it’s too hot to think (finally! something to blame for the lack of thinking) but @thetismercurio tweeted an interesting link today — to the Micha-el Institute which offers teacher training for presumptive waldorf teachers. Why not Mi-cha-el Institute? Well, I don’t know. Wouldn’t that make more sense? Anyway, they certainly can’t be blamed for offering a run-of-the-mill teacher training. No, this program aims at the development of ‘a deep understanding of the human being and his/her development through incarnation and excarnation.’ Something prospective waldorf parents are rarely informed of when they enroll their children in a waldorf school, one might add. The excarnation bit was a funny but unusual twist.
The child’s eventual excarnation is probably not a paramount worry for most parents deciding on a particular school for their small child. It is my guess that many parents are largely unaware that some waldorf teachers concern themselves not only with the present situation of the child but with its present entire incarnation (as in present physical existence from birth to old age) and what ensues after it ends (the child’s fate over several lifetimes even). It is also indicated that teacher training is meant to assist the teacher student in developing spiritually, as it is said to help him or her gain self-knowledge (in an anthroposophical sense, obviously).
What might the teacher training student expect?
Most of our students go through some sort of catharsis during the first few months of the course, though some have also faced difficulties at other times on the course. There is not really a pattern to this as each person meets their own individual problems in their own individual way and time. However, it is good to be prepared for this to happen for once such things are overcome there is usually a new found enthusiasm for life and to some extent a new found identity.
This is a most troubling aspect of the program. Aren’t they saying that, essentially, that waldorf teacher training students will go through a cult experience, extending far beyond the more common feelings of upheaval which may accompany a change of environment, a new social setting or an influx of novel impressions? According to some literature on cults, there is commonly a powerful experience in the introductory phase when the individual is getting involved in the cult. In this context, it is rather spooky to learn, in the end of that passage, that there is usually ‘a new found enthusiasm for life’ and also a ‘new found identity.’ What kind of enthusiasm? Why the new identity and what is it for? And what happened to the old identity, or is there perhaps a point in attracting a kind of student who may have a relatively fragile sense of identity to begin with? The risks this may entail for the individual are rather obvious. Of course, questioning the potential perils is futile in light of karma. If people are harmed, this may simply be explained as fate, as something meant to happen because they needed it to happen. (Not to imply the program organizers are aware of any inherent risks. I bet they’re more focused on the supposed greater good. And that they don’t possess any knowledge which would prevent them from causing harm when messing with people’s minds.) In any case, the decision to become a waldorf teacher, and where to do your training, is not a matter of rational consideration.
Where you choose to do your Waldorf Teacher Training is largely a question of destiny or karma.
This kind of stuff isn’t exactly something positive for those who wish to present waldorf education as a non-cultish community. The catharsis mentioned above is quite clearly not just a procedure essential to the education of a teacher (as commonly understood); it is a religious experience aimed at creating a commitment to a movement, and the way to ensure this commitment is by making certain the person changes and feels this change profoundly. He or she is in some ways getting a new life, which conveniently aligns with the life prescribed by his or her anthroposophical elders.
[Quote source: The Micha-el Institute FAQs page.]