Radical and Relevant Blog

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

 

 

Eurythmy

 

 

Sculpting the human Form

 

 

and Waldorf Doll Making

 

 

Click here to see our full Summer Festival brochure.

Come and join the fun!

Register today.

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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.

 

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April 2016

Encountering Our Humanity

Dear Friends of the Steiner Centre,

We are excited to announce a North American Anthroposophical Conference “Encountering Our Humanity” taking place in Ottawa August 7 to 14th.

How is anthroposophy meeting the needs in the world today? How can we be more aware of the needs, and how can we become active in the movement? The conference will address this question. It will provide a broad scope of the fields where anthroposophy is at work, with keynote lectures that speak to Karma & Biography, Education, Medicine, Science & Biodynamics, the Arts, Spirituality, and more. We will get a sense for how these fields are interconnected, and the place of the developing human being.

Speakers from the Goetheanum and from North America will be present. There are a few keynote speakers from our community, including Regine Kurek, Kenneth McAlister, Jonah Evans, and Michael Schmidt.

The conference provides a unique opportunity to learn more about anthroposophy, to engage in artistic workshops, to hear about research that members are active in, to be inspired by each other, to meet and connect, to relax and enjoy evening performances from such artists as violinist Emmanuel Vukovich, the Spring Valley Eurythmy group, and the members of the Cambridge Music Conference.

Please visit the website  www.encounteringourhumanity.ca  for more information, and to register.

 

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In Honour of Virginia Smith

Our dear colleague, friend and alumni, Virginia Smith died this past weekend. We are saddened to have to say goodbye to her so soon. Virginia was a well respected mentor in our Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers part-time program and taught in our Summer Festival of Arts and Education. She will be missed here as she will by her friends far and wide. We send our blessings to her, her family, friends, students and peers. Her colleagues at the Calgary Waldorf School shared these fitting sentiments with their school community:

Dear Friends of the Calgary Waldorf School:

On behalf of all of us on the Faculty, Staff, and Board at the school, we are writing to you this afternoon to confirm for you and share with you in the saddest of news. Many of you will already know that our beloved friend, teacher, and colleague Virginia Smith died this past weekend. After many years of struggles with a number of difficulties and heart-breaks in her life, Virginia chose to take her own life at the end of last week. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go to everyone who grieves our loss of her. We want you to have this “Intercessory Prayer” (by Adam Bittleston) which we have been reading together this week to send our love, hope, and peace to our dearest Virginia.

Thou angel who keepest watch
Over the destiny of Virginia
Through the waking and sleeping,
And the long ages of time:
May our thoughts, filled with hope,
Reach Virginia through thee.
May she be strengthened
From the founts of will
Which bear us towards freedom.
May she be illumined
From the founts of wisdom
Which warm the inmost heart.
May she feel peace
From the founts of love
Which bless our work.

Virginia joined the Faculty of our Calgary Waldorf School in September of 1995. In these past 20 years, she has been a leading and steadfast light in our community. Virginia has filled virtually all of the key roles in our school, including Class Teacher, Interim Pedagogical Administrator, Teacher Mentor, Teacher Evaluator, Division Chair, Faculty Council member, Board member, member of Faculty committees and Board committees, leader of many faculty professional development/teacher training series, and speaker/workshop leader at many adult education events. Throughout her two-decade tenure at our school, Virginia has been the embodiment of a striving Waldorf teacher. As a true “Server of the Light”, Virginia’s deep and enduring commitment to our students, our parents, her colleagues, our school, and our community has been a gift to us all which will continue to resonate throughout the whole lifetime of our school. She has touched and will continue to touch so many lives with her compassion, intelligence,
insights, creativity, and clarity. As I write this, I have a picture in my mind of Virginia’s glow.

Our deepest condolences, affection, and thankfulness go from all of us to Virginia’s family. And we also hold Jack Searchfield – Virginia’s partner in life and teaching for so many years – very closely in our hearts, with much love. Each of us will miss Virginia terribly and in so many ways.

At the school, we have heard this afternoon from Virginia’s family about the details of the service which they will be holding this week to remember and honour Virginia. Everyone is very welcome to attend the memorial service on Thursday, April 14th at 3:00 pm at Scarboro United Church (134 Scarboro Avenue SW). A reception will follow the service, at the church, up until about 5:30 pm, which everyone is also very welcome to attend. Please know that the school will be sending flowers to the church, for Virginia’s family, on behalf of everyone in our school community. Also, many of the CWS faculty and staff will be singing at either the service or at the reception...

In losing Virginia, we know that everyone’s heart is breaking. All of us here on Faculty, Staff, and Board join you in this profound grief and sadness. At the same time, we are so grateful for all the expressions of love and care which are constantly pouring toward Virginia, her family, Jack, and the school. We’ll close this letter to you with a poem, “In Blackwater Woods”, by Mary Oliver (one of Virginia’s favourite poets), which we know Virginia has turned to for many years, in order to find solace, wisdom, and the way forward.

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars
of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,
the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
nameless now.
Every year
everything I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Yours in thankfulness and community,
Cathie Foote, School Administrator
Kathy Brunetta, Pedagogical Administrator
Mary Wyatt Sindlinger, President of the Board of Directors

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Man as Embryo

Summer Week on Embryology

Lectures, images, anecdotes and movement trying to find an answer to  questions about our prenatal embryonic existence - body, soul and spirit led by Jaap van der Wal, MD, PHD.

What do we do when we are embryo?

 Jaap van der Wal leads participants on the search for spirit in man and nature following a variety of scientific pathways. He has spent a lifetime searching for the sense, meaning, goals of our existence. The question of "What we actually doing when we are embryo?" is only relevant for the embryologist who is on the search for such qualities. An effort is made to come to the essence of spiritual being of the human embryo and to bring the relationships between spirit, soul and body to light. New perspectives are presented with an outlook on a polarity morphology, threefoldness of the human body, on microcosmos and macrocosmos, human existence in development and incarnation. The human body is considered here as a dynamic process that only can be understood as a living organism. Effort will be made to overcome the modern poor philosophical 'nothingbutterism'("the human being is nothing else than just material processes and software and so on") and to extend it to a real holistic and spiritual human biology. The approach that will be followed is a scientific one i.e the Goetheanistic phenomenology and is based upon our primary perception and experiencing of our reality. This means: NOT "I think therefor I am", but "I experience myself as a thinking, feeling and willing being, therefor I am and exist in , by and thanks to this body".

Content of the course

In studying human embryonic development we are dealing with what could be mentioned as 'still functioning in forms'. By this Jaap means that the gestures of growth and development that the human embryo is performing could be interpreted and understood as human behavior. And as a kind a pre-exercising of what later on will appear as physiological and psychological functions. It looks as if the embryo, and therefore the human being, is in a kind of empathetic equilibrium between antipathy and sympathy with the environment and the world. This polarity seems to be essential for the human being and suggests the twofoldness of spirit and matter. Phenomenological embryology helps us to see the human body as an expression body as well as mind (dynamic morphology). This search makes it possible to explore questions such as "Where do we come from?" and "What is the human being?" The approach practiced here leads to a process of morphology that may help us overcome the Cartesian thinking in anatomy: a real morphology of mind, body and  soul.  The gestures of growth visible in the embryo can be seen as an echo of the development of mankind (evolution):  in this way  becoming  human and the evolution of humanity, biography and biology come together.  Studying the embryo in this way also provides insight  in the laws and priciples of human development. The way in which the human shape gets its form in the prenatal phase is an expression of the essential feature that the human being 'is citizens of two worlds i.e. mind and matter, heavens and earth and that in this tension field the human being develops (embryology) and manifests itself (morphology).

The aim of the course is to allow the people to participate in the mighty processes that create the basis for the existence of each human individual. We aim to do this not only by means of intelligence ('head') had but also with feeling ('heart') and will. With the 'spectacles' of phenomenology it is possible to 'see' a spiritual perspective in man and in becoming human based upon the scientific facts of the prenatal life. This approach 'teaches' that human beings may be considered as beings that by means of conception, embryonic development and birth create incarnations so that the mind (spirit) can find a useful home in a body.

Procedure

Prior knowledge of embryology is not required. Diagrams, illustrations and a reader will be available. The lectures and discussions will be alternated with practical exercises like form drawing and bodily motions (‘eurhythmy’).

See Jaap's website for more information: Embryo in Motion - The Embryo in us

 

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March 2016

Importance of Birth-to-Three

Birth-to-three is a sacred time when the child is of two worlds: they are still held within the spiritual world from whence they came AND they bring with them into this earthly realm goodness, devotion, and trust.

This is the most critical period of life!

  • they are at their most impressionable, surrendering to their senses
  • all that they experience profoundly influences their physical and psychological well-being for the rest of their life
  • they acquire the three fundamental human gifts of uprightness, speaking, and thinking
  • they are devoted to what they receive as they place their complete trust into the hands of their parents and caregivers
  • they need warmth and support so that the ‘I’ can take hold of the physical body in an unhindered way

At no other time is there such a need to be protected, understood and have an advocate.  Those working in this realm learn to respect and accept the value of this phase for each individual child’s potential and for that of humanity as a whole.

Parent-and-Child work in particular needs more recognition within Waldorf school communities by seeing the teacher as a “real teacher,” through equal pay, involvement in faculty work, and professional development.

For the parents it means having an early experience of Waldorf education which will inform their ongoing understanding of the pedagogy. 

For the schools it means having informed parents and healthy children.

According to Steiner our very best teachers should be with the youngest children.

With this need in mind, the Rudolf Steiner Centre is launching a new program this summer Professional Development for Early Childhood Educators Birth-to-Three. 

Karen Weyler
Codirector Birth-to-Three program

 

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Summer Festival of Arts and Education

 

This summer's offerings are just announced!

A Summer Retreat for Adults

 

Join us for an enlivening variety of artistic and educational  workshops with  international presenters and participants. Embryology, Eurythmy, Biography Waldorf Art, and Doll Making are a few of the 21 courses on offer.

We have Waldorf grade level intensives (Grades 1 to 7) for teachers, music teachers, early childhood educators and administrators balanced by a wide range of artistic workshops that are open to all.

Evenings will be filled with our popular coffee houses, research presentations, social art and a graduation celebration for our part-time Waldorf teachers.

Human Form Divine

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine...
                       William Blake

Here we are invited to see the divine revealed in our human form, the light of love filling this vessel, the constant change that is our lives. The same forces that form our bodies are continuously at work throughout our lives. What is it that stays constant amidst all the change? What is the spark that orchestrates the show, but never quite appears on the stage? Join us and explore the wonder and the mystery, human and divine.

Come join in the fun.

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