Curiosity about the origins of the Steiner influence in the area led to an article in the online Waldorf Journal ; an interview with a woman who was involved in Steiner education in Gloucestershire in the early years. Her story is interesting in that it provides some background to the way the Steiner influence has grown in this area.
Margaret Meyerkort came to this country from Switzerland (a lot of them do) to train as a Waldorf Steiner teacher at Hawkwood College. The interviewer explains that the founder of Hawkwood in Stroud was also a co-founder of Wynstones school in 1937 and that two of the tutors at the college had been “direct students of Rudolf Steiner.” Here is a short history of Hawkwood .
Meyerkort began working at the Wynstones Kindergarten staying in that role for many years, despite being offered a job as class teacher in the school; she “… was intrigued to continue finding out what Rudolf Steiner had meant by stating that the teacher of the young child is like a priest”.
The interview describes the hardships of working in a wooden hut and how she gave the children biodynamic carrots and wheat for their snacks, and how busy she was with her job alongside “…participation in activities of the Anthroposophical Society”
The article goes on;
“Margret’s understanding of education and of life came out of her inner work and her studies of Rudolf Steiner’s work. For instance, one day she read in one of his karma lectures, that the “stars are gateways to the spiritual world.”
She was partly trained in eurythmy and “she risked giving the children the little eurythmy she could, appreciating that fully trained eurythmists did not approve.”
She was instrumental in training kindergarten teachers at Wynstones over a period of many years including “…giving, for instance, a workshop on the ninth Lesson of the School of Spiritual Science in relation to the education of the young child.”
A “kindergarten steering group” was formed in the 1960s, in the 70s a training group for kindergarten teachers ran for many years and in the 80s there was the “teacher Education circle”.
Meyerkort lectured around the world on Steiner teaching including one lecture on “How Can We Work with the Karma of the Young Child?” (recently published as Working with the Angels: The Young Child and the Spiritual World.)
It seems Hawkwood and Wynstones have a lot to answer for in the spread of Steiner education around the UK. One or two of the names mentioned in the article are still known in the Stroud area for their involvement with all things anthroposophical. No wonder there is such a strong power base in the area; the creed has been peddled continuously here since the 1950s and we are still living with the consequences 60 years on.