Why on Earth?: Biography and the Practice of Human Becoming by Signe Schaefer


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. However, 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 wake up to the developmental opportunities offered to us through different life phases?

Are we able to step out of the narrowness of the dualistic nature-nurture argument and experience that we are both more than our genetic composition and more than a product of the social and educational influences that have shaped us?

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?

Waking up to our unique self as it grows through interaction with the world and other human beings helps us recognize the significance we all play in one another’s biographies and in the unfolding of our larger human story. 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. A teacher of adults for many decades, she has been a student of life for as long as she can remember. Never having heeded what was told her as a child—not to ask so many questions—she continues to love learning. 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 was on the faculty of Emerson College in Sussex England before that. She continues to teach both 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 Great Barrington, Massachusetts, with her husband Christopher Schaefer.

Signe Schaefer Reads from “Why on Earth?”

Published on Oct 18, 2013

Signe Schaefer visited The Brooklyn Waldorf School on October 10 for a reading, discussion, and Q&A about her new book, “Why On Earth”.

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