The question to be asked is not: What does an individual need to know and be capable of doing so as to fit into the existing social order? But rather: what potential does an individual have and what can be developed in him or her? (Rudolf Steiner)

This year Lorien Novalis (School for Rudolf Steiner Education) is celebrating the anniversary of its 50 th year of providing quality education to students in the Hills District.

Following its commencement in a family home in Pymble on September 13 1971. In 1973 the School moved to Old Northern Road near Round Corner. Over the years neighbouring properties have been acquired and extended the School’s beautiful grounds to 16 acres.

Lorien Novalis was founded by Steiner teachers who were seeking to forge a new way in education, that not only took into account a deep understanding of human development, but also the continent of Australia and its Southern Hemisphere location. This place conscious, innovative approach to learning is now recognised as a methodology that includes place as a silent teacher. It is this sensitivity to the environment that parents experience when enrolling at Lorien Novalis. Often in response to their first impressions, some refer to the atmosphere to the school grounds as ‘a positive energy’, ‘buzz’, and ‘beautiful vibe’ or as one mother imaginatively described ‘a beehive on a sunny day’.

While creating an aesthetic environment by cultivating and beautifying the grounds, the teachers were also aware of the need to nourish the children’s inner landscape, stimulating their imagination through the agency of the arts. It has become part of Lorien’s teaching practice to draw images for stories and lesson content from the local environment. Hundreds of original stories, songs and plays have been and are continuing to be written and performed, engaging children directly to their learning with a deep connection to place.

What made this pervasive mood of contented productivity possible and identified Lorien as such a desirable place for children to be educated? When asked this question, one response came from a Commander with Air Services Australia who also is a teacher/theatre director and attended Lorien Novalis as a student.

From the beginning, the school grounds were cultivated as imaginative havens where we could experience a variety of environments: the creek, bushland, open fields, permaculture gardens and shade gardens around the classrooms.

We were allowed to climb trees, and get wet when it rained (so long as we had a spare set of clothes). The lessons were related to the local environment and as we grew older, we would go on extended trips and camps and explore the places we were studying: the Warrumbungles, Byron Bay, Snowy Mountains, Heron Island. These trips are some of the best memories I have of going to school. I always felt meaningfully engaged and was happy to go to school.

Direct experience of place: running through the bush, building cubby houses and climbing trees in a clear air, sunny environment – develop body co-ordination skills that allow children to feel strong and comfortable in their bodies. Fine motor skills (sewing, drawing, painting, modelling, knitting, hammering, sawing, forging and weaving) enhances bodily experience. This in turn leads to subtlety in thinking and resilience and innovation in action.

A former Lorien pupil remarked:
I loved being at school. The holidays were boring. I couldn’t wait to get back to the creek and the trees. I also loved the craft. I remember when we wove baskets, crocheted rainbow blankets and made our Winter Festival candles.

This nexus of experiential learning and art education has developed self-assured students comfortable with their identity. A Lorien graduate, working at a music festival noted:

I could pick out the Steiner students from the others. They were confident in a self- assured way and had a creative dress sense. It was not flamboyant or outrageous but their clothing made a statement about their identity. They were also socially at ease. Lorien Novalis School 

During the past decade, world society reached a tipping point where more than half of its population live apart from the natural world, in a human construct (cities and metropolises).

With the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) ), the disruption to human soul life will see the spread of further mental health issues unless the acknowledgement is given to our inner needs. From the outset, Lorien Novalis as a Steiner School has provided a balanced ‘Head, Heart, Hands’ approach to learning.

The need for an ‘Education for Well-being’ is becoming more urgent and in the face of the corporate emphasis on STEM and education for jobs, we will be maintaining and enhancing our human-centred learning programs.

Our 50 th celebrations scheduled for 11th September has been postponed due to extended Covid restrictions. We will notify the community with a revised date once regulations are lifted.

If you seek an education which is focused on the individual, please contact the school and enquire about what Steiner education can offer your child. Contact us at:
Lorien Novalis School for Rudolf Steiner Education
456-460a Old Northern Rd, During
02 9658 0700 | [email protected]
www.lorien.nsw.edu.au

You can also follow Lorien Novalis School on INSTAGRAM @loriennovalis or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LorienNovalis/