The dead of winter can be deceiving. What appears to be the least active season of the year is in fact a period of greatest potency and gestation. In this issue, we explore a bit these polar complementary gestures – of quiet farewells and promising new beginnings. Spring may not yet be in the air but it is is already pulsating underground!
We invite you to join us in these explorations.
Douglas Gerwin, Director
Center for Anthroposophy
Dateline Ephesus, Istanbul, Amman: Teachers’ Travelogue
Torin and Karine Munk Finser traveled to ancient sites and modern refugee camps in the Middle East shortly after New Year. Karine reports on what they took with them and what they brought back.
The encounter with generosity of heart in the Middle East stands out as the profound gift Torin and I received over the two weeks spent in Turkey and Jordan in early January, 2019. Unconditional hospitality was not only given to us but everywhere we could see this attitude portrayed: the car that went off the road due to shabby tires was immediately surrounded by helpers, the mentally ill who lived on the square were taken care of by the people with kindness and food, and the stray dogs and cats were dutifully fed and continued to thrive, thanks to a community effort. I’ve never seen such happy well-fed street animals!
In fact, when Torin and I entered a Starbucks in Istanbul in search of the comforts of home, a giant yellow dog lay upon the mat at the threshold, and everyone including us had to carefully circle around the dog, entering without disturbing his sweet sleep.
Animals are loved in these countries, and even their death is carefully noted: an animal may be killed for food consumption only with a swift painless death, and only after a prayer of thanks and respect has been offered. Maybe this is one reason why Middle Eastern food is so incredibly delicious!
In Ephesus, we beheld two ancient statues of Artemesia that had been allowed to remain in the local museum. Much of the original temple and the larger Artemesia was hauled off to the British Museum many years ago. To look into her face in real life is an en- counter with mildness and an experience of immense generosity.
Her arms stretch out towards the beholder, her hands no longer visible, but still effective. Upon her head the crown of the city; upon her body, all of fertile creation. The divine is thus below, now on the earth, and the city of people held upward for divine contemplation. Can we mirror back how well we’ve worked with all we’ve received? Can like know like? Artemesia stands in the middle with an open invitation, her eyes sun-like and kind.
Ephesus itself was not just a place of ruins, stones, and pillars, but the site of a vibrant ancient civilization that contained the first known healing center. A large frieze featuring a smiling winged Hermes holding the Mercurial staff with a single snake creating a Caduceus must have designated the entrance to this first hospital. Such healthy movement in the gestures, perhaps inspiring harmonious inner and outer movement and thereby physical health!
The Hellenistic and the Roman existed side by side, the one building upon the other, names changing but still carrying onward the essential vibrancy of Ephesus. This city, founded by Amazons, a matriarchy as foundation, grew eventually to house 250,000 people, situated in a fertile valley which still today is adorned with fruit trees that produce apples, oranges, pomegranates, apricots, as well as olive trees, vineyards, and very large quantities of honey and silk.
Here St John arrived, the record says in the year 47 AD, with Mary and most likely also Mary Magdalene. John died here and his grave is still visible, although his bones have been removed to Russia. There’s a visible baptismal fount, where he may have baptized people right next to his burial place. Here a person would walk into an underground basin, down into a rounded reception area, become baptized, and walk up steps on the other side, transformed.
At a distance, safely hidden from the overlapping presences of paganism and Christianity, Mary’s house sits atop a hill, well preserved by the devotional care of her unknown early helpers and those who came after she was no longer there. To this day, the preservation of this ancient house is a miracle.
There are two little rooms, arched and well built, set back into the hill, right close to a source that must have offered fresh water and good health. Later, St. Paul also landed here. One can imagine them sharing dinners under the olive tree branches, with a view over Ephesus.
Istanbul. The vastness of this place is impossible to grasp. The large square is flanked by the enormous Sultamen Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. The old city walls abut that Place of Divine Wisdom and lead to the entrance of the Palace of the Sultans. A hippodrome sits right behind the palace and the Sophia. Straight ahead of the palace and the square is the Bosphorus Strait, large and mysterious, with hundreds of tankers and smaller and larger ships, birds overhead, leading on one end to the Aegean Sea, and on the other end to the Black Sea.
The encounter of East and West begins here — like a handshake, a promise of harmony, mediated by water constantly in motion. The history of these places looms so large that it is impossible to imagine all that has transpired here: destinies unfolding of so many people, from the powerful governing men and the many women in the Harem to untold number of servants wearing clothes that designated their roles in life. We were surprised to learn that, upon a Sultan’s death, only the son who got to the palace first would survive. The others, his brothers of various mothers, were instantly strangled with a silken rope. Those residing as far away as Tunisia lived with the threat of a ticking clock.
We saw the Sultan’s rooms in the heart of the Harem, and the favorite wives’ rooms, complete with fountains. We imagined them pleading and politicking for their sons’ chances to reign and thus make connections for them to live locally, creating an environment of emotional intensity and even cruelty.
Yet, the abundance and luxuries of the Palace must have been astounding: exquisite food cooked for 2,000 people every day; peacocks, tigers, and lions in the park; a large number of Arabian horses; carpets laid out in the gardens amid the perfumes of many oils, herbs, and spices.
The Hagia Sophia, which in its time has been both Mosque and Church, is one of the few structures in the world that unites these two major religions. Christians, thanks to Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century, were allowed to practice and live alongside followers of Islam. Despite its ancient beginnings, this giant building still stands intact with its old Byzantine iconic paintings, which were covered over at some point since depictions of deity are not allowed in Islam, but now are partially uncovered. Interesting to note is that only one of four Seraphic Beings has its face uncovered.
Today that face is behind a scaffold, where it has been hidden for many years. I saw a photo of the stern but loving gaze of this mysterious being, and the many wings surrounding it. Our guide told us that when this very slow-moving restoration project is completed, all the Christian depictions may be covered up again.
Five times a day, beginning before 5 a.m. and ending before sundown, the Call to Prayer sounds forth from the minarets: the chanted prayer is both melodious and profoundly stirring. A guttural voice rises upwards, summoning believers to prayer. It is the experience of an archetypal power, pleading with human beings to bridge and make whole again what has been severed and splintered from its origin.
Amman. Arriving from Istanbul after nearly six hours of flying, we were gracefully received by our host Ruba Asi, a student in the Waldorf Program at Antioch University New England, and brought to this city of mostly stones: buildings upon buildings made out of five different kind of bricks — beige wall coverings, which rendered an overall beige-ness to the landscape. From our New Hampshire point of view, there were barely any trees, and the ones that were there grew from a tiny square of dry soil, looking very scrawny and desperately reaching for survival.
This used to be a place famous for its great forests; a re-forestation project is underway, albeit slow to take effect. We were generously received at the home of Ruba’s family and offered a table spread with the most amazing home-made dishes. The next day Ruba brought us to meet a Jordanian princess who had a vibrant kindergarten in the heart of the city. We saw a lot of happy children, heard their songs, and had a long meeting with her and her school’s leader.
The princess, thinking that she had to reinvent early education and grade schooling, seemed hugely open and interested in Waldorf education. Both through the spoken and unspoken words, much was communicated, That same day, we also visited a large established school in Amman, where girls and boys (separately) were being prepared to take the International Baccalaureate (IB). Education is highly esteemed in this country, and most of the people we met in high positions were educated either in England or the U.S. at the most famous Ivy League schools.
At the heart of our journey was Torin’s televised lecture. Nothing can describe the mood of the arrival of a large crowd of many men and women, nearly all in their traditional dresses with beautiful headscarves, faces beaming, laughing, talking, drinking coffee, filling every chair. In the corner a translator sat in her little box, ready to render Torin’s lecture into Arabic. Our hosts were just about to introduce Torin when suddenly two thirds of the room got up and walked out in a shuffling and commotion that confused us. Then we realized that they were using the last chance to pray before sundown. This unexpected delay allowed even more people to arrive in time to hear Torin speak. Several times during the lecture, people broke out in applause. The warmest reception came in response to his 15 pillars of Waldorf education (using the metaphor of an ancient temple), mixing core principles with classroom examples so they could resonate in the human heart.
Pillars serve many purposes . . .
During the Q & A session that followed, suddenly a tall handsome man stood up, deeply moved. Speaking in English but with a Danish accent, he revealed he had come to this evening by chance, invited by a friend, and that, thanks to Torin’s words, he for the first time realized the background to the life he had led: as a child he experienced the benefits of Waldorf education in Denmark, and since then everything he touched had been successful because he had an intense faith and confidence in himself. He had learned to read late because he wasn’t interested in reading until 6th grade, but by 8th grade had consumed most of the books in the school’s library. He spoke passionately about how he had been led to fully believe in himself, to be creative, start his own business, and achieve considerable success. He felt deeply that it was his Waldorf education that had made him, on the one hand, feel different but, on the other, had allowed him to live by his own drumbeat.
Then a well-known psychologist and professional writer/editor stood up and spoke movingly about Torin’s book School as a Journey, newly translated into Arabic. Our Antioch student, Ruba, had finished the translation just in time for Torin’s visit! He gave examples from the book to illustrate how much he had loved it and how it was so beautifully written that he thought it could have originated in Arabic.
The next day we visited the ancient city of Jerash, and our guide informed us of the long history of old Syria and the movement of peoples, and of the plight of the many Palestinians who were kicked out of their home country after the war in 1947.Many were now active and respected Jordanians but many lived in the large refugee camps within impossibly cramped quarters, without civil rights, with only a very small chance of competing for a few seats in school to receive a higher than 10th grade education. We drove to the poorest of 13 Palestinian refugee camps, and upon arrival in the refugee camp area had to wait for Dr. Moussa to pick us up in his car to bring us to the educational center of the organization “One Love”.
Nothing really prepares you for waiting and setting up for 20 children, aged 6 to 9, in a freezing room with an open doorway to the outside, and dedicated staff helping to prepare the materials and tables and chairs. The children rushed in, expectant and happy to see us, and Torin warmed up the space with clapping games.
I spent an hour with them, they drew and painted, and they sang for us and we sang for them. I worked with a painting theme of wholeness since everyone is in essence whole in spite of outer circumstances, and finding that place of inner wholeness is always a good starting point.
After they shared what made them happy, they painted the sun hiding its happy secret behind the pink clouds in the morning sunrise, and shining upon the blueness of the hills and making the world green below. They were invited to add what they wanted. Some painted flowers and some a rainbow, essential human expressions of wholeness and the promise of joy deeply embedded in the heart.
The one-day workshop was held on the big gorgeous balcony of “Wild Jordan”, a place that sells articles, food, and more to support nature conservancy. Here we welcomed experienced educators from Jordan, along with some teachers from Saudi Arabia. We also received Dr. Moosa and a teacher from the refugee camp who had been specially invited. Twelve teachers from an early childhood center in Amman that were already studying Waldorf principles joined us as well.
From this balcony, we could see most of the city, all the way up to the hill where the Byzantine citadel still stands presiding over all that has emerged below this ancient site. A beige-colored stone-dominated world set in a hilly backdrop, only 40 minutes from Jerusalem, only a stone’s throw from the Dead Sea. Here, at times competing with the chanting of the Call to Prayer, both of us taught from early morning till dusk, offering presentations and hands-on methodology. We closed this exceptional day with a final photo of the lively group of participants, and left one another as colleagues, having connected on so many levels.
Dateline Wilton, NH: New Scholarships for Teachers in Training
Starting this summer, the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) will begin making special scholarships available from the Georg Locher endowment scholarship fund, while launching a new named fund for high school teachers. Terms of these scholarships are described below.
As part of its long-term strategy for sustainability, the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) has set up three named scholarships funds. The first of these was launched in honor of Georg Locher, a long-standing faculty member in the Waldorf program at Antioch University New England and former president of CfA’s governing council. Generous gifts to this endowment fund, which is invested in socially conscious accounts, will make it possible to award scholarships to help reduce tuition for Waldorf teacher education. Awards, based both on need and merit, will be made once a year to trainees enrolled in Waldorf teacher training programs sponsored by CfA and Antioch’s Waldorf Program. Donations to this fund can be made here: Donate Now
A second fund has been set up in the name of Karine Munk Finser, Director of CfA’s summertime Renewal Courses, to help Waldorf teachers cover the tuition of these popular one-week courses. Donations can be made to this fund here:
Finally, this year we are launching a new fund in the name of Douglas Gerwin, CfA’s Executive Director and founding Chair of its Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program, to provide scholarships for perspective and practicing Waldorf high schoo teachers enrolled in this three-summers program. Donations to this latest fund can be made here
All three named funds are being built up out of many generous gifts to CfA’s annual giving campaign, including the philanthropy of some major donors. We are lastingly grateful to the growing number of contributors to these three endowment scholarship funds. Details of this year’s annual campaign, with its focus on the new high school scholarship fund, can be viewed on this website.
Dateline Wilton, NH: Preview of Renewal Courses for Summer 2019
Karine Munk Finser, Director of CfA’s popular Renewal Courses, offers a brief preview of coming attractions this summer, including some new options.
Welcome to Renewal 2019! Please look inside this brochure and see all the exciting offerings we are eager to share with you! Renewal Courses 2019
Week 1: 23 – 28 June
Week 2: 30 June – 5 July
In preparing for Renewal 2019 this year, we would like to make you aware of several important opportunities:
- Christof Wiechert has committed to one last summer for his Art of the Child Study course. In addition to offering these inspiring courses over the last many years, Christof is once more bringing us his exceptional morning lectures. All participants in Week 1 will benefit from this option. Sitting together in the Big Room after the daily morning gathering is a treasure of the heart.
- On Thursday of each Renewal week, we plan to have a gathering of alumni from our CfA and Antioch teacher training programs at 5:00p.m. in the Big Room, followed by supper and an evening of eurythmy. Eventually we plan to establish an Alumni Association, and so we welcome the thoughts and suggestions of our graduates. Many of their former teachers will be looking forward to welcoming them in conversation, about their needs, concerns, successes.
In celebration of 100 years of Waldorf Education, Torin will offer a keynote on the first week entitled “Beyond 100: Perspectives on the Past, Present, and Future of Waldorf Education”.Given the challenges many of our schools, teachers and administrators face today, how can we reaffirm our core principles while adapting to the present needs for social justice and affirmation of the Universal human?
In the second week of Renewal, Karsten Massei will set the mood for the week with a keynote titled “A Path of Transformation: The Essential in Nature and Human Being Today”. Kim John Payne will offer the mid-week lecture.
Renewal is dedicated to destiny working through human encounter. We have invited a stellar faculty once again to help us facilitate learning, personal growth, and professional development. We hope to see many of you next summer and look forward to welcoming you. Many of our dorm rooms have been renovated, and we continue to find peaceful community housing to make your stay as graceful as possible.
With warm wishes,
Dateline Freeport, ME: Foundational Farewell
A final round of appreciations, accompanied by a potluck supper, marked the end of Foundation Studies in the format it has been offered by the Center for Anthroposophy for more than a quarter-century.
For over 25 years, the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) has offered Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy and the Arts in the form of locally based clusters spanning the North American continent – from Alaska and Southern California on the Pacific Coast to Florida and Maine on the Atlantic Coast. At a rough estimate, some 1,500 participants have taken part in approximately 150 courses of study and artistic practice sponsored by the Center since the inception of this program in the early 1990s.
The last session of the final cluster took place in the newly expanded Community Hall of the Maine Coast Waldorf School in the Southern Maine town of Freeport on the evening of Monday 7 January 2019. The course had actually ended the previous month with a series of seminars on Parzival led by David Barham, a high school humanities teacher at the school, but the dozen participants in this cluster opted to meet one last time over a communal potluck supper to share reflections, offer words of appreciation, present some final artistic offerings, and receive their certificates of completion.
Barbara Richardson, Coordinator of CfA’s Foundation Studies for the past 12 years, was on hand to distribute the certificates and offer a few parting words of encouragement. Douglas Gerwin, Executive Director of the Center, concluded the celebration with a reminder that the work of Foundation Studies nourishes not only those who participate directly in the program but indirectly all those who in turn come in contact with these participants. Furthermore, as Rudolf Steiner often pointed out, the spiritual striving of human individuals who come together in groups of this kind serves as nectar or ambrosia for those higher beings who help us find our chosen paths of destiny.
It was remarkable how many participants chose an artistic medium in which to offer expressions of gratitude to Barbara and other faculty members who had guided the studies of this cluster during the past two years. Several members of the group shared songs and poems they had rehearsed for this final gathering, including one song that brought the entire group together in a closing gesture of peace and hope.
The evening closed with a recitation by the group of a verse by Rudolf Steiner that invokes strength and trust in the future:
We must eradicate from the soul all fear and terror of what comes towards us out of the future. We must acquire serenity in all feelings and sensations about the future.
We must look forward with absolute equanimity to everything that may come. And we must think only that whatever comes is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom.
It is part of what we must learn in this age, namely, to live out of pure trust, without any security in existence – trust in the ever-present help of the spiritual world.Truly, nothing else will do if our courage is not to fail us.
Let us seek the awakening from within ourselves, every morning and every evening.
Dateline Spring Valley, NY: A New Play About the Life of Rudolf Steiner
Barbara Richardson (mentioned above) has moved on to several new artistic productions. Here is a glimpse into one of them.
“I went to Waldorf School from nursery through 8th grade, and yet had no idea how deep ran the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner that formed my education!” This was one of the comments that Barbara Richardson heard at the final session of Foundation Studies last month in Freeport, ME.
This past year Barbara has been working with Lemniscate Arts to bring speech, drama, and eurythmy more into public view. Though a full-scale symphonic eurythmy tour of the Americas scheduled for this spring had to be postponed, she and fellow eurythmist Marke Levene are pressing ahead with the production of two plays, Steiner and The Circle Widens – The Working of the Spirit, both written by the celebrated playwright Peter Oswald.
The first of these two plays is especially interesting, thanks in part to its more familiar setting (World War I in Europe), but also to the women around Rudolf Steiner at that time who took his work out into the world through the arts of speech, eurythmy, sculpture, and medicine.
A dramatic reading of these plays will take place on March 2 & 3 at the Auditorium of the Threefold Educational Center in Chestnut Ridge, New York. Barbara reports that several faculty members and participants in CfA’s Renewal Courses as well as its former Foundation Studies will form part of this production, among them: Matthew Dexter, Sarah Hyde, Marke Levene, Adrian Locher, Patrice Maynard, Barbara Renold, and Glen Williamson.
You are warmly invited to join them. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets! Lemniscate Arts
Dateline Jacksonville, FL: Thinking About Thinking
In a new program launched this year by the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA), people interested in the “big ideas” behind Waldorf education get to explore them through artistic ateliers and guided conversations. Douglas Gerwin, CfA’s Executive Director, reports on the most recent session of this innovative program.
What exactly did Rudolf Steiner mean by “thinking”?
Sometimes it is easier to determine what he did not mean by this term than to pinpoint what he did mean by it. In his many lectures and books on this vexed topic, he was very clear that thinking, as he meant it, is not to be confused with
- daydreaming or fantasizing
- associating or connecting ideas (like some private or internal cocktail party chatter)
- remembering or recalling past events
- learning by rote
- allowing thoughts to wander across the tableau of the mind
Even more insistent was he that thinking is not to be confused with the brain’s electro-chemical events, a view still commonly held today and typified by the phrase, “My brain thinks” or “My brain is confused.” Indeed, Steiner went so far as to say that brain activity is the physiological consequence, not the material cause, of thinking.
In a lecture given in the southern German city of Karlruhe in 1909 and originally entitled “Praktische Ausbildung des Denkens” (which should be translated as “Practical Training in Thinking”), Steiner advanced the radical idea that when we think about something in the world, we are actually recreating the thought that gave rise to the thing in the first place. On this view, thinking, far from putting distance between observer and the world being observed, actually unites the two. In this way, Steiner’s treatment of thinking heals the existential split between the private and subjective world of the observer and the public and objective world of the observed.
This idea was the centerpiece of a weekend of study earlier this month sponsored by the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) as part of a new program called “Explorations: Workshops in the arts and contemplative practices based on the work of Rudolf Steiner”. This program comprises a string of a half-dozen weekend workshops through the school year, with primary emphasis on the study of anthroposophy through the practice of the arts and interspersed with online study groups and zoom discussions. In all, this program represents 100 hours of foundational studies that can count towards teacher training programs at CfA or at Antioch University New England.
Two such weekend series were launched this year – one in Jacksonville Beach, FL, the other in Asheville. NC. Both are hosted by existing Waldorf pre-school and grades school programs. Further series of these “Explorations” courses are in the making at other locations across the country. For details of existing and planned programs, check out CfA’s website.
Comments by participants at the most recent weekend seminar this month in Jacksonville Beach were uniformly appreciative, even effusive:
- “So helpful, so unique. Concepts I’ve not encountered before and that I’d like to explore further.” (Kathy B.)
- “Personally it helped me understand better my path in life and how I am here and why.” (Amanda D.)
- “The weekend brought a lot of clarity and direction to the reading and the study. It was also deeply rejuvenating. I came to the weekend in low spirits, and I found the effort/conversation clarifying for my state of being.” (Landis G.)
- “Every human being needs this subject/course! I’m taking away gold that I hope to practice and apply personally and professionally.” (Jaclyn S.)
Communities interested in hosting an “Explorations” program can contact the leadership of CfA at the website listed above or on this website.
Dateline Keene, NH: Antioch Launches New Keene-Centered Immersion Program
The new “Year Round” option of the Waldorf elementary teacher training program at Antioch University New England now requires only one 14-week residency in Keene, NH, plus the two July intensives (3 and 4 weeks) in nearby Wilton. This new format allows teachers enrolled in this program to conduct their winter/spring internships in Waldorf schools back home or nationwide. Arthur Auer, who coordinates this program in its new format, reports.
The Keene-centered program–begun in 1983 and intended primarily but not exclusively for “pre-service” teacher trainees–is the oldest of the Waldorf programs at Antioch University New England. The current 2018-19 cohort, most of them in their twenties and early thirties, consists of nine students from all parts of the country and the world: Seattle, Kentucky, Texas, Minnesota, North and South Carolina, Beijing, South Korea, and Hyderabad, India.
This past fall all successfully completed their 14-week immersion in curriculum preparation, arts practice, eurythmy, further anthroposophical studies, and visits to schools in New England and other states. Students also had time to rehearse and perform the Shepherd Play as a gift to a very appreciative Waldorf school community in Vermont. Antioch’s resident Keene faculty includes Torin Finser, Arthur Auer, Hanneke van Riel, Karine Finser, Carla Comey, Alison Henry, and Elizabeth Auer.
Students are now engaged in their three-month internships all over the U.S. Cooperating schools hosting our students from January through March/April 2019 are located in Washington State, Kentucky, North Carolina, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachussetts, and New Hampshire. It is no surprise that seven of these eight sites correspond to locations where students have friends or family friends with whom they can stay. The new format of this program has not only allowed for economical accommodations but also for a much expanded variety of schools and host teacher choices. Next July, students will attend their second and final July intensive in Wilton to complete their Waldorf Certificate. Most will go on to acquiring their M.Ed. degree after being hired by Waldorf schools nationwide.
Adding the M.Ed. (with or without State Certificate) to the Waldorf Certificate:
In as few as four semesters, students earn a Waldorf Certificate (28 credits) recognized by the Association of Waldorf Schools (AWSNA).The addition of an online Master’s research project, accomplished at distance, leads to Antioch’s accredited M.Ed. degree in Foundations of Education (32 credits). The M.Ed. in Elementary Education with State Certificate (44 credits) is an option for students who wish to teach in charter or other public schools. Instead of a Master’s project and with two additional semesters, students complete a public school internship and undertake courses in progressive methods in reading and math, school law, and integrated learning, with emphasis on the work of John Dewey and Jean Piaget as well as Rudolf Steiner.
The two M.Ed. options include the Waldorf Certificate and two July intensives (3 and 4 weeks) in Wilton, NH. The state certified M.Ed. includes reciprocity with many other states. The full-time “Keene-centered program” is Antioch’s most comprehensive offering to new pre-service teachers. It includes subjects not found in Antioch’s Summer Sequence program: the 14-week immersion in the curriculum of grades 1-8, 10 weeks of drama training including performing a play for a regional Waldorf school, handwork curriculum and projects, sculptural modeling, 12 extra weeks of eurythmy, 15 extra weeks of recorder instruction, as well as intensive internship andcareer counseling with core faculty in Keene.
For more information, consult this web page: Antioch Information
For applications, go to: Apply to Antioch
Deadlines: March 1 for early application review, May 1 for all others
For further guidance, contact Arthur Auer, Year Round Program Coordinator: email@example.com
Dateline Whidbey Island, WA: First of the Waldorf Chronicles
In preparation for the centenary of Waldorf education, founders of Waldorf programs and institutions are being asked to tell their story. Here is the first one to be recorded.
Readers will be familiar with NPR’s “Story Corps” series, in which interviews with people are recorded and then archived at the Library of Congress.
As part of this initiative, the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) has begun interviewing Waldorf teachers who have served as founders of schools, institutes, or programs.
Douglas Gerwin, Executive Director of the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) and founder of its Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP), was the first Waldorf teacher to be interviewed for this series. Melanie Reiser, AWSNA’s Executive Director for Membership, conducted the interview with Douglas during a meeting on Whidbey Island, WA of the Teacher Education Delegates (TED) Circle. The TED Circle, of which Douglas is Co-Chair, is a standing committee of the Association charged with coordinating the activities of the 13 full- and associate-member teacher training institutes in North America.
Douglas related his earliest encounter with Waldorf education–basically, he was born into it and the first Waldorf school in Canada was held in his parents’ home in Ottawa during the mid-1950s–and described what prompted him to inaugurate what is now the only teacher training specifically for Waldorf high school teachers in the English-speaking world. He reflected back on some 35 years of teaching in Waldorf high schools and teacher training institutes across the continent and offered some tentative perspective on where the Waldorf movement is headed.
The interview, lasting about half an hour, can be heard at Waldorf StoryCorps
Douglas subsequently recorded a follow-up interview with Nita Davanzo, who is responsible for coordinating AWSNA’s Waldorf 100 celebrations. This second interview can be heard here: AWSNA 100 Interview
In a separate interview with Melanie, Torin Finser, co-founder of CfA and a pioneer of Waldorf teacher education at Antioch University New England, described his own earliest years as a Waldorf student in the U.S. and Germany, as well as his role much later as an adult educator launching innovative forms of teacher training. His interview with Melanie can be heard here: Waldorf StoryCorps Finser
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. For the record, this year the day was shrouded in damp mist and low-hanging cloud.
In the Christian calendar, the 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 24th 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.
Candidates for this program–which this year starts on Sunday 30 June and runs through Saturday 27 July–can apply online at WHiSTEP 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 received and processed during the months of February and March, regardless of the weather.
Dateline Keene, NH: New Option of Master’s Degree for High School Teachers
As part of their long-standing collaboration, the Center for Anthroposophy and the Waldorf Program at Antioch University New England have launched the option of a fully-accredited Masters degree for Waldorf high school teachers. Douglas Gerwin, Executive Director of the Center for Anthroposophy, reports on this recently introduced option.
Starting again this summer, students enrolling in the Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program (WHiSTEP) sponsored by the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) will be able to transfer into an Antioch graduate school stream leading to a fully-accredited Masters degree as well as a CfA certificate in Waldorf high school teaching.
Under this arrangement, trainees start out in CfA’s high school program, then apply to transfer after the first summer into Antioch’s “Summer Sequence” program in Waldorf education. Two more summer intensives then follow, with a blend of courses offered by the Waldorf program at Antioch as well as subject-specific seminars offered by CfA in one or more of six specializations in arts/art history, biology/earth science, English language/literature, history/social studies, math/computer studies, or physics/chemistry.
In addition to these three summer sessions–all held on the adjacent campuses of two Waldorf schools in Wilton, New Hampshire–students accepted into this program take an online course and undergo a 12-15-week internship in a Waldorf school as part of this program. Students who have successfully completed these courses are eligible to apply to prepare and defend a supervised Masters thesis on a topic related to Waldorf high school teaching.
Prospective and practicing high school teachers interested in this option should contact CfA at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.