For instance, though the processes of ageing may feel like the latter, they deserve to be celebrated as instances of the former. Think of these processes as akin to a harvest, signifying the fruits of growth and maturation. There should be nothing wrong, as such, with getting old.
At the Center for Anthroposophy, we are celebrating several seven-year milestones this year, both in the age of our programs and in the services we offer. We invite you to join us as we mark these nodal points in the development of our institution, including some recent publications.
— Douglas Gerwin, Director Center for Anthroposophy
Dateline Amherst MA: When the Wrong Answer Is the Best Answer
Sometimes children learn more from what they get wrong than from what they get right. Douglas Gerwin, Director of the Center for Anthroposophy, offers a perspective on this pedagogical conundrum by comparing educating to riddling.
In a free-standing lecture on adolescence, Rudolf Steiner advises teachers of young teenagers to approach their lessons as though they were formulating great riddles. “When children come to the age of puberty, it is necessary to awaken within them an extraordinarily great interest in the world outside of themselves,” he says. The entire world must be brought to them “in such a way that it can resound on and on within them . . . so that riddles arise in their youthful souls.”
A riddle is like a locked door. It stops you in your tracks — while hinting there is something of value, something worth having or experiencing, beyond it (why else should it be locked?). Absent the right key, and the door remains impassable, but with the right key the door opens up an entirely new space–a trap door to the top of a tower, for instance–that may reveal a vista from which one can see the world one has already traversed from an entirely new perspective or in an entirely new light.
Cute little girl opening door to someone.
Notice that, in all likelihood, you already possess the “right”key on your key chain. A riddle that you cannot possibly solve is no riddle; it’s a trap! It’s a matter, therefore, of finding the right key, or perhaps jiggling it in the right way so that it releases the bolt in the lock.
Notice also that once the key has been successfully turned and the door unlocked, there is no going back. What one knew before encountering a locked door is forever changed by what one now has discovered by opening and stepping beyond it.
In Waldorf schools, we try to cast our lessons in such a way that they awaken in students the kind of lively mental activity akin to tackling a good riddle. In more quotidian language, this is called the phenomenological or discovery approach to teaching, in which students are presented not with information to be retained or answers to be tested to make sure they are correct–as in a conventional lab demonstration or multi-choice work sheet–but rather with questions to be weighed and eventually solved. It is important, just as with a riddle, that the student is reassured that there is an answer–possibly more than a single answer–to be found and that it will be worth the effort needed to discover it; otherwise, they may be tempted to give up the search or even challenge the merits of the search itself.
Math–and most of empirical science, too–lends itself easily to the phenomenological method, which reverses the more conventional learning process. Instead of starting with something we know (for instance, a definition) and then proving it or finding examples of it, we begin with a collection of mathematical examples and help students find hidden patterns in them that lead eventually to the formulation of a definition.
By way of illustration: the question, “What is a mathematical expression?” could so easily be answered by the recitation of a definition. Instead of posing such a question, we can throw on the blackboard an array of algebraic expressions (perhaps intermixed with things that are not expressions, such as sample equations) and then help students determine what these expressions on the board have in common, as well as what they don’t have in common with the “decoys” tossed into the mix.
In this way they learn by articulating the characteristics of an algebraic expression, rather than by defining it. In short, definition comes at the end–rather than at the beginning–of the learning experience.
Waldorf teachers are not alone in this approach, though they are perhaps more deliberate in teaching in this way. I recently came across an interview with David Wees, who now works as a formative assessment specialist in mathematics for New Visions for Public Schools, an organization male student with a teacher in classroom supporting public school teachers in New York City.
After more than 20 years of teaching, Wees has stopped labeling errors as “mistakes”; he pays attention to how his students arrive at an answer rather than asking whether the answer is correct or not. In other words, he is attending more to the process of learning than to the production of results. “I want to know the ways that they are thinking rather than the ways they are making mistakes,” as he puts it.
Tell students where they went wrong, and they are likely to simply memorize formulas that provide them with “correct” answers. “My interpretation that they’re making a mistake is a judgment and usually ends my thinking about what they are doing,” says Wees. “A major goal of math classrooms should be to develop students who look for evidence and try to prove that things are true or not true.”
So, in the spirit of teaching by riddling, I offer a classic for consideration:
What is more powerful than the Almighty,
More devious than the Devil?
What is whiter than snow
And deeper than pitch?
The rich want it — and don’t have it;
The poor have it — and don’t want it.
What is It?
Dateline Freeport ME: How Talk Becomes Text
Books arise in response to questions. Reflecting on the many faculty members she invites each year to lead her CfA Foundation Studies programs, Barbara Richardson has come to realize how many of them have recently published books. Here she reflects on some new publications and the archetypal styles of their authors.
“Writing a book is like building a house – you build it in 9 months and finish it in 20 years,” says Arthur Auer, author of Learning about the World through Modeling: Sculptural Ideas for School and Home. Arthur, director of the Waldorf teacher education program at Antioch University New England, is a popular regular on CfA’s Foundation Studies circuit, specializing in the study of Rudolf Steiner’s basic books with accompanying exercises in clay. He has another book in the making on sculpture, one of his favorite subjects.
Many of our Foundation Studies faculty members fly all over the country and tell their stories under the star of Mercury – with winged heels! But they do also have a Saturnine, Moon-like internal activity that helps them produce their books.
Douglas Gerwin, CfA Director, was being his mercurial self during a coffee break at a huge conference in Finland when he heard the call to fashion a collection of essays on teaching human sexuality, recently published under the title Trailing Clouds of Glory, the ninth book he has edited or authored. Douglas recalls:
The initial impulse for this source book arose from two human encounters I had during the fifth international Kolisko conference of teachers and healing practitioners, held in Lahti, Finland from 27 July to 2 August 2002. One of them, a workshop in which I participated and which was led by the gynecologist Bart Maris and the pediatrician Nikola Fels, eventually resulted in a German-language collection of essays–the first of its kind–on a Waldorf approach to the teaching of human sexuality.
The other formative encounter occurred at one of the noisy coffee breaks of that congress in Lahti during a fleeting conversation with Michaela Gloeckler, Head of the Medical Section at the Goetheanum and the organizer of the conference. Over the din of some 800 participants crowded into the grand foyer of the congress hall, I relayed to her the resolve arising from the workshop I was attending. “And you must write the English version of this book!” she exclaimed. With her help and encouragement, including later on an extended interview with her for this collection, her challenge was eventually met.
Torin Finser, Head of the Department of Education at Antioch and co-founder of CfA’s Foundation studies, saw a parent walking toward him at graduation who said, “Would you write the story of the eight years of being a class teacher?” Thus, Christopher Bamford helped bring forth Torin’s popular book, School as a Journey. More recently, Torin put together his own “workbook for spiritual-scientific study” of Rudolf Steiner’s basic books, entitled Guided Self-Study: Rudolf Steiner’s Path of Spiritual Development. Torin Finser listens for the next question, and when it comes–inwardly or outwardly–it soon turns into his next book (so far, nine and counting). He writes once a week or, when he is in the thick of it, every morning before breakfast. Then he goes to work and nobody knows.
Michael D’Aleo has given dozens of talks and keynote addresses on teaching science with a phenomenological approach. A Waldorf class teacher exclaimed, “Your lecture was extraordinary! Can you write it down so I can read and re-read and think about it?” This question led Michael to complete his latest book, Embracing Materialism and Letting It Go, published online at www.sensri.org, the science research institute he runs. Michael D’Aleo self-published online until finally he responded to the requests of his students, who yearned to hold his book in their hands and look at the pictures!
The question of how to find the support roots of anthroposophy in America led Rick Spaulding to write his books about Emerson, especially the biography he wrote with Maurice York entitled Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Infinitude of the Private Man. Like Torin an early riser, Rick prefers paper and a lead pencil – just that little extra bit of pressure with his cursive writing wills the book into being.
Eurythmy in the Workplace: One Company’s Story was published first in German, then in Dutch, was translated into English and was waiting to be published when Barbara Richardson took up the task at the beginning of her work with Annemarie Ehrlich.
Look also for the written work of artists who teach in our Foundation Studies courses, including Charles Andrade’s new DIY “Lazure Painting Kit”.
Dateline Freeport ME: New Line-Up of Foundation Studies Clusters
A total of nine clusters in Foundation Studies will be launching their first or second-year programs this month, stretching from Florida and Massachusetts to Colorado and Arizona. Here is a brief outline of this year’s offerings. Barbara Richardson, Coordinator of these programs, offers a brief outline of this year’s offerings.
In addition to our many long-time faculty members mentioned in the article above on “How Talk Becomes Text” we are delighted to welcome several well-known national figures to the faculty of our Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts this year:
- Chuck Andrade will teach painting in the Roaring Fork cluster and the Denver cluster. As always, the visual arts lend themselves to websites and Facebook, so check out his work on-line
- Robert Karp brings the Biodynamic Association into connection with Foundation Studies, November 20-21 in Phoenix, Year Two. Welcome, Robert! The BD Association will be spreading the word on this session, which is open to all
- Adam Blanning, MD, will also join us in Denver on April 1 with an Introduction to Anthroposophic Medicine. As of July 1, Adam became Director of all PAAM (Physicians Association of Anthroposophic Medicine) training activities. We are so grateful that he will join us and perhaps engage some new physicians!
In addition, we welcome Lee Sturgeon-Day for Biography in Denver and Phoenix, Jason Child in Chapel Hill, and Jenny Helmick in Moraine Farm, Beverly, MA. After ten years as Coordinator of this program, I realized that over 80 Foundation Studies clusters have been designed with local and traveling regulars on the faculty. Each program has been different, and yet all serve to deepen the life of anthroposophy in and around a Waldorf school by helping teachers, parents, and those interested in developing an understanding of the foundations of Waldorf education. Participants are introduced to the original works of Rudolf Steiner by individuals who have transformed them into practice in their own lives through teaching, through study, and through art.
The following cycles of Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts are starting up in nine venues dotted around the United States.
New first-year programs are still enrolling students in the following centers:
- Cincinnati Waldorf School in Cincinnati OH
- Spring Garden Waldorf School in Copley OH
- Waldorf School at Moraine Farm in Beverly MA
- Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork in Carbondale CO
- Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda MD
Second-year and continuing first-year programs are resuming their studies in:
- Desert Marigold School in Phoenix AZ
- Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill NC
- Heart Pine School in Gainesville FL
- Mountain Phoenix School in Wheat Ridge CO (outside Denver)
Details of programs and enrollment are available on this website or from Barbara Richardson, Coordinator of Foundation Studies, at [email protected]
Dateline Wilton NH: Renewal Courses Renewed for Summer 2016
Karine Munk Finser, Coordinator of CfA’s Renewal Courses, offers a brief glimpse into next summer’s program, including a few first-time courses
We wish to thank all of you who attended Renewal 2015! It was a grand summer session, with over 400 participants and faculty sharing in the richness of the two weeks. We are deeply grateful to our faculty for all they shared of their life’s work and for the valuable encounters made possible through their endeavors. These special meetings warmed our hearts and will continue to influence our lives well beyond the confines of a summer campus.
Although we are still in process forming next year’s offerings, I would like to announce that the dates for next year’s Renewal will fall a week later.
Week I: Sunday 26 June 26 to Friday 1 July 2016
Week II: Sunday 3 July to Friday 8 July 2016
We will continue to offer grades specific courses during the first week, and are happy to announce some of our faculty: Christopher Sblendorio, Neal Kennerk, Darcy Drayton, Elizabeth Auer, Patrice Maynard, Helen Niiva, Signe Motter, and others.
To support the science curriculum, Roberto Trostli will be teaching Physics and Chemistry together with Astronomy, Mineralogy, and Anatomy for those interested in the upper elementary grades.
In addition, Christof Wiechert will begin a new two-summer Certificate course for Child Study facilitators for our schools. He will again offer a 30-minute morning lecture to all the grades teachers.
Michaela Gloeckler will speak to the grades courses’ participants in an evening lecture mid-week. She will teach doctors, therapists, health practitioners, teachers, parents, and others in week 1. Her course title has yet to be announced.
We are delighted to welcome Virginia Sease, Jaap van Der Wal, Dennis Klocek, and other faculty still to be confirmed. Returning faculty will include Leonore Russell and Torin Finser, Barbara Richardson and John Cunningham. Jamie York, Signe Motter, Elizabeth Auer, Douglas Gerwin, and Hugh Renwick.
All our courses will be described in further detail on our website when the lists are complete. In the meantime, you can visit our Facebook page for the newest information: remember to become our Facebook friend.
I wish you all a continued good September. Stay in touch!
Best of good wishes to you all,
Dateline Wilton NH: High School Teacher Training Program Comes of Age
For the 21th year in a row, the CfA’s Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP) will launch a new summer session for prospective and practicing high school teachers. Douglas Gerwin, founder of this program, briefly previews the forthcoming cycle.
The next round of the Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP)–starting in July 2016 on the campus of High Mowing School, a Waldorf school in Wilton, New Hampshire–will mark our “coming of age” in that it will represent our 21st new intake of students.
The program, launched in the summer of 1996, has graduated 163 high school teachers since its first graduating class of 1998. By now, a few have even retired! At present some 115 current and graduated students are working in more than 50 Waldorf schools across North America. As in previous years, next summer’s program will be offering specialization in:
- Arts/Art History — with Patrick Stolfo
- Biology and Earth Science — with Michael Holdrege
- English & Foreign Languages — with David Sloan
- History and Social Science — with Meg Gorman
- Mathematics and Computer Studies — with Jamie York
- Physics and Chemistry — with Michael D’Aleo
The schedule is arranged in such a way that students can specialize in either one or two of these areas.
The program also features hands-on seminars in “Living Thinking” with Michael D’Aleo, “Human Development and Waldorf High School Curriculum” with Douglas Gerwin, and “Professional Research” with Michael Holdrege, as well as workshops in drama (David Sloan), eurythmy (Laura Radefeld), music (Jeff Spade), sculpture (Patrick Stolfo), and speech (Daniel Stokes).
In addition to these three summer intensives, students undertake two years of independent studies including a research project and internship. Details of our forthcoming summer program–starting on Sunday 3 July and running until Saturday 30 July–can be viewed on this website.
Dateline Wilton NH: Where Do the Teachers of the Teachers Themselves Teach?
One way of getting a picture of a teacher education program is to know the origin of its faculty and what they do when they are not teaching teachers. Here is a line-up of the instructors working in CfA’s Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP).
At the Center for Anthroposophy, we hold that one of the prerequisites for teaching teachers is to be teaching students. With the quickening pace of changes in adolescence from one generation to the next, the best way to remain current with the world of teenagers is to remain active in the classroom.
With this criterion in mind, we have built up a solid faculty who not only have years–in many cases decades–of experience in Waldorf high schools but who are still engaging with today’s teenagers in the classroom.
Please meet the faculty of the Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP), their years of teaching experience, their specialization as it applies to WHiSTEP, and their current high school affiliation (underlined):
Michael D’Aleo (physics, chemistry, mathematics)
22 years teaching. Class teacher, founding high school teacher of the
Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs, and now guest teacher in several high schools as well as mentor to the faculty at the
Emerson Waldorf School (Chapel Hill NC)
Douglas Gerwin (history, life science, English, music)
34 years teaching. High school teacher in Wilton NH; guest teacher/mentor in 30 Waldorf schools; visiting main lesson teacher at the Maine Coast Waldorf School (Freeport ME)
Meg Gorman (history, English, drama)
47 years teaching. High school teacher in Washington DC, Sacramento CA,
San Francisco CA, Seattle WA, Santa Fe, NM, and now visiting high school teacher and mentor at the
Portland Waldorf School (Portland OR)
Michael Holdrege (life sciences, mathematics)
35 years teaching. High school teacher in Vienna, Austria, then a founding high school teacher at the
Chicago Waldorf School (Chicago IL)
Laura Radefeld (eurythmy)
21 years teaching. High school eurythmy teacher in Chicago IL, Portland OR, Keene NH, and now at the
Green Meadow Waldorf School (Spring Valley NY)
Leonore Russell (eurythmy, English)
39 years teaching. High school teacher at Garden City NY; visiting teacher at the
Tara Performing Arts High School (Boulder CO)
David Sloan (English, drama)
41 years teaching. High school teacher in Spring Valley NY, Boulder CO, now at Maine Coast Waldorf School (Freeport ME)
Jeff Spade (music)
31 years teaching. High school chorus and drama teacher in Kimberton PA, New York NY, Chicago IL, and now at the
Rudolf Steiner School (NewYork NY)
Daniel Stokes (speech)
27 years teaching. Class teacher at the Honolulu Waldorf School, now freelance speech instructor and coach based at
Highland Hall Waldorf School (Northridge CA)
Patrick Stolfo (sculpture, arts/art history)
37 years teaching. Currently high school guest teacher at several Waldorf schools, including High Mowing School, Monadnock Waldorf School, and near his home and studio at the
Hawthorne Valley School (Ghent NY)
Jamie York (mathematics)
24 years teaching. High school teacher in Holland and now at the
Shining Mountain Waldorf School (Boulder CO)
Dateline Wilton NH: Where Are They Now?
Of the 10 students who graduated this summer from CfA’s Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP), eight are currently active in the classroom. Douglas Gerwin, Director of the Center and Chair of WHiSTEP, briefly outlines where they are working.
All but two of the Class of 2015 were working in schools even before they completed their training this summer in the Center’s Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP). With the beginning of this school year, all of them are teaching or interning in schools stretched across the country, from the Pacific isles of Hawaii to the Atlantic coast of Maine:
Sam Godsey: teaching high school physical sciences and mathematics at the Honolulu School in Honolulu HI, previously at the Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs.
Paige Hartsell: teaching high school humanities and general skills in the fledgling high school classes of the Otto Specht School attached to the Fellowship Community in Chestnut Ridge NY.
Nick Hilliard: teaching high school math and life sciences as well as mentoring students at the Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder CO.
Asia Ingalls: teaching various high school arts at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York NY while continuing to pursue her professional studio work.
Bonnee Majzun: preparing her independent research project and internship in a Waldorf high school near her home in St. Louis MO.
Marianne Perchlik: teaching various subjects in the humanities, sciences, and the performing arts at the newly-formed Central Valley High School Initiative, a free-standing Waldorf high school in Plainfield VT.
Josh Peters: teaching high school arts, art history, and English at the Pasadena Waldorf School in Pasadena CA.
Laura Rubiano-Gomez: teaching math and physical sciences at High Mowing School, the oldest Waldorf high school (and only Waldorf boarding school) in North America.
Amie Slate: completing her independent research project and internships at Waldorf high schools in California and Colorado.
Angela Steinrueck: teaching high school humanities at the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge CA.
Looking ahead to the summer of 2016, a new group of high school trainees is already forming, with specializations offered in
- Arts and art history
- English language and literature
- History and social sciences
- Life science and earth science
- Mathematics and computer studies
- Physics and chemistry
- Pedagogical eurythmy
For details, contact Douglas Gerwin, Director of the Center for Anthroposophy, at [email protected]
Dateline Wilton NH: Reconfiguring the CfA’s Color Shop & More
After seven years in downtown Wilton, the Color Shop & More is being reorganized as a seasonal store for the summer programs run by the Center for Anthroposophy on Abbot Hill during the months of June and July. New tenants will occupy the store on Main Street.
In 2008, the Center for Anthroposophy acquired its first permanent home when it purchased a historic three-storey building on the Main Street of Wilton, New Hampshire, that included the Color Shop, a 30-year-old arts supply store. For seven years, CfA ran the store–under the expanded name of the Color Shop & More–on the ground floor of the building, while housing in its basement the Cadmus Library, a collection of rare anthroposophical books and journals, and using the top storey for its administrative offices. Alice Luter lovingly managed the shop year-round as well as overseeing each summer a satellite store on the campuses of High Mowing and Pine Hill Waldorf schools just outside Wilton, where CfA hosts its summer programs.
As of this fall, the Color Shop is being reconfigured as a “summer seasonal store” to serve students enrolled in CfA’s programs during the months of June and July. Under the new plan, the store will continue to offer its usual array of books, arts supplies, teacher resources, and selected gifts (including chocolate!) during CfA’s one-week Renewal Courses and month-long teacher training courses. For the remainder of the year, the contents of the store will remain in storage.
Meanwhile, the space previously occupied year-round by the Color Shop & More will be rented out to the Ploughshare Farm, a local residential community for adults with disabilities, which will use the space for workshops, a small café, and an artisan store.