Anthroposophy, Art, and Teacher Education

Session I: Awakening to Nature’s Open Secrets

A Living Approach to Education

June 21 to June 26, 2015

A collaboration of The Nature Institute and the Alkion Center for Adult Education

Click here to learn more about registration, tuition and accommodations.

The aim of this intensive is to facilitate an immersion in a phenomenological, experience-based approach to Dean Brush and Ink landscapestudying and interacting with the world. Children today grow up with much of their experience being mediated by technological devices on the one hand and abstract ideas on the other. As a result there is a growing disconnect between what they experience and learn and the true ecology of life. How can we help children become healthily rooted in a real world?

As adults we ourselves need to learn how to notice and attend carefully to what we directly experience through our senses. And we need to learn how to form our ideas in conversation with experience as a counterbalance to the abstract notions that inhabit culture today.

The course will take as its starting point experiential learning in the study of nature in the mornings and continue with artistic activities in the afternoons. The intensive will be of special interest to educators who want to improve their practical knowledge of phenomenological science teaching and to practice truly experience-based learning in which knowledge grows out of the encounter with the world in a living way.

“We need to give children—in all that we give them emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—something that has growth forces and transformative forces in it. That means we must make our classes alive and ever more living.” Rudolf Steiner (1922), founder of Waldorf education


The course begins on Sunday, June 21, at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School.Skull, Olivia Sickels

6:30pm — Registration
7pm — The Importance of Experience-Based Learning: Opening talk by Craig Holdrege and Henrike Holdrege

The course ends on Friday, June 26, at 5:30 pm

Daily Schedule

Mornings at The Nature Institute with Craig and Henrike Holdrege (20 May Hill Rd, Ghent, NY 12075)
8:30am to 12:3 pm with mid-morning break

  • Physics Rooted in Human Experience: The Visual World
  • A Living Understanding of Animals

12:30 to 2pm — Lunch

Afternoons at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School with the Alkion Center facultyFury of the Pacific
2 to 2:30pm — Singing for all participants with Eric Muller
2:30 to 4pm — Electives

  • Enlivened Observation of Nature through Drawing with Martina Angela Mueller
  • A Study of Great Art through Enlivened Observation with Patrick Stolfo
  • Music in the Mood of the Fifth for Early Childhood with Channa Seidenberg

4 to 4:15pm — Break
4:15 to 5:30 — ElectivesLeaves in pencil

  • The Essentials of Waldorf Early Childhood Education with Andree Ward
  • Drawing studio continued
  • Great Art workshop continued

Friday Only   4:15 to 5:30pm — Closing Forum and Exhibit
5:30 to 7:30pm —  Dinner Break
7:30pm —  Open Studios
Other Evening Events TBANaho 9th grade

The Nature Institute and Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School are ten minutes from each other by foot. The Hawthorne Valley Farm Store is located across from the School. It has groceries, warm food and a salad bar, and is open from 7:30am to 7pm every day.

Course Descriptions

Enlivened Nature Observation through Drawing with Martina Angela Mueller
In this course we will focus on observational drawing of natural objects and select aspects of nature outdoors. We will work with charcoal, pencil, ink and colored media on white and colored paper, learn about many different shading techniques and how to become visually literate. Observation and accurate perception are some of the mainstays of a healthy interaction with our environment: a growing awareness of humanity’s interaction with nature, from appreciation and enjoyment to commerce and exploitation, our perceptions of each other in any social setting and our resulting decision making. Observation schools accuracy for our actions in the world. In this course you will discover the unrivaled beauty of nature and learn how to perceive more deeply. No previous experience is necessary.

A Study of Great Art through Enlivened Observation with Patrick Stolfo800px-Vincent_Van_Gogh_0020
How and what can we learn by employing our physical-aesthetic senses in the Untitledobservation of art? By engaging in an active, phenomenological approach to masterpiece reproductions, we will seek qualitative perceptions that go beyond the passive practice of identification and categorization. To this end we will have a close look at a sequence of selected, seminal works of paintings and sculpture that will also reveal an evolution of human consciousness. Exercises in observation, sketching [no previous skills required], and synthesis will give us an experience of art that starts from the experiential and leads to deeper insight and meaning.

Music in the Mood of the Fifth for Early Childhood with Channa Seidenberg
During this intensive we will learn the principles of the “mood of the fifth”, the musical approach for the developing child in Early Childhood Education. Through listening and practice we will begin to understand and discern the difference between the pentatonic (a linear) approach and the “mood of the fifth” (a lemniscatal) approach. Participants will learn how to play the kinder-harp, sing songs, and be introduced to song composition in the “mood of the fifth”.

Channa Seidenberg has been working in music out of anthroposophy for many years. She is an instrumental and vocal music therapist, a co-founder of LANA (est.1982), and of Resonare, a foundation course in music out of anthroposophy, now in its eighth year. Since 1981 she has directed the Camphill Village Ensemble (a group of residents and co-workers), and has worked in music education based on the Waldorf curriculum since 1990.

The Essentials of Early Childhood Education with Andree Ward
We will look together at the article by Susan Howard, available on the WECAN website, entitled “Essentials of Waldorf Early Childhood Education”. When grounded in these principles, based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner, how can we make use of nature-based, experiential learning in our Early Childhood work? We are hoping for lively discussions and lots of creative inspirations!

Contributing Faculty

Craig Holdrege, Ph.D., is co-founder and director of The Nature Institute in Ghent, NY. An educator and biologist, Craig is keenly interested in the interconnected nature of things. He carries out holistic biological studies of plants and animals and also critically examines scientific thinking and new developments in the biological sciences. His most recent book is Thinking Like a Plant: A Living Science for Life. He was a biology teacher in Waldorf high schools in the United States and Germany for 21 years.

Henrike Holdrege is a researcher and teacher at The Nature Institute in Ghent, New York, which she co-founded in 1998. She was a public school teacher in Germany and later a Waldorf high school teacher, teaching mathematics and life sciences. At The Nature Institute she offers courses for middle and high school teachers, artists, farmers and the general public emphasizing inner and outer experience, observation, exact imagination, and flexibility in thought. For a listing of current and past course offerings visit The Nature Institute’s website.

*Artwork by Hawthorne Valley Waldorf High School students.