Four keynote speakers addressed the conference for morning lectures, all based on the theme; “The Journey of the “I” Into Life-A Final Destination or a Path Toward Freedom?”. On Monday, Michaela Glockler, leader of the medical section of the Goetheanum and author of many books, including “A Guide to Child Health” presented a lecture in German, entitled “From Unbornness to I-Consciousness- the three great steps of incarnation”in which she looked at the question of how does an awareness of the self arise. The three steps are ;1 Taking hold of the physical body 2 Looking towards our destiny and 3 The karmic surroundings- that the child feels accepted. The following day, Dr Edmond Schoorel from the Netherlands, also a paediatrician and author of the book “The First Seven Years- Physiology of Childhood” spoke on “The I, the ego and the body, staircases up and down”in which he addressed the roles of nature and culture in the development of the child. His final statement, “To love is to act in accordance with the situation”, was a reminder of the flexibility and creativity teachers and parents need to develop in order to assist the child’s incarnation process. Renate Long-Breipohl, who is from Germany originally but has lived and worked in Australia for 25 years, and is a highly respected kindergarten teacher and director of early childhood training courses was the Wednesday keynote speaker.Her talk was entitled “Working with accelerated and delayed development in early childhood education”.Renate gave many examples and practical suggestions and showed some photographs which brought the lecture to life and encouraged teachers to learn to walk side by side with the child, knowing that our relationship with them depends on what qualities we can develop in ourselves. The final keynote lecture was given by Claus Peter Roh,co-head of the Pedagogical section at the Goetheanum (together with Florian Osswald whom some of you met when he visited our school last year). The address was entitled ‘Twelve Doorways to the World-the I and the body in sensory experience” This lecture was also in German, so I was hearing the translated version, in which Claus talked about the child’s experience of the self via the 12 senses.
In addition to the keynote lectures I attended two workshops which ran over the four days. “Accompanying the Six Year Old Transition” with Ruth Ker explored this time of metamorphosis, which is a critical threshold in the life of a child, yet is less understood than the 9th year change. Over the four days we were given a wealth of background information as well as many practical ideas on how to work with six year olds and I came home with a copy of the book Ruth edited, called “You’re Not the Boss of Me- Understanding the Six-Seven Year Old Transformation”. The second workshop, led by Louise de Forest was on “Working With Boys” which I again came away from with valuable information and suggestions. I will be sharing what I learned at the conference about the six year old transformation and working with boys at the next kindergarten parent/teacher meeting. All interested parents are very welcome to attend (date to be advised).
In between lectures, workshops, Eurythmy performances, looking at beautiful crafts, books and displays from different countries, meals (yes, we did somehow have time to eat!)etc, there were also various round table discussions, research presentations and sharing. I attended a discussion about Forest Kindergartens which was presented by educators working with this concept in varying ways. There was also time for networking and I was able to link up with some teachers and visit a couple of kindergartens in Germany and Scotland. I’ll share a little of that experience next newsletter.