Experiencing the poetry inherent in language as a tool in teacher education


  • Norman Skillen Irish




Waldorf teacher education, Poetry in L2 teaching, Theory of poetry, Performing poetry, Original participation, Language and imagination


The opening module of the 2nd year of the 4-year Bachelor’s degree in Waldorf Education at Freie Hochschule Stuttgart is described. The year is devoted exclusively to the additional subject chosen by the students and the article focusses on the group who have chosen L2 English. The intention in the module is to give the students an introduction to the history of the English language and its literature while at the same time beginning the development of their performative skills. This entails, on the one hand, setting the history of language in as wide a context as possible, in the process drawing upon the work of Wilhelm von Humboldt and Owen Barfield among others, and on the other, preparing a programme of poetry for performance. Within this broad context the process of preparation is described, and the mutual influences of the one upon the other highlighted.

Author Biography

  • Norman Skillen, Irish

    After an early interest in foreign languages, Norman Skillen eventually attained a degree in ecology from the (New) University of Ulster. He encountered Waldorf education in the mid-seventies, and went to Germany to study it properly. He began as a student at the Waldorf Institute in Witten-Annen, subsequently becoming a lecturer there, working on the artistic-poetic- performative side of training English teachers. He then moved to Cape Town where he was primarily a drama teacher for about 16 years, but also taught a range of other subjects in the upper school. Now “retired”, living in Ireland and freelancing. He has so far translated 7 books, one of which was “Language Teaching in Steiner/Waldorf Schools” by Johannes Kiersch, to which he contributed a chapter. He has also published a number of articles over the years.


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