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AUT Steiner programme first in NZ

30 May 2005

AUT Steiner programme first in NZ

New degree courses offered through AUT’s School of Education Te Kura Maatauranga are designed to help meet a worldwide demand for qualified Steiner teachers.

AUT has launched New Zealand’s first university degree programme specialising in Steiner education at level seven. It has been set up through a partnership with the Federation of Rudolf Steiner Waldorf Schools in New Zealand.

Graduates receive a Bachelor of Education (Steiner Primary Teaching) or a Bachelor of Education (Steiner Early Childhood Teaching).

Lecturer Gaylene Denford-Wood, who is leading AUT’s Steiner programme, says Steiner education is believed to be the fastest growing non-sectarian form of education worldwide.

“This programme is a significant step for Steiner education in New Zealand,” she says. “Here, and globally, the demand for well qualified, experienced and dedicated Steiner teachers supersedes the supply.

“Steiner is an integrated head, heart and hand education which in today’s technologically driven educational landscape may not look fashionable, but increasingly research indicates how vital it is.

“Researchers are turning to Steiner education for clues as to how people can be given educational depth and wellbeing.”

The movement has 900 Steiner schools and 1800 kindergartens in more than 50 countries. In New Zealand there are 11 Steiner schools, 36 kindergartens and a growing number of childcare centres.

Steiner education is based on the teachings of Austrian scientist and philosopher Dr Rudolf Steiner. The first school opened in Germany in 1919 and since then Steiner education has become for many Europeans a high quality, government-funded choice.

It is also well established in Britain, Canada, the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, South Africa and Taiwan, and is acclaimed by academics at world-class universities such as Stanford, Galway, Columbia, MIT and Harvard.

Gaylene Denford-Wood has three decades of teaching experience across all sectors, in state, independent and Steiner education.

She says the AUT programme is attracting growing interest, including from teachers who want to further their qualifications to a masters or PhD level.

“This new Steiner specialty opens the door to increase scholarship and research into vital aspects of Steiner education.”

The first Steiner school was opened in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919 when industrialist Emil Molt took a post-war initiative in cultural renewal by asking prominent scientist and philosopher Dr Rudolf Steiner to open a school for the children of his workers in the Waldorf Astoria factory.

Four New Zealand schools offer a full education to Year 13. The first opened in Hastings in 1950 and the others (in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland) opened in the 1970s. A priority of the federation’s five-year strategic plan is a commitment to the recruitment, development and retention of qualified, dedicated and effective Steiner teachers. Key speakers at the AUT launch were Barry Hancox of the Federation of Rudolf Steiner Waldorf Schools in New Zealand, Hans Mulder, General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand, and the Head of AUT’s School of Education, Jay Reid.

To commemorate the launch of the programme, a kauri tree will be planted on AUT’s Akoranga campus - in soil gathered from Steiner schools around New Zealand.


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