Five of the six students enrolled in the full-time Waldorf Teacher Education class of 2021 at the RSCT.
“Say not the struggle nought availeth.”
Since 2014, when RSCT was required by the government to stop accepting Waldorf teacher candidates who did not have prior paid teaching experience, it has been a dream of RSCT leadership to obtain Private Career College (PCC) status. This would enable the Centre to once again enroll students who have been inspired by Waldorf education to make a career change.
This goal of qualifying for PCC status was included as objective #3 in the RSCT’s 2018 Strategic Plan. It reads: “Secure approval from The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) to become a Private Career College in 2018/19. Begin operating as a Private Career College in 2019/20.”
Now, two years and hundreds of work hours later, that goal has been mostly achieved, only one year behind schedule. It’s “mostly” because so far only RSCT itself and the grade-school stream of Waldorf teacher education have been granted PCC status.
The next step will be to apply for the full-time early childhood program to be included under the PCC. Now, however, with one program and the Centre itself already recognized, getting a second program approved should go more quickly.
The Approval Process
As an example of how thorough the review process is for these approvals, the RSCT was required to hire two independent consultants, one to review the content of the program, and the other to review the method of course presentation. These reports then had to be approved by the Ministry.
RSCT also was required to provide audited financial statements for the past year, including balance sheets, statements of income and expenses, and cash flow, as well as financial projections for the next two years.
The eight directors on the RSCT board were required to fully disclose their personal finances, including mortgages, investments, references and net worth right down to the current value of their car, as part of the application process.
James had to submit a comprehensive student handbook detailing RSCT policies on subjects like anti-harassment, sexual violence, anti-bullying, and student rights and responsibilities. The completed handbook is 40 pages. Most of the document submission and review process took place online, with the next step being revealed only after the current step was completed and approved.
It was only in the final two months that RSCT was put in telephone contact with the inspector who was tasked with reviewing the application documents for approval. The current PCC status is good through 2022 and must be reviewed every three years.
It has taken two years to collect, develop and submit the required documentation and to go through the complete review and approval process. Miraculously, the final approval came through on Monday September 14th, the opening day of the 2020-21 full-time Waldorf Teacher Education program! RSCT executive director James Brian, who has been carrying the process, received many congratulatory messages.
Once the RSCT has been operating successfully as a PCC for two school years, students will be able to apply for OSAP student loans to attend the program.
Previously RSCT had completed another approval process to be recognized by Immigration Canada as a Designated Learning Institute in order to enable international students to obtain a study visa when they apply to RSCT.
Waldorf Teacher Education Class of 2021
In spite of the current pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions, RSCT was able to launch this year’s full time program with six students, five students attending in person, and a sixth joining online, until RSCT’s Covid institutional readiness plan is approved. A smaller number in the classroom makes it easier for each person to each have their own six-foot table, and remain physically distanced.
The current draft version of RSCT’s eleven-page Covid institutional readiness plan is based on Canada’s federal guidelines, Ontario’s re-opening plan, and documents from York Region Public Health. Until that plan is approved by the federal government, this year’s one international student, Li Shan Chu, is joining the class at 9 pm (her local time in Taiwan) each day on Zoom, and following along with them through the night until 3:30 am, so she can be “together” with her classmates in Thornhill. A live video feed of Li Shan’s face can be seen by the other students, on a large screen at the side of the seminar room.
Once the Covid institutional readiness plan is approved, Li Shan will travel to Canada where she will continue to participate in the class via Zoom while she completes her required two weeks of quarantine. She will then join the class in person for the rest of the school year.
Photo above: James Brian with the Teacher Education class, October 2020.
Once again it's that time of year when students come together to study the foundations of anthroposophy at the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto. Anthroposophy is the basis of so much exciting work in the world, from Waldorf education and biodynamic agriculture to architecture, medicine, and psychology, and organizational renewal, to mention but a few realms of prctical life in which anthroposophical ideas have been fruitful. And then there's the personal path of inner development, the awakening of the slumbering faculties of spiritual perception through disciplined inner exercises.
This is the first year in a long time when the Foundation Studies Encounter course at the RSCT is not being led by Paul Hodgkins, who crossed the threshold this past summer. While Paul will surely be missed by all who knew him, the work of carrying the program, is now being taken up by a capable and devoted group of teachers including Grant Davis, Robert McKay, George Ivanoff, Diana Hughes, James Brian, Reg Down, Jan Patterson, Dorothy LeBaron, Fiona Hughes and Siobhan Hughes.
Two Courses, one in Thornhill, one in Halton
So far the only confirmed Foundation Studies Encounter programs that are being scheduled are at the RSCT in Thornhill on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 1 pm, starting Sept. 26th. and at the Halton Waldorf School, also 9 am to 1 pm, and also starting on Sept. 26th.
The Foundation Studies free introductory talk will be given twice, once in Thornhill, on Thursday, September 17th, and once in Halton, at the Halton Waldorf School, on Monday, September 21st. Both talks start at 7:30 pm
Encounter Course Locations, Dates and Times for 2020-21
Saturday Mornings in Thornhill 9:00 am - 1:00 pm (30 weeks)
Free Introductory Evening Thursday Sept 17, 7:30 pm at RSCT Thornhill
Term I: Sept. 26 - Dec. 12, 2020
Term II: Jan. 9 - March 6, 2021
Term III: March 27 - May 29, 2021
Saturday Mornings at the Halton Waldorf School, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (30 weeks)
Free Introductory Evening Monday September 21 at 7:30 pm (at Halton Waldorf School)
Term I: Sept. 26 - Dec. 12, 2020
Term II: Jan. 9 - March 6, 2021
Term III: March 27 - May 29, 2021
Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy offers a remarkable opportunity for personal growth as well as a foundation for work in anthroposophical professions including the RSCT's Waldorf Teacher Education program, for which it is a prerequisite.
Covid-19 Restart Plan and Precautions
When the RSCT shut down last March, the announcement said that the RSCT would not re-open until there was a science-based plan for how that could be done safely. Such a plan was finalized last week. You can read the full 10-page document here on the rsct.ca website. But here are a few highlights from the many points and procedures outlined in that plan:
Daily self-assessment for faculty and students before coming to class
Personal protective toolkit for each person with masks, sanitizer, dishes and cutlery
Contact tracing through monitoring people coming through
Mask wearing and social distancing indoors
Minimizing exposure to shared surfaces
Frequent sanitizing of shared surfaces
Encouraging personal hygienic practices such as frequent hand washing etc.
Arrangements of furniture in offices and classroom to support distancing
Enhanced cleaning protocols for interior spaces
Reduction in discretionary personal travel for faculty and students
Signage and communication of practices and protocols to students and others
Read the full 10-page document for the complete outline of Covid-19-related safety and security procedures now in place at the RSCT.
As you may remember from the RSCT's Strategic Plan, one of our plans was to develop Waldorf childcare initiatives in addition to our main work of offering courses in anthroposophy and educating Waldorf teachers.
Enrollment of children at the new initiative gradually increased over the year to the point where the project was becoming financially viable, when all of a sudden this past March of 2020, everything was closed down due to the Covid 19 shutdowns.
Now finally Star Seedlings will able to re-open in August and is looking to find more full-time children aged 18 mo to 5 yrs to enroll in the program.
In addition to the childcare, Star Seedlings is also looking to start offering a Nature Kindergarten experience for a group of about eight children aged 4-5, starting in September.
We're sharing this with you, as a friend of the Centre, to keep you informed as to what the RSCT has been up to in this realm, and also with a request to please pass this on to any parents of young children you might know in the Guelph area.
Photo above: Morning break time at the 2019 RSCT Summer Festival of Arts and Education.
Dear Friends, You're Invited
In these extraordinary times, after consulting with the participants of our Summer Festival and part-time Waldorf teacher program we have finalized our afternoon offerings. These include:
Forums focusing on diversity/equity/inclusivity and social justice
Action Research Presentations focusing on Waldorf pedagogy
Offering either a forum or a research presentations every day (with one exception!)
Please keep these links handy over the next two weeks. Perhaps put them on your desktop. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you can’t find a link.
Since we are holding this festival online, we have the one-time opportunity of sharing these amazing presentations with those who registered for only Week 1 or Week 3, as well as anyone interested in Waldorf education and social justice. Please share these links freely.
The Action Research Presentations are given by the student teachers in the RSCT Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers Part-Time Program. Those giving the presentations are in the third and final year of the training and will graduate on July 24.
As well as working full time as teachers in schools, they have dealt with the challenging situation of online teaching in the recent months and, at the same time, they have managed to complete their research projects and will share their valuable work with us in these final two weeks of the festival. We congratulate them on their dedication and resilience.
There is no need to register for these afternoon events and there is no fee to attend. Please join us as welcome guests.
RSCT Executive Director
Featured Guest Presenters
In addition to our student teacher presenters, we are pleased to welcome the following guest speakers at our forums over the next 10 days:
Chandra Maracle has lived at Six Nations of the Grand River for 15 years. She is a founder of Kakhwa’on:we/Real People Eat Real Food and co-founder of Skaronhyase’ko:wa/The Everlasting Tree School. She is currently a Ph. D. student at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies where her work is focused on Haudenosaunee food history and Eating Psychology.
Joaquin Munoz is Assistant Professor of Elementary Education, Augsburg College in Minneapolis and a Waldorf-inspired social justice educator. His doctoral thesis is called The Circle of Mind and Heart: Integrating Waldorf Education, Indigenous Epistemologies, and Critical Pedagogy. He writes, “As a Native American person myself, I am interested in Waldorf as potential reform for supporting students of color and linguistically diverse student populations.”
Douglas Cardinal is an indigenous architect from the Blackfoot band in southern Alberta who first encountered the work of Rudolf Steiner while studying architecture in university in Texas. He is considered one of Canada's most influential contemporary Indigenous architects.
Presentation Schedule for Week 2: July 14 -17
July 14, Tuesday - Action Research Presentation: 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Topic: Action Research Presentation - Angela Brooks - Inner Fitness of a Waldorf Teacher
Time: Jul 14, 2020 05:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting
July 15, Wednesday - Forum: 3:30 to 4:30 pm Topic: RSCT Forum - James Brian - The Work of the Douglas Cardinal Foundation for Indigenous Waldorf Education
Time: Jul 15, 2020 03:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting
July 16, Thursday - Action Research Presentation: 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Topic: Action Research Presentation - Justine Oxley - Birth as a Gesture of Constitution and Karmic Destiny
Time: Jul 16, 2020 05:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting
July 17, Friday - Forum: 3:30 to 4:30 pm Topic: RSCT Forum - Chandra Maracle - The Impulse to Start a Waldorf-inspired Haudenosaunee Waldorf School
Time: Jul 17, 2020 03:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting
Presentation Schedule for Week 3: July 20-24
July 20, Monday - Action Research Presentation: 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Topic: Action Research Presentation - Laura Hacker - Using the Temperaments Pedagogically in a Class Play
Time: Jul 20, 2020 05:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting
July 21, Tuesday - Action Research Presentation: 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Topic: Action Research Presentation - Marie France Bertrand - Waldorf Methods in the Public Education System
Time: Jul 21, 2020 05:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting
July 22, Wednesday - Forum: 3:30 to 4:30 pm Topic: RSCT Forum - Joaquin Munoz - Ideas on Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity in 2020
Time: Jul 22, 2020 03:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting
July 22, Wednesday - Action Research Presentation: 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Topic: Action Research Presentation - Alena Lotz Oggier - Stepping into Mandarin, a Linguistic Adventure
Time: Jul 22, 2020 05:00 PM Eastern Time Join Zoom Meeting
July 23, Thursday - Forum: 3:30 to 4:30 pm Topic: RSCT Forum - Douglas Cardinal - The coronavirus is sending us a message about our humanity. Here’s what we need to understand.
Time: Jul 23, 2020 03:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting
July 24, Friday – Closing Session and Graduation 3:30 to 4:30 pm Topic: Closing Session and Graduation
Time: Jul 24, 2020 03:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting
A lot has happened since we prepared our full-page ad for RSCT programs to appear in Perspectives magazine back in February. One consequence of the Covid pandemic has been that the production of Perspectives itself has been delayed to the point where several of the advertised programs will have already started by the time the magazine is now re-scheduled to appear (in another week or two). Not only that, but, due to the pandemic restrictions, we’ve had to make some changes to the format and scheduling of the programs themselves. So the information in the original ad is no longer fully accurate. That’s why we’re sending you this update now.
Summer Festival Online
The Summer Festival of Arts and Education that was scheduled for July 6-24 is still happening, although all the courses will now be online. Some of the presenters have changed, but there are only a couple of courses that we have had to drop. On the plus side, Science with former NASA engineer Gary Banks and Creative Felting with Kathie Young are still being offered. See rsct.ca for the full updated list of available courses. And while the first week of grade intensives may already be in progress by the time you read this, there will still be time to register for weeks two and three. Also, as a result of the shift to online, there will be a 30% saving in tuition fees. And that’s in addition to the savings in travel and accommodation that come with studying from home.
Part-Time Waldorf Teacher Program
The part-time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers Program includes participation in the three-week Summer Festival, which as you can read above, has been shifted to online for the summer of 2020. This will involve savings of about $600 for the year’s tuition for part-time Waldorf Teacher Program participants. The other main part of the program involves mentoring over the course of the school year. If you haven’t registered but want to join the program this year, please contact James at email@example.com asap because the course starts Monday July 6th.
Part-Time Early Childhood First Block Online
The start of the RSCT’s Professional Development for Early Childhood Waldorf Teachers part-time program was rescheduled to July 26th in an attempt to accommodate as many people as possible. The first three-week block of the program will consist of online Zoom presentations, together with guided art and craft activities and independent work.
Glencolton Farms Renewal Retreat
This retreat, which was scheduled for July 12-18 at Michael Schmidt’s Glencolton Farms near Durham Ontario, will not be happening this year. It’s hard to imagine how this program could ever move online as so much of it is about an experience of place and being there on the land with the plants, the animals, the elemental beings, and the people.
Full-Time Waldorf Teacher Program
The RSCT’s full-time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers Program is scheduled to go ahead with in-person classes starting mid-September. However to accommodate those people who may not be able to come here in time for the start of the program, we will be live-streaming classes as necessary so they will be able to keep up with the program until such time as they can join the class in person.
Full-Time Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Program
In much the same way as for the full-time Waldorf Teacher Program described above, the Waldorf Early Childhood Program is planned for in-person classes in September, with an option of connecting via live stream for those people who may be not be able to be here right at the start due to travel or border restrictions.
Foundation Studies Encounter
In the past the RSCT has offered in-person Foundation Studies Encounter programs on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Thornhill, and sometimes in other locations as well such as at the Waldorf Academy in downtown Toronto, in Halton and in Guelph, depending on interest from local communities. While we hope to continue offering these programs in person, we will have to assess the situation in September. The Encounter Program runs from September through May. This spring the last several weeks of classes were moved to online presentations.
Foundation Studies Distance Proceeding as Usual
One program that has not been affected at all by the pandemic is the Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy Distance Program. You can start this program any time and proceed at your own pace, as it is based on one-on-one meetings over phone or Zoom with a mentor, along with independent study of a prescribed curriculum.
Above: Teacher Phil Fertey will lead the Grade Eight Intensive. Photo from 2019.
Summer Festival of Arts and Education July 6-24, Register Now
Learn from home in this time of restricted travel and gatherings. Save on travel and accommodation. Courses are open to anyone interested in Waldorf education. You don't have to be a Waldorf teacher. This program is open to Canadians, Americans, and international students.
Online Tuition Fee Savings
With this year's online courses you will save 30% over in-person tuition fees. Online Summer Festival tuition fees: $450 CAD per week (equivalent to about $320 US), $850 CAD for 2 weeks, $1,200 CAD for 3 weeks, $225 CAD for 1 week half day
The program runs from July 6 through July 24, 2020.
Summer Festival Highlights
Week 1: Full day grades intensives with experienced Waldorf teachers active in Waldorf schools. 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon.
Week 2: Living Science in Grades 1-8 with former NASA engineer Gary Banks.
Week 3: Painting and Drawing in Grades 1-8 with Anna Gruda
Temperaments and Chekov Drama with Kati Gabor
Putting on Class Plays with Joshua Gartland
Leading from the Future with Arlene Thorn & Heather Church
Creative needle-felting from Kathie Young's Creative Felting class in 2019. This year we will be offering Creative Felting again with Kathie Young as part of the online Summer Festival of Arts and Education.
Photo above from August 2006, originally taken for the RSCT program brochure. Paul said that someone came to his course just to see for himself how there could possibly be such a serious person (judging by this photo in the program brochure). Of course, Paul was not an entirely serious person. When he was sick but still going out to things earlier this year, he had a good answer for people who asked him how he was doing. He told them about a man who had fallen from an upper floor in a tall building, and as he went past the window on each floor, the people on that floor would ask how he was doing, and he could honestly say that at that moment he was just fine. And that's the analogy Paul used to explain how he was. Paul's funeral was last Thursday June 25th, just for the family. At the funeral the Rev. Jonah Evans gave the eulogy which is printed below.
Born at an Early Age
Once, when Paul was asked to tell his autobiography, he answered: “Well…I was born at a very early age but I can’t remember a thing about it…”
Paul John Hodgkins was born on January 31, 1947 in Wolverhampton near Birmingham, England, into a working class family. He had two brothers. He described himself as having been a dreamy child. Although he didn’t like school very much, he completed his education at a quality Catholic boys’ school.
His first job was for the British government in London. This didn’t last long, however, because at age 19 Paul was inspired to move to Canada together with a good friend. His Canadian life started in Red Lake ON with a job working in a gold mine. He made a lot of money. He spent a lot of money. But to Paul, neither money nor career were very interesting.
In on the Ground Floor at IBM
Paul was not renowned for his technological capacities. In fact if anyone of you ever tried to e-mail Paul, you might be tempted to call him technologically handicapped. However, this didn’t stop him from getting a job at IBM in Toronto in those early years. And even though he considered this a place on the cutting edge of technological development, one day Paul just quit. He didn’t have a plan, but knew that that job was destroying his soul. After that he had a string of jobs, including work at Canadian Tire, in health food stores and teaching Tai Chi.
It was during this time in Toronto that Paul met Simone Liche. They quickly became a pair and, since she was from Quebec, they moved to Montreal. That is where his first son, Philip, was born. After a brief time back in Toronto, where Paul found Rudolf Steiner’s work in a book store, the small family moved to Ottawa. There Paul did some Waldorf teacher training and then took a class all the way through 8th grade. During this time, Simone and Paul decided it was best to part ways.
After his separation from Simone, a connection started growing between Paul and Susan Richard. Eventually their families joined. Thus Paul became a father of three, with the addition of Will and Evelyn. Shortly after this Susan became pregnant with Charlotte. Paul then finished graduating his grade 8 class and they decided to move back to Toronto so that Philip could continue attending the Waldorf High School there.
From Ottawa to Toronto
The move back was both challenging and filled with blessing. Challenging because Paul was unable to get a teaching position at the Toronto Waldorf School. Blessing because at this time their youngest child, Beatrice, was born.
Still inspired to be a Waldorf teacher, Paul took up a position at the Halton school. However, after only a few years, the commute became too strenuous.
Arlene Thorn, who at that time was involved in the Rudolf Steiner Centre, not only encouraged Paul more and more to take up teaching anthroposophy to adults, she was also able to find a way to help Paul and Susan financially, so that their children could finish their Waldorf education. But Arlene was not the only one sent to help Paul find his destiny. In Paul’s own words he said…
“I got a call from Timothy Cox, who was working for the Steiner Centre at the time, asking if I would give a course on the Philosophy of Freedom. I don’t know how he knew our group was studying that book. Just the day before he called, I had decided on the one hand I was not free, and on the other hand I was filled to overflowing with useless knowledge. I had put aside all my other belief systems – Plato, science Catholicism, Buddhism – I had replaced all these with a huge anthroposophical belief system, but I was still not really free in my thinking. In a sense I had my leg over the balcony. When Timothy asked if you would provide three mornings on the Philosophy of Freedom, I immediately said yes! I don’t know what I was thinking! I put the phone down and thought: “What have I done?” So then I had to study the book intensely. Through this work, I had an awakening. I became aware of myself as a spiritual being. To cut a long story short, I gave the course and became famous overnight. Who would be so stupid to give a course on the Philosophy of Freedom? It was the book no one understood. So that was it."
Foundation Studies at the RSCT
Then I began teaching adults more and more. Wendy Brown, who had just started Foundation Studies at the Steiner Centre, asked me if I would come in one morning and talk about the Philosophy of Freedom. So I did that. In the following year she asked me to join the steering committee for the Foundation Studies program at the Steiner Centre. The committee met every week to form the course. I became a key figure in it over time.”
And this was his gift. He touched many lives. For the next 20 years, Paul would cultivate his love of anthroposophy by helping many, many individuals find a relationship to this spiritual science. Paul loved teaching: he was a true teacher. He loved anthroposophy. He was a “philosopher of freedom”.
He had a knack for making the complex digestible; for helping us to see what is hidden in the spirit; for turning deep truths into pictures and imaginations that filled our souls.
We might be surprised to know this, but Paul was also quite a homemaker. He loved to cook, was even territorial when it came to ‘his kitchen’. When the babies were young, it was Paul who would go to them in the night. Paul made lunches, cleaned, drove the kids everywhere they needed to go, while Susan worked all hours to support the family. Paul was truly kind, patient and generous. And when he found something worth understanding, he would carry it in his mind until, with persistence and patience he would grasp what he did not understand.
His children remember the long phone conversations, loving them through patient interest in their lives.
Love flows both ways. Staff at the funeral home remarked that there were no bedsores on Paul’s body. This was because Will and Beatrice would take turns getting up all through the night to change Paul’s position.
A Homemaker and a Philosopher-King
And even though Paul was a homemaker and a kind of philosopher-king, whose knightly countenance showed so clearly in the way he looked in the casket, Paul also struggled. He struggled constantly with procrastination. He had struggled to find a place in this strange world until he became a teacher at the Rudolf Steiner Centre. He struggled with financial stress for most of his life. In his own words, Paul said about his weaknesses…
“I am totally okay with dying. But I am not so okay with being dead. I will have to meet myself and my immorality clearly in the face, along with my lack of awakeness. In the spiritual world after death, you eventually meet spiritual beings who think in you. You see your life from their point of view. The more awake you can be in that process the better. I don’t think I am going to be very awake there. I have experienced quite a bit of self-loathing recently—not in a morbid way; I am not morbid about it all. I am willing to take on my karma. I am willing to try to make up for what I have done wrong and I am willing to bear that to the best of my ability, even if it is painful. But I know from experience that I am not always going to do that. I can look back on my life and I can see where I have opted out of the right thing to do. Every case of immorality is an attempt to avoid consciousness of the spiritual. There has been a lot of petty immorality in my life – petty, little selfish thoughts and actions. Lying and stuff like that. Most of us do these things. When I sit and think of them, I see they add up and add up. There has been an entire lifetime of them.”
As many know, Paul had a difficult relationship to Christianity for most of his life, especially as a young person. He grew up Catholic but could never come to terms with what felt to him like anti-human and oppressive dogma that stifled his intelligence and sense of freedom. He couldn’t bear the inauthentic quality of many of the priests and nuns.
Like St. Paul
But like St. Paul, his past did not prevent him from a real encounter with the Being of Christ Jesus as a young man. In his own words he remembers, “My father had rheumatoid arthritis and as it became clear that he was approaching death, I thought about Eastern gurus who took on the pains or illnesses of their students out of compassion. I was walking down the street wishing I could help my father. I thought about taking on his suffering. But to my surprise, I found that I didn’t have the compassion. I didn’t really want to take on his pain—his physical suffering—on myself. I was horrified to admit this to myself. In that moment, there was this spiritual figure present, who, as I had known of all my life, took on the suffering of the world, and that was the Christ. It was as though the sky was filled with Christ…Christ wearing a crown of thorns and then it was as though I heard…well I didn’t actually hear a voice…but what came to me was: “Stop seeking in any direction but this one.”
Paul found this real encounter with the living Christ Jesus before he met anthroposophy, through the suffering of his father. Christ then guided him to finding anthroposophy in order to help him understand who Christ was through thinking. Then, toward the end of his life, Paul found Christ anew in sacrament, in prayer and in devotional community.
He began his relationship with The Christian Community in a destiny-filled conversation where he asked me: “So what makes The Christian Community different from the Catholic church?” Spontaneously, I responded that The Christian Community sees no value in an unfree compliance with moral rules. I said that only freely coming to Christ, freely finding morality was of any worth to God. I said this was the foundation of the only religious movement that was inspired by anthroposophy.
That was the year that Paul had a profound experience of Christ at the Christmas midnight service. For the next three years he and Susan would barely miss a service. And I will never forget his eyes and face when giving him communion. Looking into his eyes at that intimate moment of communion, I saw a human soul aware of his brokenness and at the same time aware that Christ was touching him with unfathomable love. He knew Christ was there, present in and through the priest. And the depth in which Paul knew the reality behind the Sacrament became clear just recently. Paul said to me in our last intimate conversation that now that his mind and body were weakening, even failing, he had the experience that the Act of Consecration was a foundation for his life. He said to me ‘The words from the altar hold me up. Now that my body is breaking down, it has opened me to the experience that the consecration service is my strength to stand’. This finding Christ in a community of devoted souls would deepen still.
Visitation in Hanoi
For it was in a strange hospital in Hanoi that Paul would have the most profound experience of the community of Christ in his life. Christ came to him as he lay in his hospital bed. He spoke to him. He impressed on Paul’s heart that even the least of us is loved and supported. He communicated to Paul that he is gathering a community with the help of his messenger Rudolf Steiner, gathering a community of souls that in the next few incarnations will need to take up a tremendous battle. This will be a battle with the forces of materialism that are growing ever stronger. That community will need to take up a struggle with adversarial beings that would try to convince us that the material world is all there is. Human beings will need to battle the picture that self-interest is the only force of real motivation; that the spiritual the spiritual world is unreal; and that all we really need is to solve our worldly suffering and make enjoying earthly pleasures and comforts the goal.
This was Paul’s most important teaching for us: that there is such a thing as real community, such a thing as real hope. That the forces of materialism are not stronger than Christ. For he learned through experience that even death cannot stop Christ Jesus from gathering more and more human hearts into himself.
Dear friends and family. We loved Paul. I loved Paul. He was my friend. But more important than that, Paul was a true Christian and continues to be one. He lived his name. For Paul means ‘the small one’. He lived this smallness by knowing that by himself he could not become himself. He was small because he knew the true one, the great one, He knew that we cannot become ourselves unless we invite the being of love into our hearts.
Paul’s middle name was John. He also lived this name. As St. John experienced the future described in his Book of Revelation, the future of humanity in Christ, so our dear Paul John also received a picture of our future- the future work to struggle against darkness as a community.
May your spirit, dear Paul, continue to inspire us. May your light continue to strengthen our community and give us hope.
In honour of Paul's passing, we've dug up a few old photos of him from the archives to share with everybody:
Above: another photo of Paul from 2006
Above: Paul in the forest playground at the Toronto Waldorf School
Above and below: Paul playing the flute at the Village Market
Below: evidence that Paul did smile once, back in the year 2000.
The next photo is with Paul and Susan's daughter Beatrice, who has taken the last several months off from her usual life in Regina Saskatchewan to come home and help take care of her father.
Above: Paul playing music with Beatrice at a Hesperus festival in probably the late 1990s.
Above: Paul with his wife Susan, at the Village Market, where they would often play music on the Saturday before Christmas, which was one of the few Saturdays during the school year when Paul was not busy teaching Foundation Studies at the RSCT. Photo circa 2010.
Paul Hodgkins, a much-beloved and long-time teacher at the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto, crossed the threshold peacefully on Monday June 22nd at 2 pm in the afternoon.
A vigil is now being held at the Christian Community church at 901 Rutherford Road in Thornhill. There is a sign-up sheet at the church. All are welcome.
This will be followed by a funeral, also at the Christian Community, which will be limited to the immediate family, on Thursday June 25th, at 2 pm. We will share the eulogy from the funeral when it becomes available.
Photo is from a local 2017 production of Rudolf Steiner's mystery drama "The Portal of Initiation" in which Paul played the role of Benedictus.
What People Are Saying About Paul
We sent out the message above to our email news subscribers on Tuesday. The Toronto Waldorf School shared it on their alumni Facebook page and others shared it as well. We also shared it on the RSCT Facebook page. Here are a few of the comments posted over the last couple of days on Facebook by some of the people who knew Paul:
Sara Anderson (TWS)Our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies go out to the Hodgkins family today. Paul Hodgkins, long-time teacher at the RSC and TWS alum parent, will be greatly missed.
Ioan Ovidiu Sandu He was an amazing scholar and teacher; I fondly remember his warm demeanor, his patience and the wonderful lectures he taught. They are still vividly etched in my memory! Dear Paul, thank you for all that you brought and embodied in the world! May love, light and peace be with you as you travel on in Spirit !!!
Manuela Maria Comsa So sad to hear. He was an amazing teacher. I took foundation studies in 2012 he was one of the teachers. Amazing person. Very knowledgable and definatley a lasting impression. He will be missed!
Yiana Belkalopoulos Blessings on his passing. Thank-you Paul for all that you carried for us during Waldorf teacher training. You modelled the work with humility and grace and we are all better for it.
Hema Helal It was such a privilege to attend his class in 2017-18. I took my then 5 y/o to class one day and she still remembers how kind he was to her that it made a lasting impression in her mind. He will be remembered by many.
Charles R. Beresford Farewell Paul !! A Gentle and Wise Soul. Living Example of Antroposophic Values. Lasting and Much Needed Legacy in the Lives, Young and Older, that He Touched. Thank you Very Much.
Susan Elizabeth Very sad to have to say goodbye to a wonderful person. Blessed to have known him. Enjoyed many good conversations with Paul. Will always remember him fondly. My sympathy and prayers are with S, B and C and rest of family.
John Penner He was a great teacher. very knowledgeable, patient, and devoted to service.
Virginia Zhang Sending my condolences to the Hodgkins family from Beijing, China. He was a great man!
Shirley Ann Wood It is a privilege to have been friends with someone who touched the hearts and souls of so many, so profoundly, with kindness, good humour, intelligence, creativity and grace. Paul... we will miss you.
RSCT student teaching during a practicum in a grade-school class at the Toronto Waldorf School. The program includes ten weeks of practice teaching.
Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers
Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto offers one of the few remaining full-time Waldorf Teacher Education programs in North America. This Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers program runs from September through May, and has been offered continuously since the early 1990s.
Components of the Full-Time Program
Typically the program consists of in-person classes that include not only the conceptual basis of Waldorf education but also provides an introduction to the many arts and crafts, from music to painting to drama, eurythmy, and handwork, that are an integral part of the Waldorf curriculum and part of a transformative experience. Another important facet of the program is the opportunity to practice presenting stories and lessons in real-life Waldorf-school classrooms with mentoring from experienced Waldorf teachers over the course of ten weeks of teaching practice.
Grade School and Early Childhood Streams
Within the full-time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers program at RSCT, there are two streams in which teachers may specialize. The grades stream focuses on preparation for teaching in the grades, for both class teachers and special subject teachers. The early childhood stream is focused on the needs of children up to age seven, and prepares student teachers for teaching in early childhood settings such as nursery school and kindergarten.
Online Learning Backup Plan
In the spring of 2020, with the Covid lockdown in effect, it was necessary to shift the presentation part of the program to online Zoom seminars. We will be ready to do this again as necessary at any time over the course of the 2020-2021 school year, should circumstance require it. That said, our hope is that we will be able to present as much of the program as possible in the form of in-person classes.
If Borders are Closed in September
For students who are accepted into the full-time program but are unable to join us in September due to borders being closed or travel not allowed, we will provide a live stream from the in-person classes to help them follow along while they are waiting to be able to join the class in person.
Testimonials from the Class of 2020
Renate Freibergova:"There are huge awakening advantages of attending the full-time Waldorf teacher program – the depth of all courses and lectures made me to become more present on a daily basis and to be able to dive into a deep understanding of what this training can offer. It was a transformative way of becoming a conscious teacher. Experiencing the philosophy and pedagogy of Waldorf education is a healing journey through the each day consistency and rhythm. This was one of my best decision in my life. I am truly grateful for this incredibly rich teacher training at Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto."
Bronwen McCann:"The benefit [of the full-time program] was both to really focus on the ideas and to come to our own conclusions about those ideas. The combination of practical experience with close study of the principles of Waldorf education was especially valuable. It led to leaving the program with a good grasp of Waldorf teaching and the confidence to make decisions in the classroom that reflect this understanding."
Don’t Let Money Stand in Your Way
This year we will be able to offer a range of scholarships and interest-free loan arrangements to help students with the financial hurdles of taking a year off to further their development as Waldorf teachers. Talk to James Brian or Jan Patterson at RSCT to explore the possibilities of your situation.
James Brian, firstname.lastname@example.org, 905-764-7570, re: Grade School
Jan Patterson, email@example.com re: Early Childhood
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred…Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. -- believed to be from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1832)
Early Childhood student teachers work together to present a marionette show.
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred…Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.
Dear Prospective Applicants,
May these words from Goethe inspire you to consider starting your Waldorf early childhood teacher education journey now. We are all dealing with uncertainty but one thing we do know for sure is that childhood needs our protection more than ever and that as parents and educators we need to be courageous. We can take up this challenge by deepening our understanding of Waldorf early childhood pedagogy.
We have designed an exciting, interactive program for our new three-week summer session to include:
Daily keynote addresses from our highly trained and experienced faculty
Interactive breakout classes with opportunities to share and discuss ideas
Redesigned assignments that can be carried out despite school closures
“Live” guided artistic sessions with supplies provided by mail
Online resource library to include songs, stories, recordings, articles
Individual mentor sessions with faculty experienced in your area of focus
Financial aid and payment options
Please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information or to start your journey.
Begin it now!
Jan Ney Patterson
Director of Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Education