August 2019

Looking Back at the RSCT 2019 Summer Festival

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.

First-Thing-in-the-Morning Singing

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.

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