From Our Conference Chair
We Have the Will to Work—Educating the Will for the 21st Century and Beyond
By Marianne Kennedy
Over 300 conference attendees were treated to a winter weekend feast this year at the Alliance Annual National Conference held at Rudolf Steiner College. Of course, Shiloh’s meals were wonderful, but I am referring to the feast of collegial sharing of a wealth of knowledge and experience brought to us by our esteemed keynote speaker, Bente Goldstein. Bente, herself a Waldorf school graduate, shared with us her observations of the development of will in children and its importance to each of us individually and globally.
Over three days of morning lectures and the Sunday Plenum, Bente led us through Rudolf Steiner’s theories of will, the importance of strong will development, and advice to teachers on how to develop and strengthen the will of our students. Mrs Goldstein’s presentations were rich in theoretical, philosophical and practical content.
Bente’s personal warmth and lively talks led the way for the exciting workshops and breakout sessions held on Saturday. Eleven workshops led by teachers and administrators in Waldorf education ranged from Digital Media Literacy to Handwork, Painting and Understanding Children with Attention, Learning and Behavioral Challenges. Twelve breakout sessions ranged from meetings with teachers in the same grades to an Anthroposophical study of the Seven Levels of Will. The rooms were filled to capacity with energy and enthusiasm.
The conference offered morning eurythmy with Cynthia Hoven and daily singing with Eva Cranstoun. On Friday evening, the attendees were treated to a folk dance led by Donna Burgess. Saturday evening began with a beautiful eurythmy performance by the Credo Rose Eurythmy Group from Credo High School. This was followed by a fireside chat with Betty Staley and Joan Almon. The evening ended with an hilarious Waldorf Password game led by members of the Alliance Board and Advisory Board.
It was a wonderful weekend to meet teachers from many states and experience levels. For some teachers, this conference came at the beginning of the Waldorf Teacher Training. While for many experienced Waldorf teachers, this conference offered an opportunity to be refreshed half-way through the school year with new songs, games and ideas to bring back to their classrooms.
I enjoyed hearing from many of you during the weekend about what you were enjoying about the conference. It is always designed with the teachers in mind. As Victoria Temple and I and the rest of the Conference Committee begin our planning for January 2016, we will have in mind your conference evaluation comments and the ideas you brought to us during the weekend. But even more importantly, I will have the image of us all standing in a large circle around Stegman Hall singing, “To Wonder At Beauty,” with tears in many eyes and warmth in our hearts for each other and the valuable work that we have the honor and ability to do. I look forward to seeing you again next January.