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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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, email@example.com, 905-764-7570, re: Grade School
Jan Patterson, firstname.lastname@example.org 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
We thought we would share the following document which AWSNA has published in response to recent events in Minnesota and throughout the US:
Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
From the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
Jun 1 2020: Dear AWSNA Community Members, We write today acknowledging societal injustice and the resulting anger that has escalated throughout the United States this past week. We offer our thoughts to the communities of City of Lakes Waldorf School and Minnesota Waldorf School so near the epicenter of both peaceful protests and rioting spurred by the murder of George Floyd. We grieve for the family of George Floyd and are outraged by the unjust acts perpetrated by the police officers involved whose very task it is to protect their communities. We are once again reminded of the systemic racism that exists within the United States.
Yet, we recognize that sadness and outrage are not enough. At the foundation of Waldorf education lies the mission of social renewal. As Waldorf educators we hold the dignity of life and the human being at the center of our work. It is our responsibility to bear witness to what is happening in the world, to elevate the voices of marginalized people, to change the course of inequities, and to break down structural prejudice in all forms where it exists, particularly in Waldorf education.
Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is one of the guiding forces behind AWSNA’s strategic priorities, and as an executive team of AWSNA we are spending more time than ever asking the following questions:
How do I participate, consciously or unconsciously in systemic racism?
What meaningful actions will I take in service to the leadership and agency of people of color?
Where are the possibilities for me to prioritize racial justice in my work to further Waldorf education?
We ask you to join us in exploring these questions and in elevating your own commitment to social justice.
So What Has Been Happening in Canada in this Direction?
Although Canada does also have some history of slavery and discrimination against black and coloured peoples, one of the most glaring injustices in Canada has to do with our treatment of Indigenous people. At least that is where we, as representatives of Waldorf education have found a way of starting to work with with issues of social justice right here in our own country.
Indigenous students lead a circle dance at the 2019 RSCT Summer Festival.
Indigenous Waldorf Education in Canada
Here in Canada, many of us in the Waldorf community have become acutely aware of the many injustices committed against Indigenous people in Canada, particularly through the system of residential schools.
This awareness has inspired initiatives to explore possibilities of cultural sharing between Indigenous peoples and Waldorf educators. One place where we can start to see the fruits of this collaboration is at the Everlasting Tree School near Brantford.
The following is from the history page of the school's website: "In 2010 a group of parents and teachers seeking a holistic, experiential education, founded The Everlasting Tree School. The first of it’s kind to deliver Kanyen’keha and Rotinonhsonni culture following a Waldorf Education template, we are an independent, alternative school located at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, privately funded by donation."
The Everlasting Tree School has recently become a recognized Waldorf initiative, and is on its way to becoming a full-fledged Waldorf school.
Education for Recovery from Trauma
Last year there was a Waldorf-inspired conference on Emergency Pedagogy, presented by Bernd Ruf (from Germany) at the Everlasting Tree School. Emergency Pedagogy is a stream of Waldorf education developed to address the particular needs of children who are recovering from trauma in their lives. Here's a link to Bernd Ruf's book on Amazon.
Another Ontario school where Indigenous Waldorf conferences have been held is the Akwesasne Freedom School, which is a Mohawk (Haudenosaunee) language school on the St. Lawrence river in Eastern Ontario.
A total of ten conferences and courses on Indigenous Waldorf have so far taken place in these and other Indigenous communities across Canada. Some of these events have sponsored or organized through the Douglas Cardinal Foundation for Indigenous Waldorf Education.
Two years ago, the Rudolf Steiner Centre offered a summer course on Indigenous Waldorf Education, led by teachers from the Everlasting Tree School. Indigenous students have also taken part in both the full-time and part-time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers programs at RSCT.
Indigenous student teacher Wasohnti:io Hill (left) and Waldorf Early Childhood teacher Patti Wolfe making music for "The Dancing Stars" marionette show. Wasohnti:io also helped choose the story and develop it into a marionette show format.
One of the Indigenous student teachers at RSCT, Wasohnti:io Hill (left in photo above), worked with a local Waldorf marionette troupe to develop a puppet show for children based on an Indigenous legend. Initially it was performed at a Toronto Waldorf School children's festival and at the Everlasting Tree School. The following year, in February 2020, the group was invited to bring their marionette show, "The Dancing Stars", to the annual WECAN conference in Spring Valley to share it with other Waldorf early childhood educators.
Douglas Cardinal, who in addition to his work for Indigenous Waldorf, is also a world-renowned architect, has recently published an article in the Toronto Star newspaper on the subject of what the Covid-19 crisis can teach us about our humanity. We've reprinted it on the RSCT blog. You can read that story here.
RSCT Executive Director James Brian (second from left in picture below) is also president of the Douglas Cardinal Foundation for Indigenous Waldorf Education. James has written a story for the forthcoming issue of Renewal magazine outlining the history of Waldorf education in Canada with a particular focus on recent developments in Indigenous Waldorf education.
James Brian presents a certificate from AWSNA to representatives of the Everlasting Tree School, attesting to AWSNA's recognition of their status as an initiative on the way to becoming a full-fledged Waldorf school. (July 2018)
Above: felting a picture in Kathy Young's Creative Felting course at the 2019 RSCT Summer Festival of Arts and Education. This year's students will still be doing hands-on felting like this even though the instruction will be provided via Zoom teleconference.
Not Many More Days to Register for Summer Festival
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 already be a Waldorf teacher. This program is open to Canadians, Americans, and international students.
Not Just Zoom but Artistic Activities Too
And while presentations will be taking place via Zoom teleconference (you will need access to a computer with speaker and microphone), there will still be lots of artistic activities, independent work, and small group discussions, to keep everyone interested and engaged.
Above: Students from Korea at the 2019 Summer Festival. This year's online Summer Festival will enable students from far away to learn about Waldorf education without the added expense of airfare and accommodation.
Bonus for Foreign Students
The fact that the Summer Festival is being offered online is also an advantage for people who live far away and for whom the cost of travel would otherwise be prohibitive. Although we did have one student last year from Lebanon, and several from Korea (see photo above) in the 2019 Summer Festival.
Save on Tuition Fees
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.
Registration Deadline Extended to June 30th
The registration deadline has been extended to June 30th. That's 22 more days to register if you're reading this on June 8th.
Michelle Frank of the Toronto Waldorf School (middle in photo above with her family) was one of the graduates of the Part Time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers program last year.
Part-Time Waldorf Teacher Professional Development
This is a three year program that usually involves three weeks of in-person classes during the Summer Festival of Arts and Education. This year however, those three weeks of classes will be based online, around Zoom teleconference, also including small group breakout sessions, guided artistic activities and independent projects.
Save on Tuition Fees, Travel, Accommodation
New students are invited to start their first year of the program this year. Both first year and returning students will save $600 on the tuition fees this year due to the Summer Festival component of the course being offered online. There will also be savings on the travel and accommodation costs that would normally be incurred for three weeks of in-person classes. So, while we're looking forward to resuming in-person classes for 2021, there are some advantages to the courses being offered online this year.
Registration deadline has been extended to June 30th.
Video by Nadia Tan, shared here courtesy of the Toronto Waldorf School.
Futurist and journalist John Kettle, 91, died on May 15, 2020 in Toronto. Born in London, England, on July 22, 1928, John emigrated to Canada with his wife Pat in 1953 after serving in the British military in the years following World War II.
Once in Canada, John explored the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner and became one of the founders of the Toronto Waldorf School and the anthroposophical movement in our country. Of his early involvement, John said he felt like a man who planted an acorn and then followed other pursuits for half a century.
And what a busy half century it was! Early on, he wrote for, and edited magazines such as Canadian Architect and Canada Month. In 1975, he married Helen Hardman, and became a father figure to children Hilary, Brett, and David. During that time, he authored many books, including The Big Generation and contributed many column inches to The Globe and Mail. He also had a long career as a prominent futurist. From 1982 to 1995, he published FutureLetter, a newsletter dedicated to helping organizations anticipate change. He gave talks worldwide and consulted with governments and companies providing forecasts on just about everything.
In 2005, then widower John reconnected with Diana Hughes, whom he had invited to become one of the first teachers for the Toronto Waldorf School in 1968. They married in 2007 and with that he renewed his connection to anthroposophy and Waldorf education.
When he wasn't researching, writing, or forecasting, John loved to travel, draw, and paint. He watched baseball and tennis avidly, and was an exacting and prolific writer of letters to the editor.
John is survived by his wife Diana, sister Anne, children Brett and David, Diana's children Fiona, Siobhan, and Rowan, and John and Diana's grandchildren. He will be deeply missed. A small funeral for immediate family was held on Monday.
Profound gratitude is owed to Dr. Khemlin and the team at the Reactivation Care Centre for their kindness and devotion to John's care.
Published in The Globe and Mail on May 22 and May 23, 2020
Eulogy given by Rev. Jonah Evans at John's funeral
at the Church of the Christian Community on May 15, 2020, with some editing by Diana for accuracy
John was born July 22nd, 1928 in Wanstead, Essex. His mother’s name was Ruth. His father Frank was a stockbroker. He had one dear sister, Anne. He grew up in London in the 30s. At a certain point, his father could afford to send him to a very fine boarding school, Felsted School, in Essex. He loved school and it was an excellent classical education where he excelled in English, math, Latin and rugby. Even though John never went to university, many who knew him would describe John as one of the most educated and informed human beings that they knew.
He graduated from Felsted in 1946. He then served in the British military from 1947 to 1949. He worked in counter-intelligence while stationed in Northern Germany. John loved this work. He seemed to love everything he put his mind to. This was one of the qualities that was admired in him: an unending interest in the world, in possibilities, in the future.
So, while working as a 007-Bond-like spy, he met a lovely lady, Patricia Anderson. They quickly became a pair and were married later in 1950 in Chelsea, London. Pat played a big influence in his life. She is the one who introduced John to anthroposophy and Waldorf education, both of which became fundamental to John’s spiritual and intellectual life.
They emigrated together in 1953, departing Southhampton on October 30th, arriving in New York aboard the ship Liberte, with the stated destination of Canada.
Early on in their new Canadian home, John got a job in journalism. He worked hard and quickly rose in the ranks. Already in 1955 he founded The Canadian Architect journal and in 1961 helped found Canada Month magazine. As a forecaster and trends analyst he was consultant to many corporations, such as AT&T, IBM, the Royal Bank, as well as government departments and agencies, including the House of Commons, the Prime Minister’s Office and the United Nations. After deciding to work for himself as a freelance writer in 1966, John would later become Canada’s first consulting futurist. He wrote a series of articles about the future, and many books including his most famous, The Big Generation. Its success led to much public speaking and consulting, often 50 talks a year, all over Canada, the US, Algeria, and Japan. His close friendship and productive partnership with Marc Zwelling led to the start of a highly regarded magazine called FutureLetter.
If you look on Wikipedia, a futurist is defined as “people whose specialty or interest is futurology or the attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present.” The future was John’s vocational passion. He was fueled and inspired by the possibility of the new - creating the new. He loved to ponder how change occurs, and spent much of his spiritual capacities with the mystery and nature of time itself. He loved language and grammar and wrote memorable columns and articles defending the proper use of words like “relativity”, and especially defending the correct use of hyphens. (You don’t know how intimidating it is to write a eulogy for someone like that!)
His personality and character were perfect for a futurist. For a good futurist must be highly organized but flexible to adapt to unpredictable changes. He loved routine and order, numbers and categories. Siobhan, one of his step-children, remembers borrowing his car and being asked to track her fuel usage. He loved statistics which are used for crafting predictions. He loved to read and catalogue what he read. He has a notebook where he wrote down the authors of all the books that he read - over 14,000! He had an accountant mentality and at the same time was very flexible and in the moment. This combination of form and freedom that John embodied is seldom seen in an individual human soul. He loved to work and was extremely disciplined. When he set his mind on something, he did it. But at the same time he loved to celebrate with friends; he occasionally loved to let loose and enjoy wine! Tim Horton donuts and ice cream were also never far from his reach.
Essentially John’s joy was in being part of and creating the new. In 1967, after five years of preparing a detailed plan to start a new Waldorf school in Toronto, John and Pat went to England to recruit teachers. At a presentation at Michael Hall School in Forest Row, John met and persuaded Diana Lawrence to return to her native Canada to become the first grade one teacher of the Toronto Waldorf School. Little did they know then the nature of their future destiny together.
John was a founder of the Toronto Waldorf School. He identified the first piece of land for the school and pioneered its public advertising. In Newtonbrook Plaza near Finch and Yonge, the WSAO rented a storefront in which they set up a model of a Waldorf classroom. John wrote an introductory pamphlet to Waldorf education that is still relevant. Like any good futurist he called the pamphlet Waldorf: Education for Tomorrow.
In 1969, John met Helen Hardman. She was wearing a golden dress which he couldn’t get out of his mind. Falling in love with Helen was a further push for the difficult end of his marriage to Pat.
John was with Helen for 30 years before she died of lung cancer in 2004. He loved Helen very much but their relationship was not easy. These thirty years were both beautiful and challenging years. Helen was a strong support to his career as research assistant and advisor. Helen had three young children, Hilary, Brett and David, for whom John became a stable and loving presence in their lives.
Around the year 2000, John had picked up several remaindered copies of Art and Human Consciousness at the National Gallery in Ottawa. He called Diana to see if she and/or the Steiner Centre would like a copy. Four years later she stopped by in Oshawa to pick up the book and to enjoy a lunch with Helen and John. Sometime after Helen’s unexpected death, Diana invited John to come and experience how the acorn he had helped to plant in the sixties had grown into a remarkable oak tree: the Toronto Waldorf School.
Through this meeting with Diana John was reintroduced to a community that he loved. Eventually they started a group studying with particular fervor Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom and Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances. It is not surprising to me that John was so interested in Steiner. For like John, Steiner too was a futurist. Steiner predicted the world wide web, the profound future need for an education that cultivated true human qualities in the midst of an ever increasingly technological world. Steiner saw with clarity that human beings of the future would need to struggle to keep connected to what makes us human, to culture, language and morality. Steiner saw the human being of the future as having to struggle to cultivate the authentic light of the human heart in the midst of a de-humanizing culture. This view of the future, John shared.
Having asked Diana’s daughter Siobhan if he could marry her mother, he proposed to Diana on Christmas morning in 2006.
The years with Diana were, for John, the golden years of his life. He so much enjoyed their honeymoon in Switzerland and the south of France, painting in Italy, bounding around in Roman colosseums, and some years later walking on Hadrian’s wall in Scotland. Partnership with Diana seemed to combine John’s love for family, community, spirituality, culture and intelligence.
John was highly intelligent but also humble, never arrogant. He was interested in all things, especially things that motivated large groups of people even if it meant having to watch teenage movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He was hardly ever angry, only calm and collected. He could make almost anything interesting. For him, boring was not on. Conversation needed to be pointed and constructive, chit chat was not for him. He was seriously funny, a dry-wit, not slapstick but humour that was sharp and perceptive. At times he could be a rascal but always embodied a true gentleman. He was self-deprecating but confident. He could learn and solve the problems that arose. John was his own man. Original. Independent. But his independence was limited. He couldn’t cook worth a darn.
John loved through interest. He wasn’t sentimental but his care for others was expressed in the currency of presence and attention.
At the end of his life, as he suffered from dementia and Covid 19, the doctor and nurses expressed their admiration for John. “He was like a British count” they said. “Always a gentleman. Infectious dignity. A nobility that inspired us all. Our favorite patient.” The nurse told us that at his last meal, instead of yoghurt, they spoiled him with two portions of ice cream.
The John who wrote the Book of Revelation, the ultimate futurist, revealed that the essence of the human being is both priestly and kingly.
Our John followed in these footsteps. For he inspired in us a feeling of the dignity and nobility of the creative human being, just like the great Apocalyptist. He was deeply concerned for our human future. He strove to find, understand, and behold how the school of human evolution would continue.
May his gift, this spirit of human dignity, shape us and kindle in us its flame - that it live on in our hearts.
Blessings on your journey, dear John.
John Kettle with Diana Hughes, May 2018
June Will Follow May
for John Kettle
June will follow May,
Only this time without
Him here. The earth will keep turning.
Nothing will stop that. We
Even he who
Thinks with his heart, who
Turns his thoughts into deeds, who
Listens to the stars sing,
Even he must travel on.
Merwin Lewis, May 2020
We'll leave you with this comment by Dion Bowman on the Facebook post linking to this blog post: "John approached his friend and my father about becoming involved in the architectual design of a Waldorf school. Without John, the school would not have been designed by Denis Bowman. Without John I would never have been in the first TWS grade one class and I would not have had a Waldorf school education. It was John who recruited Miss Diana Lawrence to be our grade one teacher. Miss Lawrence later became Mrs. Hughes to us. John Kettle helped plant a mighty and beautiful tree."
Early Childhood Part-Time Program – Now Starting July 26
It is not too late to apply. Applications are still being accepted for the new cycle of Waldorf Early Childhood Part-Time. Please note that we are postponing the start date of the summer session to July 26 (previously June 14) to make it possible for more people to attend either in-person or online (with a combination of zoom, webinars and independent projects).
Registration is still open. The registration fee has been waived and no fees will be collected until the course takes place. Scholarship support is still available.
Please do not hesitate to contact the director Jan Ney Patterson at email@example.com for more information and to discuss your situation.
The new deadline is June 30th, for the three-year part-time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers program. This summer's session will be online, which means out of town participants can save on travel and accommodation. We are hoping to be able to offer subsequent sessions in-person. Registration fees are waived this year. And due to the Summer Festival component of the program being online this year, you can save $600 on tuition. Yes, that's right, this year's part-time Waldorf Teacher program fees will be only $5,100 CAD instead of the usual $5,700 CAD. So take advantage of this opportunity and 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 already be a Waldorf teacher. We welcome Canadians, Americans, and international students from all over.
With this year's online courses you will save 30% over in-person tuition fees. Summer Festival online tuition: $450 CAD per week (about $320 US), $850 CAD for 2 weeks, $1,200 CAD for 3 weeks, $225 CAD for 1 week half day
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 w/ 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
This is one program that can't be moved online since the experience of being there is person is so much a part of what it's all about. We are still hoping that it will be possible to have this program go ahead in-person as scheduled. But you're not risking anything by applying now, since full refunds will be issued in case we need to cancel due to government restrictions.