Radical and Relevant Blog

December 2016

Update from Madagascar School Project

In the past year the Madagascar School Project's Sekoly Tenaquip has grown by over 100 students to now serve 750 rural students from the surrounding villages. The school is now embarking on building their final 6 classroom building and will then have enough space for their whole kindergarten through grade 12 school. Next they will focus on permaculture landscaping for their extensive site that includes school buildings, farm, staff housing and recreational land. This is an exciting time of growth for this cutting edge educational project. Here is the latest from their newsletter. - ed

The Madagascar School Project is working hard to bring creative pedagogy to our thriving school in Madagascar.

We are working to make education more meaningful for our teachers and students through an integrated approach that teaches to the whole body, head, heart and hands.

This is a world apart from what is common educational practice in this country, where  classes of up to 80 students spend many hours every day copying by rote information from the blackboard into their notebooks. Most schools have few other supplies.

Typically they learn facts in French, which is not their maternal language so that they can memorize these for school exams at the end of each term and for state exams at the end of Grades 6, 10 and 13. Students who do not pass these exams, need to repeat the whole year. Many never pass.

The Madagascar School Project Education is inspired from our many years of experience as teachers in Ontario and by Kathy’s  training as a Waldorf teacher.  We strive to reinvigorate the pedagogy of Madagascar with fresh, engaging and relevant education for each of our 750 students.

 They will need tolearn not only basic skills, but a great deal of flexibility of thought, creative imagining, strong communication skills and problem solving ability, if they are to succeed in the world. These students may be living their adult lives working in the fields, raising animals, or as professionals in office settings, or as entrepreneurs in a city or rural setting. A holistic approach is the only way we can prepare our students for these very different options. We strive to enliven their curiosity and imagination for what could be created with their good effort.

As part of their education the students are learning handwork skills such as knitting, crochet, embroidery and basket making. They are learning about how to take care of themselves and their future families by taking part in cooking, farming, growing trees, building, cleaning and maintaining the school. They are learning  how to communicate with each other in Malagasy, French and English. We hope one day, to also offer woodworking, and welding.

How to create the will and the confidence in a child that he/she can make a difference in the world? Well, we start with the state curriculum and add stories from the Malagasy culture and history. Our geography and science learning begins with their own country and it’s unique flora and fauna. Historical heroes and other famous people are studied to understand what motivated them and to realize the gifts they gave the world through their work. This builds a confidence in the students as Malagasy people, that has been sorely missing since Colonial days.

Then there is a need to build the imagination to envision what could be possible and to give voice to the individual. We achieve this through the arts. By giving the children the opportunity to learn to play an instrument, to sing together as a group, to try on  different roles in dramatic productions and to make beautiful art work with paint, clay from the rice fields, and materials from nature, the children have opportunities every day to explore who they are and to make their mark on the world.

Imagine, a place where few homes have even a pencil, never mind paper, to be able to bring home a water colour painting that is your creation. What joy and confidence that must enliven.

In order for our students to make lasting positive changes in their country they will have to develop a strong moral compass.  Corruption is a part of life in Madagascar and our students will need to learn to stand up for what is right. We will work at this by bringing them stories from mankind’s history and mythology, in which characters struggle with the weaknesses and temptations and where  strength, determination and compassion enable people to do great things.

One of the most important innovations we are bringing is to facilitate deep understanding of concepts they are learning through real demonstrations, practice with materials, questioning, discussing, and role playing. To achieve this we need to promote the sharing of experiences among students, the idea that mistakes lead to new learning, and that honest dialogue will help both the teachers and the students understand what learning can enable.

All these skills will be essential for this community to learn to run it’s own school and to achieve the financial success through cooperative business endeavors to secure education and a comfortable life for their children and generations to come.

Thank you for your interest and support.


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Trillium Waldorf School Bread Oven

RSCT graduate Jessica Gladio built a bread oven with her class in third grade at the Trillium Waldorf School in Guelph. After many years of baking bread, cinnamon buns and pizza the oven was damaged by vandals. She and her class of now seventh graders decided to rebuild it and make it even more beautiful. So she invited me and a team of aspiring Waldorf teacher/bread-oven-builders to come and work with the class. We had a day of good fun and hard work. Now the school has a much improved wood-fired bread oven. -ed

"Hello Warren,
My class loved squishing and stomping in the cob and adorning themselves in the latest cob make-up fashions.  It was a lovely experience which brought back a lot of memories from when we originally built it back in Grade 3.  It's beautiful and we have been lighting small fires in it since you left in hopes that it will be dry enough by tomorrow to bake bread after closing ceremonies at out school.  If not it will make a lovely start to our grade 8 year!  Our class treasurer will be sending a cheque to the Steiner Centre for you in the mail in the coming days.  Thanks again for your support and expertise!

Jessica Gladio"


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November 2016

Partnering with Parents

Reflection on the Waldorf Development Conference

November, 2016

Mhairi Gray teaches Grades 6 and 7 at the Mulberry Waldorf School in Kingston,Ontario. She recently attended the Partnering with Parents conference as Part of her Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers part-time program. Below are her reflections on the conference with inspirations and questions it has stired in her for how best to meet the needs of her students and build a stronger school culture. -ed.

"In their partnership to foster the well being of a child, the parent, teacher and school need trust, confidence and clarity of communication to avoid distrust, doubt, fear and confusion."

I found myself quickly immersed and engaged in the clear, sharp and open professionalism of Liz Beaven. Throughout her presentation, Liz moved between the role of the parent and the teacher as she brought forth the picture of the child in the centre of a triangle with each outer point represented by the parent, the teacher and the school. What do we want for our children? What drew us to a Waldorf School? What are common conflicts between parents and teachers/schools?

It is the first of these three questions that Liz presented where we found the most commonality. We can rest on the fact that all parents want their children to be loved, challenged, confident, motivated, responsible, etc..

What draws us to a Waldorf School is individual: the smell of the building, anthroposophy, the aesthetics, the look of the children, etc..  This second question made me consider how, with our exposure to a Waldorf environment, we are presented with an opportunity to develop our inner life. Regardless of how we come to it, this Waldorf impulse asks us to meet it. Perhaps we never understand what it is that we are drawn to and become fearful that it is a spiritual element that draws us? Aren’t we all on a quest to heal wounds?

Common challenges that arise between parent and teacher/school such as sports, festivals, field trips, ask for an open, responsive professionalism on the part of the teacher. Balancing the demands and concerns of the parents and community, remaining awake to the constantly changing needs of the students while maintaining the essential elements of Waldorf education in the classroom is an often overwhelming task. As Liz pointed out, the work we put into this area will never go to waste and may lead to a positive ‘living’ experience of education for parent, child, teacher and school community.

I began to wonder why the child was at the centre of the ‘tricky’ triangle. After all, we are all on a path of development and arrive in the community of Waldorf education with our own particular tasks and challenges. Parents, teachers, the school community and the child require relationship in order to reflect and develop. For obvious reasons the child needs loving authority and guidance. However, I think of children more as seasonal foliage crowning a trunk that has several arteries and deep roots. We, as adults, are present for ourselves in a school as much as we are present for the child. Perhaps some of us are not even aware of this?

I was also left with a question about specialties in the middle school. I am appreciative of the opportunity, as a class teacher, to strive intensely to meet the curriculum expectations of the upper grades. Although my class has several other teachers (French, gym, handwork, choir) I have the responsibility to carry the rest of the curriculum. I am aware of the trend in larger schools toward specialty teachers and wonder if my class might be better off with a teacher who can really inspire and challenge them in more specific areas of focused study. Is it naive to think that it is beneficial for students to sense my striving in areas that are difficult for me and to be guided toward making surprising discoveries about their own capacities?


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October 2016

Partnering with Parents: Finding new ways of working in collaboration


Join us for our annual

Waldorf Development Conference
Friday and Saturday, November 4 & 5, 2016
Keynote Liz Beaven, EdD


When parents enrol their children in school, they also enrol in the educational journey. Parents and teachers share a common interest, providing the best possible education for children, yet each views the child and school from a unique perspective. The parent-teacher relationship is an important factor in a child’s experience. Building healthy parent-teacher relationships requires communication, time, and clear expectations. This presents both opportunities and challenges for parents and teachers.

We invite educators and administrators to join us for an exploration of the differing lenses of parents and teachers on the journey through school. What works, what does not work? What do parents and teachers need in order to work together? How can we build a team to support the vital needs of our children? Can we work together to transform the parent-teacher

Liz Beaven, EdD, has over thirty years experience in Waldorf education as a class teacher, parent, school administrator, researcher, and adult educator. She is a member of the faculty of the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, where she is working to develop programs in Integral Teacher Education. Liz is board president of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education, and is past president of Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA. She consults with a number of schools on a range of topics, including the role of parents.

Click here for more information


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September 2016

Scholarship Funds Available for All Steiner Centre Programs

The Steiner Centre is pleased to announce that we now have dedicated scholarship funds for each of our programs. Thanks to the many contributions we have received each year from individuals and foundations, our programs are now more accessible for people of any financial means. We believe that honest conversations about money/cost/resources can strengthen community and help us all to learn to ask for what we need and equally to offer freely what we can.

Foundation Studies Scholarship Fund

For those students facing financial challenges in meeting their goals to complete the prerequisite Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy (in-house and distance - parts 1 and 2), in preparation for Waldorf teacher education, tuition assistance is available from our scholarship fund.  Foundation Studies contributes greatly to understanding the standard of excellence in the worldwide Waldorf movement and to inspire individuals to train and contribute to this most important work. This fund is enthusiastically supported by a wide circle of generous benefactors.  Funding is limited.Please complete the scholarship application form if this will help you step into your future.

"Dear Gene and the Rudolf Steiner Centre,
It is hard to convey over email the depth of my gratitude for the financial support you have offered. It means a great deal to me and to my family. The scholarship offers emotional and moral support as well, knowing that there is a group of people who want me to have the opportunity to further my studies and to make a greater contribution to work in Waldorf Education. I will hold this in my heart as I begin Foundations Part 2."

                                                                                      Sincerely, Jenny Taylor


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June 2016

RSCT Teacher Education Graduates: Where are they now?


The Steiner Centre is grateful to Yvonne Philpott for helping us stay in touch with our busy alumni who are working in Waldorf schools on many continents. - ed

Hiromi Matsue – Class of 1999
Akico Komano – Class of 2006

In early February I was in California where I had the opportunity to meet up with dear friends: two Japanese RSC Teacher Education graduates. Hiromi Matsue (Class of 1999) now lives in Los Angeles and teaches Japanese at the Ocean Charter School.  Proximity to the Pacific inspires some California schools to choose Japanese as a foreign language for its students.The Ocean Charter School, spread over three campuses, is a publicly funded Waldorf school.  By this summer all class teachers will have completed Waldorf teacher training.A beautiful blackboard description of Waldorf’s view of child development in her classroom showed me that Hiromi is making her contribution to the professional development of her colleagues.

I witnessed a rehearsal of the two combined grades 4 for a performance of a Japanese fairy tale.  It is an annual highlight where the grade four students present an hour-long play in Japanese, with a little guidance in English so the audience can follow. All the children know all the roles and only towards performance time does Hiromi match actors and roles. Teams of parents and their friends provide considerable help with the elaborate costumes, make-up and scenery. Last year’s performance drew members of the local Japanese Businessmen’s Association who were so impressed that they provided a grant which enabled Hiromi to order a huge traditional hand-made drum.

During my visit two of her colleagues told me: Hiromi is such a gift to the school!

Akico Komano (Class of 2006) followed her Waldorf teacher education with a four-year eurythmy training in England.  She then returned to Sapporo, Japan, where she conducts eurythmy classes for adults and for children. She was visiting her friend Hiromi at the time I was there.  She led a three-week eurythmy session with a grade 3 in the Ocean Charter School, at the end of which the school’s director asked her if she wouldn’t like to move to L.A.  And that wasn’t the only compliment she got.  The students had prepared a beautiful thank-you book.

Akico and Hiromi were preparing to attend the West Coast Waldorf Conference in Portland, Oregon at the end of February.

Yvonne Philpott

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The Arts in Waldorf Education

The arts are central to Waldorf education. Not only do we teach through a broad range of the arts, but we hold that a teacher needs to be an artist in all that s/he does: an artist with language, with paints, with discipline, with mathematics and with colleagues. This is no small undertaking. Every summer the Steiner Centre works with teachers, parents and others inspired by Waldorf education in our Summer Festival of Arts and Education July 4 to 22. This year we are offering a large variety of artistic workshops including:

Streaming Story



Musical Leadership for the Teacher



Waldorf Art Curriculum



Magic of Coloured Dust






Sculpting the human Form



and Waldorf Doll Making



Click here to see our full Summer Festival brochure.

Come and join the fun!

Register today.

Waldorf Teacher Education, Waldorf Schools, Storytelling, Summer Festival   Add Comment
May 2016

Les Black - 2016 Honorary Waldorf Fellow

The Steiner Centre is pleased  to announce our 2016 Honorary Waldorf Fellow, Les Black. Les has been a long time colleague and champion for creativity in Waldorf education. With over 30 years of dedicated service to our Toronto Waldorf School community, Les has touched the lives of hundreds of children and colleagues. His love of drama and movement has inspired us all. Les will be the keynote speaker at the graduation of our full-time program on May 30 where he will be awarded his own certificate.

Les retired from the intense life of a Waldorf class teacher at the Toronto Waldorf School in 2010. Following the graduation of his third, eight-year-cycle class, Les has nourished the slow build-up of a new career in teacher-mentoring and Foundations Studies in anthroposophy teaching through RSCT’s Distance Studies Program. He is currently assisting at L' Ecole Rudolf Steiner de Montreal, mentoring teachers, speaking to topics requested by the faculty and to topics parents in the school's community. This concept of mentor-to-school relationship will extend to the Trillium Waldorf School early in the new school year. Les also mentors many Foundations Studies students from Mohawk First Nations communities in Brantford and Cornwall. This is an unexpected and privileged turn of focus. Students from Montreal, Australia and South Korea have made up the mosaic of students he has supported in these studies.

 In 2011 Les drove across Canada, encouraging Canadian Waldorf schools to unite with a Canadian organization designed to enhance the work of AWSNA in Canada and address our common, Canadian-specific issues.

Les and family (wife, Ilse and sons, Ben, Noah and Lucas) moved to the Toronto Waldorf School  in 1983, where he took up the mantle of class teacher. Three classes journeyed with him from grade 1 through 8. For one school year he was the movement teacher for grades 6 through 12 and he subsequently completed the Spatial Dynamics Training (2nd North American Class). Les carried many leadership roles during his twenty-seven years at the school and was active in the resistance to the imposition of standardized testing by the Ministry of Education.

Les and family had moved from Fort Frances, in North Western Ontario, where he had been a public school teacher for seven years before that. He did his graduate training in education at the University of Lancashire in England in 1975. He had prior teaching experience at Crescent School and Lakefield College School.



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Waldorf Doll Making

Have you ever wanted to make one of those adorable, huggable Waldorf dolls? Well, here is your chance. This July 18 to 22 Luciana Baptista Cohen will be leading a workshop in which she will lead you through all the steps of bringing your dream into cuddly form - your very own doll. Of course you can share it if you want to, but you may just want to keep it for yourself.

Waldorf Doll Making
with Luciana Baptista Cohen

Come and make a huggable Waldorf doll. A Waldorf doll is much more than just a toy. It inspires free play, a sense for caring, and imagination. Made out of all natural materials, respecting healthy human proportions and with a simple physiognomy, these delightful dolls will become a friend close to your child’s heart. It will accompany your child through life experiences and support his or her social and emotional development. And besides all that, they are fun to make and play with! 


   You may even want to keep it for yourself.


Waldorf Teacher Education, Family, Summer Festival   Add Comment
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