In early April, Robert Sim, Judy Wachler, and I travelled to Dornach, Switzerland for the Ninth World Teachers’ Conference, held at the Goetheanum, the international center for anthroposophy. The Goetheanum, pictured to the left, was designed by Rudolf Steiner. At the week-long conference, we attended daily lectures and academic and artistic workshops, and met with many colleagues, old and new. It was a time of reunion especially for Robert, who saw many old friends from his days of teaching in Germany. The lectures were illuminating, and the workshops gave us material we can use immediately in the classroom. Robert took a workshop on using drama to enliven our lessons, and Judy and I took one on the English curriculum. In the artistic workshops, Robert practiced bookbinding (a course we expect to offer soon at HMS), Judy took a class in pedagogical speech, and I took one in drama for teenagers.
There were over 1500 participants in the conference, from 50 countries, many of which do not have a long history of Waldorf schools. There were representatives of new schools in India, China, Kenya, Brazil and many others. Most of the lectures were given in German, with simultaneous translation into seven languages. In my drama workshop, with 16 teachers, we found that we were from 11 different countries! Judy had an enlightening talk with some teachers from Estonia, who told her about how the Waldorf schools were closed when the Soviet Union was in power, and the lack of freedom for teachers at that time, with the curriculum strictly prescribed by the state. It certainly made us appreciate the freedom we have here.
I was very interested to learn about Waldorf One World (“WOW”), a fundraising initiative to benefit Waldorf schools and other programs all over the world. During Michaelmas, students raise money for better learning and living conditions for disadvantaged children, by taking on one-day jobs, organizing sponsored runs, making and selling crafts, putting on circus performances or other activities. This program has existed since 1994, raising millions of dollars for Waldorf projects. We would like to participate in this program beginning next September.
We returned from the trip exhausted but exhilarated, and appreciative of High Mowing’s commitment to professional development. We know that the connections we made, the things that we learned, and the projects and initiatives we heard about will have long-lasting benefits for the school and for the broader Waldorf community.
~Wendy Bruneau, Faculty Co-Chair and English Teacher