High Mowing School’s Lower School Faculty Chair Jen Kershaw and College Co-Chair Kate Goodwin recently returned from the World Teachers’ Conference 2023 held in April at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.
This year's conference brought 1,000 teachers from more than 62 countries. Attendees were early childhood teachers, class teachers, high school teachers as well as subject teachers and administrators who came together to examine the theme "Affirming – Nurturing – Trusting, an Education for Today and Tomorrow." Conference attendees participated in daily singing, eurythmy, and recitation as well as heartfelt conversations and discussions. Events also included keynote speakers and afternoon active workshops.
"What resonated most with me was the thread, through almost all of the daily lectures, of working with students to become more physically grounded in nature and in embodied, meaningful activity," Kate says. "It confirmed for me what all of us feel at High Mowing, that our beautiful land is a resource we need to cultivate for the mutual health of the community and the environment."
Kate, a humanities teacher, was particularly drawn to the connections made between our physicality and history. One lecturer, M. Michael Zech, spoke about every individual's need to inspire a sense of one's own context, to transform one's encounter with the world. Kate also remembers another lecturer speaking about a teacher as "glowing with the fire of hope," a sentiment that echoes Rudolf Steiner's words to the Youth Council in 1923: "But if you are to live and work, glowing through and through, you yourself will have to become a flame."
"I feel more strongly than ever that being present in nature and with each other is what we need to rekindle this flame — this awe-inspiring curiosity and enthusiasm for living and transforming the world through our creativity," Kate says.
The conference was hosted by the Goetheanum Pedagogical Section, which works to research and develop anthroposophically inspired pedagogy with the goal of providing inspiration and support for Waldorf colleagues in their daily work. The Goetheanum is considered the world's center for the anthroposophical movement. The building itself was designed by Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf education, and named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theater director, and critic.
Insights Jen shared with her HMS colleagues illustrated the importance of this work: "One thing I noticed is that teachers all over the world have the same questions: Who is today's child? How do we meet them? How can we serve? How do we hold the developing human being in the light and best teach for the future? What conversations do we need to have to support ourselves? How do we help children to be more imaginative and be willing to engage in the unknown?"
"It was a remarkable experience and I feel very blessed to have been given the chance to attend," Jen wrote. "I left feeling connected to our mission around the world."
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