The French have a phrase for it: “Reculer pour mieux sauter!” As every lion knows, recoil is the best strategy for a powerful leap forward. In this spirit, several authors in this edition of our online newsletter cast an eye back on the last 100 years of Waldorf education even as their primary focus is on the century ahead.
A rich heritage may betoken–but does not thereby guarantee–a fruitful destiny.
— Douglas Gerwin
Center for Anthroposophy
Dateline Berlin, Germany: Images of a Big Birthday Party
The leadership of the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) was fortunate enough to receive sponsorship allowing them to attend the 100th anniversary celebrations of Waldorf education in the giant Tempodrom pavillion in Berlin. We offer here a few images to capture the flavor of this day of festivities.
So much has been written about the Waldorf100 celebrations worldwide this year in celebration of a century of Waldorf education around the globe that we have opted to limit our chronicle to some snapshot vignettes. An international festival in Berlin on Thursday 19 September brought together students from as far afield as Australia, China, Japan, and Namibia, as well as a host of children from European Waldorf schools.
For a day they filled the famed Tempodrom, a giant circular tent-like structure, with both exuberant and solemn performances of eurythmy, drama, drumming, folk dancing, gymnastics, circus acts, classical and pop music, excerpts from the musicals Hair and Les Miserables, and at the end of the morning and evening performances a giant-sized puppet illumined from within that floated around the arena as a symbol of the universal human being. The puppet, called DUNDU–which could be translated from the German as “THOU and THOU”–was the invention of Tobias Husemann and Stefan Charisius, two Waldorf graduates from the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart. These spectacular performances were interspersed with brief speeches by leaders of the Waldorf movement.
Here follow a few vignettes from this incredible feast of artistic presentations.
Dateline Wilton NH: Waldorf Education Beyond 100
On the opening night of our summer-time Renewal Courses, Torin Finser, President of CfA’s Board of Trustees, painted on a broad canvas some living pictures of where Waldorf education may be headed during its second century of activity. Here is an adapted version of his remarks.
Tremendous spiritual forces are at work right now in our Waldorf movement. There is a kind of battle going on between life and death. Before looking at renewing impulses for the future, I’d like to share some of the symptoms of the death forces at work today, at least in the United States.
Several schools have recently closed. Four in the Eastern region alone are questioning whether they can continue beyond next year. Others are in various forms of crisis: in one, circumstances are apparently so dire that teachers and board members are resigning and parents are leaving in droves. Then there are the struggles in New York State and elsewhere around the country concerning vaccinations. One larger, well-established Waldorf school in New York had to cut $1 million from its budget during the summer.
These are all symptoms of death forces. A living organism needs community, healthy relationships, and a place for an experience of the sacred — something rare today. If these qualities are sundered, divided, then we extend an invitation for death forces to enter. But an aspect of death that I find much more troubling is what I call the “slow drip”: the phenomenon of regular budget deficits that lead to stagnating salaries, cutbacks in programs, last-minute combining of classes, then more deficits and cutting back of more programs, until the school becomes so vulnerable that it’s all hanging by a thread. In cases such as these, teachers and school families live with an ongoing debilitating uncertainty.
The Waldorf movement is yearning for renewal, but there’s a wrestling match going on right now, and whatever we do during the next few years will be decisive. In fact, Rudolf Steiner said that at 100 years, a movement or institution either dies or needs re-founding on a new basis.
So I would like to posit seven aspects, pathways, opportunities, ways to bring new life and strength into the Waldorf movement over the coming years.
1. Core principles as pillars: Core principles, those unalterable facts upon which Waldorf pedagogy rests, are like the pillars of the temple of Poseidon in Greece, which I recently visited. The Aegean Sea was beautiful and shimmering; the blowing wind, the play of the light, everything was in motion. And yet those pillars have withstood the test of time and are literally rock solid.
I would like to suggest that each school actively take up conversations around “What are the core principles that are essential to our work?” AWSNA and the Pedagogical Section Council in this country have published sets of core principles that form good starting points, but each school needs to begin in-depth conversations among faculty, staff, board members, and parents. There are many differences among key groups within our schools that have remained invisible below the surface for too long. We need to face them, even risking that some people may head for the exits when asked to confront them. Internal divisions around core principles and values need to be dealt with. One board member in an AWSNA member school suggested that the school needed to become “Waldorf-aligned.” We need to know, and then affirm, who we are. It is not only a matter of integrity, but now of urgent necessity.
Society today has become more fragmented and polarized than ever. The Waldorf movement cannot afford to become another symptom of a relativist culture. If we are to be respected and taken seriously, we need to be responsible to the spirit and knowledge that stand as a basis of the pedagogy. As the pre-eminent anthroposophical researcher Peter Selg writes in The Agriculture Course, “At the current stage of human evolution, the world of the spirit wants humanity to do particular things in the various domains of life, and thus it is up to us to pursue the impulses that come to us from the world of the spirit in a clear and true way. Even if this gives offense initially, in the long term it will be the only healing thing.”
If we do the hard work around core principles, then out of the strength that comes with unity we can summon the courage to let everything else go. Our rich traditions have served us well, nourishing us in festivals, rites of passage, and much more. But just like the wind and waves surrounding the temple of Poseidon, we need to bring things into movement to provide a refreshing impulse. And for that we need to risk some empty spaces.
Rudolf Steiner said some interesting things about creating out of nothingness. It’s not a very popular notion. But I do feel that in our situation, with this amazing curriculum and all the resources available to us, thanks to anthroposophy, there is a tendency to carry around a lot of stuff and feel that if you simply accumulate enough material, you’ll be a good teacher.
The following words of Rudolf Steiner are particularly relevant for our theme of Beyond 100. Steiner said we need “a world from which the workings of the old causes will have disappeared, a world from which a new light will ray out into the future. The world is not subject to perpetual metamorphosis into different forms (which is our common habit) but the old is perfected and becomes the vehicle of the new. Then even this will be thrown off, will disappear into nothingness, so that out of this nothingness something new may arise. This is the great, the mighty idea of progress…the continuous arising of the new.” (“Evolution, Involution and Creation out of Nothingness,” Berlin, June 17,1909.)
My first point, then, is simply: Can we establish the pillars, then let everything else move into this place of nothingness and start to re-create? We cannot just throw everything out. Without the pillars we would lose contact with the archetypes and spiritual essence behind our work. There are certain core principles without which we would not have Waldorf education: a developmentally appropriate curriculum, the freedom of the teacher, working with an image of the whole human being as presented in anthroposophy. There are many. AWSNA and the PSC each has seven; I have been working with 15, including Waldorf for social justice. I’ve been asked to publish them, but am resisting that request because this is the work each of us needs to do with our colleagues, parents, and board. The point is not to get something done and then put it in a file so we can say, “Done that.” The whole idea is to do the work together as a school! The conversations that happen when you talk about core principles in themselves bring new life forces into existence. We are talking about rebirthing Waldorf education.
Along the way, we must be willing to test assumptions and explore together. Take, for example, the important core principle of “Waldorf education as an art.” Are we still on board with that? All of our teaching strives to be artistic, but it’s not just the paintings on the wall. It involves science education and more. Everything you do in a Waldorf school, you do artistically. If you ask people who know little about Waldorf, they’ll say, “Oh yeah, they do a lot of art in their schools.” But how does this core principle interact with the next one?
2. Waldorf education for social justice: Here, I would like to relate how one core principle–Waldorf education as an art–can be seen through the lens of social justice. In their Evolving Consciousness course, my students recently worked with a selection from Unequal Childhoods by Annette Lareau, a thorough study of class, race, language, and family life. Through this research we are introduced to several families, including the McAllisters:
The McAllister family lives in a part of the project consisting of rows of two- and three-story brick units. The brown, block-like units on their side contain five two-story apartments. Because the apartments have only one small window per room, they are dark on the inside. Sometimes residents keep lights on during the day…. The refrigerator is broken. Ms McAllister has complained to the manager and although she has been promised a new one, it doesn’t arrive during the three weeks we are visiting. Ms McAllister makes do by storing some food next door in their friend Latifa’s refrigerator and some in coolers packed with ice…. There is one bathroom. Three televisions are in the house…. most of the time at least one set is on…. Although the McAllisters once had a phone, for much of Harold’s fourth-grade year they haven’t had one due to budget constraints. Ms McAllister receives messages from the school at her sister’s house…. (p. 135)
By comparing the family life of Harold McAllister with that of Alexander Williams (in a white, middle-class home) and others, Lareau describes how the emerging sense of entitlement contrasts with an emerging sense of constraint, right down to one’s language skills in dealing with teachers, doctors, and other professionals. Alexander’s free time is highly organized with after-school activities, while Harold has time for free play; Alexander has learned to negotiate with elders, even argue, while Harold is respectful. Both children learn the skills necessary to negotiate life in their spaces. However, in the larger world, Alexander’s skills are more valued than Harold’s.
My main point is this: When Waldorf schools are perceived as pro-art and anti-TV, we invite some and exclude others. A sense for social justice can help us become more attuned to this. For some, art can seem a luxury that assumes access. It is no longer enough just to celebrate how much art we do in our schools. We need to show how the arts help all children, not just the privileged.
As with every core principle, I recommend that we attach the phrase “so that.” Do we teach the arts so that we have beautiful pictures on the wall? Or do we teach the arts so that… and then the real conversations can begin! So that we develop emotional intelligence? So that we help children form judgments? So that we help children decide between right and wrong, good and evil? So that we help children make choices? We need to demonstrate how the artistic process involves all these elements of character education. These are the conversations we need to have! Why are we doing what we are doing? And how do our language and our understandings select who sits at the table?
3. Active work with alumni: We recently had five of our children home for the high school graduation of our sixth. All have now graduated from Waldorf schools. We had amazing conversations; they have so many astute insights. They have met hundreds of people, have formed networks of colleagues in their professions in technology, business, public health, investment advising, security services. The Waldorf movement now has thousands upon thousands of alums working in all professions, connecting and learning. We’ve barely begun to tap the alum resources available to all.
My father is 87. He’s looking forward to being in this room next June for his 70th High Mowing School reunion. Imagine a school like High Mowing celebrating a reunion with people 87 years old! The resources are immense, and I don’t just mean financial resources, although all these points are somewhat interconnected. It’s mostly the connecting with others who can help us take the next steps in this renewal process of Waldorf education. For that, however, we need to go beyond alum reunions as nostalgia to active questioning, listening, and learning to support Waldorf Beyond 100.
Our sons, for example, said, “You know, the way you talk about Waldorf isn’t working for us. You need to talk about Waldorf as entrepreneurship. That’s what it has meant for me. It’s all about entrepreneurship. The things that have happened in a Waldorf school have helped me become a good business person.”
AWSNA is building an alum platform for all the member schools. Our Center for Anthroposophy in New Hampshire has received grant funding to launch an alum association for our CfA and Antioch alums, not just according to the traditional format, but looking at new ways of doing it, and engaging alums in conversations around its creation. We began this summer with two events during the Renewal courses, which we will follow up regionally and online. We also have a survey underway ([email protected]) and are collecting stories of teacher success ([email protected]).
4. Accessibility: Education in this country began with private schools: William and Mary, Harvard, Yale. This was long before Horace Mann started the first public school in Massachusetts and went on to become President of Antioch College. Long before public education, we had a tradition of private education. As I see it now, a fault line has opened between private (or independent) schools and public education, which has a long history in our country. Public education emphasizes accessibility and the idea that every child deserves an education. Private education emphasizes choice in admissions and freedom in teaching. Private education (including homeschooling) has also historically served marginalized populations (e.g., Native American, African-American) as ways to maintain cultural integrity and provide an alternative to traditional, state-sponsored schooling. And private education has also been a way to circumvent public education when community members did not agree with judicial edicts such as integration.
Both models have pros and cons. But we are caught in this divide. Teachers are pulled in different directions and we are competing against one another, at least financially in recruitment and retention. More important is the question: what is our vision of how independent and public Waldorf schools can support one another? What is our vision of the totality of the movement?
Many worthy independent schools are seriously challenged today. A high level of freedom to teach without testing or state mandates comes at a price. It comes with a heritage of private education in this country and a tuition model that is a burden for a growing number of parents. We need to find ways to network with key individuals who can help us turn the tide.
I am reminded of a story Jørgen Smit told me. For many years he went to public school conferences in Norway, where he once met a gentleman from the public sector and they became good friends. The man asked if he could come and visit the Waldorf school in Oslo. After a week of observing classes and talking to teachers, he said, “You’re doing everything and more than the state schools are doing. You should get the same level of funding.” They had a conversation about freedom in education and how to support the Waldorf schools by providing, say, 80 percent aid (without mandates) instead of the usual 100 percent provided to state schools. Jørgen’s friend went on to become Minister of Education, and all of Norway’s Waldorf schools began to receive government support with minimal restrictions. Rather than simply falling into the old fault lines of history, I believe it is possible to address both accessibility and freedom in this age of the Consciousness Soul. But we need to work together to do so!
In Norway, and in countless other situations, it all starts with a human connection. We need a thousand Jørgen Smits! The traditional open house events at which we hope people will discover us will no longer work. We have to reach out, take an interest in others, and network. That is the foundation of establishing accessibility.
5. Money and social finance: We have inherited the private school tuition model, and we have old attitudes towards money and finance. I’m surprised how often in a Waldorf school, where the faculty is so proactive and advanced in the pedagogy, the very same people carry a lot of old concepts around money. And board members often provide needed expertise but also bring old concepts of money, such as the notion that tuition can “buy” an education. We need a complete revolution in how we work with money in our schools.
As a 10-year-old, I mowed lawns for neighbors. Some people paid me a dollar for a small lawn, others $5. From an early age we learn that you work to earn money. Now we need to turn that around in our schools and work with our parents to develop the notion that money frees us to work. This sounds like the same thing, but it’s very different. A few years ago, the Center for Anthroposophy made a subtle yet significant change in the implementation of its salary policies. We used to pay staff and faculty at the end of the month, but now we started paying people on the first of the month, before the work. Money can free us to work, but it does not pay us for the work, especially in education.
I remember getting my initial paycheck from the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School at the end of my first month of teaching. I was shocked to find it in my mailbox one afternoon. I was having so much fun with my class, and then this check came along and suddenly there was something jarring about it. I didn’t equate what was going on in my classroom with the check.
Then there is the old notion of “You get what you pay for.” How many times have you heard that? You went out and bought cheap pair of shoes and they fell apart? You got what you paid for! This works with commodities such as shoes. But can we be flexible enough in our thinking to change that into something such as “paying forward”? Lisa Mahar, one of our trustees, tells a wonderful story of going to a workshop for which no tuition was charged, but participants were required to attend a short session on finances. Part way through the workshop, leadership presented the workshop budget: this is how much it costs for the instructors, utilities, food, and so on. They then explained: “The reason you’re all here for free is because the last people who took this workshop were so appreciative, they made donations so we didn’t have to charge you.” After some questions and conversation, the workshop leaders said, “Here’s the donation box. If you think this workshop is valuable and should happen again, make donations for the next group.” In other words, the attitude of the leadership was that if the work is valued, it will be supported. And if the participants had declined to support it, that would have told the leaders to move on and do something new, to innovate: also a good outcome.
In order to change how we work with finances, we need to work more intensively with parents, for so many of them see education as a commodity. I’ve heard several instances just in the last few weeks of parents asking for a refund. So, if I go to the store and I buy a pair of sneakers and a few days later they fall apart, I have no problem going back to the store and asking for a refund. Shoes are a commodity. Education is not.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s take the opposite position and say that education is, after all, just another commodity, another business. If you take that point of view and follow it through to its logical consequences, a business has assets that can either depreciate (thus a refund or tax write off) or appreciate over time. So, if you have a child in your class who ends up being the next Jeff Bezos in thirty years, your school should receive a large portion of his net worth, currently $165.6 billion dollars, in compensation for the appreciated asset you helped create.
Old attitudes in our schools regarding money are holding us back. We need regional workshops on money and social finance, perhaps led by RSF Social Finance. We need to radically change our business model if Waldorf is to flourish beyond 100.
6. Leadership development: This is crucial to the future of our schools. As many of you know, we do Waldorf administration and leadership workshops at Antioch University New England. Let me describe one scenario. A Waldorf school asks a senior colleague to step up to a leadership role because s/he is respected and loved, and the teacher agrees out of devotion to the future of the school. The teacher agrees to take up that task, even though s/he may not have the necessary skill sets in human resources, conflict management, communication, facilitation, all those things. But that person, a true reluctant leader, agrees to give it a try.
Meanwhile, board members are saying, “Those teachers take weeks to make decisions, and every time there’s a conflict it gets worse. They don’t know anything about marketing or how to manage the website, and our retention rates are slipping. We need to hire some experts. We’re going to bring in a marketing specialist followed by an admissions director.” Usually these new employees do indeed have the needed expertise, but often they do not share the values and anthroposophical insights that the teachers carry. So, when you put this well-meaning pedagogical leader together with these outside experts, it’s like asking your oral surgeon and your car mechanic to collaborate! From an organizational point of view, this is what often happens in our schools. It is a systemic problem, which I see far too often.
Just as there are ways to straighten out finances or solve a pedagogical problem in the classroom, there are tools available for us to deal with reluctant leaders, lack of role clarity, and cultural differences. But we are not using them! Eurythmy in the workplace, role playing, presentations of recent research in leadership development, case studies, social color exercises, and group discussion are some of the techniques available to help prepare our school leaders to work together on fundamental aspects of leadership. So much can be done when you bring the pedagogical and administrative leaders together in five-day institutes. (For more information, contact [email protected]). But in order to do so, our schools need to see the need, and support their leaders.
7. Reclaiming our original social mandate as Waldorf schools: In lectures Education as a Social Problem given in August 1919 under the title Education as a Social Problem, Rudolf Steiner not only describes the threefolding impulse, but also the current social challenges of his time, such as egoism and materialism. These lectures came on the heels of a concerted effort at the end of World War I to introduce new ideas on addressing social issues. When they did not succeed, Steiner turned his reform efforts in the direction of Waldorf schools as a beacon for social change. And his requirements–such as equal education for boys and girls–were all social in nature. Indeed, during preparations for the 1923-24 Christmas Foundation Conference, Rudolf Steiner said that every spiritual movement that truly advances human progress must be there for all of humanity.
Today we need to attend to the social needs of our time. We need to address the opioid crisis, racism, affordable housing, environmental degradation, income inequality, to name a few. Waldorf schools cannot solve these issues, but we need to engage in conversation with community members, engage with local groups addressing these issues, and demonstrate how deeply we care. Helping others may be the best way for us to help our schools.
If we look Beyond 100, I suggest a new focus on Waldorf education for social justice. What would that mean? There’s a lot we’re doing in the curriculum that deals with social justice; many schools give generous scholarships, and public Waldorf schools are usually open to all. But from the outside, Waldorf often looks like an expensive refuge for the lucky few.
For things to change in our schools, we each need to be able to change from within. Meditative work, personal efforts to change attitudes and old ways of thinking are needed before we are sustainable. One of the most fundamental change agents is taking an interest in others. And when we recognize others, we need to celebrate their success. Recently I had the pleasure of once again meeting the founders of the House of Peace in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where they inherit troubled situations from around the world, with children and families from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, and other countries. Carrie Schuchardt spoke beautifully about how interest leads to empathy, which then leads to a new experience of the Sophia. The Sophia lives in anthroposophy. What can happen when one begins to reach out and really experience the other? Rudolf Steiner says in the “St. Francis Lectures” that this interest in the other actually builds a new universality and a kind of moral strength to go forward.
In conclusion, I would like to point out the symbiotic relationship among some of my key points tonight. If we look at Waldorf Beyond 100 we can begin to highlight some of the key themes that deserve our attention moving forward: working with our alums as never before, changing our attitudes and practices concerning money, collaborating to enhance both educational freedom and increased accessibility, clarifying core principles and reclaiming our social mandate. The good news is that any effort around any of these impulses will yield exponential results, reinforcing each other and building positive momentum. If, for instance, we’re able to work with our alums more intensely, they will help us with the social justice piece. And the social justice piece will influence accessibility. And the accessibility will influence resources and funding.
All these things can work together, but we’re going to have to summon the courage: a new courage to serve the Waldorf movement.
I would like to end on a note that emphasizes the transitory state we are in today. This is a time when we need to look at nothingness, a place where all the old ways may be, indeed are, falling away. We need beginners’ eyes, and we need to walk new pathways. This will require a certain vulnerability in not knowing in order to know.
As Antonio Machado puts it (quoted in Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry, by Arthur Zajonc):
Wanderer, the road is your footsteps. Nothing else.
Wanderer, there is no path. You lay down a path in walking.
Walking you lay down a path, and when you turn around you see the road you’ll never walk on again.
Wanderer, there is no path. Only tracks on the ocean foam.
Dateline Los Altos CA: A Reader Responds
At our 100-year anniversary of Waldorf education (as reported above), Torin Finser posed the question: will Waldorf die or will it renew itself? Marina Budrys, a recent Waldorf school alumna and now humanities teacher at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, sent us this response.
As a Waldorf alumna turned Waldorf teacher, this question is demanding and laden with layers of personal experience, professional insight, and the immense hope that the second part of the question will be the answer. After reading Torin Finser’s article on the future 100 years, I was instantly struck by the somberness of my task on this path and of the arduous decisions that many schools have had to make in light of recent changes in their makeup.
Yes, it is unfortunate that schools have had to close. Yes, it is dispiriting to witness when Waldorf becomes associated with negative press. Yes, it is heartbreaking to consider the death of this movement; I, after all, am the human being I am today because of it. Reeling with the darkness that could be the future, I was surprised to find a voice inside that challenged the darkness. This voice reminded me of a quote I heard at Kamala Harris’ rally: “Some will say we need to search to find common ground, I think we need to recognize we are already standing on [it].” It is with this sentiment that I propose the revitalization of Waldorf education.
It is too easy to look at Waldorf Education and point out the ways in which it is unique, different, alternative and how it challenges the norms and offers programs that don’t exist at other schools. We have highlighted these differences by quoting professors from colleges saying that Waldorf students are different, by noting that Waldorf students are more artistic, more capable of playing musical instruments, more successful in their personal relationships.
And what has this (rightful) boasting done? It has congratulated and encouraged a niche of children who have grown up to become self-aware, confident adults able to navigate the changing waters of the 21st century. But what else has this focus on difference done? It has alienated and partitioned everyone into two groups: those who are “Waldorf kids” and those who are not. The “not” group has been excluded from the possibility of success at a Waldorf school because they have not been invited.
Just as most people want to live in a country where they can afford basic necessities by working one full-time job, most people want to raise their children to become self-aware and successful adults. Sure, some small details might differ, but their intentions behind wanting their children to be educated are more similar than dissimilar. By focusing on the niche, the different, the alternative, we have pushed the movement up into a narrow gorge. We have become inaccessible and, although I hate to say it, elitist.
This gesture of “alternative” mimics many movements in the 20th century. The 20th century was a century of “anti-“, a state of consciousness needed to achieve the equality we are still working at today. However, dividing and separating has reached the extreme where it fragments rather than connects. The extreme of the “anti-” or “alternative” gesture dissolves rather than creates.
My intention is not to rail against the problems facing our education without reason. I want to establish an understanding of where we are right now in order to propose a shift. What I am proposing does not concern the materialistic Waldorf values (the main lesson books, the verses, the silks, and the gnomes — those all have their place when they match an intention in the education,) but instead arms the movement with fearless, focused, and dedicated resolve to, yes, prevent Waldorf from dying, but more importantly renew it with lively inclusivity.
How different would the movement be if we turned around within our tight-knit circles and stepped one step out? How different would that movement be if in that step outward we encountered someone we would not have met in our close circle? How different would that movement be if we spoke to that individual as an equal and found a common thread and hope between us? How different would that movement be if we explained that Waldorf Education is for everyone — its purpose being to educate whole human beings? How different would that movement be if we focused on what we have in common instead of what sets us apart?
Waldorf Education is grounded in the belief that all human beings are capable of reaching their highest potential. If we truly believe that all human beings are capable of reaching their highest potential, then we must be sure to include every human being as a potential student. What a wonderful world it would be if that intention was the backbone of this education.
Waldorf alums need to feel that Waldorf Education is open to change. They need to know that Waldorf sees the future for itself as an education for anybody interested in it and that the education is willing to adjust course to meet the community. The people we meet beyond our inner circles need to know this, too. By acknowledging our imperfections and gracefully declaring ourselves in need of reaching out to the whole of our communities (instead of the parts), we open a door that will transform into a giant arch. We have more in common than we can imagine.
Dateline Atlanta GA/Washington DC/Boca Raton FL: Three New Hubs of “Explorations”
Following a successful first year, a new series of workshops in the arts and contemplative practices based on the work of Rudolf Steiner are about to open. Here is a brief preview of the next cycle.
Formerly known as Foundation Studies, and now re-designed to meet the present needs of parents, new teachers, administrators, and board members in Waldorf school communities, this program features:
- Weekend workshops in the arts with some study and reflection in a central location.
- Seminars on self-development, meditation, intuitive thinking, adult development, the life of Rudolf Steiner, and the initiatives arising out of anthroposophy. Seminars will run concurrently, either face-to-face or on online for those living at a distance.
Three further series of these workshops are being offered this year – in Atlanta GA, Washington DC, and Boca Raton FL. Details are available at the website of the Center for Anthroposophy, which is organizing these workshops.
The Waldorf Teacher Education Program at Antioch University New England recognizes a certificate of completion from our Explorations Program as part of its entrance requirements. The same applies to CfA’s own Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP).
If a community can gather 18-20 interested people, a member of the CfA faculty will come and offer an information session/orientation event to describe the program in more detail and answer questions. Contact: [email protected] or (603) 654-2566.
Center for Anthroposophy Explorations
Dateline Wilton NH: Renewal Beyond Waldorf 100
Even as we continue to celebrate a century of Waldorf education, Karine Munk Finser, Director of CfA’s Renewal Courses, is already readying the 21st season of her popular summer-time program. Here is a preliminary glimpse.
Renewal 2020 next summer will mark our 21st season, and by then Waldorf Education will be closing the door on its first 100 years and opening a new door to a new century. We are the ones who are asked to influence the direction of the beginning of that journey and already a lot is happening! From around the globe Waldorf students and their teachers gathered this fall for a congress in Stuttgart, home of the first Waldorf school; a week later in Berlin, thousands of Waldorf students and their teachers showcased the international flavor of this education. Meanwhile, during the course of the past year, Waldorf-educated children were sending postcards to one another from all over the world.
But how will Waldorf continue into the future? Both in independent and in public Waldorf schools, we are being asked to include a more inclusive and welcoming gesture. How will we address the demands of social justice and the suffering of many children and people resulting from war or desperate migrations, issues of racism, equity, diversity, gender issues, poverty and more? These issues touch upon the sustainability of Waldorf education. Trauma and trauma-informed teaching, mindfulness and empathy awareness for both teachers and adults: these buzz words live in the collective consciousness now, and we are asked to join the table of like-minded helpers and become active.
Along with global activism, another strong mandate bestowed on Waldorf educators is the call to spiritual research. To work actively with the inner life, to deepen questions and passions, interests, and longings that touch upon our own sacred, is what makes teachers and schools vibrant, and classrooms inspired.
Renewal Courses for 2020 will strive to address both of these aspects of our times and to strike a balance: look for a course led by Michaela Gloeckler on health and healing or a seminar led by Robyn Brown, who created a living community that strongly addresses rebuilding life forces and the strengthening of the lower senses. Biography Studies with Linda Bergh and Jennifer Fox will also be featured this coming summer. Torin Finser and Carla Comey will bring keen guidance to teachers and administrators. Linda Williams will directly address issues of social justice in our schools. From England, we will welcome Bronia Evers, who will bring puppetry and story, including the possibility of a group performance.
New and exciting next summer will be an inclusive gathering of people from different walks of life, who will join our Renewal campus: John Bloom, Alice Groh, and Ryder Daniels will facilitate a conversation about finding creative solutions for the future: How will Waldorf schools survive financially? How do we renew the financial environment of our independent schools so that they become sustainable and full of health-giving forces?
As in previous years, there will be grade-specific courses with both new and returning faculty, and we have asked Christof Wiechert to return for morning lectures and to visit each grade-specific course with insights into awakening the practice of child study. We will again feature the artist David Newbatt, and there are more courses which are still being created. Future issues of our online newsletter Center & Periphery will share more details, or you may wish to visit CfA’s website in a few weeks to find the titles of our Renewal 2020 courses.
Also new in 2020 will be a final leap into a paper-less edition of our brochure. We will still be printing colorful and artistic larger-than-ever posters to be displayed in schools and offices. We hope our readers will support this brave new effort by helping us spread news of our programs and encouraging people to find us online. Most of our courses are inclusive of teachers, parents, administrators, alumni, and board members from all schools, along with friends of Waldorf.
Wishing you all a beautiful fall,
Dateline Wilton NH: Calling all CfA and Antioch Graduates!
Who will carry the torch of Waldorf education into the next century? Torin Finser, CfA’s board president, reports on a new initiative to launch an alumni association for graduates of the various programs sponsored by CfA and the Waldorf Teacher Education Program at Antioch University New England.
As we celebrate 100 years of Waldorf education, our attention turns to those who are taking hold of our schools across North America and beyond. Among the vanguard of these courageous teachers and administrators is a growing number of graduates from the programs for teacher education and professional development sponsored by CfA and the Waldorf Program at Antioch University New England.
Earlier this year, we hosted two gatherings during our summertime activities in Wilton, NH, bringing together alumni of our teacher training programs and Renewal Courses. With 41 participants the first week and 37 during the second, CfA and Antioch alumni jointly explored the possible benefits of an alumni association. They were enthused by the prospect of increased connection and networking, and many filled out a survey telling us what would best help their work as Waldorf teachers. (Alumni who have not completed this questionnaire are invited to visit our website right away and click on “Alum Survey” while the questionnaire is still “live”.)
This initiative with our alums is part of a two-pronged strategy to build the sustainability not only of teacher education but also of our partnerships with schools. On one hand, then, we are inviting graduates of the various programs we stage around the country–from foundational “Explorations” studies and “Building Bridges” to Renewal Courses and our various teacher education programs–to help create a new service organization during the coming year. For this reason, we are preparing the formation of an
On the other, we aim to continue enhancing CfA’s three named funds, which have been established to provide scholarships to help Waldorf schools finance the training and further professional development of prospective, practicing, and seasoned Waldorf teachers:
- Georg Locher Fund for general teacher scholarships
- Karine Munk Finser Fund for Renewal Course scholarships
- Douglas Gerwin Fund for high school training scholarships
Supporters of CfA may wish to divide their gifts between alum work and one of these named funds. In any case, we are lastingly grateful for their continued philanthropy.
The health of Waldorf teacher education and professional development work at CfA and Antioch is vital to the sustainability of our schools. We urge our supporters to give generously!
Dateline Wilton NH: New Round of Training for Waldorf High School Teachers
Next summer, CfA’s Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP) will graduate its 23rd group of 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 2020 on the campus of High Mowing School, a Waldorf school in Wilton, New Hampshire–will coincide with the culmination of celebrating 100 years of Waldorf education worldwide.
Launched in the summer of 1996, this three-summers course has graduated over 200 high school teachers since its first class completed the program in 1998. At present some 140 current and graduated students are working in more than 50 Waldorf schools across North America — a few have even retired after two and more decades in the classroom.
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 Languages and Literature — with David Sloan
- History and Social Science — with Paul Gierlach
- 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 Paul Gierlach, as well as workshops in drama (David Sloan), eurythmy (Laura Radefeld), sculpture (Patrick Stolfo), daily singing (Meg Chittenden) and other arts.
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 5 July and running until Saturday 1 August–can be viewed on our website.
Dateline Wilton NH: Where Are They Now?
All 10 students who graduated this summer from CfA’s Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP) have already had teaching experience in the classroom. Here is a brief outline of where they are working.
Of the Class of 2019, more than three-quarters were working in Waldorf schools even before they entered their training three summers ago in CfA’s Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP). As the 22nd graduating group, they represent a full spread of North American addresses, from sunny California and New Mexico to the stony New England and storm-buffeted Southeastern states. One member of this group of 10 came from Korea; three are themselves Waldorf school alumni.
- Megan Beruldsen: teaching humanities at Shining Mountain Waldorf
School in Boulder, CO
- Gareth Dicker: teaching physics and math at Emerson Waldorf School in
Chapel Hill, NC
- Kim Eijpen: teaching life sciences and health at the Waldorf School of Orange
County in Costa Mesa, CA
- Kent Ford: : teaching mathematics at Emerson Waldorf School in
Chapel Hill, NC
- Aimee Golant Casella: teaching arts and theater crafts at San Francisco
Waldorf School in San Francisco, CA
- Sasha Guild: eaching physics and math at Highland Hall Waldorf School in
- Judy Ha: working with Waldorf schools and the Anthroposophical Society in
- Kyler Ruane: completed a year-long apprenticeship at High Mowing School
in Wilton, NH, and heading off to teach at a Waldorf school in Nepal
- Andy Smith: teaching part-time at the Santa Fe Waldorf School in
Santa Fe, NM
- Liz Truesdall: teaching humanities at the Portland Waldorf School in
Looking ahead to the summer of 2020, 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
For details, contact Douglas Gerwin, Executive Director of the Center for Anthroposophy.
WHiSTEP Class of 2019 displays both sober and silly sides of graduating
Dateline Keene NH: Helping Children Thrive
Torin Finser, President of CfA’s Board of Trustees, is one of some 20 presenters who will be taking part in an online summit on the theme of helping children navigate the shoals of the 21st century. Here is a preview of this worldwide convocation of thought-leaders in this field.
Festival of the Child is a global summit intended to help not only parents and educators survive the challenges of the 21st century, but also to help children thrive in our present times. The festival, taking place online from 14th-20th November 2019, will be free to watch during the live broadcast.
During the course of seven days, some twenty experienced professionals will share their personal wisdom and insights on how to support children to grow up to be healthy, confident, and full of hope for the future. Among the presenters will be CfA’s Torin Finser, a longstanding Waldorf teacher and author, who will talk about innovating for the future in education. Also among the presenters will be the anthroposophical pediatrician Michaela Glöckler,who will share insights on how to help children grow up healthy in an age of digital media. The summit includes a further spectrum of expertise, including storytellers, authors, teachers, and psychologists.
Interview topics will include the importance of play in the early years, the courage of parenting with a history of trauma, and setting healthy boundaries for teens as they explore social media. Viewers wishing to discover fresh new perspectives on how to empower children with a strong sense of self, deep respect for others and strengthened capacities to meet the changing world, may sign up at festivalofthechild.com