The French are fond of saying, “Reculer pour mieux sauter.” Every lion, and many another mammal, knows that a long leap forwards presupposes a strong reach backwards. As we near the 100th anniversary of Waldorf education, these two polar complementary gestures can be observed in the array of our programs, which are intended to honor our heritage while embracing our destiny. Whether in our studies, in our new course offerings–or even in the purpose of our travels–we embody these two gestures.
In this issue we share vignettes of our past and glimpses of our future.
— Douglas Gerwin
Center for Anthroposophy
Dateline Wilton NH: Calling All Alumni – and Friends!
As part of a new initiative to reach out to participants in our programs, two evenings of discussion and artistic performance will be held this summer for alumni of our various programs. Here is a brief overview
During our Renewal Courses this summer on the campus of High Mowing School in Wilton NH, we are planning two festive alumni events of discussion, followed by supper, and each ending with a professional eurythmy performance.
The purpose of these two evenings is to give alumni and friends of programs at both the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) and the Waldorf programs at Antioch University New England (AUNE) the chance to reconnect with their teachers and fellow students and also to offer their perspectives on what they would find most helpful as follow-up to their experiences in one or more of our adult education programs.
Fruits of these discussions will flow during the coming year into the formation of a new association for friends and graduates of programs sponsored by CfA and AUNE.
The events are open to all who have taken part in programs sponsored by CfA-including Foundation Studies, Explorations, Building Bridges, and Renewal–as well as teacher education programs at CfA or the Waldorf Program at Antioch for elementary and high school teachers or school administrators, trustees, and parents.
Both events-the first on Thursday 27 June, the second on Thursday 4 July-will start in the “Big Room” at High Mowing at 5:00 p.m. with introductions and discussions. Participants are welcome to attend either event–or both!–but the second one will have more of a focus on our high school program.
The first eurythmy performance will be offered by the eurythmy school in Spring Valley, NY; the second by a troupe based at the Camphill community in Pennsylvania. Both of the evening performances will take place in the auditorium of Pine Hill Waldorf School across the road from High Mowing.
Space for the two gatherings will be limited and so we urge participants to RSVP no later than Friday 15 June to Douglas Gerwin, CfA’s Executive Director, at [email protected]
Please mark these dates!
Thursday 27 June 2019 and Thursday 4 July 2019
Dateline Wilton NH: Farewells and First Appearances
Karine Munk Finser, Director of CfA’s popular Renewal Courses, reports on the latest line up of star-studded seminars and workshops for the coming summer season.
Renewal Courses in Summer 2019
Week 1: Sunday 23 – Friday 28 June
Week 2: Sunday 30 June – Friday 5 July
Another summer is on the horizon and our Renewal courses hope to be that place where teachers can breathe out the school year that they left behind, while preparing for the year ahead before entering the summer fully. Administrators, philosophers, parents, assistants, artists, all can enjoy taking a course in a retreat-like community where we meet and hear our questions shared and illuminated, all the while enjoying some summer celebration.
After a year of teaching and working, we can leave not only with more preparation for the year ahead, but also able to meet the needs in our children, work with our parents and our colleagues, and shed light on issues that need our focused heart-warmed attention. Especially today, when we see clashing of old school and new school approaches, also in our Waldorf schools, we need to carefully heed our treatment of one another: are we able to walk responsibly caring for one another? Rudolf Steiner wanted us to create centers of light and peace. This will be the dedication this year of both weeks of Renewal 2019.
We will carry our schools’ needs in mind while gathering in classrooms, around the dining tables, in the field playing games, while painting, doing clay work, singing, doing eurythmy, and all while our angels are with us, gathering so many communities under one roof in a large Renewal gathering.
Our courses are not only for teachers. We welcome parents, administrators, assistants, artists, philosophers, and all those who feel that anthroposophy has become meaningful or those who wish to find out more about this philosophy. It is our hope that we can support you in bringing more than methods, but that this gathering may ignite your hearts so that you will return home full of joy.
Now that New Hampshire has finally burst into blossom, the days are speeding up until we will finally welcome you in the lobby of High Mowing School, in Wilton. There is still time to sign up for one of our short weeks or take advantage of the special price tag for both Renewal weeks.
Christof Wiechert has been integral to our Renewal Courses for many years, sharing his life work through his own classes but also speaking daily to all our grade specific participants. His lectures have been a gift to us all for nearly a decade. Again this year, after morning gathering, Christof will offer five morning lectures, short but poignant, before teaching his own class. This is the last year that Christof is offering the Child Study but it is our sincere hope that he will continue to come offer his riches to us in some capacity in the future.
During this first week, Janet Langley, together with Pat Connolly, will return this summer with their popular “Roadmap to Literacy” course. There are some spots left in the grade specific courses. Regine Shemroske, Michael Gannon, Kris Ritz, Shannon Wiley, Monica Lander, Lynn Thurrell, Alison Henry, and Phil Fertey will be joined by special faculty Elizabeth Auer, Cezary Ciaglo,Meg Chittenden, Roberto Trostli, and Julianna Lichatz. This program promises to be very rich and we are fortunate that Torin Finser will offer the keynote on Beyond 100, and Phil Fertey the mid-week lecture: Cultivating a Healthy Social Life. We will enjoy music and dance and close the week with an evening program offered by Eurythmy Spring Valley.
During the second week, we have invited Kim John Payne to help teachers address challenges in the classroom, including classroom management, from the point of view of differentiated teaching. This course will help us see our children in a bigger light, looking to their genius. This course will address teacher burnout and help inspire renewed courage to teach all our children.
Lisa Romero has been invited to help parents and teachers work deeply with the issue of gender, transgender, and sexuality in both primary and secondary classrooms in our Waldorf schools. Again, it is our hope that many schools will wish to send someone to represent their schools and bring back important teachings of how to best support the child or adolescent in these times and the challenges the adults experience. Common struggles will also be explored as well as child-health and well-being in these current times and how we can counter their unbalancing effects.
We have all been admiring David Newbatt’s art and we are thrilled that he is coming to paint and do pastels with a lucky group of people. He will also present a little-known fable by Novalis, and his painting exercises will be prompted by the theme of healing in the times we live in.
Eleanor Winship will offer a course in singing for anyone who wishes to develop more confidence in singing or to receive more training, using the Werbeck methods. These exercises awaken a healing power of tone and re-enliven our voices, while liberating our breathing. In addition, there will be exploration in music’s place in child development. Tone eurythmy will bring to life healing forces inherent in music and eurythmy and refresh and bring true renewal offer by eurythmist Leonore Russell, with Gene Faxon at the piano.
For early childhood teachers, farmers, and all people who love nature: a new course is being offered by Karsten Massei on the “Kingdom of the Elemental Beings”. This course is not describable since its transformative powers have to be experienced. Participants from last year, many of them returning, left deeply moved and felt that they had enhanced their life participation, and their love and relationship to nature’s living beings.
Paul Matthews will be joined by Patrice Pinette and together they will help poets and writers glance sideways in nature to see and express what lives there hidden, as a open secret for us to learn from and delight in. Here is an opportunity for poets to take time to learn from these professional and published poets, sharing devotion to that which lives and may be spoken, bridging worlds.
This year we have invited Daniel O’Connors back and asked Robert Thurrell to join him. Imagine working with these two master teachers who have a life-long career behind them working with children and adolescents in Waldorf schools. This will be a profound hands-on course for practical arts teachers working with gouges and wood, and with clay. Participants will be offered an intense experience of the convex and the concave, a real schooling in the powers of observation.
For many years, we have been asked to offer an “Anthroposophy 101” course for parents, early childhood assistants, or administrators and others who are contemplating becoming Waldorf trained, and we are delighted that we now have such a course. It is led by Signe Motter, who has been a Waldorf teacher in schools and an adult educator and adjunct at Antioch University for decades. She will be joined by Douglas Gerwin, Milan Daler, and others, who will offer insightful sessions.
Michael D’Aleo will bring Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom to his participants in an artistic and phenomenological way that will be life-changing in terms of how we perceive the world and how we think, and what the meaning of freedom may be. There will also be an opportunity to create bracelets out of metal and precious stone.
Finally, last but not least, we have a course for administrators and school leaders that addresses the social art of administering and leading schools. This course is led by Torin Finser and Carla Beebe Comey. Participants will experience useful tools to engage successfully in challenging situations and will feel strengthened from within through eurythmy in the workplace exercises.
Karsten Massei will offer the keynote on opening night while Kim John Payne will deliver the mid-week lecture. We will have a poetry-reading, music, and close the Renewal weeks with a performance led by the Pennsylvania Eurythmy Ensemble. Several of these courses will be enriched by special faculty Elizabeth Auer, and Julianna Lichatz, together with Cezary Ciaglo.
We look forward to welcoming you. Meanwhile, take good care of yourselves!
Karine Munk Finser
Director of Renewal Courses
Dateline Boston MA: Peripatetic Pedagogues
Given the international reach of our core faculty members, there are times when it would be tempting to name our organization the “Periphery…” rather than “Center for Anthroposophy”. A verbal map of their travels this year illustrates why.
The Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) boasts no more than four core faculty/staff members, and yet all of them are on the move this year.
Torin Finser, President of CfA’s board of trustees, was recently the keynote speaker at a national conference at MingDao University in Taiwan; he is also scheduled to attend upcoming events in Australia and Europe. By the fall term he will have spoken on almost every continent within a single year. Antarctica is not on his itinerary-but then again, there are no Waldorf schools there.
Together with Karine Munk Finser, Director of CfA’s Renewal Courses, the two Finsers worked at the start of this year in the Jordanian capital of Amman with Palestinian refugees, introducing practicing teachers to Waldorf education. The event also served to celebrate the publication in Arabic of Torin’s best-selling book School as a Journey. As hardy New Englanders, they were unphased by a freak snow storm that unexpectedly blanketed the city during their visit.
Karine paid separate working visits to Italy and to the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland in order to attend a professional conference on art therapy and make contacts with lead teachers for her summertime Renewal Courses and her advanced-level healing arts training at Antioch University New England.
Meanwhile, Douglas Gerwin, Executive Director of the Center, was the featured speaker at a week-long conference of Scandinavian Waldorf teachers, held in the Finnish capital of Helsinki, on the theme of creativity in education, spanning the full gamut from early childhood through the high school years. Later this term he’s off to a springtime meeting of the International Forum (Hague Circle) in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh.
Not to be left out, CfA’s administrator Milan Daler, together with his wife Genevieve, traveled to her native Haiti during the spring to visit relatives, as well as to continue helping L’Ecole du Village, a fledgling Waldorf school on the southwestern coast of this beautiful Caribbean island.
Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, communications and programs sponsored by CfA-from foundational “Explorations” studies and high school teacher teacher training to the “Building Bridges” program for teachers seeking a Master’s degree in Waldorf education–continued uninterrupted, albeit at odd times (and time zones) during the day and night.
In short, there is good reason for naming our online newsletter Center & Periphery!
Dateline Amherst MA: Teaching by Extraction Rather than by Instruction
How often do we get asked, “What’s so different about teaching in a Waldorf school?” Douglas Gerwin, CfA’s Executive Director, responds from the perspective of a Waldorf alumnus and high school teacher.
The teacher stepped to the board and, with a quick freehand gesture, sketched a slightly elliptical form representing the pathway of the earth around the sun. At one of the ellipse’s two foci, he drew a miniature sun, then posed the question: “What do you suppose is located at the other focus?”
The presentation by this tenth-grade teacher lasted less than a couple of minutes, and yet the question he put at the end of it has lingered in my mind for well over fifty years.
For it turns out that the question is not easily answered. Since the earth’s orbit around the sun is only slightly elliptical, the two foci are closely aligned. As a result, the radiance of the sun at one focus blocks out any observation of the second focus. Indeed, it has been calculated that the sun is so huge that the second focus may actually be located somewhere within its glowing circumference.
Our teacher knew this, of course, which means he did not intend for us to answer the question or come up with hypothetical explanations. He was simply stirring our intellectual faculties and store of knowledge and giving us something to ponder lastingly in our hearts.
A more common interchange in a classroom would be the reverse: students posing questions and teachers supplying answers. Socrates, however, that most venerable role model of teachers, was well aware that teaching by supplying answers, whether in the form of information or explanation, is a losing game. What we today call “the Socratic method” arose from his insistence that the teacher simply reminds students of what they already know. “There is no such thing as teaching, only recollection,” he proclaimed, “for seeking and learning are in fact nothing but recollection.”
On this view, children learn not by receiving information from without-the literal derivation of the term “in-struction”-but rather by fashioning images from within. Though at a young age children may imitate those around them–indeed, they need to be surrounded by other human beings if they are to become educated–still the fundamental act of learning arises from within; it is not inserted by some outside instructor.
As they grow older, children respond to outer “input” with inner resonance. They say, “Yeah, that makes sense.” Now the teacher is akin to a vocalist singing a note into an open piano, and the students, like the exposed strings within the instrument, vibrate if the sung note is true. If the students cannot resonate with what their teacher is telling them, all they can do is memorize without really “getting it.”
In the words of Rudolf Steiner, the teacher is there to provide support and remove obstacles to learning so that the child can teach himself. “It is really the child who educates himself through us,” says Steiner. “We only educate when we behave in such a way that through our own behavior the child can educate himself.”
Here a widely accepted view of teaching is overturned. Rather than filling children with information, a Waldorf teacher enters the classroom with the assumption that at some level–however deep and however unconscious–the child already knows the lesson that is to be taught. The task of the teacher, far from “delivering content,” is to draw forth the lesson (the original meaning of the word “e-ducate”) from out of the students.
As one of the twelfth graders at the Chicago Waldorf School exclaimed to me during a discussion of their education: “I get it: Waldorf is not a process of insertion, it’s a process of extraction!”
If one is willing to overlook the inadvertent association of this remark with dental practice, this simple statement is a fair summary of the Waldorf method of teaching. It does not insert into the child what was not previously there; it teases from the child what, in some sense, is already present. In this way, ultimately, children educate themselves.
Teachers unfamiliar with this way of working with the child may find it daunting to upend their traditional understanding of the educational process, and yet nothing less is required if they are to engage students in this fundamentally different way. Prospective–and even practicing–Waldorf teachers need to undergo a complete involution–a “turning inside out”– of their pedagogical praxis, and this radical transformation will be the hallmark of any successful Waldorf teacher education program.
Letting go of old habits and suppositions is difficult, even under the most favorable and sympathetic of circumstances. The question, then, remains: How to achieve this?
Here Rudolf Steiner offers a simple yet profound response. “Education is the Art of awakening what is actually there within the human being,” he writes. But “first of all, the teachers must be awakened, and then the teachers must awaken the children and the young people . . . . Every human being is a teacher, but he is sleeping and must be awakened, and Art is the awakener.”
Put differently, the preparation of teachers, like any form of education, is a process of gradually awakening them from within, rather than of stimulating them from without.
That is why, in our Waldorf teacher training programs–even in those geared specifically to prepare subject or high school teachers, for whom specific content is so important–easily fifty percent of the time is spent in the practice of both fine arts and performing arts, even if these teachers will never have to conduct a single class in these subjects.
There are many reasons for placing the arts so centrally in the training of Waldorf teachers. A key one is this: Inasmuch as they are expected to draw forth from their students what already resides within them, Waldorf teachers need to have developed organs of psychological and spiritual perception that can discern what lies hidden as potential in their students.
Here again, the arts help teachers develop this more subtle–one might say “meta-physical”–form of perception. With enhanced powers of observation made possible by artistic practice, teachers learn to see into the hearts of their students where lie concealed the buried riches of knowledge waiting to be lifted gently into the broad daylight of consciousness.
This is not to deny the importance of a teacher “knowing her stuff” and being a skilled practitioner of her craft–classroom management, parent relations, administrative responsibilities, and so forth. And yet, beyond the necessary skills of this profession lies the art of teaching, which entails awakening students to the world around them in such a way that they recognize something of themselves in it. In perceiving the world, they begin to discover themselves.
A further step along this path of discovery in their education will allow students not simply to awaken to the world, but to begin posing thoughtful questions of it, questions that will lead beyond the immediacy of sense experience to the far reaches of metaphysical conundrums. As in the outcome of a rewarding discussion, students graduate from this kind of education with a proliferation of lingering questions, rather than a set of pat answers or hypothetical explanations masquerading as fact. After all, in the words of the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Hypotheses are lullabies that teachers use to put their students to sleep.”
So, what is it that resides at the other focus of our elliptical journey around the sun? I don’t really know–but something has been awakened through this question that makes pondering it some five decades later still immensely nourishing.
Dateline Asheville NC / Jacksonville Beach FL: “Explorations” of Anthroposophical Landscapes
The first cycle of a new arts-based program for adults wishing to explore the wide terrain of anthroposophical endeavors, including the foundational principles of Waldorf education, has come to a successful conclusion. Another round–based in three East Coast centers–is in the making.
In a major redesign of what was formerly called Foundations Studies, the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) this year launched a new program with a new name.
“Explorations: Workshops in the Arts and Contemplative Practices Based on the Work of Rudolf Steiner” featured an innovative three-tiered format comprised of:
- intensive weekend workshops with emphasis on the arts
- bi-monthly seminars to study anthroposophy
- monthly zoom webinars called “Windows on Waldorf”
A series of weekend workshops–starting Friday evening and lasting through Sunday lunchtime–constituted the core or “hub” of this program, while the study and zoom seminars served to supplement the central “hub” program.
The weekend workshops–led by seasoned Waldorf teachers with long experience of teaching adults, including faculty from CfA and the Waldorf Teacher Education Program at Antioch University New England–focused on artistic media such as drawing, painting, sculpture, speech, singing, as well as spacial dynamics and eurythmy, two new forms of artistic movement pioneered by Rudolf Steiner. The intervening study seminars, led by local facilitators, devoted their attention to some of the basic texts of Steiner and those who have come after him.
Two hubs were launched this year, one in Asheville NC, the other in
Jacksonville Beach FL, each custom-designed to meet the needs of the local community. In the Jacksonville Beach hub, the seminars were replaced by additional time spent in the weekend format.
Torin and Karine Munk Finser closed out the Jacksonville Beach hub with a weekend devoted to the theme of human development and destiny, along with sessions in painting and pastels. The results were stunning!
Participant responses to the two new programs were uniformly positive — in many cases highly enthusiastic. “When I left school, I knew I needed something nourishing/more dimensional. I’ve found this source so inspiring,” wrote Landis Grenville. “In all of the Explorations courses so far, including this final one, I am left feeling rejuvenated, appreciative, and invoked. I am beyond satisfied with the courses, but also thirsty for more,” said Jackie Stetson.
In the light of strong endorsements, CfA is planning to offer three more of these hubs along the Eastern seaboard during the forthcoming school year in
- Atlanta GA,
- Boca Raton FL
- Washington DC
Tuition for this year-long program is set at $2,200, based on a minimum enrollment of 15-20 participants.
For those intending to undertake teacher training, the Waldorf program at Antioch University New England recognizes a certificate of completion in CfA’s Explorations program as fulfilling part of Antioch’s entrance requirements.
If a community can gather 15 or more interested people, a member of the CfA faculty will visit that community to offer an information session/orientation event describing the program in more detail. For further information visit CfA’s website or contact us at [email protected] or at (603) 654-2566.
Here is a sample program of this program from last year:
Dateline Sacramento CA: Building Bridges Spanning the Continent
Even as the latest cycle of CfA’s “Building Bridges” program for prospective teachers comes to completion, a new series of these workshops is taking shape in Grass Valley CA. Here is a taste of what is offered in this year-long program.
In 2016 the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA), partnering with the Waldorf Program at Antioch University New England (AUNE), inaugurated “Building Bridges”, a new program intended for practicing teachers in public Waldorf and independent schools wishing to make the transition from local onsite foundational studies to an accredited Waldorf teacher training program.
The first program of this kind was offered in Anchorage AK. Further rounds of this one-year program were held in Denver CO and at the Golden Valley Orchard School in Orangevale, close to Sacramento CA. The next cycle of weekend courses–once a month during the school year–will take place at the Yuba River Charter School in Grass Valley CA, starting in September 2019.
At the completion of the latest round in Orangevale, a participant wrote: “Researching Waldorf education online wasn’t helping me. After attending the first part of this program, I now have exactly what I need to join in on the conversations and truly feel like I am a part of the community. I’m also able to incorporate what I’ve learned into my IEP meetings when we discuss a student’s development.”
Sessions are held over a long weekend approximately once per month, with a balance of artistic, philosophical, and practical aspects of Waldorf education. Those who complete the year and successfully apply to the Waldorf Program at AUNE may be considered for advanced standing in its summer sequence program, thus eliminating the first of three summer sessions held in Wilton, NH.
Philosophical and curricular content are complemented by artistic practice, including singing, recorder playing, eurythmy, drawing, speech, story telling, and painting. Faculty for this program are drawn from CfA and AUNE as well as from a pool of experienced teachers living locally.
Communities interested in hosting this program should contact Torin Finser, Director of Outreach and Program Development, at the Center for Anthroposophy. At present, CfA offers just one of these programs in any single year.
Dateline Wilton NH: New Cycle of Waldorf High School Teacher Education
Each summer for more than two decades, the Center for Anthroposophy has launched a new cycle of its Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP). Here is a brief preview of the subjects being featured this summer and of the 22nd graduating group of high school teachers.
Launched by the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) in July of 1996, the Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program–known to its friends as “WHiSTEP”–has been graduating high school teachers with certificates in Waldorf high school teaching for more than 20 years. Since its inception, some 190 students have completed this part-time three-summers program.
As of this year, WHiSTEP students or graduates are active in 33 of the 42 Waldorf high schools extant in North America, from the Hawaiian islands and the Pacific Northwest to the sultry Southeast and the rocky Atlantic coastline of Maine, as well as both of the new high schools launched this year in Cincinnati OH and Halton ON.
In addition, small but growing contingents of high school teachers from abroad are taking part in the program this summer.Overall, about two-thirds of WHiSTEP’s current and graduated students–including half of the original Class of 1998–are working full or part-time at some 60 Waldorf schools spread across five continents.
Sometimes we are asked: How many teachers does it take to constitute a full high school faculty? At the Center for Anthroposophy, we calculate that number as approaching 12 (give or take a few, depending on the size of the school): 3-4 for humanities including languages; 3-4 for sciences and math; 3-4 for arts and crafts, as well as athletics. These numbers do not include administrative and non-classroom positions such as college and guidance counselors, after-school coaches, and office staff.
Each summer, the Center’s high school program admits a new class of 10-15 students–in other words, the equivalent of a full high school faculty–ranging across the subject specializations. This year we are offering specialized “subject seminars” in Arts and Art History, English and Literature, History and Social Science, Life Science and Earth Science, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. All of these summer courses are held on the two recently merged campuses of High Mowing School and Pine Hill Waldorf School in Southeastern New Hampshire.
The first teachers of the latest cohort have already been accepted into the forthcoming cycle of this month-long summer program, which includes seminars, artistic ateliers, and subject-specific workshops. This new group of teachers–many of them already active in the classroom–will be studying with close to a hundred trainees in the Waldorf elementary teacher education program of Antioch University New England.
A few are joining with the intention of securing a fully-accredited Masters degree in Waldorf high school teaching from Antioch as part of a joint venture introduced four years ago.
This summer’s cycle of the high school program starts on Sunday 30 June 2019 and runs until Saturday 27 July. For details about application, contact Douglas Gerwin at the Center for Anthroposophy.
Dateline Wilton NH: New Waldorf Job Posting Board
As a service to Waldorf teachers and administrators–both those in training and those who have completed their training-CfA has launched a new page on its website for those seeking employment. Milan Daler, CfA’s Administrator, outlines this new service.
The Center for Anthroposophy has added a new page which aims to connect job seekers with positions available in the Waldorf world. Anyone can visit the page and browse the details about posted jobs.
In order to post a job, or make a comment on a job posting, registration is required. In order to register, click the Register button at the top right of the screen. If you have already registered for our existing Ride Share Forum, you can use the Login button and the same Login name and Password. If you believe you are already registered, but forget your login, please use the Lost password.
After you register, a Registration confirmation ‘Center for Anthroposophy New User Registration’ will be emailed to you. There will be a really long link, called ‘Password Retrieval URL’ in the email that will take you to a page that says “Enter your new password below.”
You can use the strong suggested password or enter your own password. You can copy and save the password someplace safe, or let your browser remember the password for you. In any case, you can always use the Lost password link to generate a new password.
We invite all interested parties to make use of this exciting new feature on our website!