Alumni News

Congratulations and thanks to our graduating Class 12 of 2021 who together donated $1,100.74 to the Givit Flood Fund.

Waldorf (Steiner) Education as Preparation for Successful Crisis Management

By Philipp Reubke

Educators in Waldorf kindergartens know the phenomenon that the free play of a group of 3 – 6 year old children is subject to atmospheric fluctuations: occasionally there is calm, sometimes even a lack of initiative and then suddenly there is a warm urge to create and the atmosphere hums like a beehive, and sometimes there is great nervousness and aggressiveness.

Often, as an educator, I could not clearly determine the reasons for such mood swings, and the search for culprits and the denunciation of bullies did not seem to make any more sense to me than being angry about a thunderstorm outbreak during a hike.

But it was important for me to perceive the mood well, to hear the tone and then to harmonize what had become one-sided through non-verbal means: music, light, intervention in the spatial design, movement, etc.

In the way the Covid-19 crisis was managed by the respective leaders in different countries and at different levels of society, in the way we have all behaved since the beginning of the pandemic, one could also perceive a certain large-scale weather situation in which enormous tensions were occasionally built up and then erupted in storms of relationships in the family, in schools and institutions, within certain professional groups, and so on.

Some atmospheric phenomena that kept appearing were, for example:

  • Encouraging sensible behavior by making people afraid of danger
  • Losing sight of the overall context in light of the individual aspects of a dangerous situation
  • Not listening to those who think differently and feel differently, or excluding them
  • Allowing only one theory, only one form of analysis, only one form of interpretation of the situation
  • Setting one ethical-moral value above all others
  • Having the opinion that the only way to get out of the crisis is through a tight hierarchical organization.

These phenomena can be observed not only during the current pandemic, but also in other crises affecting society or individual organizations.

Some think that certain groups or individuals should be held responsible for this. However, educators know from daily experience that when a one-sided mood repeatedly occurs in free play or when a socially tense situation occurs at school, there is usually no single, isolated person responsible.

Direct intervention and admonishment of individuals can only limit the damage.

It is rather as the Swiss philosopher Michael Esfeld characterizes corona measures: “It is a trend that has formed out of contingent circumstances and which then drags more and more social actors along with it.”(1)

In order to harmonize the situation permanently, patience and perseverance are needed, as well as a threefold rhythm, which Waldorf teachers practice again and again:

  • Firstly, they try to get as accurate a picture as possible of the phenomena and “perceive the trend”.
  • Even if they personally would have the tendency to fall into anger, fear, or domination about it, they avoid this in the kindergarten and in the school and try in a second step to empathize with the children involved, to understand them, and also to feel their own pedagogical ideals once again with enthusiasm and warmth.
  • In a third step, they then hope that after a meditative review of the situation from a certain distance, they will think, as educational artists, of a gesture, a look, a song, a story, a game, a movement, an activity in the following days that will have such an effect on the group of children that the mood and the social situation will be rebalanced.

There is thus a lot to be learned from educators about crisis management.

The even better news, however, is that if one reconsiders some of the essential features of Waldorf education in the light of the Coronavirus crisis, it turns out that they represent long-term, homeopathic, preventive measures against the psycho-social inflammatory side effects of crises in civilization.

Let us imagine that there is a crisis, but the great majority of those involved have grown up throughout their childhood and adolescence in an atmosphere that can be described by the following characteristics:

1. From kindergarten to high school, the driving forces for learning are interest and the relationship with educators, rather than fear of punishment or desire for reward.(2) This is practiced for hours in kindergarten through free, self-initiated play, deepened through listening to the descriptions of their beloved class teacher, and then strongly anchored during middle and high school though their interest in subjects related to their own existence and life.

If in all pedagogical institutions of the world “child development and school learning …. would develop in the trust-borne relationship of the child to the teachers, to the surrounding space, and in the perception of the world”, would we then still need coercive social measures (3), so that all fellow citizens would behave in a reasonable, meaningful way?

2. Already in kindergarten, cultural techniques are always practiced in connection with life, in connection with a larger context. For example, increasing vocabulary and grammatical syntax through stories, puppet theater, and the intensive use of language in communication during free play.

Even in the choice of toys, those that allow children to start from wholeness (plasticine, clay, dough, unspun wool) are preferable to those in which a wholeness is created by combining identical individual parts.

In school there is no chopped-up timetable, large subject connections can be deepened over a longer period of time, and even in arithmetic and in the understanding of the essence of number, a unity is assumed which is subsequently differentiated.(4)

If the majority of the population were accustomed from childhood to “going from the whole to the parts” (5), would we still lose sight of the complex social and ecological interrelationships beyond an acute, partial problem?

3. The importance of empathy and tolerance is not only preached, it is above all experienced and practiced daily. The young child constantly has the opportunity to have differentiated experiences with the body senses (“The sense of touch has the task of establishing a healthy mobile middle position between too strong and too weak impressibility, openness and limitation, sympathy and antipathy”. This is a preparation for “sympathetic interest arising from unthreatened self-confidence.” [6])

And in free play, the child practices cooperation and compromise every day, experiencing joy and increased possibilities of success, and also the pain of the consequences of one’s own bullying or shyness.

Because there are stable class communities in the school over the years, the teacher can work thoroughly with the children on social skills (7), placing a great emphasis on music and drama: here listening to one another, paying attention to one another, and including what is disruptive and surprising can be practiced especially well.

If our social skills and our willingness to listen were also physically and artistically rooted in us in this way, would we still want to hysterically exclude those who think differently?

4. For years, nature is intensively experienced as something that can be seen, smelled, tasted and touched, and to which everyone in kindergarten is allowed to express the most diverse theories: is it getting dark because the sun is now getting tired and going to sleep, or maybe because someone is sitting behind the mountain and pulling on the sun with a string?

If in school cognitive understanding is to be developed by systematic learning, this is prepared by detailed consideration of the phenomenon and never ends in a definition to be learned by heart, but in a characterization.

The teacher in the upper school is then also someone who sets the phenomenological intellectual framework in which the young people find terms and definitions themselves. If when we are confronted with new and unknown things, we always start from the phenomena in this way, wouldn’t that be a good contribution against dogmatism and the claim to one sole explanation of any scientific direction? (8)

5. In the course of the first fourteen years of life, the child has not been confronted with a moral-ethical value system, the principles of which have been learned intellectually, but has had the opportunity, through a multitude of stories and mythological-religious narratives, to sympathize with the good that is depicted there.

With the fairy tales, the descriptions from Hebrew, Germanic, Indian, Egyptian, Greek and other mythologies, with stories from Islam and Christianity, the child feels that devotion to and love of a divine world and the commitment to the good can have different forms, different weightings.

Children experience role models who help them to become morally and ethically independent.

If we had learned to mobilize our moral-ethical forces in this way ourselves, would we still be in danger of adhering to a value declared as absolute by scientific or political authorities?

6. From the cradle to high school graduation, through free play to artistic, athletic or scientific project work in the upper school, children and young people have experienced that cooperation and improvisation sometimes go through difficult phases, but that in the end everyone can increase their personal abilities through successful teamwork. In addition, the teachers were role models for successful cooperation in the organization of their own work; in the way the school is run, a team spirit prevails that gives room for individual initiative and at the same time allows all individuals to grow beyond themselves.

If we could manage to have “all [in a school] develop significant nonhierarchical forms of cooperation” and if we jointly practice “transparency and accountability (instead of personal and institutional power) (9) ,” wouldn’t that be the best preparation for a crisis situation? Wouldn’t we then instinctively feel that greater intelligence and dynamism is generated by forms of collaborative leadership than by solitary decision-making by a few whom we have made into big bosses?

We are all responsible, not only “the others”. We all have to learn, develop and change if we want to go more confidently through this crisis and those that will come. Waldorf education can provide important support in this process.

We could be motivated by the Coronavirus crisis to work to rediscover and implement this more creatively in our Waldorf schools and kindergartens, and to benefit an ever-increasing number of children in other institutions and contexts.

Philipp Reubke is a kindergarten teacher, Waldorf trainer, mentor and co-leader of the Pedagogical Section in Dornach. Until recently, Philipp was very active in IASWECE as coordinating group member and representative of the French Association.

This article originally appeared in the Goetheanum Newsletter.

(1) Michael Esfeld, ” Vaccination Passport – a Path to Freedom or to a Closed Society”. In: “Goetheanum N° 18/2021

(2) There are only three means of education: fear, ambition and love. We dispense with the first two … “cf. the Martin Carle, “Fear, Ambition and Love in the Classroom,” in: Erziehungskunst October 2019;

(3) cf : ” Essential Features of Waldorf Education “,

(4) Cf. Claus Peter Röh, Robert Thomas: “Unterricht gestalten”, Verlag am Goetheanum, 2015: “It is important that we start from the One as the divine primordial unity from which the following numbers are derived.” (S.71) „

(5) Op cit., p. 73

(6) Henning Köhler, “Von ängstlichen, traurigen und unruhigen Kindern”, Stuttgart 2019, Freies Geistesleben, p.93

(7) Valentin Wember develops this in detail in his introduction to a collection of Steiner quotes on “social capability,” Stratosverlag 2018.

(8) ” Absolute claims …tend to make one intolerant. With the claim to absolute truth a dogmatism effect arises.” Ulrich Kaiser, “The Narrator Rudolf Steiner”, Info 3 Verlag 2020, p. 60

(9) Essential Features of Waldorf Education, Section : The School Community. Living together.

Alumni news

From CBRSS to Janet Clarke Hall in Melbourne.

2 of our 2019 graduates are settling into College life at the University of Melbourne. Both Avryl Hart and Kalani Knight have recently joined our 2018 graduate Mackenzie Stephan in the Janet Clarke Hall residences. The photo below features our wonderful alumni at the beginning of the year ball at JCH. Kalani and Avryl are studying Science while Mackenzie is in her second year of a Bachelor of Arts. Mackenzie has taken on the role of Vice-President of Janet Clarke Hall students and is helping both Avryl and Kalani find their feet in a very different environment.
We are so very proud of them!

Alumni News

Congratulations to our 2019 Graduate Hunter Amos for his Sellout Solo Art Exhibition at Jai Gallery in Byron. We are all so proud of you!

Alumni News

Hannah Richards and Aleshanee Kelso (students at CBRSS from Year 1 – Year 12)

2 of our 2016 HSC cohort have just graduated with flying colours (pun intended) from their Bachelor of Circus Arts at NICA (National Institute of Circus Arts) in Melbourne. Aleshanee won the Circus Oz Award for Collaboration and Hannah won the NICA Award for Creativity and they have made their parents very proud. Steven Richards, father of Hannah, is a long time PDHPE teacher in the HS and the teacher of our Circus Elective in Years 9 and 10.

We are so proud of their achievements and look forward to finding out where the future takes them in this exciting area!

What are our Graduates doing now?

Many of our 2018 graduating students are now beginning their post-Cape Byron lives. Those students who wanted to move on to University study have received wonderful offers.

Three of our students are headed to the University of Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Arts. This is a prestigious Arts degree with high level entry requirements; this year requiring an ATAR over 85. Another student gained entry into the Bachelor of Design at the University of Melbourne, another high level course at this university. Also Melbourne bound is another of our creative students who is headed to RMIT to study Design as well as one of our budding female scientists who gained entry into RMIT to study Aerospace Engineering and Management!

In addition to this, one of our talented 2018 graduates gained entry into a Bachelor of International Studies at the University of NSW. Two of our students will be attending Southern Cross University to study Arts/Law, with another student studying a Bachelor of Business at Southern Cross.

Two further students are heading north to Griffith University to study a mix of Business and Design.

Many other students from the 2018 cohort are engaged in employment to save and move to Melbourne or see the world before settling into further study.

One lovely ongoing connection being fostered in Melbourne (and Sydney as well) is the mentoring by older ex-students from Cape Byron Steiner who assist and spend time with newly moved students. There is a connected community of alumni who help transition the new arrivals and it is great to see this continuing as a measure of support. It is not always easy to move away from the area and from family to start university so this is lovely to observe.

Our Vision at Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School is to enable each individual to realise their potential to be self-aware, resourceful and resilient with the empathy, skills and initiative to make a positive contribution to the world. We are so proud of all of our graduates, as they embody this vision.

CBRSS Students work with Byron Youth Theatre

Current student Sam Morrell and past student Seth Freeman joined the cast for the recent BYT performance of In My skin, an original play exploring the themes of prejudice and racism. It was an excellent, professional production which captivated the audience with its powerful message. CBRSS graduate and former BYT member Ebony Webb returned from studying Drama in Brisbane to choreograph the show.

Listen to what Tony Barry has to say about it here. Listen to what local MP Ben Franklin has to say about it here

Bryon Youth Theatre is run by Lisa Apostolides and is the only youth SOCIAL ACTION not for profit company in Northern NSW. Since 2010 they have devised 12 major productions and deliver performances and workshops to local schools, community events and conferences.

Visit their Facebook page for more about In My Skin and BYT 

Alumni News

Grace O’Keeffe graduated Cape Byron Steiner in 2013 and after having studied European Law at Maastricht University in the Netherlands for three years has just graduated with a Bachelor of Law. Congratulations Grace!

Calling all Alumni

Dear School Community,

You may or may not be aware that this year marks the 30th anniversary of Cape Byron Steiner School. To acknowledge and celebrate this, we are wanting to collate material that the high school students can use for a media project that documents the history of the Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School over the last 30 years. The presentation will be showcased at this year’s Spring Fair in the new High School Building.

So this is an appeal to all parents who are past students of Cape Byron to get in touch to help provide material for this fabulous project. This might include old photos, video footage and a willingness to give a short interview so we have anecdotal snippets. We are hoping to get a diverse range of material that documents the entire period starting with the founders of the school!

If you are still in touch with friends who have moved away and feel they would also be willing to contribute please pass this on to them (there is a link at the bottom of the Bulletin email to “forward to a friend”). This is a great opportunity to have the Cape Byron Alumni Network creak into motion and give back to the school. We need to get the ball rolling as the students will need to start putting the material together early in Term 3.

So if you are willing/able to help out and share your school experiences and photos please contact Suzanne (0428 731 921/ ) and we’ll take it from there.

At the moment we are just trying to get a list together of willing contributors.

You may wish to visit the “Our History” page of our website for some inspiration, you will find it here.

Many thanks and looking forward to receiving a flurry of texts, emails and phone calls from people I don’t know!!

Suzanne Flowerday
(2018 Cape Byron Spring Fair Team)

Alumni News

Mali Biggin graduated in 2016 and is now attending Melbourne University. Mali kindly provided a tour of the University to our Year 10 students during their recent trip to Melbourne.

Alumni news

Eryn Thackray-Smith graduated from CBRSS in 2015. While attending CBRSS his main passion was Drama scoring 10/10 for his individual HSC performance and a nomination for “On Stage ” with is group performance. Eryn is now performing in a local Theatre production called “The Last Witch.”

Set in the Scottish highlands of 1727, The Last Witch is a story of suspicion and intrigue. With a deeply mysterious core, Rona Munro’s play seethes with poetry and grippingly powerful emotion as dark circumstances circle around Janet Horne and her daughter, Helen. Based on a true story, Janet Horne stands accused of Witchcraft and Consorting with the Devil, revealing how the Devil can appear in many faces.

Interestingly, Nerrida Johnson, our Principal is a direct descendant of Janet Horne!

For more information on the show please go to our online community noticeboard here


Alumni News – Cecilia Brandolini

Cecilia graduated from CBRSS in 2015 and we are excited to share that she has just released her debut EP ‘Naive Trust’. Alongside 2 brand new singles and official videos. Cecilia is an acclaimed singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and the Winner of 2017 Tweed Battle of the Bands and finalist of 2018 Bluesfest Busking Competition

Cecilia is currently on an extensive national tour of Australia but will be returning to her stomping ground Byron Bay for a goodbye show on the 17th of May at ‘Treehouse on Belongil’ with her funky new drummer. This FREE show will be the last chance to experience her new sound before she moves to Perth, WA.

‘’Byron Bay and its accepting nature has exposed me to so many amazing, quirky people and eclectic music which has shaped so much of who I am. It’s with my new EP ‘Naive Trust’ that I hope to thank you all for that. I’ve worked incredibly hard to  produce this art baby and it’s finally here for sharing!’ Cecilia commented.

“Cecilia Brandolini is a rare and realised talent, whose songwriting, production and vocal maturity belies her age. This EP is full of the kind of exciting creative sensibility that will have us watching Cecilia and her trajectory with our necks craned for years to come.” -Mama Kin

For a preview of Cecilia Brandolini’s completely new sound head to (or) (Official music videos for ‘Naive Trust’ and Whatever We Make Of it’.)


Alumni news – Melbourne

In a recent visit to Melbourne, Katie was thrilled to catch up with some past students from HSC 2015 and 2016.
Hannah Richards and Aleshanee Kelso are studying a Bachelor of Circus Arts at NICA.
Jasmine Pierce is living on campus at The University of Melbourne, studying a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and criminology amongst other interesting subjects!
Leila Karni, from the 2015 year, has travelled the world, worked in Sydney and is now studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne.
Katie Biggin

Alumni News – Merryn Jeann

Merry Jeann graduated from CBRSS in 2014. In 2016 Merryn established herself as a feature vocalist and songwriter to take serious note of. Merryn has been compared to artists Amy Winehouse, Feist and Yukimi Nagano (Little Dragon), herself drawing vocal inspiration from diverse acts like Nai Palm (Hiatus Kaiyote), Laura Marling and Moses Sumney.

Students from the high school were invited to work with Merryn this week, rehearsing and performing an acoustic version of her new single “Wantigga- Slowly”

The single was released on Good Friday and has already had 54000 views on Youtube.

The intention of the project with the students was to create a live acoustic version, featuring a choir of CBRSS students performing it with Merryn in the Movement room.

The Audio and Visual recording will be used as promotion of the song and the artist “Merryn Jeann”.

There will be a professional crew making the clip which will be launched sometime next week on Youtube and other social media platforms.

2017 HS drama students perform at “Onstage”

At the beginning of this term a group of our 2017 HSC students travelled to Sydney to perform their HSC drama piece, Invictus, as part of the ‘Onstage’ event; an event showcasing the best of the year’s NSW HSC drama pieces. Ben Daley, their drama teacher, travelled down to Sydney to watch the performance and provide support. Congratulations to Seth, Raphael, Sabrina and Tahlia. We are very proud of your wonderful effort.

Alumni News

Returning to Byron Shire and CBRSS from her Melbourne home, Alumni student Domini Forster treated our students and staff to a preview performance of her set for the Mullum Music Festival in November. It was a delight to see her perform with her former string teachers and mentors from the school Ian, Robbie, and Belinda. Afterwards, there was a Q&A session with some primary school classes and also a session with the new HSC music students about the HSC music experience and life in the music industry.

Katie’s past Guardian group reps

So lovely to have a student from my 3 last guardian groups together at Mullum Fest.
Domini from 2009
Maeve from 2012
Cecilia from 2015

Katie Biggin

Alumni news

As you may be aware, one of our 2016 graduating students, Jasmine Pierce, received a perfect score of 100% for her English Extension 2 Poetry Major Work in 2016.

Not only is this an enormous achievement, but she has now been acknowledged as one of the most accomplished young writers in the state of NSW by being selected in the publication Young Writers’ Showcase, which publishes the best pieces from each year out of the many thousands who take the course in NSW.
Nerrida and I joined Jasmine at the celebration launch event at the State Library of NSW on 21st August. We are both very proud of Jasmine’s achievement. Her poetry is exceptional.

This is now the third time we have had a student from our school achieve this accomplishment of being published in the Young Writers’ Showcase, an outstanding achievement for such a small, rural school. All three writers spent many years at this school and have obviously benefited from a beautiful Steiner education that nurtures the soul and inspires storytelling. This is a real testament, not only to our wonderful students, but also to the extremely high standard of teaching in the school.

If you wish to read Jasmine’s poems, please visit Charlotte in the library.

Congratulations Jasmine!

Jasmine was quoted in a recent newsletter from the New South Wales Education Standards Authority. The article can be found at this link.

Katie Biggin

(And congratulations to Katie and all the teachers who worked with Jasmine over the years for such highly skilled and professional teaching. Nerrida)