Friday, July 31, 2009

the enchanted knoll

reflections on the college experience

Every morning these past five weeks, I would walk to Steiner College. Through a curved path lined with rosemary, day lilies, pittosporum, Japanese maples, and river rock, I entered into a magical realm atop a wooded knoll in Fair Oaks, California. There, the transformative process of becoming a Waldorf teacher took place. And the five week program ended today, but we take with us somthing we will carry for the rest of our lives.

We came together from far away, from diverse backgrounds, connected by the strong feeling that we would find at Steiner College whatever it was that would strengthen our work-lives. In the above picture, a few of us stand with Laura Embrey-Stine (in yellow polo top), co-author with Ernst Schuberth on the book Form Drawing, Grades One through Four.

Our classes introduced us to the teachings of Steiner and the concepts of Waldorf education. One integral component of the experience is inner work, that to be good educators, one must really be attuned to one's own inner life and to the souls of the children. Above, we were walking the paths of our form drawings. It will be for the children, but for us, it was just one exercise of many that allowed us to cultivate the holistic spirit.
In Waldorf education, it is all about the balance of the feeling, thinking, and willing - or heart, head, and hands. The woodshop is one room where the balance can be achieved. The act of working the wood combines all three aspects of one's life. Bodo Langen, seated in the above picture with his foot in a tub of iced water, was our instructor. He sprained his left foot early in our program. Intuitively, I came over to examine his foot, and with some stretching and pressing and holding his foot over the two weeks I was in his class, Bodo really believed I helped in his recovery! As a gesture of gratitude, he gave me an excellent book entitled Educating through Arts and Crafts, edited by Michael Martin. He says I am a "true healer," and a new friend.

Patrick Wakeford-Evans, the Academic Dean, and our instructor for inner work and theosophy, guided us in the richly complex world of the soul, and the cultivation of meditative practices. Our discussions with him had been fruitful, as he always had insights that are poignant and practical.
Our classes were held mostly at the heart of the campus. This room above is of the Barn. With unusual clerestory windows, and painted in a wash of pinks and blues, it was a backdrop for framed prints of eurythmy poses, and for many sessions sharing our biographies, and inner work, and learning about the art of the main lesson.

One of my classmates is Jo Rabbetts. She has a wonderful spirit and personality, clearly expressed in this photo I took of her while at our inner work class. Like with all of my other classmates, my friends and colleagues, the five week program showed us that there is something living within us, the living artist, according to Antje Staub, and the outward expression is like that seen in Jo's face: I am here for you, genuinely joyful, nurturing, gentle, creative, strong in my will to do good in the world, learn from me, and I will learn from you, I reveal to you my spirit, my heart, my hands, take from me what you need to become a person who also will do good in the world.

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