Sydney Rudolf Steiner College grew from the enthusiasm of a small but active group of friends inspired by anthroposophy in the 1970s. Keen to translate anthroposophic ideals into practical activities this group met regularly to run forums, discussion groups, artistic workshops and bread baking. The original founding group included Ann and Erwin Berney, John Blackwood, Enid Cryer, Susan Haris, Mechthild Harkness, Anna Havas, Beryl and Dick van Leer. As time went on, many more joined: Doug and Marj Waugh, Anna Kundert, Mark Baxter, Ruth Marx and others.
Since the 1970s to the present day, the college has been renamed several times. Known originally as the Anthroposophical Activities Group, this creative hub continued to run a steady and ever popular program of activities: weekend workshops, evening courses, week and month long seminars exploring the philosophical and creative facets of Steiner education and anthroposophy.
Throughout the decades many inspirations evolved into established courses. The Orientation Course in Anthroposophy was one such initiative. This course ran for many years and attracted many students from around the world and domestically. In addition, many shorter seminars and key note speakers were hosted including world authorities in anthroposophy and Steiner education including Francis Edmunds, Arne Klingborg, Dr. Len Mees, and others.
In 1989 the organisation was renamed Parsifal College, to describe a place where students and tutors could journey, like Parsifal, on a path of self-knowledge. A highlight of the ensuing era was the development and running of a government accredited Advanced Diploma in Rudolf Steiner Education. Later the college partnered with the University of New England. The university agreed to award graduate Advanced Diploma in Rudolf Steiner Education students with two years of advanced standing. A four-year Bachelor of Education could now be completed with two years of Steiner content. The college’s premises at Rudolf Steiner House were alive and full with domestic and international students busily engaged in learning and artistic practice.
One more ‘first’ was the beginning in 1997 of the accredited full time Diploma Course in Rudolf Steiner Kingergarten Education directed by Dr Renate Long-Breipohl. This ‘Kinder’ course had a large component of practice teaching in Steiner Kindergartens all over Australia, assuring much needed experience.
During this time some of the original founders, Ann and Erwin Berney, Anna Havas and Susan Haris, all septuagenarians, handed over their guardianship of the college to the next generation, trusting that the tree which they have tended for decades with so much loving care and hard work would be faithfully looked after. In Susan Haris’s words,
“This is a special tree – the tree of life uniting with the tree of knowledge. It will have to face many further challenges to meet the demands of the future. May it grow big and strong, bringing much healthy fruit through the joint effort of students, tutors and directors and with continuing blessing of the Spirit World and those who are guarding it from the other side of the threshold.”
Since 2016, Sydney Rudolf Steiner College relinquished its management of the government-accredited courses and embraced a more agile organisational path. A rich program of anthroposophy, artistic activities and educator training continues to flourish. A dedicated faculty of tutors, Board members and staff strive to meet the demands of the present day and future. The results of this collective effort are the college’s many graduates teaching in Steiner Schools and Kindergartens across Australia as well as overseas. A number of students have furthered their studies in different anthroposophical fields such as eurythmy, healing therapies, and biodynamic agriculture and many enrich their lives through applying their insights to everyday life. This is indeed the fruit of the tree of life uniting with the tree of knowledge.