Looking back at Castlemaine Steiner School’s Waldorf 100 Celebrations

Head, Heart & Hands Exhibition – 1 – 16th March 2019.

As part of the “Waldorf 100” global celebrations, the Castlemaine Steiner School & Kindergarten and Castlemaine Secondary College held an exhibition of student work from classes 1 through to Year 12. Titled “Head, Heart & Hands” the exhibition was a fabulous display of works featuring the diverse range of mediums Steiner students have the opportunity to work with. 

The official opening began with a Welcome to Country smoking ceremony on the steps, which all attendees had the pleasure of walking through upon entering the exhibit. Attendees included staff, alumni, and friends of the school who have contributed significantly since its conception as the Penny School in Maldon in 1987. A student ensemble performance provided beautiful ambiance, whilst wine and food prepared by the Parents & Friends group was enjoyed.

The exhibition was managed and curated by Ms Chris Curtis, the Castlemaine Steiner School & Kindergarten specialist Craft teacher for approximately 13 years. Her comprehensive craft program is designed to meet personal and developmental needs, skill level and readiness of the children while closely connecting with the epoch taught in Main Lessons.

Here is an extract from one of the exhibition descriptors on display, giving further insight into the craft program.

The Steiner Craft program, from Class 1 to Class 8, holds firmly the belief of ‘making something well’ for its own sake. Over this time the children develop and consolidate the skills required for knitting, weaving and embroidery (the Soft Crafts). This is achieved by repetition of techniques, going over our action again and again – year after year. From this, particular techniques/skills become so ingrained the children begin to work from the realm of imagination. In this they are able to tackle any project offered, such as character doll making in Class 6 and 7.

Craft not only builds the intimate connections between the hand and then head, but it also awakens the ‘intelligent hand’, connecting us to the world, as well as laying the foundation of our thinking by co-ordinating the hands, eye and brain. All this occurs whilst making beautiful, functional goods, thus giving the children the appreciation of handmade items and establishing aesthetic confidence whilst stimulating their creative powers. This foundation gives the children the ability to achieve successfully while working the ‘Hard Crafts’: machine sewing, ceramics, stone carving and woodwork, in Classes 6-8.

The children truly enjoy craft and are very proud of their work. Pride in ones work lies at the heart of craftsmanship and is the greatest reward for the skills developed and commitment required. Working with vibrant colours, textures and fine fabrics is good for the soul. Working with materials that require manipulation and offer resistance: such as linoleum cutting, soap stone carving and woodwork make us not only skilful but also sensitive and strong. The slowness of the craft serves as a source of satisfaction, allowing time for reflection and imagination: and imagination opens the possibility of conducting life with strength and becoming a good craftsperson in our environment.

All skills begin through the movement of the body; technical understanding develops through powers of imagination, and imagination can lead to the abilities of problem solving, self-reflection, improvisation, new and different ways of using tools, organising bodily movement, and most importantly, develops sustaining habits that give children the resolve to conduct life with skill. Through the process of building technical skills, developing commitment and refining judgement brings, in Steiner terms: the awakening of the Willing, Feeling and Thinking realms of an individual.

Castlemaine Steiner School www.cssk.vic.edu.au