With peach blossom and children’s magic. Fifth Asian Waldorf Teachers’ Conference in Korea

By Nana Göbel, August 2013

At the end of April, 400 Waldorf teachers met in South Korea for the Asian Waldorf Teachers’ Conference. These conferences have become the most important transregional further training instruments.

© Riley Yang

While spring was slowly getting underway outside, and the blossoms of the fruit trees and azalea bushes covered nature with a delicate pink and dark, reddish violet, the Waldorf teachers who had arrived from all over the region gathered in the state education centre in whose carefully tended park the riot of colour was unfolding. For the fifth time Christof Wiechert, the leader emeritus of the Pedagogical Section at the Goetheanum, contributed to the success of the conference with a seven-day lecture cycle on the anthroposophical understanding of the human being. His account of the methodological foundations grew more concentrated and densely spiritually packed on each occasion. Wiechert has meanwhile become the popular teacher of the Asian Waldorf movement. 

There were working groups on the preparation of each new school year, on Bothmer Gymnastics, on handwork for kindergarten and school as well as artistic groups. The lecturers came from India, Thailand and Korea as well as Germany, New Zealand and Israel. On the last evening, the meaningfulness and efficiency of such work together over seven days could be seen as the results of the individual working groups were presented. The tone eurythmy exercises with Rieko Hata were presented with lightness and a wonderful grace. On the other hand, the singing of the gentlemen who undertook a comparative study of the history of the Asian countries (bear in mind that what happened in this region during the Second World War has in no way been publicly appraised and the wounds run deep) produced a certain smile and it became clear that the skills of these upper school teachers lay elsewhere. Cultural historical and geographical subjects were tackled for the first time in this series of conferences. Examples from lessons – mostly of class 5 – were provided by the Cheonggye Waldorf School, the Purunsup Waldorf School, the Seoul Waldorf School, the curative education school in Yangpyoeng, the Dongrim Waldorf School and the Gurumsan Waldorf School – all schools in the vicinity of Seoul. We were received at the start of the conference with drums and pipes by class 7 pupils wearing yellow gowns and hats; traditional rhythms accompanied us into the conference hall. The highlight was the evening performances of the pupils. The class 12 of the Cheonggye Waldorf School showed examples from their eurythmy work while the upper school orchestra endeared itself to the audience with Viennese and Czech music. The eurythmy performance of the four eurythmists in Korea with examples of western and Korean composers was received with perhaps even greater, but most certainly equal enthusiasm.

In the breaks and in the evening after the performances, groups of teachers sat together and worked on lectures and the subjects of study groups, helping one another to understand the content which had escaped them due to insufficient translation or for other reasons. There was an incredibly hard-working, animated and happy atmosphere, everywhere there was talk, singing or practice across schools and languages. A concentration which can only be produced by active silence arose on the last afternoon when we remembered the lecturer Christian Kröner, who had unexpectedly died in the morning, and held a remembrance ceremony with all his new Asian friends from whose midst he had so suddenly been torn.

These conferences (2005 in Taiwan, 2007 in Bangkok, 2009 in Manila and 2011 in Hyderabad) as well as the conferences preceding them have been organised since 1996 by representatives from the countries concerned together with the Friends of Waldorf Education. They have meanwhile become the most important transregional further training instrument and make a direct contribution to consolidating the kindergartens and schools in the individual countries as well as the development of the Asian Waldorf movement. The series will continue in 2015 in Japan.


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