On Saturday, 9 November I drove north to Noosa where I have been asked to judge year 12 project presentations at the Steiner School. I didn’t know quite what to expect but arriving there early and walking around the grounds of the school I was already feeling in a happy and peaceful mood by the time the presentations began. It was hot outside, the hall had been darkened, and the spotlights were on the stage. One by one the young men and women presented their year-long projects.
I’ve spent the last 30 years of my professional life having my students undertake projects and then present them to their peers. The first decade was spent in Darwin where I was running courses for adult, tertiary and vocational educators. The next 13 years were spent in Sweden, where I was a Professor of Higher Education in charge of running courses for academics. For the last eight years I have been at USC working with teachers and principals in Master of Education courses. I believe very strongly in the pedagogical benefit of enquiry-based projects that are planned, carried out and finally presented to a group of colleagues. I have seen many excellent projects undertaken and presented over the last three decades. But I can honestly say that in all that time I have never seen such an excellent variety of thought-provoking, innovative and highly practical projects as I saw on Saturday at the Steiner School.
From the very first presentation the bar was set very high by a talk that focused my attention on a major problem in the world today, informed me about it and then offered me some creative ways of helping to solve it. The quality of all the talks, in terms both of content and delivery, was very high indeed. The final presentation began with a dance sequence that was perfectly suited to the darkened environment and lead neatly into a report on a complex and ambitious project. To say that I was impressed is an understatement. I know that both I and my fellow judge were not only impressed but also moved by what we saw. A very good friend of mine, Tom Stehlick, has written a book about Steiner schools called Each Parent carries the flame and seeing parents, staff and the Steiner community there supporting the presenters helped me understand what he meant by the book’s subtitle: Sites for Promoting Lifelong Learning, Creating Community, and Educating for Social Renewal.
As I drove home that afternoon I was a happier more optimistic person because of my experience. I had walked around the project exhibits, listened to the well crafted and confidently presented talks and had seen the pleasure and pride on the faces of friends, parents and staff at Noosa Steiner School. The projects were a wonderful example of educating for social renewal. So, thank you Abby, Chilli, Essene, Zayde, Charles, Yasmine, Indigo, Peregrine, Jak, Jules, Katie, Harry and Sanne. Thank you for sharing your own vision of a better world with me.
Noosa Pengari Steiner School: www.noosasteiner.qld.edu.au