We usually think of the Foundation Studies encounter course as beginning in September, but for 60 students in Vietnam, it started already in June of this past summer. One of the people who organized this course for the RSCT, Trinh Huynh (left in photo above with Paul Hodgkins), has written a detailed report on this past summer's course, which is included below.
As well, we are pleased to be have photos from the Foundation Studies course in Vietnam, taken by eurythmist, and course leader, Reg Down. Thanks to Trinh and Reg for their contributions that help us see how something we take for granted here, is a very special opportunity for people half way around the world. One thing you'll notice in the photos is a lack of tables and chairs. These were provided initially, but it soon became clear that the young Vietnamese students preferred working on the floor.
But before we get into Trinh's story and Reg's photos, please remember that free introductory talks for local Foundation Studies Encounter courses are coming up on Wed. Sept 18th (8:45 am and 7:30 pm) in Thornhill, and on Saturday Sept. 21st at 10 am downtown, and Tues. Oct. 8th at 7pm in Halton. More info on poster below, and more info still on the Foundation Studies Encounter page on the website.
Sixty Students in RSCT Vietnam Foundation Studies June 2019
The Foundation Studies course was held for the second time in Vietnam during the last summer of 2019. Certified by RSCT under its “Encounter” program, the course completed successfully with approximately 60 students (group photo below). The faculty consists of Paul Hodgkins, Reg Down, Jonah Evans, and Regine Kurek.
The course was bilingual in English and Vietnamese, with the English-Vietnamese translation done by Trinh Huynh and Lan Nguyen. The course ran intensively for four weeks straight, full-day, with weekend breaks, in June and July, in Hanoi (photo below).
Starting the course with his morning lectures in the first week, Paul impressed all the new students of Anthroposophy with his mystical yet scientific introduction to the three-fold and four-fold human being. Being impressed, many people who initially registered for only the first week just to “check out” what Anthroposophy was all about, decided to stay for the whole course.
In the afternoons Paul complemented his morning lectures with artistic activities, such as the chalk-drawing of the Michael imagination. See Paul and Trinh in the photo below with students engaged in artistic activity. Paul concluded his first week with a lecture on the journey of the soul after death.
Continuing into the second week, Reg introduced cosmology in the mornings. Despite being a challenging subject, the earth evolution was made dearer to the heart by Reg’s short eurythmy exercises and his more intimate lecturing approach. Trinh also helped making the subject more comprehensible by his short afternoon lectures talking about the same topics from a different angles, drawing many examples from daily life.
One important component of the course was the daily study-group sessions in the first two weeks. The class was divided into smaller groups, and each group studied in detail, with guidance, one of the two books: Theosophy, and Philosophy of Freedom. Guided into these most challenging books daily, the students grasped more concretely the spiritual scientific way of thinking of Anthroposophy.
Another important component contributing to the success of the course is Reg’s daily eurythmy sessions. Running daily for the entire course, the sessions introduced the students to introductory yet fundamental eurythmy movements, such as the evolutionary sequence, and the Zodiac, as well as various classical music pieces that were brought much deeper into the heart through the movement.
The “heart of the course” (quoting a student) was the third week, with the morning lectures by Jonah. Building on the background laid out in previous weeks, Jonah talked directly about the Christ and his impulse, what “Anthroposophy is all about”, the center of human evolution. Sharing real life and personal examples, he introduced death and resurrection, as well as different approaches in dealing with temptations.
Sensing the spiritual openness and thirstiness of this group of students, he also shared in details a few of the more “advanced” ideas of esoteric Christianity, including some aspects of the Trinity and the new Tenth Hierarchy. Lucifer and Ahriman, and the Christ’s balance, was one of the central themes of this week.
The polarities of Lucifer and Ahriman were also the subject of Regine’s biography sessions in the last two weeks of the course. To many students, these two great forces of temptation became much more comprehensible through Regine’s artistic activities, which included a drawing of “the representative of humanity”. She especially introduced the students to how these forces influenced different phases of a human life.
Concluding the course, the morning lectures of the last week were “guided tour” to the first and second Goetheanums. Reg and Regine shared the stories about them, talked about how their outer and inner structures relate to the human being. With artistic activities, Reg also brought the wonderful stained glass windows of the Geotheanums to the students.
After the four intensive weeks, many students shared that they were given new strength going back to normal daily life, and that their world views were being challenged and fundamentally changed. They all hoped for more in-depth courses. Besides, the demand for more Foundation Studies course in Vietnam is still very high. It is open at this point whether any one would pick up and carry on this initiative.
After the course was completed, some of the teachers explored some of the local attractions.
For the second year in a row, the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto has offered summer Foundation Studies courses in anthroposophy in Hanoi, Vietnam. This year's program included teachers Regine Kurek, Reg Down, Paul Hodgkins, and the Rev. Jonah Evans, along with translators Trinh Huynh and Lan Nguyen.
An Evening with Regine & Jef to talk about Vietnam & Europe
In due course we hope to publish a more extensive report on these summer courses in Hanoi, but we wanted to get this notice about an evening of sharing of experiences which is being presented by Jef Saunders and Regine Kurek, this Wednesday Sept. 4th at 7:00 pm in the Hesperus Seminar Room. Regine and Jef will be talking about their summer experience in Hanoi and Hungary during this evening.
Hesperus is located at 1 Hesperus Rd, Thornhill, Ontario, but you can also access it from the Toronto Waldorf School campus at 9100 Bathurst Street, Thornhill. Coming from TWS, Hesperus is at the end of the drive, around the turn, at the far (north) end of the long driveway.
Thanks to Reg Down for the photos of students and their work from this year's RSCT courses in Vietnam.
If you've ever considered taking the RSCT's Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy course in Thornhill, you might be interested in learning about a couple of opportunities to attend free introductory information sessions where you can get an overview of the course and have your questions answered.
The Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy Encounter program has been running for many years at the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto and will be offered again this year both on Wednesday mornings 8:45-12:30 (for parents especially) and on Saturday mornings from 9-1. As has been the case for the past several years, both courses in Thornhill will be taught by Paul Hodgkins.
Paul is a former Waldorf teacher, who has been teaching in both the Foundation Studies and the Waldorf Teacher Professional Development programs at RSCT for many years. This past summer, Paul even taught Foundation Studies for an RSCT program in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Some people take Foundation Studies because they want to learn about anthroposophy, or to understand more about what underlies Waldorf education. And some take it because it is a pre-requisite for Waldorf Teacher Professional Development and Early Childhood programs at the RSCT and other such Waldorf teacher education programs.
Free Introductory Sessions in Thornhill
Foundation Studies begins with free introductory talks, by Paul Hodgkins, on Wednesday morning, Sept 18th at 8:45 am in the TWS Community Room just downstairs from the lobby, and in the evening of the same day, Wednesday Sept. 18th at 7:30 pm at the RSCT Thornhill.
Regular weekly sessions on Wednesday and Saturday mornings — these are two groups, choose the one that best suits your schedule — commence shortly after on Wed. Sept. 25th and Saturday Sept. 28th and run for 30 weeks over the school year with breaks for Christmas and Easter. See full schedule here.
Both course are accredited by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) as a prerequisite for Waldorf Teacher Education studies at the RSCT or elsewhere.
Foundation Studies in Downtown Toronto
If Thornhill doesn’t suit you as a location, there are couple of other options this year. The downtown Toronto course will be taught by Grant Davis at the Waldorf Academy. The free introductory talk for that will be on Sat. Sept. 21st at 10 am at the Waldorf Academy, 250 Madison Avenue, Toronto. That group will meet on Saturday mornings from 9-1.
Foundation Studies at the Halton Waldorf School
Another option for those living in the west end of the GTA is the Foundation Studies Encounter program taking place at the Halton Waldorf School. The free introductory talk for that program will be on Tuesday October 8th at the Halton Waldorf School at 7 pm. The course will take place on Saturday mornings from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm beginning Saturday October 12th.
Register now, or come out to one of the free introductory talks in September to learn more about the Foundation Studies Encounter program.
Above: Justin Trombly talks about how he incorporated the ukelele into his Grade Three class.
Now that the Summer Festival has finished for this year, it seems fitting to look back over a few of the highlights from the program. This will by no means be all-inclusive but rather a brief sampling of the experiences shared by participants during those three weeks in July.
Waldorf Essentials from 4 to 23
Waldorf Essentials is a introductory Waldorf 101 style course led by veteran teacher and musician Merwin Lewis of the London Waldorf School. Whereas last year Merwin’s course had only four students, this year there were 23.
Merwin spiced things up for his students with a Chladni plate demonstration showing the visual effect of a musical tone on grains of sand and mystified the entire class by shining a projector beam of light through two containers of colored liquid to produce a third colour that none would have guessed. Thanks to Angela Marlatt of Halton Waldorf School for the photo below of Merwin’s Chladni plate demo.
Creative Felting with Kathie Young
Kathie Young’s felting class was another group that continued to attract more students as the days went by. Each student made a felted wool gnome that stood about eight inches high,and a felted wool landscape picture. Many of the students also made little wool balls. One student felted some hair from a dog she once had and made it into a brooch.
Felting class students were loathe to take breaks, preferring to beaver away on their projects. The focus, enthusiasm and excitement in the room was palpable. In the photo above they are holding the felted wool gnomes that each of them has made in the class.
Above: Gilia Mackay from Nelson B.C. works away on her felted gnome.
Studying Nutrition and Making Fermented Foods
Another course where participants made things was in Fiona Hughes’ nutrition course during Week Two. There, in addition to studying anthroposophical perspectives on health and nutrition, and discussing a wide variety of diets, students made kimchi, beet kvass, and fermented almond chocolate coconut balls.
Above: Making fermented almond chocolate balls in Fiona Hughes' nutrition class. Fiona's class grew from about nine at the start to twelve by the end of the week. Students also helped make kimchi and beet kvass.
Aerial Silks in the Movement Games Class
Some classes benefitted from unplanned program additions. One of these was Marie France’s Movement Games course. On Thursday afternoon Liisa Hymander, from the Northern Lights School in Thunder Bay, joined the class as a guest presenter to show everyone how to use aerial silks. All the course participants got to try all the moves and tricks that Liisa demonstrated.
Liisa said she had started with aerial silks five years ago. She bought a silk and put it up in her house for her own children to play with. She worked with a woman who had attended circus school in Montreal and has also done some circus classes herself.
She says that when children have a buildup of energy and have a hard time handling it, it’s helpful for them to do any sort of inversion, whether it be hanging upside down in the silks or just a simple headstand. She said it helps to rebalance the body. Liisa has also worked with adults on aerial silks and she said they find it a good confidence builder.
Above: Helena Rakic from Halton Waldorf School being helped into the silks by Liisa Hymander from the Northern Lights School in Thunder Bay.
This year, the day started with singing every morning from 8:30 to 9:00, ending with an Indigenous prayer and a reading from the Calendar of the Soul. The first week’s singing was led by Monika Sutherland from Wisconsin, who was also here to teach music for the grade intensives. She shared a lot of fun songs, some with movements, like the one from the Torres Straits Islanders.
In weeks two and three the singing was led by Elisabeth Chomko, who teaches music in the full-time Waldorf teacher program at RSCT. One of the songs Elisabeth brought was an African tune, titled “Bemka Bafazi”. On the first day she sang it, she asked if anyone could translate the meaning of the words.
David Hesketh (in the middle in the photo above) spoke up and said he could ask one of his Zulu friends from South Africa and get back to us on it. A couple days later, David had heard back from his friend that it was a song about “crossing over” which was at the same time about dying and about going to sleep, and about connecting with the ancestors who had crossed over. The song is sometimes sung at funerals. He said it was in the Mpondo dialect, which is a subgroup of the Xhosa language, used by people of the Eastern Cape area of South Africa, near the place where Nelson Mandela was born.
David had returned to Canada just five weeks earlier, from 19 years in South Africa, in the middle of which he taught in Vancouver for five years. David had been a graduate of the first RSCT teacher education course in the current location in 1990-91. Brian Searson was one of his classmates. During that year, David practice taught in James Brian’s Grade Two class at the Ottawa Waldorf School. Now this fall, he will be joining the faculty of the Halton Waldorf School, as pedagogical director.
One morning as part of the singing, Elisabeth invited some of the Haudenosaunee course participants from the Everlasting Tree School to lead everyone in a song and dance (photo above). This attracted a lot of interest from the young TWS campers outside who crowded around the music room windows to get a closer look.
The Korean Connection
Joong Gwang and Young Sook Kim, who were leading a Week Three course on The Eastern Way of Understanding Nature and Art, also encouraged many other people to come to the Summer Festival from Korea. Two other Koreans came in Week Two and for Week Three there were a total of nine Koreans, although one of them always hurried off after class to be with her family and so she doesn’t appear in any of the Korean-group photos. The photo below shows seven of the nine Koreans who took part in Week Three.
Young Sook Kim (photo below) is the author of a book about Waldorf education in the Korean language, and she is now working on a second book to be published in Korea this fall. Before coming to the US, she started an independent community library with Joong Gwang at their house in South Korea which was well received in the community.
Her husband Joong Gwang (photo below), with whom she taught the course, spent the past year in the RSCT full-time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers program, after an extensive career in the United States as an environmental engineer.
Above: Joong Gwang teaches in The Eastern Way of Understanding Nature and Art class.
Above: Observation and drawing exercise in Heather Church's Introduction to Waldorf Early Childhood.
Above: Michelle Frank's family came out to celebrate her graduation from the three year part time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers program. Michelle was one of four teachers whose graduations were being celebrated during the festival. Michelle is going into Grade Two at the Toronto Waldorf School.
Above: Middle school teachers studying with Patrice Maynard.
Above: two lines of students approach each other, swapping the silks they're trailing, as they pass -- with Patrice Maynard.
Above: Javelin throwing with Phil Hartman's Grade Five intensive in preparation for Greek Olympics.
Above: Jessica Sykes from the Waldorf Independent School of Edmonton (WISE) in the Magic of Coloured Dust class with Brian Searson.
Above and below: Larry Young's Watercolour Painting class.
Above: as a second step, Larry Young taught participants how to enhance their dried watercolour paintings with pastels.
Above: An exercise in Kati Gabor's Exploring the Temperaments through Checkov Drama class.
Above: as part of the closing circle the Korean students sang a Korean folk song.
Above: Indigenous circle dance for the closing ceremony led by teachers from the Everlasting Tree School.
Above: RSCT founder and board member Diana Hughes was at the closing ceremony with her traditional last words.
In the autumn of 2019, the Toronto Branch of the Anthroposophical Society will host a lecture series at Innis College (of the University of Toronto). The title of the series is "Spiritual Awakening in a Scientific Age".
The first speaker in the series is Professor Frederick Amrine, who will speak on Thursday, September 26th. Professor Amrine's talk is entitled "Doorway to Spiritual Science: Rudolf Steiner as Architect". He will begin with a general introduction to Rudolf Steiner, along the lines of his widely acclaimed "Discovering a Genius" article and then take a deeper dive into Rudolf Steiner as an architect.
The series will continue with talks by the Rev. Evans on Thursday, October 17 and Dr. Kenneth McAlister on Thursday, November 21.
Above: Merwin Lewis welcomes a new student to his Waldorf Essentials class on Monday morning of Week Three.
Attendance for Week Three of the RSCT's 2019 Summer Festival is up substantially from earlier estimates with about 60 students now enrolled. Merwin Lewis' morning class on Waldorf Essentials has 23 students this year, up from just four last year. There are 18 in James Brian's Waldorf 100 course and 16 in Heather Church's Introduction to Waldorf Early Childhood program.
Elisabeth Chomko (photo above), who led the morning singing last week, is back again with a whole new set of songs. This week includes five students attending from the Everlasting Tree School. One of these, Konwenten:ras, spoke a Haudenosaunee morning prayer in the Mohawk language after the singing.
In students from foreign lands, this week we welcome four more students from Korea, making a total of nine in attendance this week. There is also one student from Lebanon.
Above: four new students from Korea arrived in Canada this weekend in time for class on Monday morning.
Graduation on Thurs. July 25th
Just a reminder that the graduation for students in the three-year part-time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers program takes place this Thursday at 5 pm. Everyone is invited. No RSVP is required. Just show up at the RSCT seminar room on the Thornhill campus at 9100 Bathurst St. Thornhill.
And up in Durham, at Glencolton Farms, the first ever Young Adult Retreat program started this past Sunday July 21st and continues through Saturday July 27th.
Above and below: pictures from Marie France's games class in the TWS gym, Monday afternoon. Above: introductions. Below: stretching exercises.
Above and below: Lunch time this year is a little longer than last year, to allow for in-depth conversations. Some like to spend their lunch outdoors on the grass (above). Others prefer to be inside where it's air-conditioned. That's Merwin Lewis and Heather Church in conversation in the photo below.
Joan Almon, our inspiring, courageous friend and colleague and the founder of WECAN, had been dealing with breast cancer for more than a decade before she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June. She continued to be active and full of future plans and initiatives until very recently, and crossed the threshold peacefully in her sleep in the early morning of Sunday, July 14th. She would have celebrated her 74th birthday on August 10.
Our hearts are heavy, but we are inspired by her initiative and tireless good will on behalf of children everywhere. After many years of working as a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, Joan founded the Waldorf Kindergarten Association (today called the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America) in 1983, in order to provide resources and support to the growing number of Waldorf early childhood educators in North America. She launched the Gateways newsletter, edited a number of publications, and organized the first North American Waldorf early childhood conferences.
Joan also travelled internationally as a lecturer and advisor to countless kindergartens on several continents and was active in the International Waldorf Kindergarten Association. Click here to read a tribute to her pioneering work that appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Gateways.
Joan went on to become co-general secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, and in 1999 she co-founded the Alliance for Childhood, in order to reach out more broadly on behalf of healthy childhood, partnering with many individuals and organizations to advocate for the critical importance of free creative play in the first seven years of life.
She was the author of Fool's Gold - A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood, and co-author of Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School. Joan loved fairy tales and puppetry, and performed many marionette plays. Many will remember her ambitious large-scale marionette production of Goethe's fairytale, The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.
Joan was a warrior with an enormous heart, tremendous will forces, and a deep understanding of the needs of the young child. ˇ˛ A memorial service is planned for late September. We will announce details here in the coming weeks.
Photo above: Plant observation exercise in Robert McKay's Meditation for Teachers course.
The magic continues with week two of the 2019 Summer Festival of the Arts and Education. This week is a smaller, more intimate, experience. Last week's grade intensives are over. This week's focus is more inward and artistic with morning sessions including Robert McKay's course on "Meditation and the Spiritual Path of the Waldorf Teacher" and Fiona Hughes' course on "Seven Essential Nutrients for Health".
Fiona Hughes (right) with nutrition class students, getting introduced on Monday morning.
This week there are over forty students in attendance. About 28 people came out for Tuesday morning's start-of-day singing with Elisabeth Chomko. There are about 30 students in Robert's meditation course and nine in Fiona's nutrition class.
Afternoon courses are likewise full to capacity. Fourteen students in Brian Searson's "Coloured Dust" chalkboard drawing workshop, thirteen with Larry Young, Painting Faces, in the art room, and fourteen aspiring felters with Kathie Young in the RSCT seminar room.
As was the case last week, this week's students hail from far and wide. Notably there are three from Korea, along with participats from Miami, Atlanta, Washington, Whistler, Edmonton and Calgary.
Events Open to the Wider Community
This Thursday July 18th at 5 pm there will be two student research presentations. Jennifer Bergfeldt will talk about "Building a Healthy Parent Community -- as a Support for the Children in the Classroom". And Jessica Sykes will present her research on "Teacher Talk Today -- weaving, experience and being".
And next Thursday July 25th, also at 5 pm, will be the graduation of the Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers Part-Time program. No RSVP is necessary. Just show up.
If you come for the presentations this week or the graduation next week, be sure to check out the exhibition of prints of 50 of Larry Young's paintings which is located in the hallway outside the TWS music room.
One of Larry's paintings was featured on the cover of the 2019 Summer Festival brochure. Before moving to Toronto, Larry taught art for many years at the Green Meadow Waldorf High School in Spring Valley, New York.
Above and below: Exhibition of Larry Young's face paintings in the TWS hallway outside the music room.
Above: Getting organized in Robert McKay's editation class on Tuesday morning.
Above: First-thing-in-the-morning singing with RSCT music teacher Elisabeth Chomko
Above: First day of Brian Searson's "Coloured Dust" chalkboard drawing course.
Above: Artist Larry Young with students in the TWS art room, getting ready to paint some faces.
Above: Some of the needle-felting samples brought to the Monday's felting class by teacher Kathie Young.
Above and below: Monica Sutherland leads students in a song from the Torres Islands at the opening assembly Monday morning July 8th.
The RSCT's 2019 Summer Festival of the Arts and Education officially started today with an 8:30 am singing session for students and faculty, with Monica Sutherland (see photos above). This year's festival attracted students from as far away as Korea, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Mexico and Iceland, although most of the students are from Canada and the US.
Above: Eurythmy class with Susann Herb Eddy on Monday afternoon.
This year's enrolment is up from last year. According to RSCT executive director James Brian, there are 117 students registered in this year's programs, which breaks down to 75 or 80 students in week one, during which the full-day grade intensives take place, then about 50 students in each of week two and week three.
Above: Lunchtime conversations on the grass in the RSCT front yard on Monday July 8th.
This year, for the first time, there was a gathering at 5 pm on the Sunday before the course started for faculty and first-year part-time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers program students. This year there are eighteen students starting first year in the program. Photos below are from that event:
Above and below: First-year Waldorf teacher part-time students meeting with faculty on Sunday July 7th.
Brian Searson (middle) and Ena Bruce (right) are here. Brian will be teaching chalkboard drawing.
Phil Hartman, Ena Bruce and Diana Hughes chat with students.
Phil Fertey from Vancouver is teaching the Grade Eight intensive this week.
Above: This was the scene last night in the TWS music room, with all the people who came to hear Nicanor's talk on the challenge of AI.
We were a little nervous about hosting an international speaker on a weekday near the end of June, but we needn't have worried. People rallied to the call. Folks came from as far away as Buffalo New York, Montreal Quebec, and Durham Ontario to hear Nicanor Perlas share his knowledge and insight last night on the topic of artificial intelligence and the challenge it presents to humankind in the 21st century. A big thank you to everyone who came out and helped make the evening such a success.
Tonight Nicanor will be speaking again in the music room at the Toronto Waldorf School at 7 pm on a topic that has the potential to be something of a solution to the problems he described last night -- social threefolding. Without getting into the details too much, this will be about how society can be restructured so that its institutions can be made more responsive to genuine human needs and concerns.
Two photos above: Nicanor being interviewed this morning for a documentary film on Social Threefolding.
Nicanor has been quietly supporting efforts in this direction in his native country, the Philippines, where good things are happening on the local level at least, in a growing number of towns and cities, inspired by ideas based on Rudolf Steiner's idea of the Threefold Social Organism, that Nicanor was invited to share with local leaders.
Above: Janet, Melissa and Gloria came all the way from the Buffalo New York area to hear Nicanor's talk on Artificial Intelligence.
So while last night's presentation was challenging on many levels and many people were being awakened to threats they barely knew existed, this evening's talk promises to be a little more encouraging, as we learn about some of the ideas and the ways that human beings can mount a meaningful response to social challenges such as Artificial Intelligence.
Gabriele will again be selling copies of Nicanor's two most recent books as well as many books which he mentions in his bibliographies, at a book table in the hallway outside the music room tonight. Nicanor says that following his lecture tour in the United States, his books are sold out down there. So we're lucky that Gabriele still has copies left at her TriFold book table.
Hope to see you tonight at Nicanor's talk on Social Threefolding.