How fabulous it was to meet Kristin Buckbee in Philmont, NY! Kristin is involved with Think OutWord, and we were really looking forward to the chance to connect with her during our visit. While walking around the town with Seth, we met her in the park with her young daughter, Isabel. She bears a tremendous warmth and strength, and Isabel is pretty delightful as well!
After a morning at the river for the Two Row Wampum, we got to speak to Kristin about her work. We also got to meet Kristin’s mother, who was so helpful with Isabel to allow for our conversation. She is a mom and a teacher, working with Waldorf high school humanities and art. Kristin said she didn’t come into her work as a teacher with full clarity until Isabel was born. She sees her task as creating spaces for young adults who are pursuing their tasks to ask questions, to seek their next step. She loves being a high school teacher for the opportunity to help young people craft their thinking.
Kristin carries questions of form in her work. She has joined together with a local group of young teachers and is interested in creating a new form of teacher training for today’s times. This training would involve study, research, and practice throughout a three-year process, meeting twice yearly and switching coasts. There is support from the Pedagogical Section for this new endeavor, and Kristin is working with Jon McAlice in building a picture of the work. Jon has been irreplaceable in her own development, she says. Kristin would like to facilitate space for other young teachers to find their way into the work. She would like to consider where Waldorf Education needs to go and what form is needed.
Kristin has taught in both established schools and newer initiatives. It is a polar experience working in these different environments. When Kristin is teaching, she is sensitive to the institution, which naturally comes with its own consciousness, habits, tendencies, and practices. Overall, however, Kristin notices a general trend toward an over-emphasis on an academic base with external measures. As teachers, we should be developing the capacities to perceive what’s needed and have the freedom to meet that need creatively. We need to do our work and as creatively as possible to bring what’s needed into a given situation. Kristin says she does what she can to be open to receiving guidance to be in service to the highest possible. We asked Kristin if she would be interested in joining with us to create a peer-to-peer gathering of teachers to explore what’s working in Waldorf education, and she said that’s just what teachers are looking for.
We asked Kristin what she cares about. She said art, history, and philosophy. She loves the subjects she teaches. She teaches a course on Revolution and Historical Symptomotalogy, which is tremendously fascinating.. She is always seeking to expand her understanding of our time, and her teaching practice helps her to do so. Kristin draws inspiration from the world around her. Even our trip to the Two Row Wampum gathering can be seen as research to inform her work as a teacher. She is interested in online activism, though it is not an area of direct involvement for herself. It is important to watch how things are evolving, Kristin says. She is developing a course on media, technology, and social life.
When asked what anthroposophy is to her, Kristin responded with, “What is it not?!” She loves her daughter, and she loves the potential that exists in the work for these future pictures. She is excited to be alive right now and has great hope for the future. What the world is asking of us is the development of soul capacities like hope. When you wake up, everything works against being able to have that, but you must keep going. Kristin wants to help young people believe it’s possible for the earth to continue at all.
In Waldorf Education, students are given the space to work out of their own freedom. We must meet the tasks that we must fulfill on earth in a cosmic sense. We need courage to perform our tasks, brining the social impulses that allow young people to become shapers of civilization.
From the time she was a teenager, Kristin knew she wanted to be a Waldorf high school teacher, though she pursued other tasks before taking up this work. She grew up attending the Waldorf School herself and, as a student, was always bothered when others did not seem so appreciative for their education. She felt so fortunate. Since the eighth grade, she was in love with what was happening in the curriculum. As a high schooler, she was inspired by the moral questions in Parzival.
Just before we departed from New York, we learned that Kristin used to make dinner for Henry and Christy Barnes every night when she was a teenager! The connections continue to unfold, and we are so happy for our new friendship with Kristin! Even though we only had a short time to spend with her, we were so inspired by her and look forward to getting to know her better! We are excited about her work as a woman of her time and are eager see where she goes in collaboration with others. She gives us great hope for the future!