Radical and Relevant Blog

May 2012

Waldorf Teacher Education - Graduation Speech

Graduation time is upon us. Two thirds of this year's Waldorf Teacher Education Class have already accepted teaching positions in Waldorf schools. We take off our hats to all of you and trust that your earnest striving will make all the difference to the children who are fortunate to be in your care. - Editor

Graduation Speech given by Julie Folino
RSCT Class of 2011

The first week of our Waldorf Teacher Education Warren introduced us to the ideals of Truth, Beauty and Goodness and we were inspired. For the following 3 weeks Jan bathed us in the wonder and rhythm of early childhood and we were moved. We learned of the very first Waldorf School that opened in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919. We learnt that Rudolf Steiner met with the very first group of Waldorf teachers to give them an understanding of the growing human being in body, soul and spirit. We learnt that he did this in only 2 short weeks and we were amazed.

If Steiner could lay the foundation for the first group of Waldorf teachers in just 2 weeks – We thought that certainly one full year of teacher education would duly prepare us but we were humbled. We ‘take our hats off’ to those very first, very brave Waldorf Teachers.

As the year progressed and we immersed ourselves in music, painting, handwork, woodwork, drama, science, math, language and literature, form drawing and the like we came to the realization that a Waldorf Teacher must ‘wear many hats’. When we entered the classroom for the first time we quickly learned that things can sometimes get crazy but you must always ‘keep your hat on’.

We learned that when your lesson plan is not being received as you might have hoped you could try to ‘pull a rabbit out of your hat’. Or, you could save that trick for the human and animal block in 4th grade. We learned of the sanctity of childhood – and to this – we ‘held our hats to our hearts’. We learned that if we could nourish just one child’s soul that our ‘hats would be full’ to carry us further on our journey. We learned that the fiscal reality of many Waldorf schools requires that you ‘hold out your hat’ to gather support.

As our practice teaching progressed and more demands were made of us as practicing teachers we learnt to prepare things at the ‘drop of a hat’. We learned of how Waldorf teachers ideally stay with their classes from grades 1 through 8. It seemed to us a daunting task. And then we met Ms. Humphreys who is taking her 3rd class through to grade 8. Ladies and Gentlemen I believe that is called a Waldorf ‘hat-trick’.

As a Waldorf Teacher with a reverence for the natural world we must be prepared with a ‘hat for every season’. Throughout this year our many different teachers have shared their wisdom, experience and talent with us. Once again, we were humbled. With ‘hat in hand’ we thank you for your guidance, your generosity of spirit and your gifts.

Warren and Jan, thank you for taking us under your wings and leading us forth in order that we might in turn lead forth those children who call us into their service. We ‘tip our hats’ to you.

My fellow classmates – it has been my pleasure to share this experience with you all. As the students call you forth may you imbue yourselves with the power of imagination, may you have courage for the truth and may you sharpen your feeling for responsibility of soul. And, may wherever you lay your hat hold for you all the promise that you deserve.

Congratulations!

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The Threefold Social Order

by Sebastian Bilbao

I have been drawn to explore Steiner’s Social ideas because of the repeated
missed opportunities that humanity has had to introduce lasting harmonious
change in society. This essay will attempt to present how Steiner’s threefold
social paradigm is timeless and universal and can be applied at any time,
especially at times of chaos.

The Three Spheres

There are many examples of works aiming at comparing structures found in
nature to those forming our society, yet these merely look for patterns that
make their physical manifestations similar. Instead, Steiner proposes that if
each individual learned to be aware of the forces that structure nature and
then used them to transform the world, society would structure itself in a
healthy way just as nature does.

Steiner points out that not a single organ, (entity, force, sphere, etc), in the
human body has complete authority over the rest. Furthermore, harmonious
life unfolds as a perpetual collaboration between these organs, their functions
and processes. For example, the brain might sense the need and decide to
relocate the body for a compelling external reason, yet the brain is not
consciously involved in either adapting the blood circulation or breathing for
the ensuing actions or controlling the motor actions needed to move the body.
This brief action would unfold by a decentralized cooperation between the
pertinent systems, each without interfering with the internal affairs of the
other. If one allowed the brain to control every single motor action to execute
this manoeuvre, one would notice how contrived the process becomes and
might even loose balance and fail to complete the action.

The core of effective threefoldness in healthy living organisms lies in the
absence of a single centralized controlling entity in the whole. From Steiner's
works one could generalize that the free flow of elemental forces through
individuals and their social bodies favours the healthy evolution of conditioned
existence. Attempts to centralize or control these forces result in imbalances,
which could threaten the existence of the living forms channeling these forces.

In his book, Riddles of the Soul, Steiner explains how the three soul forces –
thinking, feeling and willing – relate to the three systems of the human body –
head, rhythmic and metabolic – and in a later book, Towards Social Renewal,
he segues these concepts to also reveal the threefold structure in society. In
the attached schematic and following paragraphs are descriptions of the three
spheres, correlated between the human body and the social body.

1) Nervous & Sensory System relates to the Economic Sphere

This sphere’s emphasis is on perceiving the external. With the nervous
system we sense our body and the offerings of the world and discriminate
how to react to them. Through the economy we perceive our needs and what
is available and determine if they are beneficial and attainable.

2) Rhythmic System relates to the Rights Sphere (Civil & Political Life)

Here the emphasis is on interfacing with the external or other. By breathing
air and circulating blood, the rhythmic system regulates how we integrate
external resources into our bodies. Similarly, the rights body establishes
social patterns for people to integrate each other into a society.

3) Metabolic System relates to the Cultural Sphere (Individual Talents)

Here the emphasis is on transforming the world. The metabolic system alters
the world via bodily processes such as digestion or kinaesthetic actions that
allow for physical participation in the world. Through this sphere individuals
deliver their unique transformative contributions to the social body, evolving
the physical world and human consciousness.

When these three spheres coexist in harmony then society can benefit from
formative life forces and freely develop each sphere and society as a whole to
its full potential.

The Social Body in Historical Context

Although these three spheres are inherent constants in humanity, they have
been active in a subconscious level. Steiner brings them to consciousness at
a time when humanity is gaining the potential to become collectively aware of
this social paradigm and benefit from the free cooperation of these spheres.

Just as in any developing organism, these spheres have gone through
developmental stages where a sphere would become dominant eclipsing the
others. When tracking the threefold paradigm along a Post-Atlantean
Development Chart we can observe how there have been periods where a
sphere has dominated the other two.

From the ancient Indian and Persian periods up to the Egyptian period, the
social body was dominated by the Cultural Sphere, producing societies that
revolved around the Gods, Nature and the sensing of these. The success of
Agriculture gave humanity the will to control nature and the focus on the Gods
began to fade. Hence the Cultural Sphere was freed from theocratic control
allowing new creative life forces to enter, through it, into the social body.

These new forces evolved the collective sentient and intellectual souls,
peaking in the Greco-Roman period where the Gods are made obsolete, and
thinking is advanced, producing: Logic, Algebra, Physics, Drama, Sculpture,
Architecture, etc. Social and individual awareness result, deriving democracy,
citizenship, and complex judicial systems; at this point the Rights Sphere
becomes dominant. The last impulses of these freed-Cultural-Sphere forces
bring us the Renaissance, Enlightenment and the US constitution.

Our modern economy arises during the above mentioned periods where
thinking and sensing develop a symbiotic relationship in which the intellectual
soul becomes devoted to satisfy the sentient soul, drawing the Ego away from
its spiritual connections and focusing its awareness in the physical. This

insatiable relationship escalates to our current paradigm where the Economic
Sphere dominates the whole social body and the Ego is dislocated into a
reactive entity fuelling the economy without much insight, unable to draw from
spiritual forces.

To this day, scientific thinking is still to be freed from the Economic Sphere to
deliver its spiritual contribution. Quantum physics, describing the physical
world as a probability or even an illusion, gives us a glimpse of what science
could offer when operating out of its own impulses; paradoxically, threatening
the symbiotic relationship between the intellectual and sentient souls which
could bring about the next shift in the social body.

Two important episodes catapult the Economic Sphere to dominate the whole
Social Body. First is the massive influx of Silver from the newly discovered
American continent allowing the European Economy to open vast markets
and evolve into a complex monetary system. Second is the Industrial
Revolution, which is still in an adolescent stage, and has deprived the social
body from developing freely and is poised to transform the world beyond
anything we can imagine today.

Steiner points out that, since the Industrial Revolution is derived from scientific
and materialistic thinking, spiritual forces would be lost with it. Hence the
Social question is born as a quest for the lost spirituality by those who operate
the machines. These workers, who used to have their lives relatively well
represented within all three social spheres, are now cut off from tapping into
forces inherent to the rights and cultural spheres. While all other members of
society retain some contact to the spiritual, the industrial worker is immersed
in an intellectual-machine world, this becoming his/her only reality of the
world. The industrial worker then turns very class conscious and only
responds to material circumstances. Pivotal is the fact that Capitalism
equates the worker as another commodity disregarding the identity of the
worker. So Socialism and Communism are then born as the first movements
purely based on thought aiming to exclusively control the world with the
intellect, and thus unable to perceive the spiritual components in art, religion,
morality, law and most other functions of society.

Another notable social movement is the French Revolution, which with its
paradigm of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity seems to approach the threefold
social order, yet Steiner points out that this movement failed because the
spheres are to remain independent of each other and no sphere should try to
develop aspects that should originate from others. Unfortunately, the French
revolutionaries envisioned the State as the provider of all three spheres.

Possibly only the Iroquois confederation of nations has been the most
successful deployment of the threefold social order. It maintained a
decentralized society where social, economic and warfare and other issues
where dealt by different chiefs administering different spheres of their society.

By the onset of WWI the Capitalist economy becomes global, fuelled by the
insatiable sentient soul and a new ego bearing entity: the corporation; which
in its infant stage, plunders the cultural and right spheres along with any other
worldly resource that could be marketed to humans.

Stagnant forces in the Economic Sphere compounded with the lack of free
participation of the other two spheres remains the main prognosis in our
current paradigm. Capital, representing the vehicle to advance society and
transform the world is kept from flowing properly. Below are some causes for
these blockages, and solutions for treating them to unleash a dynamic
threefold social body.

Issues & Solutions

Abolish nepotism: businesses to be handed down to most qualified
person chosen by the cultural sphere, not hereditary lines. Businesses
belong to the Cultural sphere’s heritage.

Self-aware economy: modern economy is solely concerned with
generating profits via the production of goods, disregarding the whole
social body. It will be required to constantly find the best production
method for the type of consumption, best channels from producers to

consumers and best managers chosen from the Cultural sphere
preventing stagnant economic monopolies.

Inheritance:
Wealth should be redistributed into the cultural sphere to
maintain a fluid social body. Hereditary lines should receive
adequate funds stipulated by the Cultural sphere.

Property ownership should not be perpetuated without giving it
a purposeful use. Property needs to be administered to avoid
stagnation.

Evolving Laws: the rights sphere should refrain from both, creating
speculative laws and relying on precedent cases. Each case’s unique
characteristics and context should be studied independently allowing
for a dynamic Rights Sphere.

Capital availability: better access to capital so that uncovered
products and services reach the Social Body where they belong. Fair
access to capital regulated by the Cultural Sphere (community) not the
Economic Sphere.

Currency Issuance: the state should pass the task of currency
issuance to the administrative bodies of the Economic Sphere. The
currency’s value would be pegged to the conceived goods and services
and their inherent value.

The state at the helm of society: currently the state mandates the
exclusion of anything that does not have value to society or the
economy. This mandate will never exert the vitality or free will needed
to advance the social body. State education prepares humans to
become citizens of that moment’s socio economic scenario, when in
fact education should unleash the human potential to advance society
beyond that current scenario.

Electoral System: society has been perceived as a single unit
offering poor electoral resolution. Each sphere needs to have its own
electoral system.

Remove Labour from Economic sphere: labour belongs to the Rights
Sphere and the product to the Economic Sphere. Removing labour from
the realm of economic commodities would restore the identity of the
worker and reconnect the worker with the produced goods or services
as a rightful partner. Wages are transformed into actual participation on
the returns of the worker and manager, taking the entire Social Body
into account in this new agreement.

Administering law: laws are to be created in the Rights sphere but
implemented by the Cultural sphere. Once terms are established
between parties there is no longer need to involve the rights sphere but
by member of the community.

Accounting:

A sensory organ to identify capital stagnation.

World Wide Balance Sheet: it is a single-finite planet; it should
be possible to balance all the accounting books in the planet.

Government Balance Sheets: require states to carry balance
sheets and operate within their budgets; avoid printing
themselves out of debt.

Right price: in which the real value of the company expenditures, raw
materials and livelihood of those involved in the production of goods or
services is accounted for. This is the only process to correct deficits
and excesses.

Spending taxation: prevent off shore tax evasion by collecting taxes
at the geographic location of capital spending.

Consolidate Systems: move towards a Global Central Bank, Global Currency, national rights and cosmopolitan culture in an attempt to
eliminate stagnating redundancies in all three spheres.

The Corporation will be an Ego bearing entity: Our collective
consciousness needs to become global to enable the creation a new
kind of legal persona for these new beings to incarnate an ego
properly. Currently corporations are transitioning through their Astral
developmental stage and soon will incarnate an ego. Corporations can
only operate if they feel globally, act nationally and transform
individually.

Media Consciousness: media still to deliver the power to
communicate and deliver individual culture to society. It is currently
unfolding from a passive collective consciousness platform into an
active emitter of forces. Social Transformation is ripe to happen via uncentralized
media as it has been demonstrated by Obama’s election
and regime changes in the Muslim World.

Legal focus on economic: most illegal actions are prosecuted when
economic spheres are threatened. If a vagabond disturbs a retailer, he
is kicked out but if he also steals then he is thrown to jail.


The Year of Social Threefolding; 1919

During the interim months from the end of WWI and the signing of the
Versailles Peace Treaty we find central Europe in limbo and great social
unrest. This situation was a call for social evolution from the dominant
influences of communism and capitalism. And so in the midst this disrepair,
Steiner prolifically revealed a social paradigm with the hopes of influencing
the restructuring of Europe after WWI.

The urgency of those crucial moths prompted one of the most active moments
Anthroposophy has ever seen, with several attempts to implement its principles into society. Expectedly, Steiner introduced Social Threefolding in
a threefold manner by evenly addressing all three spheres of society. The
below time line shows how Steiner surged to deploy change through this
narrow window of opportunity.

1917 Riddles of the Soul, by R. Steiner, where the threefold nature of
the human being is first presented, i.e., thinking = nerve/sense, feeling
= rhythmic and willing =metabolic/limb.

1917 Count Otto Lerchenfeld, Cabinet Minister of the government of
Bavaria asks Steiner for ideas to commence WWI peace negotiations.

1917 Steiner gains a small audience of Austrian and German officials
and talks to Wilsonians about individual self-determinism instead of
national self-determinism.

Jan & Oct 1918 Prince Max von Baden, last chancellor of Imperial
Germany engages Steiner on Social Three Folding conversations.

11 November 1918 World War I cease-fire. Germany experiences the
proclamation of several Wilsonian and Communist regions and city
states, all abolished by German army.

January 1919 Emil Molt, Roman Boos and Hans Kühn from Stuttgart
approach Steiner to implement Social Threefolding practices to their
industrial holding company.

Feb 2nd, 1919 Year of Social Three Folding is proclaimed and started.
Steiner lectures on the subject based on the threefold nature of the
human being resulting in book The Threefold Commonwealth.

March 1919 Steiner prints and disseminates the appeal To the German
People and the Civilized World, which is then endorsed by leading
personalities from the German cultural world.

April 1919 An association of commercial organizations springs up
attempting to implement the social three folding practices.

23 April 1919 preparations for a school at Emil Molt’s Cigarette
company start; the school opens on September 7th that same year.

Spring 1919 Steiner prepares the Memoirs of General Hemuth von
Moltke, Chief of German General Staff at the outbreak of WWI, to avert
Germany taking solely all the blame for the war as the Versailles Peace
Conference demanded. This was an attempt to avoid Germany from
further disenfranchising and falling into extreme nationalism. The
initiative was blocked by the then current General Staff.

June 28, 1919 Versailles Peace Treaty is signed along Wilsonian
national self-determination terms, effectively fracturing central Europe
into several new states.

Fall 1919 All social initiatives started this year fade; only the Waldorf
School survives to the present day.

Although Steiner developed these concepts with a specific time period in
mind, he intentionally gave little detail on how to implement them so they
could remain timeless and universal. Unfortunately, this deliberate action has
gained threefoldedness a permanent utopian connotation with those who
have not gained a spiritual understanding of the world. Nevertheless as
human consciousness evolves, opportunities continue to arise to deploy a
healthy conscious social organism.

by Sebastian Bilbao
s_bilbao@hotmail.com


References

Paul Hodgkins and Wendy Brown
Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy 2010-11
Rudolf Steiner Center Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Rudolf Steiner, Basic Issues of the Social Question (aka: The Threefold Commonwealth, The Threefold Social Order, Towards Social Renewal, 1923).
Riddles of the Soul ,1919.

Christopher Houghton Budd, PhD Banking; BA Economic History
Lectures to the Spanish Anthroposophical Society,
“The Ego and the Economy” Barcelona, 2007 http://www.christopherhoughtonbudd.com

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A Testimony to the Human Spirit

The Waldorf School Grade 5 Olympiad was an incredible event to witness: from the opening ceremony to the presentation of the laurels and the exchanges of congratulations among teachers and students, I was moved every step of the way. The displays of commitment, perseverance, form, grace, mental and physical strength, will, respect and support were nothing short of awe-inspiring.

The children have been training all year and this was the culmination of their preparation and hard work. The conditions were certainly not ideal - it was a cold, dark, rainy day, the field was muddy and unforgiving - but that did not dampen the spirits of the children.

There were countless touching moments, but one poignant moment for me came at the end of the day during the last run. The children were tired, cold, wet, and hungry and facing a degraded runway of water and mud, but none of that mattered. They were all totally immersed in the spirit of the event; they were truly present and living it. A boy running in the middle lane caught my attention. He demonstrated power, determination, form, and grace. In short, he displayed beauty in its most basic and purest form. He was striving to achieve his full potential. At that moment, he was the embodiment of the Olympic spirit. We all want to win. However, being successful at the Olympiad isn’t about jumping, throwing the javelin or the discus the farthest, running the fastest, or dominating your opponent in the wrestling ring. The most important aspect of the Olympiad is the display through your body and mind of the beauty of the human form and will.
Another noteworthy moment came as teachers placed medals around the necks of the children. They had guided these children every step of the way, observed every moment and relished every achievement. As they presented each medal, they spoke to each Olympian. I could see the love and dedication of the teachers as their faces beamed with pride. At that moment, as they looked into their eyes and saw the soul of that child, the immediate surroundings melted away. Their undivided attention served to give each child the reverence that they quite deserved. Each one had battled the elements honourably and gracefully. In the eyes of the teachers, all the children were champions.
I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to witness the beauty of mankind. Surely the Greek gods were pleased and were beaming with pride just as the teachers and spectators were.


Denise Gianna, parent
Toronto Waldorf School newsletter, June 3, 2011

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April 2012

One poet’s reflections on...


RSCT Summer Festival of Art and Education
Encounters with Imagination:

You may not believe this, but a bear caught his fur on the door latch as he was going out of the house, and… momentarily… the golden glow of the hidden prince that he truly was gleamed through.”

This happened in the festival storytelling course that I attended in the afternoons led by Dawne McFarlane. But, it happened all the time, really. I certainly experienced it in the ‘Bringing Language to Life’ course that I offered in the mornings – hatching the beauties hidden in the words we use and, as we attended to one another in the circle, catching glimpses of the gold in each one of us.

Much more than a school of instruction where knowledge is merely added, this ‘festival’ multiplied inside us. And not just in the classroom. The ‘encounters with imagination’ that we had signed up for moved out into the corridors of the Rudolf Steiner Centre and into our human encounters in snack times and mealtimes, into the pizza feast that Warren delighted us with in the garden, into the evening when we gathered to savour song and poetry and story. We laughed a lot during these weeks, cried a little, as the weather with its shining and thundering conspired to accompany us. So strong was the heat, in fact, that never in recorded history had Toronto experienced the like. It made the fire alarm go off at a crucial point in one of our afternoon stories.

What’s more, all the traffic lights in the neighbourhood revolted and nobody knew for a while whether it was time to go or stop or maybe… Such is the power of imagination - to discombobulate you sometimes, turning princes into bears, bears into princes. There is no maybe about it, though, that go we did at the end of our time together, out into the world, encouraged and inspired for our lives and work and relationships, and most grateful to those who arranged these festive encounters for us.
- Paul Matthews

Click here for more information on this summer's
Festival of Arts and Education
Making Space for the Mysterious

July 9 to 20

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STORYTELLING AND MORALITY

by Dawne McFarlane - Storytellying Educator at RSCT

“ The child’s soul has an overpowering need to let fairy tale substance flow through itself,- just as the human body needs to let food substance circulate through it.” Rudolf Steiner (from “Fairy Tale Hunger,” Von Kugelgen)

As you can nourish your children’s growing bodies, so you can nourish their imaginations with stories. Fairy/folk tales are rich nourishment for the listener and the teller. There are rhythms and rhymes, patterns and repetition that appeal to children and guide the teller in remembering the sequences of the story. There are archetypal characters that symbolize goodness, evil, kindness, selfishness, loyalty, betrayal, light and dark. Goodness is always rewarded, and evil is always punished. Archetypal characters portray the human condition, providing noble examples to follow, evil ones to beware, and much more.

“A true fairy tale speaks pictorially of transformation, enchantment, release, telling over and over in this way the secrets of human existence. Man’s spiritual origin, his challenges, his victories and deliverances, all are described in child-language for a childlike humanity.” Helmut VonKugelgen, “Fairy Tale Hunger”

Children, in their innocence, still encounter darkness and light within their own character, and stories provide a safe and contained place for these emotions and sentiments to play out.

"Folktales are records of emotions carried through the centuries- part of a child’s rehearsals for adult life."  Bruno Bettleheim

There is no need to explain who is good, bad, selfish, or kind in the stories. It is clear to the children in ways that adults may not be aware of. The British storyteller Peter Chand recalls telling the story of “The Three Little Pigs” to a classroom of young children. When the wolf blew down the little pig’s house, one child cried out “the bastard!” Later the teacher explained that it was unusual behaviour for that child to speak out like that, but the landlord was evicting his family from their home.

Stories can be selected to address issues the children are dealing with. When my oldest son was around 4 years old, he started having temper tantrums of great dimensions, usually in very public places while my arms were full with my youngest son. I tried carrying protein rich snacks at all times to ward off such moments, balancing our activities more mindfully, and other tactics I thought would solve the problem, but the temper tantrums continued and my patience wore thin. I read Dan Yashinsky’s account of using storytelling to distract children from difficult moments and help move through them. So the next time it happened, I started telling “Rumpelstiltskin,” who has a big temper tantrum at the end of the story and pulls himself in two. Of course I didn’t mean to frighten my child, and yet I thought there might be something cathartic about it for him. It distracted him and his brother, allowed me to breathe, and helped me to be a better parent in a precarious moment. I brought out that same story years later while they were arguing in the back of the car while I was driving on a long journey, and spun it out in “pre-teen” lingo for 2 hours, and their tempers cooled. It all sounds very calm now in recollection, but of course it wasn’t at the time and I wasn’t as mindful about it all in the moment as I can be looking back on it. It did illuminate to me that telling stories can be healing for listeners and tellers, and can help transform a difficult moment into a magical one. That doesn’t mean when they start hitting each other you launch into a story! It just means that in addition to instruction, “we don’t hit each other,” a story can help transmit lessons of good and bad behaviour in picture images to young children that they can receive readily.

"We’re hard wired for stories. If you want to tell somebody something…and really get the point across, you’re much more likely to be able to do it, in an emotionally affecting way, through a story." Margaret Atwood, Oct. 17/11 CBC radio interview

When children are older, you can talk more about the meaning of the story with them. My sons got really tired of the story “The Blind Men and the Elephant,” where each man thinks that the whole elephant is just like the ears, tusks, tail, or whatever section they can touch. However, it did help us to talk about all of the different points of view of the conflict at hand. The older the child or young adult, the more you can talk about the meaning of the story. And yet, there is always ancient wisdom that remains mysterious, lying just beyond our consciousness, working within us in ways we may realize years later. I worked with the story of “Snow White and Rose Red” for years before I noticed that there were two girls but only one guardian angel, and began to wonder what that might symbolize. And that’s the magic of story- there is so much to discover.

“The folk tale is the primer of the picture language of the soul.” Joseph Campbell, from the Commentary in the Grimm’s collection

There is a wholeness in fairy/folk tales that is important for young children. The kingdoms of nature, animals, and people live in harmony. Magic and wonder can be found everywhere. Young children perceive the world in this way, and fairy tales make sense to them. Nourishing them with picture images of wholeness and harmony gives them the capacity to imagine wholeness and harmony. It seems to me the more children are nourished by images of goodness and beauty, the more they will be able to face the darkness in the world when they are older, and imagine how the damage they encounter may be restored to wholeness and beauty. And therein lies our hope for the future.

Come and work with Dawne McFarlane at her summer workshop:

The Wisdom of the Fool
Storytelling

Monday July 9 through Friday July 13
Summer Festival of Arts and Education
Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto.

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Waldorf Education Planting Seeds for the Future

I have just returned from Brazil where the public schools are so under-resourced that anyone who can afford it sends their children to private schools. These offer a ticket to opportunity and a better life. Waldorf schools are a small but growing part of this sector. They offer a real alternative to the overly academic, test driven education that is on offer elsewhere. Waldorf schools, whose work is grounded in the arts, not only offer holistic education, they create opportunities for whole communities to wrestle with the ideals of human development: body, mind and spirit. Such idealistic striving sets them apart from the others and it clearly meets a deep longing these children, their teachers and parents have for a meaningful, active and artistic education. Waldorf schools actively encourage parents and teachers to engagement with one another in practical, conscious spirit-life. Waldorf education offers a unique space, a space for the mysterious, where universal spirit unites with human endeavor in the service of educating children. Furthermore, Waldorf schools are places where people striving together to offer the best for their children and to build hope for the future. Seeing the struggles that educators face the world over, it is ever clearer that Waldorf schools are oases in the desert of 21st century materialism. They secure and nurture seeds for the continuing development of humanity.

Making Space for the Mysterious is the theme for our Summer Festival of Arts and Education. We have invited an inspiring roster of workshop leaders whose aim is to work through their uniquely cultivated specialty to create a fertile, creative space to foster professional and personal development for all participants. Please consider joining us this July.

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March 2012

Waldorf Education in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

     We are fortunate at RSCT to be surrounded by a number of anthroposophical initiatives.  We share our campus with the Toronto Waldorf School, Arscura School of  Living Art, Hesperus Village Retirement Community, Pegasus anthroposophical medical practice, the Anthroposophical Society Library, My Child Myself and a Christian Community Church.  There are also a number of anthroposophical initiatives and Waldorf schools within easy reach of our centre: Waldorf Academy, Halton Waldorf School, Trillium Waldorf School, Mulberry Waldorf School and the London Waldorf School as well as others. This allows for a diverse community life and places us in daily contact with students of all ages in the rhythms of a fully-developed Waldorf school community.

Not all Waldorf schools are so fortunate. I am presently visiting Rio de Janeiro where there is one  small and growing Waldorf school, Jardin-Escola Michaelis. It has been a pleasure to work with the faculty, parents and board of this school as they have all grown over the past five years from a small kindergarten to a growing school that encompasses severeal multi-age kindergartens up to grade four. They have outgrown their first school house and are presently nearing capacity in their second. It is not easy to grow a spiritually minded community school in Rio, the capital of CARNIVAL, but these families are doing a remarkable job. Without any outside help, they have managed to create a thriving Waldorf school right in the heart of this vibrant city. Its creation and conitnuing existence is a miracle whose value is most clearly visible in the faces of the happy children.

Parabems! (Congratulations!)

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