Newly-minted Waldorf teachers

Petra Plützer

“I had a dream as a child. I wanted to set up a Waldorf school and invite the whole world to join me. Now the whole world came here together with me so that I could become a teacher.” Kateryna proudly holds her Masters certificate in her hands. The 27-year-old Ukrainian from Slavyansk has fifteen months of intensive study behind her. For that time Stuttgart became her new home.

Twenty-six newly-minted Masters graduates in Waldorf education from nineteen different countries successfully concluded their studies at the Freie Hochschule Stuttgart – Seminar for Waldorf Pedagogy shortly before Christmas. It is the second time that the Seminar has offered the post-graduate Masters course in English. Many countries do not have their own training in Waldorf education and so this course occupies a unique position worldwide.

“My interest in education awoke when my daughter started going to kindergarten,” tells Kaoni Ski Kochi from Japan. The state education system was out of the question for her and her husband. The 45-year-old social worker was enthusiastic about Waldorf education “but in Japan Waldorf schools are only something for rich people. And so I wanted to find out how it is in Europe.” Together with her husband and child, she set out on the adventure of starting a course of studies in Germany – and thus occupationally on a fresh start.

Her daughter attended the Waldorf kindergarten, her husband found work in the school garden close by. Now she has become a Waldorf teacher herself. The family will stay a further year in Germany to learn the language of which their small daughter already has a good command. Kaoni will now do a practice year at the Michael Bauer School in Stuttgart.

For David Seidel from New Zealand, too, this course represented a complete professional change of direction. “It opened my eyes to what it really means to be a teacher. The study of Waldorf education leads to the study of deeper questions concerned with life,” the former Waldorf pupil explains. After studying marketing, the 23-year-old thought back to his school and parental home and wanted to find out what anthroposophy actually is. Now he wants to become a class teacher in his home country with the additional subject of sport.

An international community

They came from Malaysia, China, Mexico, Brazil, Ireland and Israel. They studied and lived together, they cooked, went on excursions and practice placements. A total of eleven children accompanied their parents on the way to distant Germany, on the way to becoming Waldorf teachers. “There were friends who said we were mad. Others thought us lucky,” says Serene Fong from China with a laugh. She came with her husband and two school-age children from Singapore to Stuttgart. Developing a Waldorf Curriculum in Asia is the title of her Masters dissertation.

“I quickly learned that it requires more to be a Waldorf teacher than a command of technique and a theoretical knowledge of education. I learned a great deal about myself here. And it took this international community for me to become really aware of my own cultural roots,” the teacher tells. Together with her husband Ho Pan Liang, who also attended the Stuttgart course, she will join a Waldorf school in London in the coming school year – and perhaps in the future also return to China.

“Each one of you carries a treasure in your heart into classrooms all over the world – the seed of real understanding between peoples. Let this seed grow and bear rich fruit,” said Iris Taggert, the course director, at the ceremony at which the Masters certificates were presented. In February she had already welcomed her new charges for the third course.

About the author: Petra Plützer is public relations officer at the Freien Hochschule Stuttgart – Seminar for Waldorf Pedagogy.