Next Friday and Saturday Nov. 10th and 11th, the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto will host its annual Waldorf Development Conference on the theme of “Parents and Teachers Working Together in the Age of the Consciousness Soul”.
Keynote speaker for the conference will be Carol Triggiano, who has a lifetime of experience in Waldorf education, and in teacher education as well. Click here for the details on Carol's educational background, the conference schedule, and a link for online registration.
We thought it would be interesting to ask Carol a few questions in advance of her visit, and to share the answers, as a way of encouraging interest in the Friday evening lecture for parents, as well as in the Friday / Saturday conference.
The RSCT's questions and Carol’s answers follow below:
Not Just a Teacher, but Also a Parent
RSCT: In your bio there's a lot about your experience as a teacher. Have you been a parent as well? If so, can you say a bit about that, ie how many children, ages, educations etc.
Carol: I am the mother of two adult children, a son age 36 and a daughter age 31. They both attended Chicago Waldorf from early childhood through high school. My son Nick is married, has a 10 month old baby and is a part time stay at home dad. He is enrolled in a Waldorf early childhood teacher training program. My daughter Amy has an undergrad degree from Earlham College in drama. She then studied nursing at University of Illinois and currently is a nurse in a hospital Intensive Care Unit.
RSCT: In the title of your talk -- Speaking as a Teacher Using the Three Pillars to Build Relationships withTeachers, Parents & Administrators, you refer to three pillars. Which three pillars are these?
Carol: The three pillars I will be addressing in teacher parent relationships are: Interest, Empathy and Trust.
Living in Chicago
RSCT: Not directly related to your talk, but more as background as to where you're coming from -- you're coming from Chicago where a Waldorf teacher has recently been shot on the street by a stray bullet. Can you say a bit from your perspective about what that event says about life in Chicago as a Waldorf teacher. Do you feel like you're on "the front lines"? What has this event catalyzed in terms of relations between the Waldorf community and the wider world in Chicago?
Carol: The tragic death of our colleague called forth astounding support from our Waldorf parent community, the Rogers Park neighborhood and the city of Chicago, including from some of its top officials. There was an outpouring of compassion, service, financial donations, prayers and a call for unity in support of her husband, our faculty and community. The Chicago Waldorf School was founded over 40 years ago as a city school. We are committed to serving the children who have been born into one of the most beautiful, cultured, historical, diverse cities in the world. My dear colleague passionately loved Chicago and would want us to embrace our important work here.
Home and School
RSCT: Do you feel that Waldorf blurs the boundaries between home and school more than other educations? I'm thinking of things like field trips and camping that, in the past, might have been seen as belonging more to the parents' domain, but maybe now the schools -- or at least Waldorf schools -- are doing more of what used to be called parenting. In many of today's busy families with both parents working full time jobs to pay Waldorf tuitions, this might be welcome, while in other cases, maybe less so.
Carol: Our responsibility is to make as clear as possible to the parents the scope of our pedagogy. Field trips and class trips are meant to deepen the classroom work: i.e. a 6th grade caving trip after the study of mineralogy. If we communicate well about the curriculum, then the parents can decide if this education can meet the needs of their child. We also should offer parents the opportunity to learn about child development and how the curriculum meets the child at different ages. Our sphere of influence is in the classroom, not the home.
The Times we Live in
RSCT: You visit a lot of Waldorf communities in your travels. Are there recurrent themes and dynamics currently playing out between parents and teachers now that are different that they were ten or twenty years ago?
Carol: I think many parents today are overworked, overstressed and tired. Many also feel greatly pressured to do everything "right," whatever that may mean. I think the same may apply to many Waldorf teachers. This dynamic offers a ripe opportunity to explore new ways of communication.
School and State
RSCT: Notably in the medical realm, the state has been making demands in areas belonging to parenting -- such as compulsory vaccination. What role can Waldorf teachers or schools play in helping parents deal with this kind of state pressure with regard to parenting.
Carol: These state demands are strictly in the hands of the parents and I don't think we should be interfering or offering advice in any of these arenas. Parents need to decide independently how to deal with these situations.
For more details about the Nov. 10th and 11th conference and a link to online registration, click here.