• Waldorf 100 World Early Childhood Conference, 15th to 19th April 2019

    by  • 22 May 2019 • Anthroposophy, Steiner-Waldorf Education • 0 Comments

    The Goetheanum (the world centre for the anthroposophical movement) Find out more about anthroposophy here.

    Our Community Marketing Manager, Elaine Reid, tells us about her trip to the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland for the International Association for Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education (IASWECE) Waldorf 100 World Early Childhood Conference (15 – 19 April 2019). Thank you to the IASWECE team for allowing us to share some of their photographs on this blog! You can find out more about IASWECE here.

    Elaine Reid, Community Marketing Manager, Floris Books

    On the 15th April, over 1100 early childhood educators from 59 different countries came together at the Goetheanum in Dornach for the World Early Childhood Conference.

    2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Waldorf school, based on the educational philosophy of Austrian-born Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), and attending the Goetheanum on this landmark year felt incredibly poignant. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of the gathering, and Floris Books was proud to be a sponsor for the event. Our 2019 Steiner-Waldorf Education Catalogue was included in the delegate packs and you can sign-up to receive the digital version of this catalogue in the future here!

    Waldorf 100 is being celebrated throughout this anniversary year at Steiner-Waldorf schools around the world. It was wonderful to see contributions from some of these schools in this postcard collection on display at the conference. This display shows just how far Steiner-Waldorf education has travelled from its roots at the first school in Stuttgart, Germany.

    The theme of the gathering was ‘Inner Freedom – Social Responsibility: Finding Ways into a Human Future’ and the conference was incredibly rich and varied with keynote speeches, workshops, music, eurythmy, singing, discussion groups and evening programmes each day.

    The opening lecture by Stefanie Allon, from Israel and Claus-Peter Röh from Switzerland, set the scene for the conference, when they quoted Rudolf Steiner and said “We only move forward when we think in a circle.”

    This idea echoed again and again throughout the conference, and was initially used to focus the mind on looking back, looking forward, and thinking about what can be done in education today. It was also used to emphasise the importance of connecting with and learning from each other, and building relationships with parents of the children attending Steiner-Waldorf schools around the world. The overall message was about bringing people together, and respecting and learning from the thoughts of others, in order to move forward.  

    Conference workshops covered activities from felting to woodwork to modelling with beeswax. I was fortunate to take part in Ruth Ker’s workshop, Please, Can We Play Games? where we played a variety of wonderful circle games for teachers to use in their kindergartens. I learned a great deal about the importance of play, and about how early childhood education emphasises not telling children what to do, but showing them. These games are a wonderful way for children to learn about sharing, and allowing others to go first, while building their trust and nourishing their body, soul and spirit. They were also a lot of fun for all of us adults too!

    Please, Can We Play Games Workshop – I’m here cross-legged on the floor in the navy top

    At the conference there were numerous stalls displaying beautifully hand-crafted toys, including a lovely display from the IASWECE team who had collected donated dolls from around the world. I brought home one of the dolls back to our office here in Edinburgh. Our new recruit has come all the way from Spain, and is now living happily beside some new friends in the Floris office! If the person who made this beautiful doll happens to be reading this post; thank you! 

    On the final evening of the conference we enjoyed participant contributions of music, songs, short skits and dancing and then all the attendees emerged from the Goetheanum and were given a small candle. We walked together around the outside of the Goetheanum bringing light and songs to the dark sky, before placing our candles in a circle. It was an incredibly special experience and it was wonderful to be part of this celebratory evening.

    Many thanks to the entire IASWECE team for creating such a rich, well-organised conference and to all of the teachers I met during my time in Dornach; it was a pleasure to meet and learn from you. The whole Floris Books team looks forward to continuing to support and work with you in the years to come as Steiner-Waldorf education moves into the future.

    For more information on Waldorf 100 celebrations visit the Waldorf 100 website.

    If you would like to find out more about the resources we publish for Steiner-Waldorf teachers, please visit the dedicated Steiner-Waldorf teacher hub on our website. You can also join our mailing list on Steiner-Waldorf education for special offers and information on new resources for teachers here.

    On our website you can also find out more about our forthcoming book, The Wisdom of Waldorf – a collection of historical and original reflections from a range of voices in Waldorf education to celebrate 100 years since the founding of the first Waldorf school.

    If you have any queries or suggestions please do get in touch with me directly (elaine@florisbooks.co.uk). It would be wonderful to hear from you.


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