Matryoshka Dolls—Understanding the Relationship of Our Little Waldorf School to the International Waldorf School Movement

Like the fabled Russian Matryoshka or babushka dolls that nestle one figure inside another with another inside of that, or the Indigenous myth of the World Turtle who sits on the back of another turtle, who sits on the back of another turtle all the way down, Maine Coast Waldorf School is intimately connected to Waldorf education throughout time and space.

Our little high school is aligned with twenty-two other Waldorf schools and teacher training institutes in what is called the Northeast/Québec region. All of the Waldorf schools in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the Canadian province of Québec work together to strengthen the teaching and the education at the regional schools. We meet together three times a year, and share insights and resources.

Our region works alongside seven other regions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico to form the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. Formed in 1968, the Association, known as AWSNA for short, supports all of the Waldorf schools and training institutes throughout North America to nurture Waldorf schools and advance the principles of the education.

AWSNA is connected to the international Waldorf school movement which currently has 1,092 Waldorf (sometimes called Steiner) schools in 64 countries and 1,857 Waldorf kindergartens in more than 70 countries. Maine Coast is one of those! We are connected to the work of a group of people working at a building called the Goetheanum, located in Dornach, Switzerland, near Basel. The building is named after the poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theater director and critic, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The group is called the Pedagogical Section and it is connected to every school in the world working out of Dr. Rudolf Steiner’s teachings, known as Anthroposophy. The Pedagogical Section supports the schools in many ways, including research to renew education. The Pedagogical Section is one of many sections within the larger School of Spiritual Science.

Other sections include the section for mathematics and astronomy, the medical section, the natural science section, the agricultural section, the section for social sciences, the section for the spiritual striving of youth, the visual arts section, the section for the arts of eurythmy, speech, music, puppetry, and drama, and the literary arts and humanities section- most of the fields of human endeavor. In North America, we have our own Pedagogical Section Council, and the folks associated with that are looking at the deepest questions of our time as they relate to Waldorf education.

Finally, all of Waldorf education is connected to the body of the teachings of Anthroposophy, something Dr. Steiner called a “modern path of knowledge.” While Waldorf schools do not teach Anthroposophy, the insights given by Rudolf Steiner during his lifetime of teaching and writing (1861-1925) help to guide the teacher’s understanding of the developing child/student and how the curriculum, teaching methods and relationships within Waldorf communities can deepen the work and help young people become more fully themselves.

And so, just a brief picture of the way in which Maine Coast Waldorf High School, nestled as we are on the very edge of North America, is intimately connected and enmeshed with the regional, continental and international work, hopes and dreams of Waldorf education.

Think about that next time you say the Morning Verse: “I look into the world…”