Prize-winning storyteller Georgiana Keable is coming from Norway to share her stories this Thursday July 19th, 2018, from 5:30 pm to 7 pm, on the wooden stage in the Toronto Waldorf School forest playground, north-west of the school.
Stories from Asia and South America
This performance is FREE of charge for Summer Festival attendees and other interested people. Everyone is welcome (suitable for children age 6 and older). Thursday’s program will include stories from Asia and South America. There will also be an audience-participation artistic activity to accompany the storytelling.
This special storytelling event is sponsored by the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto, in conjunction with their Summer Festival of Arts and Education. However, please note that this event is not listed on the official schedule of Festival events, so don’t look for it in the printed program or on the website.
She Didn’t Go To a Waldorf School, but…
Georgiana grew up in England with a childhood full of stories, told to her by her mother who was a Waldorf teacher. In the early 1980s she and some colleagues started to tell stories professionally, taking them to schools in West London. Later she learned that others people had also taken up storytelling on other continents about the same time. So it was a movement! Georgiana later moved to Norway, learned Norwegian, and has been telling stories in Norway and at festivals throughout Europe and even in Iran, ever since.
Prize-Winning Book of Collected Stories Just Published
Recently she published her first book of collected stories, titled “The Natural Storyteller”, for which she received the first-place Purple Dragonfly Book Award.
Thanks to local storyteller Dawne McFarlane for helping connect Georgiana with the RSCT. Georgiana will also be attending a storytelling event in British Columbia.
Where Exactly Will the Storytelling Take Place?
The Toronto Waldorf School is located at 9100 Bathurst St., Thornhill, but due to construction on the bridge over the summer, you can only enter the campus via Bathurst Glen Drive, which you can get to from Bathurst St., via Ner Israel Drive. The forest playground and the small stage (where the stories will be told) are located northwest of the school building. See you there!
Douglas Cardinal speaks at the opening of "Unceded" in Venice May 24th, 2018.
James Brian and Julian Mulock of the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto (RSCT) were in Venice with Canadian Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal May 24th for the official opening of Canada’s Exhibit at the 2018 Venice Bienale in Italy. The Venice Bienale is an international art exhibition held every other year in Venice, Italy. The theme for the 2018 Venice Bienale is architecture.
Douglas Cardinal’s concept for Canada’s exhibit, titled “Unceded - Voices of the Land”, was chosen as the winner in a competition with twenty other competing bids, to represent Canada at the 2018 Venice Bienale. The “Unceded” exhibit includes contributions from eighteen indigenous architects, all from “Turtle Island”, which is the original name for what is now known as North America.
Ancient and Modern
Director and CEO of the Canada Council, Simone Brault, who opened the show, said he found it significant that in this exhibit we have one of the most ancient cultures, expressed through the most modern technologies. The exhibit includes no traditional architectural models, but rather a blend of audio-visual presentations from the participating architects. A film, titled “Road to Venice”, based on the Douglas Cardinal’s exhibit, is now being made, for wider circulation. Unceded was supported by a $500,000 grant from the Canada Council.
Douglas Cardinal was presented with a ceremonial headdress by one of the six elders in attendance.
Everyone was there for the Opening
The opening ceremonies for Unceded featured the Red Sky (aboriginal) Dancers from Canada. Ontario Lt. Governor Elizabeth Dowdswell was on hand to represent the province (Douglas Cardinal is based in Ottawa). All of the eighteen participating Indigenous architects were also on hand for the opening of the show, along with six women elders from across Canada. Eight Indigenous architecture students from Turtle Island will also participate in the exhibit. According to Mark O’Neill, president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History, Douglas Cardinal’s “Unceded” is the most important Canadian exhibition exported abroad from Canada in the last 100 years.
The World Takes Note
A news conference in Venice, preceding the opening was attended by journalists from the CBC, The Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal, among others. The Toronto Star ran a big story about the event and the Walrus magazine, one of the project’s media sponsors, ran a full page ad for the Unceded exhibit.
In 2017, Douglas Cardinal’s Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa was chosen by the Huffington Post as the fifth most beautiful building in the world. Also noted were Gaudi’s Casa Mila, the Sydney Opera House, and the Pantheon in Rome.
A Few of Douglas Cardinal’s Other Buildings
Douglas Cardinal was also the architect for the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. (2004), and closer to home, the York Administrative Centre and Newmarket Town Hall on Eagle St. and Yonge St., just an hour north of Toronto. Douglas Cardinal’s architecture was inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s concepts of organic architecture, which Douglas first encountered as an architecture student in Texas. (Rudolf Steiner also inspired Waldorf education, thus the indigenous Waldorf connection).
James Brian, Douglas Cardinal, Idoia Cardinal, and Marie-France Bertrand, in Venice Italy for the opening.
James Brian as the Bridge
The RSCT and Waldorf connection with Douglas Cardinal and the Venice exhibit is through James Brian’s dual role as both Executive Director of the RSCT and as President of the Douglas Cardinal Foundation for Indigenous Waldorf Education. This Foundation helps sponsor teachers at Indigenous schools who wish to attend professional development programs at the RSCT in Waldorf education, and also provides on-site courses and other support for the development of Indigenous Waldorf schools across Canada.
There has been considerable interest in Waldorf education among Indigenous people in Canada, and this trend has been encouraged and supported by the Foundation.
Julian Mulock, with his wife Andrea, Marie-France Bertrand, and James Brian, in Venice, May 2018.
Julian Mulock and the other Canadians
Artist and RSCT teacher Julian Mulock was there because he is interested in working to support Indigenous Waldorf education. Julian was accompanied by his artist wife Andrea. And James was there with his friend Marie-France Bertrand who is based in Ottawa and handles financial logistics and fundraising for the Douglas Cardinal Foundation. Poet Farrel was there from the Foundation’s fundraising team. Douglas Cardinal’s wife Idoia, was also there for the opening. James says they didn’t have time to go on a gondola ride, but they did dine at a place where the legendary explorer Marco Polo used to live.
Indigenous Waldorf in Canada
As part of their July 9-27 Summer Festival, the RSCT will be hosting the first ever week-long course in Indigenous Waldorf education, which will be led by Everlasting Tree School co-founders, Amy Bomberry and Chandra Maracle, along with Sean Thompson, an Indigenous Waldorf teacher, also from the Everlasting Tree School near Brantford.
This past year, Sean has been deepening his knowledge of Waldorf by participating as a student in the full-time Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers program at the RSCT. At his graduation, Sean spoke of his hope that Waldorf education could help to heal some of the wounds from the residential schools.
Recently the Douglas Cardinal Foundation has been awarded a grant from the National Indian Brotherhood to host a conference on the Akwesasne reserve from August 1-3 titled “We will gather our minds”. Funds are being sought for a purpose built Indigenous Waldorf School to be designed by Douglas Cardinal and built on the Akwesasne reserve.
The Eurythmy Spring Valley Post-Graduate Class of 2018 will be performing in Toronto, May 14th-18th, 2018. Their program, "Splinters of the Sun" weaves together music by Beethoven, Kodály, Sculthorpe and Sibelius, with poetry by Kathleen Raine, William Everson, David Wagoner and others, and includes the Grimm’s fairy tale "The Queen Bee".
Performance Dates, Times, Locations
Monday, May 14th Novalis Hall 2:30 p.m., Camphill Communities Ontario, 7841 4 Line, Angus, Ontario L0M 1B1, www.camphill.on.ca 705-424-5363
Tuesday, May 15th Waldorf Academy 7:00 p.m., 250 Madison Avenue, Toronto, ON, M4V 2W6, www.waldorfacademy.org 416-962-6447
Wednesday, May 16th Toronto Waldorf School 7:30 p.m., 9100 Bathurst Street, Thornhill, ON, L4J 8C7, www.torontowaldorfschool.com 905-881-1611
Thursday, May 17th Halton Waldorf School 7:00 p.m., 2193 Orchard Road, Burlington ON, L7L 3X5, www.haltonwaldorf.com 905-331-4387
About the Performers
The performers are a group of 8 eurythmists from 5 countries, with diverse professional backgrounds. Over the past 8 months, they have been engaged in a post-graduate eurythmy stage-training course at the Spring Valley School of Eurythmy in New York. Their performance program, Splinters of the Sun, is the culmination of their work together, which they are bringing on tour in May 2018, to Toronto, as well as to Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania.
The program explores the theme of our human capacity to find and create light in the darkness. For more information about the performances in the Toronto area, please contact the venues directly. For U.S. venue information, please contact Olivia Hanna: email@example.com
We will explore, from conventional and esoteric perspectives, how mind altering substances including opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol work on our bodies to give the experiences they offer.
We will look at these effects in the short and long term, with a special focus on human development. There will be an opportunity for questions after the talk
At Hesperus Friday April 27th, at 7 pm
Pay at the door ~ Suggested $20 or pay what you can. The proceeds will go to Kenneth’s favourite charity, Hesperus Village www.hesperus.ca
Location: Hesperus Village 1 Hesperus Road, Thornhill
Date: Friday, April 27, 2018. 7:00 ~ 8:30PM
Kenneth McAlister M.D.
Kenneth McAlister BA, MD, is a General Practitioner, certified in Anthroposophic Medicine and has been in practice for over 30 years. He has been involved with the development of Hesperus Village where his practice with the Pegasus Medical Centre is also located. He is a founding member of the Canadian Anthroposophic Medical Association and has six children. He likes to play music in his spare time.
From April 23-27, guest lecturer Diane Walters will be giving a four-day course on the subject of “Classroom Management and School Leadership” as part of the Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers Full-Time program at the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto.
Over the last ten years, Dianne Walters has worked as an educational consultant, mentor, evaluator and teacher, mostly working with Waldorf schools in the Pacific Northwest region. She is currently based in Calgary.
This Saturday, April 14, I will be leading a group through Rudolf Steiner’s Mercury Seal. Steiner created seven seals in all, the five initial ones for a conference in Munich at the turn of the 20th century. A few years later they appeared, transformed, on the columns in his architectural masterpiece, the first Goetheanum. So far we have covered the ‘past’ seals of Saturn, Sun, Moon and Mars. Mercury is the fifth, the one which corresponds to the time in which we are living, where we have to develop a “self-conscious image consciousness”. On May 5th and June 2nd we will explore the ‘future’ seals, Jupiter and Venus.
Mystery Drama Connections
In this Mercury session the focus, aside from immersing ourselves in the form itself, will be to take a look at how Steiner used this form in one of his Mystery Dramas, The Portal of Initiation. In the seventh scene, Maria, one of the main protagonists, meets her three soul forces as objective beings in the spiritual world: Astrid, Philia and Luna. They carry the forces of thinking, feeling and will, respectively. Maria circles the three with specific soul gestures, while the soul forces gesture their respective vowels in their respective zones and with their respective qualities.
The participants have varied from group to group—a mixture of those who had attended a previous seal plus some were new to the endeavor. The majority are beginners as regards eurythmy so don’t be shy about turning up!
“We talk about 'the 1%'. We watched 'Occupy Wall Street' flame up and flame out. The 'don't spend my money' parties take power in the US and (soon?) in Ontario? What does Anthroposophy have to say about this? Steiner's offering for the avoidance of the 1st World War is just as relevant today - and this play may be your best opportunity to begin to understand it." -- Grant Davis
Rudolf Steiner launched the idea of the Threefold Social Organism (Threefold Social Order) in 1917 in the hope that this would help shorten the war and prevent another great conflagration from breaking out. However, the times were against him then, and he was unsuccessful. But the question of the hour is: "Did what Steiner attempted in those years, plant a seed that has waited 100 years to mature?"
Three Performances, in Toronto and Thornhill, April 5, 6, 7
April 5th, 7 pm, Waldorf Academy, 250 Madison Ave, Toronto $25 (students/seniors $15)
April 7th, 7:30 pm, Christian Community, 901 Rutherford Rd., Thornhill $25.
The birth of the idea of the Threefold Social Organism
It is 100 years since Rudolf Steiner first described his vision of the Threefold Social Organism (Threefold Social Order). His efforts in 1917 to rescue Germany from a devastating World War failed. However his description of the way that society needed to be restructured at that time is as relevant today as it was then.
Steiner focused on the key role played by human creativity in our society. The activity of free individuals is the counterbalance to much that is wrong with society today. Social three-folding, by countering both excessive state power and the tyranny of raw economic forces, brings harmony into society. That it should come into existence in the world, working in different ways in different countries, is an important precondition for world peace.
This War Is Not Inevitable premiered in New Zealand in May 2017. It went on to play 35 times in New Zealand Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany. This is the premier performance of a completely new version of the play with Christian Peterson taking on the part of the second actor.
Biographies of the Cast
Born in Hannover, Germany, Christian Peterson moved with his parents to the United States where he attended the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School from K-12 in upstate New York. Recently, Christian attended the British American Drama Academy, in connection with the Yale School of Drama, at Magdalen College in Oxford, England where he studied classical Shakespeare acting.
This is Christian’s first tour, and is excited to travel the world and share an important philosophy. He is, quote, “super stoked about it!”
When not acting or writing, Christian is probably having an existential crisis of some sort. He plans to return to the UK in pursuit of furthering his experience at a leading drama school before transitioning to film.
Born in 1955 in Auckland, Michael Burton first studied speech and drama at Auckland University, where he received a Diploma in Drama in 1977; he also has a B.A. in English Literature from Waikato University. He met Anthroposophy while working on a newspaper at the age of 21. This led to him doing an anthroposophical speech training that he completed in Hawaii under Virginia Brett in 1988. Since that time he has practised artistic speech and drama in various ways – as a writer, speech performer, actor, speech therapist and voice teacher.
As well as working on This War is Not Inevitable, Michael hopes to have some time to continue to give performances of his one-man-drama, Shakespeare and the Mystery of the Human Being, to give children’s performances, to conduct voice classes and teach chirophonetic therapy (a form of therapy that uses touch and the sounds of human speech).
Working with Lemniscate Arts, he is the writer of The Working of the Spirit, a play that follows on from Rudolf Steiner’s Fourth Mystery Drama. His next task may be to facilitate productions of this play, possibly with amateur actors doing coordinated scenes in different places. The play is soon to be published by Hawthorne Press, UK.
Toronto and Thornhill Performance Sponsors
Thornhill and Toronto performances sponsored by the Thornhill Group of the Anthroposophical Society and by the Toronto Branch of the Anthroposophical Society and by the Anthroposophical Society in Canada, www.anthroposophy.ca
Thanks to The Waldorf Academy, Hesperus Village and the Christian Community for the use of their
facilities for the Toronto and Thornhill performances.
Upcoming Performance Dates for the 2018 Tour
14. Copake Community Tues 10th April
16. New York City Thursday 12th April
15. Kimberton Friday April 13th
IF YOU KNOW ANYONE AT ANY OF THESE VENUES WHO WOULD LIKE TO SEE THIS, PLEASE LET THEM KNOW THESE DATES.
Quotations from the Play
These words are all taken from the script of the play. Many of the quotations will be found – perhaps in different form – in various places in the work of Rudolf Steiner and in particular in his book, written in 1919; Die Kernpunkte der Socialen Frage, titled in English variously as Towards Social Renewal, The Threefold Commonwealth or The Renewal of the Social Organism:
“In our time too much power falls upon the state. It is an evolutionary necessity today to change this. We can progress only if people become conscious that the workings of society take place in three quite different systems, the boundaries of which need to be clearly defined”.
“This war is the visible expression of what happens when ideas have lost their effectiveness and the antisocial forces are not checked and have come to dominate the world.”
“The threefold ordering that I describe must come to pass. It will evolve either through people taking up the ideas in freedom or through great suffering and catastrophe. This war gives us an opportunity to progress to something that was never possible before. Behind the tragedy of armies locked in pointless conflict with each other is the push towards a whole new way of living together. Perhaps, out of great destruction, there will arise in people an openness for a new society appropriate to the conditions of the times.”
"The state, as we know it, is an archaic relic; it must disappear."
"The political sphere can do no other than destroy economic life when it takes control of it; and the economic sphere loses its strength and vitality when it tries to become political…"
"I tried to show them how to deal with what happens when individuals meet one another across the gulf that separates this world from regions of soul and spirit. This takes place when the powers that hold the soul together are loosened. People of future times will have to learn how to conduct themselves, as such things increasingly take place."
"The Threefold Social Organism is still needed by the earth. Of course, times have changed, and it will not be for you as it was for us in 1917 or 1919. But Steiner told me that, out of the chaos of the times, humanity would be given another chance after 100 years had passed." (Spoken by Emil Molt)
"The ultimate failure of society is war. Those who believe in the super-powerful state desire and promote war because it gives them what they need to control populations. The free human individuality is the one power that will liberate us from the interventions of the state and the depersonalisation of the financial system."
"Forces driving us towards destruction are getting stronger but so too is the power to wage peace. Solutions will not come from the kinds of thinking that have caused our problems. If you want to become the change that is needed in the world, you will have to risk everything. (Spoken by the Homeless Man)"
Reference Materials for Further Study
Websites concerning The Threefold Social Organism:
www.alternativ3gliedern.com (A PUBLIC APPEAL AND CALL TO ACTION)
For Rudolf Steiner’s complete lectures and writings on the subject
see: www.rsarchiv.org/SocialIssues (ensure capitals are used)
Books related to the threefold structuring of society:
Shaping Globalization - Civil Society, Cultural Power and Threefolding;
Nicanor Perlas (New Society Publishers, 2003)
Common Wealth - For a Free, Equal, Mutual, and Sustainable Society;
Martin Large (Hawthorn Press, 2010)
Michael Spence (Adonis Press, 2014)
Functional Threefoldness in the Human Organism and Human Society;
Johannes Rohen (Adonis Press, 2011)
What is Money? - A Discussion;
Joseph Beuys (Clairview Books, 2010)
Freeing the Human Spirit: The Threefold Social Order, Money & the Waldorf School;
Michael Spence (AWSNA, 2001)
Gary Lamb (Waldorf Publications, 2016)
Finance at the Threshold: Rethinking the Real and Financial Economics;
Christopher Houghton Budd (Routledge, 2016)
Threefold Now; (a series of five books re-imagining the basis of civilizational renewal)
Travis Henry (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014-2016)
Becoming Human: A Social Task - The Threefold Social Order;
Karl Konig (Floris Books, 2011)
We are the Revolution!: Rudolf Steiner, Joseph Beuys and the Threefold Social Impulse;
Ulrich Roesch (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2010)
Thanks and Credits
The Prometheus Foundation
Ceres Enterprises of Auckland
Gerrit and Bernie Raichle
Lynn and John Daniel
The Anthroposophical Society of New Zealand
Jim Willetts, Sacramento
...along with the many individuals who gave amounts of various sizes in 2017. These people and organizations enabled this idea to be born into the world, and we are deeply grateful.
As well as our financial sponsors, we’d like to thank the following:
Rod Green – director of the original production
Michael Spence – chief advisor concerning the Threefold Social Organism
Scotty Smith – soundtrack
Kathy Burton – printing and publication
Jim Willetts – chief encourager for us to take the work to North America
Christine Burke and Debbie McCarthy – hosts in California
Kimberley Rogers and Christine Burke – inspirers of new performances
And here's a link to download a pdf version of the eight-page Summer Festival brochure if you'd like to learn more about the courses and workshops that will be offered.
This year's Summer Festival, which runs from three weeks in July, from July 9th through the 27th, features some innovative and unique courses and workshops.
First Ever "Indigenous Waldorf Week"
One of these is a full-day course in Week Three, titled: "Indigenous Waldorf Week -- On Behalf of First Nations Children: Searching for an Education". From the summer festival program:
"Waldorf is an education created for cultural renewal. Waldorf/Indigenous schools are emerging to lay the foundation for the re-kindling of Indigenous spiritual, cultural, linguistic and community life.
Two leading Haudenosaunee teachers, Amy Bomberry and Aronhiateni (Sean Thompson), who inspire their teaching from Waldorf pedagogy, Chandra Maracle, a cofounder of the Everlasting Tree School and two experienced Waldorf teachers, Les Black and Elyse Pomeranz, are the facilitators for this course.
This course is open to all who want to enter into an open exchange on how Indigenous education can benefit from using Waldorf education and how Waldorf schools can learn from Indigenous culture and spirituality and present it to their children in an authentic way. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants are welcome."
Mary Willow from New Zealand
Another innovative course that takes place in third week of the Festival -- in case you needed a good reason to register for all three weeks -- is with parenting and early childhood teacher and consutant Mary Willow, who is currently based in New Zealand.
Mary is well known to many in the local anthroposophical and Waldorf community because she has moved back and forth many times between Canada and New Zealand. But in recent decades she's pretty solidly in New Zealand, where she helps parents learn to parent in a Waldorf-inspired way.
Mary's full-day week-long course at the Summer Festival is titled: "Early Childhood for Parents ñ ìRoots and Wings: Laying the Foundation for Children to become Confident, Resilient, Free-thinking Adults". Here's the course description (from the Summer Festival brochure):
"Early childhood is the critical period for laying the foundation for all learning and well-being. We cannot understand the child’s journey through the early, middle and teenage years without this insight. This workshop will give a new and essential understanding of the profoundly different stages of childhood, how children learn at each stage and how to respond with age-appropriate parenting and teaching.
From there we will focus on what to do when children encounter difficulty and how to guide them through sensitivity, reactivity, resistance and distraction to confidence, resilience and success. Mary is the founder of Plum Parenting (www.plumparenting.com), a service providing one-on-one education and mentoring for parents and teachers in New Zealand."
Learn Waldorf Remedial Methods with HEART
Margaret Beard and Arlene Kamo will be offering Summer Festival participants a taste of RSCT's HEART remedial Waldorf education program through a morning course during Week Two, titled: HEART Remedial Education -- "Learning to Read the Movements of Our Children". From the Summer Festival brochure:
"Many things are revealed in the gestures of movement. In this workshop, Marg and Arlene, co-directors of RSCT’s Healing Education and Remedial Training Program (HEART), will offer parents and teachers the opportunity to awaken capacities of observation in the movement of their children in order to understand the importance of archetypal developmental movements in early childhood. In addition, the educational practices that can be offered to support and/or remediate this on-going foundation of the will in grade school children will be explored."
And Something Especially for Homeschoolers Too
Marg Beard will lead a Week Two, afternoon course, titled: Homeschooling Workshop with Marg Beard -- "Living Learning in the Home". From the brochure:
"This workshop, while working with Steiner’s pedagogical principles, will explore the essentials in educating your child(ren) at home and will invite you to actively engage in the art of creating an environment for living learning that suits your unique home setting. Marg is a co-founder of the Rosewood Homeschooling Group and, working with the principles of Steiner’s pedagogy, homeschooled her three now adult aged children from birth through the high school years."
Courses for Grade School Teachers:
All that's in addition to the usual preparatory courses for Waldorf class teachers, to help them get a headstart on preparing for their next year's teaching, not to mention courses in Waldorf language teaching, Eurythmy, celebrating festivals, and developing your meditative life as a teacher.
One week full-day is $600. Two weeks is $1,100. Three weeks is $1,500.
One week half-day is $350. Two weeks is $600. Three weeks is $850.
Read the full details about all the course offerings in the downloadable pdf version of the Summer Festival brochure (optimized for fast downloading).
Jan Ney Patterson, the RSCT's early childhood teacher education director, recently returned from her first visit to China where she mentored in three Waldorf schools working with both teachers and parents. Although she had been asked to go several times previously, she felt it was time to take the plunge, in November of 2017.
She was warned that the experience would be a culture shock and hard work, but nothing prepared her for the reality. Jan found herself working all day, evenings, and weekends, as well as sleeping on hard cots in unheated homes. “Everyone wanted to take me out to dinner” she said which meant even more meetings. In the beginning she was so homesick she didn’t think she would be able to last the month. She had done her best to come prepared but when unable to access drop box to retrieve reference files she was often thrown back on her own resources and inspiration from her angel. “It definitely stretched me professionally”.
Two of the three schools Jan visited were kindergarten to grade eight near Xi’an, a city that is famous for the Terra Cotta Warriors. It was always her wish to visit this site and she was grateful for a day trip to see them.
Both Parents Attend Workshops on Waldorf Parenting
Jan led two weekend workshop on Waldorf parenting which attracted 40 participants. It is common in China for both parents to attend all such events. One session for example was on the important role of storytelling and circle work in a child’s development. The parents were delighted to learn by heart The Bremen Town Musicians and a lively movement journey of the Three Little Pigs.
In the evenings Jan worked with the school’s faculty and administration to deepen their understanding of early childhood development. Given the potential tedium of listening to translation, making these presentations visual and interactive was key. Jan found herself stressing the importance of meaningful work in a country where children are often catered to by the extended family. One parent came up later to say her son now helps to clear the table.
Climbing a Mountain with the Children
At one school Jan worked with a teacher who was having difficulty with her class: more boys than girls and all very active. Every morning they climbed up the mountain side to find a spot to play and have snack. By the end of the week both their play and their ability to listen had transformed.
Two of the schools were in small villages where Jan walked past fields with women planting vegetables, harvesting the corn, and drying herbs and home-made noodles. It was a Waldorf teacher’s paradise to see such meaningful work. As the only foreigner in the village, when she walked down the ally-ways the villagers would come out to greet her. When she ate in the little café they would come in to practice their English. It was like being a celebrity.
The Foreign Grandmother
At one of the schools she lived with a young family whose grandmother prepared all her favourite meals. The family’s three-year-old daughter asked if she could sit with “the foreign grandmother”. “The food was amazing”, said Jan, everything local and homemade, prepared lovingly over one little gas burner. But, she said, you had to be careful what you asked for, because the next day, there would be a case of it delivered. Receiving a bag of live crabs to have for supper was the most difficult. A real luxury for the family but hard to face.
Leaving a school, after working with the parents and faculty for a week, she felt incredible sadness. You develop such a close bond especially with your translator who not only translates your thoughts but your soul. Aside from her translator, there was only the occasional person who spoke English. One little girl whose father was an English professor helped her by telling her what she needed to do and introducing all the children so she would learn their names.
Waldorf Resonates with Chinese Traditions
Waldorf is by far the most quickly growing independent school movement in China. Jan said that the Chinese people find the Waldorf philosophy resonates with their spiritual traditions. Many of the parents want for their children what they did not get in their highly academic early years. They understand the value of play and the effects of too much stress. Some parents who live in big cities even establish second homes near a village Waldorf school so that their children can attend.
In spite of the many cultural differences between China and the West, Jan feels, children are the same everywhere. She confirmed her understanding of archetypal images that Steiner indicates all children bring with them. The way they laugh, whine, throw tantrums are a universal language. She saw some extraordinary play but also children who have been “pulled out of the water” too soon. Waldorf parents in China have the same worries that we do, about whether their child is going to be prepared for the challenges of adult life. Children in China also attend a lot of extra-curricular lessons.
A Generation of Parents Who Grew Up as Only Children
A big difference now in China is the change in the “one child only” policy. Parents who grown up as only children want their own to have brothers and sisters. Many other things are also changing quickly. Cell phones are everywhere; even the old street cleaners are looking on their devices as they sweep and hundred-year-old grandmothers use them.
There was great interest in our RSCT teacher education program, and request to come back to continue intensive work in the schools. Not many Chinese teachers can afford to come to Canada for a year to study Waldorf education. They want us to go there.
On her last two days in China, Jan got to be a tourist in Beijing, where she rented a bicycle to get around. The trip to the Great Wall and the Imperial palace was on the final day. Places Jan had only dreamed of visiting were experiences beyond words.
Many thanks to WECC Waldorf Early Childhood China and the support of the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto for making this opportunity a reality.
Jan Ney Patterson
Director of Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Education
1. Jan presenting to the faculty of a Chinese Waldorf school.
2. Jan visiting the Terra Cotta warriors.
3. Children climbing a mountain as part of their new daily rhythm.
In the early decades of the last century, the philosopher and educator Rudolf Steiner drew what he called "planetary seals" for each of the seven planets -- as seen from the classic pre-Copernican, geocentric point of view. These seals are like a harmonic resonance of each planet, and can be moved in Eurythmy.
Following up on previous sessions with the Saturn seal and the Sun seal, Eurythmist Reg Down -- who has recently moved to Thornhill from California -- will be leading a group in moving together in Eurythmy, Rudolf Steiner's Mars Seal.
This session willl take place Saturday March 3rd from 1:30 to 3:00 pm in the Eurythmy room at the Toronto Waldorf School. Cost: $20. Students or seniors, $15. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more biographical backgound on Eurythmist Reg Down, see the RSCT original Saturn Seal post.