from the back cover:

Life today poses many questions, both in our personal lives and in our participation in nature and the broader culture. We often focus on the outer needs for social, political, technological, or environmental change.

Can we really meet the challenges around us without also attending to our inner life and to our own evolving biography as it reflects and informs the outer world?

 This book starts from the premise that each of our lives expresses uniqueness of spiritual intention within the unfolding of universal rhythms and possibilities.

Can we come to appreciate the learning that our “I” has received through heredity, ethnicity, schooling, and gender without losing a sense of our true individuality?

Why on Earth? invites us to explore our own meaning-filled life journey, to bring conscious attention to how we go our path, so that we may more freely perceive our possibilities and our responsibilities along the way of our personal and shared becoming.


SIGNE EKLUND SCHAEFER was the founding director of a professional development program in Biography and Social Art, one of several activities of the Center for Biography and Social Art. Her desire to know more about the multiple dimensions of human development led her as a young person to the work of Rudolf Steiner and to Waldorf education. She directed Foundation Studies at Sunbridge College for more than twenty years and prior to that was on the faculty of Emerson College in Sussex, England. She continues to teach nationally and internationally, including at several recent workshops in China. She coauthored Ariadne’s Awakening, a book on gender questions, and coedited the parenting book, More Lifeways. A mother and grandmother, she now lives in Massachusetts, with her husband Christopher Schaefer.

Shipping for a signed copy is only available in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

What is Biography and Social Art?

Biography and social art activities explore themes pertaining to all humanity, as well as those belonging to an individual’s unique life journey.  At the heart of this work is conversation, the practice of giving time and attention to another.  Listening well is like holding open a door, welcoming a friend into a new space—a space for insight, renewing enthusiasm and strengthening will.  Biography and social art also includes IMG_4391playful, artistic processes that foster new ways of perceiving and invites imagination, inspiration, and intuition.  In this work we study life phases, the rhythms of the cosmos, nature’s role in our lives, and the evolution of consciousness.  We learn skills for approaching life with the objectivity of a scientist and the soulfulness of an artist.  We experience that our lives are inherently intelligent; we become increasingly interested in others; we recognize that we have a valuable role to play.  And we learn to perceive human development, the phenomenon of metamorphosis.  This is a true picture of life:  something of the past is always dying away, something for the future is always just beginning.  In each moment, the unfolding of human life is sacred.

Ways of Working

Taking inspiration from Rudolf Steiner’s insights into human development, biography and social art consultants are active in adult education, art therapy, biographical counseling, parent education, elder care, coaching, medicine, hospice care, and various community building activities.  The work is being offered in the following ways:

  • Workshops and Classes
  • Biographical Conversations
  • Biographical Counseling
  • Consultation with Existing Group
  • Professional Enhancement  read more…IMG_1025
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