DouglasBirthdays are a time for taking stock and for looking ahead along the path. Coincident with the 150th birthday of Rudolf Steiner in late February, several recent and forthcoming events are serving as moments of retrospection but also of envisioning. A sampling of these moments is offered in this issue of Center & Periphery.

At a watershed gathering on the West Coast during the first weekend of this calendar year, a colloquium of experienced Waldorf teacher educators took a slow and honest look at the needs and expectations of teacher training on this continent. We report on their deliberations and some initiatives for the future.

Up and down the East Coast, students in our clusters of Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts look back on their experience and how it prepares them to become better teachers and parents. A veteran teacher in one such cluster recalls 50 years of studying and teaching anthroposophy in the Southeast.

Closer to home, we follow the trials of Waldorf teachers struggling and growing through the experience of preparing a performance of the medieval Paradise Play –– a timeless drama depicting the archetype of all birthdays.

On the home front, the Center inaugurates a new governance structure with the formation of a Pedagogical Advisory Council and an expanded Board of Trustees. The affiliated Waldorf Program at Antioch University New England experiments with a new approach to its 10-year cycle of state certification.

And, in addition to reporting on some other programs and professional appointments, we preview a day of celebrations in downtown Wilton to mark the 150th anniversary of Rudolf Steiner’s birth on 25 February 1861.

Join us –– you are invited!

Douglas Gerwin, Director
Center for Anthroposophy

In this Issue

Dateline Wilton, NH: When Councilors Become Advisors and Trustees

4ae807794aAt its annual meeting in February 2011, the governing body of the Center for Anthroposophy reconfigured itself into two new bodies: a Pedagogical Advisory Council (PAC) and Board of Trustees (BoT). Herewith an outline of how this new governance model came to be.  

The Center for Anthroposophy came of age during the first weekend in February 2011 with the formation of a new Board of Trustees and a Pedagogical Advisory Council.  Notwithstanding a brisk snowstorm, which forced the inaugural meeting to be postponed for a day, the new group met for the first time in the newly renovated reading room of the Cadmus anthroposophical lending library, which is located in the walkout basement of the building purchased by the Center in 2008.

To understand the context of this new configuration, one has to spool back to the very beginnings of Waldorf teacher training in New England when during the early 1980s the faculty at the Pine Hill Waldorf School in Wilton NH agreed to act as “ombudsman” to the newly formed Waldorf teacher education program at what was then called Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene NH.

When Pine Hill suffered its second major fire in the late 1980s, the faculty felt it could no longer serve as ombudsman, and the call went out to Waldorf schools across New England to step into this role. Five Waldorf schools in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts banded together to form the New England Waldorf Teacher Training Council as an institution of support to the Waldorf program at Antioch.

By the mid-1990s this fledgling institution, renamed the Center for Anthroposophy, had grown to include more schools and had begun to offer programs of its own, independent of what is now known as Antioch University New England. First came Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts, then a teacher training program specifically for high school subject teachers, and finally at the turn of the millennium a unique fortnight of Renewal Courses for those engaged in Waldorf education.

Through these many phases of growth and increasing complexity, the governing Council of the Center acted as both circle of advisors and as a legal entity of trustees. Eventually it became obvious that a single body could not do justice to both roles, and the Council was differentiated into two distinct yet closely related entities.

The Pedagogical Advisory Council (PAC) is composed of 21 teachers and staff members from 15 Waldorf schools and teacher education programs. The 14-member Board of Trustees is drawn from the circle of Council members.

At their inaugural meeting, members of the PAC devoted the bulk of their time to envisioning the future of Waldorf teacher education not only in terms of a new generation of teachers but also a new generations of parents and their children. To the needs of these changing generations must be added the impact of technology––especially the Internet––on the development of all of these groups. All the more important for teachers both young and seasoned in these turbulent times is the steady eye and hand of experienced mentors acting not, however, as ancient viziers but rather as working colleagues.  In the final hour of the afternoon, the board took up matters of finance and administration, including the re-election of its officers:

Signe Motter, President

Arthur Auer, Chair

Stephen Bloomquist, Treasurer

Milan Daler, Secretary

Dateline Fair Oaks, CA: The Four-tune of TEN

cbd4e18953At the invitation of the Teacher Education Network (TEN), Waldorf adult educators from across North America met in Fair Oaks to envision where Waldorf education is headed in the next decade. What was the outcome of their deliberations? Douglas Gerwin reports on the colloquium and the formation a newly mandated quartet to envision the future of TEN.

Forty adult educators from fifteen AWSNA institutes across North America gathered for a colloquium––the first of its kind––at the invitation of the Association’s Teacher Education Network (TEN). The three-day colloquium, unprecedented in the history of the Waldorf movement on this continent¬¬, was held from January 7-9, 2011 on the campus of Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California.

During their long weekend together, teacher trainers became students themselves, practicing exercises in clay and eurythmy as part of a study of “morphological thinking” as it relates to the transformation of human bodily forms.  Warren Cohen, Director of the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto, guided the participants through a series of exercises in clay to experience the anatomical transitions from femur to skull and back.

3b5b72b129The mornings began with spirited exercises in eurythmy and movement led by Alice Stamm, now a eurythmist at Rudolf Steiner College, Click here for pictures of Waldorf trainers struggling to bring mobile form to clay. (It was agreed that no photos would be taken of Waldorf trainers struggling to bring their clay feet into movement!)

Four participants in the colloquium were drawn from the faculties at the Center for Anthroposophy and Antioch University New England. Douglas Gerwin, Director of the Center, led the colloquium each morning in geometric exercises––picturing and inwardly moving three-dimensional forms––to “limber up” the powers of morphological thinking; he also moderated several discussions on “hot topics” such as the mentoring of new teachers onsite in schools.

Torin Finser, Chair of the Education Department at Antioch, challenged the group to consider: “Where do we want to be in 2019?” –– the year Waldorf education celebrates its 100th birthday. Responses to this question ranged from the need among the training institutes for collaboration––not merely cooperation––to the importance of engaging other groups, such as environmental organizations, in shared initiatives to realize the ideals and values that lie at the foundation of Waldorf education.

Michael D’Aleo, who teaches in the Center’s Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program, made an impassioned plea for the practice of “living thinking” both by young and by seasoned Waldorf teachers.  And at the closing plenum Jamie York, who also teaches in the high school program, summed up the mood of the room with a call for new thinking in the ways institutes prepare Waldorf teachers for the classroom.

Each morning Virginia McWilliam, a class teacher at the Hartsbrook School and formerly a member of the Center’s governing Council, led the group in discussions around the latter chapters of Study of Man, Rudolf Steiner’s seminal lecture cycle to Waldorf teachers. Dorit Winter, Director of the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training, facilitated conversations on meditative inner work and its cultivation among prospective teachers. She also led a discussion on how the Study of Man lectures are brought to new teachers and kept tabs on the colloquium with her digital camera. (Click here for a gallery of images.)

As chair of TEN, John Brousseau from the Waldorf Institute of Southern California served as the colloquium’s genial host. He introduced a discussion of the different generations now entering the profession of Waldorf teaching. Betty Staley, from Rudolf Steiner College, joined John in presenting thumbnail sketches of the present generations––from Baby Boomers to Generation  X’ers and Millennials––that are entering our schools as teachers and parents.

Following the colloquium the Teacher Education Network (TEN) met to review the weekend and begin taking up some of the ideas arising from the discussions. A quartet of TEN members––Douglas Gerwin (CfA), Patrice Maynard (AWSNA), Frances Vig (Arcturus), and Dorit Winter (BACWTT)––was mandated to draft proposals on the future activity and form of TEN.

Gratitude was extended at the end to Gayle Davis, CEO of Rudolf Steiner College, and Holly Koteen-Soule of Sound Circle Center––both members of TEN––who took on the practical aspects of preparing the colloquium and the TEN meeting that followed it.

Dateline Wilton, NH: Celebrating 150 Years of Rudolf Steiner

2fde9f5d73Around the world the 150th birthday of Rudolf Steiner is being marked by a year of festivities. How is the Center celebrating this landmark date? Read here to find out.

Joining a world-wide celebration of the work and life of Rudolf Steiner 150 years after his birth in 1861, the Center for Anthroposophy is mounting a day of festivities on Thursday 24 February –– the eve of his actual birth date. (In Steiner’s time it was the convention to record an infant’s “official birthday” as being the day of baptism, which was usually celebrated two days after the physical birth. In Steiner’s case, however, his baptismal date seems to have coincided with his actual date of birth, which in any case Steiner himself lists in his autobiography as being 27 February, rather than 25 February.)

The day will begin at 10:00 a.m. with reminiscences of Rudolf Steiner by famous people who knew him personally –– whether during his early days as an editor and writer in Weimar and Berlin or in his later years as the founder of anthroposophy and the many practical areas of reform that sprang from his initiatives.

Scientist, artist, visionary, and the founder of Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner launched a host of lasting initiatives in the cultural, political, and economic arenas of society.  Among them are Waldorf Education and the Camphill Movement, Biodynamic agriculture and organic horticulture, the Christian Community and religious renewal, anthroposophic medical practice and the creation of homeopathic health products, homes for the aged and for the disabled, “threefolded” enterprises in commerce and banking, eurythmy and other new art forms including Speech Formation and Spacial Dynamics.

Margaret Chambers, Milan Daler, Torin Finser, and Alice Groh will read some of these reminiscences, as well as excerpts from Steiner’s own autobiography.  This reading will take place in the newly renovated Cadmus Library, located in the basement of the building owned by the Center, which includes the Color Shop & More on the ground floor and the offices of the Center above the store.

In the early afternoon, at 1:30 p.m., Douglas Gerwin will introduce a TV documentary on the life and work of Rudolf Steiner, narrated by Henry Barnes and featuring interviews with anthroposophical leaders in science, education, medicine, agriculture, and the arts. This screening will also take place in the Cadmus Library reading room.

Finally, in the evening, starting at 7:00 p.m., Arthur Auer will lead guests through an exhibit of panels depicting the activities of anthroposophy. The exhibits will form part of an evening reception and toast, including birthday cake and coffee, to be held at the Wilton Main Street Café, next door to the Color Shop & More.

To receive an electronic invitation to this day of festivities, click here

Dateline Wilton: New Line-up for Renewal Courses in 2011

a938097934This year will mark several “firsts” for the Center’s annual Renewal Courses of five-day intensives. Karine Munk Finser, Coordinator of Renewal Courses, reports on prospects for a busy and star-studded summer.

This summer we will dedicate our Renewal Courses to celebrating the 150th birthday of Rudolf Steiner, born in 1861. In this context, we will be hosting Virginia Sease from the leadership of the School for Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. She will offer a five-day course on “The Life and Work of Rudolf Steiner” including elements of her research on the theme of initiation and the New Mysteries.

Among other first-time appearances at our Renewal Courses:

  • Douglas Sloan, professor emeritus at Teachers College Columbia University, will tackle the contemporary topic of the encounter with evil and its transformation
  • Philip Thatcher, General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada, will take up the interrelationships between the Medieval epic Parzival and Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
  • Jennifer Greene, director of the Water Research Center in Blue Hill, Maine, will explore the cosmic forces that flow through water
  • Tobias Tuechelmann, MD, an active member in the annual International Therapists Conferences In Dornach, will examine traumatic experiences in childhood, drawing upon recent developments in neuroscience and child psychiatry
  • Van James, celebrated author and high school teacher from Hawaii, will offer a drawing course based on the Waldorf curriculum, grades 1-12, as well as elements from his latest book
  • Marcy Schepker will inaugurate a new workshop in needlefelting to create wall hangings for the classroom and the community

Several leading faculty members will be returning next summer with courses new to Renewal. Among them

  • Christof Wiechert, outgoing leader of the Pedagogical Section at the Goethenum, will present a new course on the health-bringing aspects of the Waldorf curriculum and the teachers’ approach to education
  • Aonghus Gordon, along with his team of five expert craftsmen from Ruskin Mill in England, will lead a further installment of work through the crafts of glass blowing, clay, woodwork, thread/fibre crafts, and soapmaking
  • Janene Ping will return with a new course of marionette and shadow puppet theater, focusing upon a contemporary fairy tale, “The Bee Man of Orn”
  • Georg Locher will invite teachers to work on two key texts by Rudolf Steiner, Balance in Teaching and Study of Man, with an accompanying immersion in wet-on-wet and veiling techniques in painting for grades 6-8
  • Elizabeth Auer will help participants create armfuls of delightful projects arising from the Waldorf crafts curriculum for children aged 7-12
  • Iris Sullivan returns this year with a course on veilpainting to school both professional artist and untrained apprentice alike.

Beyond this array of workshops, there will be evening lectures, a professional eurythmy performance to celebrate Rudolf Steiner, as well as our usual artistic soirees.

The first series of these courses run from Sunday 26 June through Friday 1 July 2011; the second week from Sunday 3 July through Friday 8 July 1011.

Consult the Center’s website (centerforanthroposophy.org) for a complete listing of courses in our Renewal Courses 2011 brochure. We encourage early registration since we expect this summer to be busy and our beautiful site on the campus of High Mowing School in Southeastern New Hampshire has a limited number of single and double rooms!

We look forward to seeing many of you this summer.

Dateline Spring Valley, NH: Renewal Through Eurythmy

66d1da7b66Eurythmy Spring Valley troupe makes a special appearance at the summer Renewal Courses in Wilton, NH. Get a sneak preview here of their program.

“Eurythmy Spring Valley” will perform in the Pine Hill Auditorium on the evening of July 5th, during the second week of our Renewal Courses. The special program, dedicated to Rudolf Steiner, will feature pieces of both tone and speech eurythmy.

It is our intention to open our doors to share this artistic event with community members and friends. Tickets, at $12.00, can be purchased at the door or reserved by calling the CfA office at (603) 654- 2566.

Dateline Chapel Hill, NC: Four Layers of Foundation Studies

2efc789ee7From modest study group to a fourth cycle of foundation studies in a thriving community of anthroposophical ventures including a K-12 Waldorf school: Eve Olive reports on the earliest stirrings of anthroposophy in Chapel Hill, NC.

Fifty years ago this February a young architectural student stopped in front of a bookstore window in London, England ––and in that moment her life was changed.  The bookstore, called the Rudolf Steiner Bookshop and Lending Library, was situated down a little street that led to the British Museum. She picked up a flyer delineating all the events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of a man called Rudolf Steiner, of whom she had just become aware.

Years passed, fourteen of them.  The young architect became a eurythmist, married and settled in Durham, North Carolina.  She searched, mostly in vain, for anyone who had even heard of Rudolf Steiner.  Finally, with one other aware individual and two recently interested people, she started the “Rudolf Steiner Study Group”.  To begin with, it met in an old mill house which had been set up as a Buddhist meditation center behind the Psychical Research Foundation on Erwin Road ––buildings both long gone in favor of an immense parking lot for the employees of Duke University.

This study group was started in late March 1975 –– just 50 years, as it happens, after Rudolf Steiner’s death.

As we celebrate worldwide the 150th anniversary of Rudolf Steiner’s birth, we can also reflect on the ‘co-incidences’ of significant dates that show a connection between our work here and the life of this great human being. And we can give thanks that from these modest beginnings people from all over have been drawn to the work in my adopted home of Chapel Hill and have built and are continuing to build a community which supports a Waldorf school, an anthroposophical medical practice, a biodynamic farm, a forming Christian Community, a regular newsletter, and now––recently started––a fourth cycle of Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts, organized and sponsored  by the Center for Anthroposophy at the Emerson Waldorf School.

In the eyes of this now grey-haired architect/eurythmist, this is indeed remarkable and heartwarming.  The hierarchies have smiled on us, and my gratitude to them, and to all of you, is deeply felt.

Dateline Freeport, ME: “Waldorf for Grown-Ups”

f89e4648c2Have you ever thought to yourself that you would like to take Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts “one day,” but have not quite made that day materialize?  Kristin Agudelo, a student in the Maine cluster, reflects on what people are saying about this program. 

I recently had the opportunity to read through reports on Foundation Studies clusters up and down the East Coast.  Having such a “birds-eye” view of the coursework helped me understand what motivates students from quite diverse backgrounds to dedicate their time and energy to this part-time program.

First, the sheer variety of topics covered in the class was quite striking: from discussions of anthroposophical texts to watercolor painting, singing, eurythmy, sculpture, storytelling, and more.  Students repeatedly spoke about being challenged at first by the new material or art form, but ended by speaking about how the process of engaging body and mind helped them develop a freshly centered state of being.  Perhaps one student put it best when she wrote:  “I miraculously arrive where I need to be at the end of each class.”

This sense of the importance of process was echoed in the students’ appreciation of Foundations as a “well-rounded” and “well-balanced” course, with portions of each class devoted to intellectual discussion, artistic endeavor, and community building.  Again and again, students spoke of how carefully each class was crafted in order to engage all aspects of their body/mind/spirit. “Each session was enriching and mind-spirit expanding,” wrote one student who commuted more than three hours each way in order to attend the classes.

Perhaps the richest image offered by one of the participants was the simplest, especially for those of us who come to anthroposophy through our children’s education:  “Foundations is like Waldorf for grown-ups,” said one student.  And another: “I only wish I could do it all over again.”

For a full listing of foundation studies clusters, click here.

Dateline Keene, NH: Students in Paradise

3e18ea9a65What does it take for a troupe of prospective Waldorf teachers to be thrown out of Paradise? Karine Munk Finser, director of this year’s Paradise Play, reports on the performance of this medieval drama by Waldorf trainees at Antioch University New England.  

In the months leading up to the performance of the Paradise Play, we gradually began to develop a sense of what the oyster must go through to create a pearl. Working deeply with this simple yet profound drama allows the players to find themselves and one another anew. It is essentially transformative.

Why is this little play so powerful? The story of Adam and Eva and their fall from Paradise embraces one of the most poignant moments in the story of human development: the fall from the bosom and one-ness with God and the beginning of the journey in freedom. What will Adam and Eva say to God now that they’re free?

In preparing this play, we discussed the importance of finding a creative relationship with the archetypes. How do we become co-creative with the great immutable principles of life? Can we remain ourselves and yet surrender, letting that which is bigger than we are speak through us straight to the children and grown-ups in the audience?

And so the players worked hard at their roles. Through tears and laughter, they became teachers more and more, without even noticing that they were growing just those capacities they would need one day in their classrooms. They stretched their wings and leaped into the scenes, giving so generously what they had prepared –– remaining themselves and yet becoming so much more.

Jen Kershaw, an Antioch student who took the role of Adam in the play, offered this reflection on her experience:

When something comes from the heart it is beyond the words that are spoken –– it lives in a gesture from the heart, from the soul. In my work as Adam, I felt this heart connection live in my work and in the work of my fellow teacher-players.  Together, we created a world of imagination and feeling that was shared with the children and adults who came to see our performance. In this generous act, we brought our hearts and souls onto stage so that all could go on a journey.

It is the same in the classroom. As a Waldorf teacher, the heart connection with our children is at the source of all that we do. What a wonderful way to prepare the heart for the long journey ahead.

Click here for video excerpts of the play, which was performed at the Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene, NH.

Dateline Keene, NH: An Artistic Approach to State Re-Certification

949a7bcaadAs part of its state re-certification, the Waldorf Teacher Education Program at Antioch University New England is featuring a new approach to assessing its teachers through portfolios. Arthur Auer, Director of the Antioch Program at Antioch, reports.

Every ten years the New Hampshire Council on Teacher Education (NHCTE) re-certifies the teacher training programs at Antioch University New England. The Waldorf Teacher Education Program at Antioch––which offers the only Waldorf method-based Master’s of Education in North America as well as the enhanced dimension of a NH State Certification reciprocated with 40 other states––is part of that process.

This February, an NHCTE Team is visiting the Antioch campus in Keene for four days of concentrated meetings with core faculty, adjuncts, students, and alumni. Members of the team will review documentation and student work, which will be laid out in a wide-ranging academic and artistic display.

The Antioch Education Department is developing new ways to demonstrate student competencies. An exhibition of students’ portfolios will make visible key aspects of their learning and accomplishments achieved through their courses and two 12-15 week internships. This event will make possible a unique interface not only between the Waldorf approach and public teacher education at Antioch but also between educators and state officials.