Waldorf education acts as antidote to many ailments of our times: anxiety and depression in children, stress and exhaustion of adults, perhaps even extremism and violence among young fanatics.
In this issue of Center & Periphery we explore some of the healing powers inherent in this education, as well as offering updates on programs run by the Center for Anthroposophy intended to remedy some of these ailments.
As always, the content of this issue is meant to be descriptive, not prescriptive. And yet, like any good medicine, it becomes effective only when actively taken up.
Sante: to your good health!
Douglas Gerwin, Director
Center for Anthroposophy
Dateline Amherst MA: At the Taproot of Terrorism
Long before they became a worldwide phenomenon, Rudolf Steiner offered an original perspective on young people who become “radicalized” as terrorists. Douglas Gerwin, Director of the Center for Anthroposophy, reports.
Why are so many young people around the world becoming radicalized?
For answers to this question, it is tempting to invoke the tenets of political ideologies or the findings of popular sociology. Recently, though, I came across a passage from a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner in 1920–on 9/11, as it happens–in which a quite different light is cast on this vexed issue.
In the closing talk of a lecture series offered at the Goetheanum less than a year after the first Waldorf school was founded, Steiner addressed the root of dissatisfaction that young people may feel if their education has failed them.
Specifically, he related how children come into the world carrying unconsciously, in the depths of their souls, profound imaginations implanted before birth, or even before conception. These imaginations–which Steiner describes as “forces of pictorialized representation, which have been received before birth or conception”–need to find their outlet in the children’s consciousness during the course of their education.
If they are suppressed, for instance by an abstract form of teaching that replaces living pictures with dry intellectual concepts, these forces “will burst out elsewhere if they are not brought to the surface [of consciousness] in pictorial representation.” He singles out the teaching of the alphabet via abstract symbols (rather than via living pictures in which these symbols lie buried) as an example of abstract instruction that inhibits the child’s spontaneous powers of imagination.
And what is the consequence of such a displacement? “Rebels, revolutionaries, dissatisfied people; people who do not know what they want because they want something that one cannot know,” is Steiner’s response. “They want something that is incompatible with any possible social order; something that should have entered their fantasy but did not; instead it entered into their agitated social activities.” In brief, forces intended to arise in the realm of imaginative thinking erupt instead at the level of brute will.
Put differently, children come into the world with image-making forces arising from their pre-birth existence in the spiritual world. Because these creative forces belong to the heavens, they cannot find their rightful expression in the physical world and must remain in the realm of heavenly imaginations, a realm to which children are still directly connected. If for some reason–abstract education is perhaps only one such reason–the activity of these heavenly imaginations is staunched in the children at the level of their conscious thought-pictures, then it runs the risk of bursting out instead at the level of unconscious will.
Steiner, C.S. Lewis, and others have pointed to a law of the spirit according to which a constructive force at the level of thinking or consciousness (as carried, say, by the nervous system) will be experienced as destructive if displaced to the level of unconscious will (as carried, say, by the metabolic system), and vice versa. Consider only the “constructive” processes of digestion, which have their rightful place in our metabolic organs and which, if displaced via the blood to the fluids surrounding the upper nervous system and brain, may be experienced as excruciating migraine. And likewise, notice how the cut-and-thrust gesture of incisive, penetrating thinking, if displaced into the will, may appear as pugilist aggression and violence.
In other words, if children come into the world bearing heavenly picture-making forces and fail to find rightful outlets for these creative forces in their worlds of imagination, these same constructive powers may well erupt as destructive forces at the level of volition and action — “in strife and bloodshed instead of imaginations”, as Steiner puts it.
“No wonder that the individuals who destroy the social fabric actually have the feeling that they are doing good,” he concludes. “For what do they sense in themselves? They feel heaven within themselves . . . .”
Wherever we hear of children–in the West, the East, or the Middle East–who were robbed by their education or their culture of the opportunity to tap into their heaven-creative powers of picture-making, we can expect to find isolated cases or organized networks of earth-destructive terrorists. At the root of “radicalized” terrorism we may discern, faintly, images of mighty heavenly forces that have been denied their rightful place.
Radiance of the heavens will there confront us, albeit in distorted form, as the wrath of heaven.
 Rudolf Steiner, Spiritual Science as a Foundation for Social Forms (Dornach, 6 August – 11 September 1920), Lecture XVI of 11 September. I am indebted to my colleague Patrice Maynard, Director of Publications and Development at the Research Institute for Waldorf Education, for this reference.
Dateline Punxsutawney, PA: The Significance of Groundhog Day for High Schools
For some, this day offers a clue each year as to the length of winter. But for applicants to the Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program, this date represents quite another landmark. Douglas Gerwin, as chair of this program, explains.
According to a medieval legend imported by German settlers to this town in Western Pennsylvania, the presence or absence of sunshine on February 2nd foretells the length of winter remaining. In the American version of this ritual, if the groundhog pops out of its hole and sees its shadow on this day, the remainder of winter will be long and cold; if it does not, winter is on its way out. Though it may sound counter-intuitive, a sunny day on February 2nd means lingering cold, according to this tradition; a cloudy day presages an early spring.
In the Christian calendar, this date is known as Candlemas, a lesser-known holiday celebrated 40 days after Christmas that marks the exact mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
For high school teachers aspiring to work–or perhaps already working–in a Waldorf school, this date falls exactly one day after the formal deadline for applying to the Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP) sponsored each July by the Center for Anthroposophy. This year will mark the 21st cycle of this three-summers program, which offers specialized courses for teachers in Arts and Art History, English Language and Literature, History and Social Science, Life Sciences and Earth Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Studies, Physics and Chemistry, and Pedagogical Eurythmy. www.centerforanthroposophy.org
Candidates for this program–which this year starts on Sunday 3 July and runs through Saturday 30 July–can apply on this site or by contacting the Center at (603) 654-2566. Detailed syllabi of these specialized courses for high school teachers are also available at this site. Applications are processed during the months of February and March, regardless of the weather.
Dateline Wilton, NH: New–and Renewed–Renewal Courses for July 2016
Karine Munk Finser, Coordinator of CfA’s annual week-long Renewal Courses, briefly lifts the veil on this summer’s coming attractions.
Week I: Sunday 26 June to Friday 1 July
Week II: Sunday 3 July to Friday 8 July
As we prepare for our 17th summer of Renewal Courses in Wilton, New Hampshire on the beautiful campuses of High Mowing School and Pine Hill Waldorf School, we are delighted to share some of our new and returning faculty and their courses.
New this year is a two-summer course taught by Christof Wiechert for facilitators of the Child (and Student) Study. Advanced studies in pedagogy and carefully guided case studies will be supplemented by mainstream psychology and an anthroposophically inspired anthropology to help promote the child study as an integral part of the faculty meeting and the thriving of our Waldorf schools.
During the same week, we will welcome back Michaela Gloeckler, who will lead a course entitled The Spiritual Laws of Reincarnation and Destiny and their Relevance for Health and Illness in Human Biography. Leonore Russell will accompany the course with tone eurythmy to bring health-giving forces to the participants. This course is designed for doctors, therapists, teachers, and parents.
This summer we are supporting our grade-specific faculty with two specialist teachers: David Gable will teach recorder and grade specific singing to all the grades. Roberto Trostli will teach chemistry, physics, astronomy, mineralogy, and physiology to participants in the upper elementary grades courses. We have lengthened the schedule in week 1 to allow for these additions. There will be daily short morning lectures by Christof Wiechert and some classes will have eurythmy with Cezary Ciaglo.
Christopher Sblendorio, Neal Kennerk, Darcy Drayton, Elizabeth Auer, Patrice Maynard, Helena Niiva, Alison Henry, and Signe Motter will teach these grade-specific classes.
During the second week, we welcome for the first time Jaap van der Wal with a course on The Human Embryo: A Lifelong Journey in Search of Spirit. This dynamic course will create a foundational experience of life as we know it!
We are grateful also that Virginia Sease is back after some years to offer a course on the Great Spiritual Teachers: Scythianos, Gautama Buddha, Manes, Master Jesus, and Christian Rosenkreutz.
In this same week, Jamie York will be teaching Pushing the Boundaries of the Imagination through Projective Geometry, a course that will forever enliven your thinking and your perception. Leonore Russell and Torin Finser will be offering a course for administrators and teachers on personal and organizational change titled Organizational Integrity. “Eurythmy in the Workplace” and presentations and discussions will shed light on current issues in our schools.
We are lucky to have the Assenza school master painter Donald Hall with us this summer. Together with Sylvie Richard, a eurythmist, they will offer a course that will allow you to paint out of an experience of new creation.
Lisa Edge and Helena Hurrell, pioneers in the newly approved Metal Color Light Therapy, will lead a course on this subject that will support health-giving inner movement and artistic expression.
We also welcome for the first time this year Dorit Winter, who will bring us a writing course titled Writing Pictorially: Saunter, Lurch, or Skip? Nibble, Slurp. or Gnaw? This promises to be an evocative course, supporting your confidence in writing, teaching of writing, or transformation of your writing.
Finally, our annual Self Education through Intuitive Thinking and Artistic Perception course will be taught, as in previous years, by Signe Motter, Douglas Gerwin, Elizabeth Auer, and Hugh Renwick. This course is ideal for parents who wish to explore Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (Freedom), and other important anthroposophical concepts and engage in clay modeling and painting. This course is also designed for people interested in supplementary foundational anthroposophical studies to support their entry into Waldorf teacher training.
Please explore this website for more information about these courses. We are very much looking forward to welcoming you (back)!
With warm wishes,
Karine Munk Finser
Freeport, ME: The Many Faces of Foundation Studies
Barbara Richardson, Coordinator of CfA’s Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts, introduces some of the faces that feature in the seminars of her program.
Foundation Studies programs:
Current Year One – Waldorf School at Moraine Farm in Beverly, MA, Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, MD and Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork in Carbondale, CO.
Current Year Two – Emerson Waldorf School, Chapel Hill, NC, Morning Meadow and Heart Pine Schools, Gainesville, FL, and Mountain Phoenix Community School in Denver, CO
Interest is being shown for next fall in – Burlington VT, Colorado Springs CO, Copley OH, Freeport ME, Ithaca NY, Lexington MA, Nashville TN and Santa Fe NM.
Who Holds Foundation Studies?
Although I coordinate the daily and yearly program details, this group photo (below) of the Executive Committee of the Center for Anthroposophy–taken at a luncheon to celebrate the work of Alice Luter, former manager of CfA’s school store–shows the people who meet monthly and carry and support this program.
Foundation Studies clusters–typically 6 to 10 each year dotted around the country–are also held and carried by the committed participants, past and present. Our Annual Giving campaign this fall for the Center has Foundation Studies scholarships as its new goal, and we are very grateful to the many, many people who have responded positively. Our future participants thank you!
Torin Finser, Barbara Richardson, Karine Munk Finser, Alice Luter (guest), Douglas Gerwin, MaryLyn Yonika (guest), and (seated) Milan Daler. Missing EC members: Arthur Auer (taking this photo) and Cfa trustees Stephen Bloomquist, Signe Motter.
Who teaches in Foundation Studies?
A wide variety of teachers from across North America and beyond are the faculty members who present, lead conversations, and guide transformative exercises through the arts. In the photo below, taken in Ann Arbor on January 1st, you will see eight visiting faculty members of Foundation Studies who are supported mightily by local faculty members in each cluster. Recurring themes of these clusters are drawn from the basic books and lectures of Rudolf Steiner, including How to Know Higher Worlds, Theosophy, and Anthroposophy in Everyday Life. Second-year groups study cycles of biography and art as well as a range of other anthroposophical work in medicine, biodynamics, social science, eurythmy, and drama.
This above photo of the Lemniscate Arts International Festival Tour project group shows faculty (names listed with asterisk*) who teach in various CfA programs including Foundation Studies, Individual Mentoring, and Renewal Courses.
As the New Year begins, Michael Burton (above center with the white shirt) will be touring with his one-man Shakespeare program to many cities in the Midwest and South. Michael, a trained actor and Speech Formation artist, lives in Australia. He will start off the Foundation Studies cluster in Chapel Hill, NC with material for their continuing Biography sessions in Year Two; he will also visit the Foundation Studies cluster in Phoenix, AZ.
Michael’s Shakespeare performance contains 17 excerpts and 29 characters – we can see ourselves in many different guises! The program begins with a threshold experience, the Ghost of Hamlet’s father. Michael shows characters in their questioning, their silliness, their meeting evil and overcoming it, and finally, through Shakespeare’s own voice, in saying: “Love . . . it is the star to every wandering bark.”
After experiencing this program three times, I began to see the threads similar to the path described in How to Know Higher Worlds. The human being senses that more is possible, that self-development is a necessity. Then the trials with questions of conscience begin. Love is the goal, the ever-fixed mark.
The following clusters of Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts are currently underway this year:
- Waldorf School at Moraine Farm in Beverly, MA
- Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, MD
- Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork in Carbondale, CO
- Emerson Waldorf School in Chapel Hill, NC
- Morning Meadow and Heart Pine Schools in Gainesville, FL
- Mountain Phoenix Community School in Denver, CO
Interest is being shown starting next fall for clusters in:
- Burlington, VT
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Copley, OH
- Freeport, ME
- Ithaca, NY
- Lexington, MA
- Nashville, TN
- Santa Fe NM
- Pine Hill Waldorf School, NH
Dateline Wilton, NH: Funding “Waldorf Schools for Grown-Ups”grownups
Every year the Center for Anthroposophy chooses a theme for its annual appeal. This fall CfA launched a three-year initiative to focus on its core adult education programs, starting with Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts.
Over 100 adults enroll each year in CfA’s Foundation Studies, most of them held in clusters on the campuses of Waldorf schools across the country — from Alaska to Florida, Arizona to Maine during the past year alone. As Program Coordinator, Barbara Richardson also arranges one-on-one mentored foundation studies for those who live too far from the 8-10 clusters she oversees each year.
Foundation Studies represents the oldest of CfA’s adult education programs. It was started during the mid-1990s by Margaret Chambers to help small groups of students prepare for Waldorf teacher training. Today, while participants still enroll in this program to fulfill prerequisites for teacher training, many others sign up simply to experience–at an adult level–the genius underlying Waldorf education. Some call it “Waldorf school for grown-ups”.
In addition to high-level study of Rudolf Steiner’s basic books, this program–as its full name suggests–devotes fully half its time to the practice of the arts. After all, it is through engagement in the arts that a deeper understanding of Anthroposophy can awaken.
Like all programs of professional education, CfA’s Foundation Studies depends on tuition. Many are the applicants who wish to take the course but cannot afford the cost of this two-year part-time program. Starting this year, as part of its annual appeal, CfA is setting up a scholarship fund to assist those who wish to take Foundation Studies as the first steppingstone to becoming a Waldorf teacher. It will be named the “Margaret Chambers Scholarship Fund for Foundation Studies” in honor of its gracious founding Coordinator.
To support Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts by contributing to this new scholarship fund, please.
Dateline Keene, NH: “Fast Track” M.Ed Degree for Experienced Waldorf Teachers fast track
Some years ago, the call went out for a postgraduate degree program that would make it possible for seasoned Waldorf teachers to earn a Masters in Waldorf Education. At Antioch University New England, the call was heard and now is being resounded.
Starting this summer (July 2016), the Waldorf Teacher Education Program at Antioch University New England will start up a new cycle of an abbreviated “advanced track” Masters degree designed specifically for experienced Waldorf teachers.
The low-residency program involves two summer sessions in Wilton, NH–instead of the usual three–plus online courses during the intervening school year and a supervised Masters thesis following the second summer. A Certificate in Waldorf Teacher Education is available for those not seeking a Masters degree.
Designed for people with at least five years of professional experience and a practice based on anthroposophical foundations, this course runs alongside other part-time summer programs offered in Wilton each summer by Antioch and the Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program run by the Center for Anthroposophy.
This “advanced tack” program is a collaboration between Antioch’s Waldorf Program and the Camphill School of Curative Education and Social Therapy. Students who have completed Stage 2 of Camphill’s own program are eligible for this shortened Masters program at Antioch. The program is also open to experienced administrators, adult educators, artists, Camphill co-workers, therapists, and others working in Waldorf-related professional fields.
Deadline for application to this program is 1 May 2016. For details, contact Karine Munk Finser at the Waldorf Teacher Education Program in Antioch’s Department of Education.