The Australian in the Room

New Adult Educator Path I and II  ~ August 2019 and Feb/March 2020

L-R: The Word Sisters: Dale, Renate, Jenny and Rosemary, July 2019 after a week’s Intensive at the Perth Waldorf School.

hands receive and give
warmly held community
– now I sit alone

Outside my small apartment in Highgate, near the Perth Central Business District, Western Australia, birds sing. I was woken by the guffawing laugh of kookaburras and now listen for the sweeter song of doves and wattle birds. I am in self-isolation.

I arrived a few days ago from Cleveland, Ohio after staying with dear friends in Erie, PA for nearly two weeks. And I travelled there from Toronto after Path II of the NAE Training at Bonnieview Farm near Meaford, Ontario from 28 February-8 March, 2020.

My journey was planned months ago. I returned to Australia on 24 March, just hours before the Western Australian borders were closed, thus my fourteen-day self-isolation.

This preamble invites you to my story of discovery.  Since my partner’s death in 2014 and my retirement from 45 years of teaching and arts education in the public system in Western Australia, I have spent short and delightful periods of time with his sister and her partner in Erie, PA. Last June I enticed my two good friends to meet me in Toronto and to spend a few days exploring together.  Always interested in conferences when I travel, I investigated the possibility of Anthroposophical events in Toronto. 

I discovered that there was to be a weekend conference Moving Towards the Future June 8-9, 2019, presented by the New Adult Learning Movement (NALM). I was immediately interested. 

I had been opened to “Destiny Learning” and Coenraad van Houten’s work when training in Biography Work with Karl-Heinz Finke in Sydney, Australia from 2014-2016.   So I leapt in and found myself dog-paddling as the mermaids and porpoise dived around me!

Everyone had either attended New Adult Learning workshops or had, or were, actually presenting various linked classes. The Australian was the only one out of her depth. But I like the new and so doggedly did my best to keep up!

We were treated to a comprehensive review of the life work of Coenraad van Houten by his widow Shirley Routledge van Houten, specifically as it had emerged in her life. It was a gentle and encompassing talk, and her love and respect for Coenraad was palpable.

I left with an invitation to return to Canada in August 2019 to attend Path I of the New Adult Educator Program. Within days I had my flights booked.

The August week at the lake cottage with four other participants and Arlene was extraordinary-life-shifting. The seven learning processes were explored in days of rhythmic discovery and friendship. I was inspired to share the work on my return to Western Australia.

A great joy in my life since 2017 is my ongoing work with three other women. We call ourselves the Word Sisters, and we have written and performed a work that blends biography, the vowels,  and the planets in a piece called Dancing Backwards.   We presented at the Australian Anthroposophical Conference in 2018 and at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2019. We are currently developing the second work exploring biographically through the consonants and the zodiac. These friends found the seven learning processes a wonderful addition to the way we develop our work.

As a further diversion to the story, I returned to Perth after the August in Canada to rehearse and perform in a work developed by Jennifer and Horst Kornberger, Anthroposophical luminaries in Australia, along with five musicians and performers from Slovenia, three local actors and a chorus of ten, in Somnus, an exploration of sleep for the Fremantle Biennale in November, 2019. The importance of sleep and night work in New Adult Learning was complemented by this unique experience.

Addendum from Dale, May 1st: This video of Somnus has just been released by Jennifer Kornberger and I think it gives a clear overview of the project. Here is the link to the video:

I spent hours of rehearsal under the veil…

At the end of 2019 I was able to take a group of twelve through the seven learning processes. Many were long-time Anthroposophical members, and I was heartened by their warm reception of the Seven Learning Processes. I will include some photographs of the Imaginations they created in relation to the presentation. 

My booking for Path II of the training was made as soon as the date and place were fixed. When I left Australia at the end of February, the Coronavirus still seemed manageable.  It was so good to see my colleagues from Path I and to meet the two participants from BC. 

We were sequestered at Bonnieview Farm, blanketed in snow, and ready to embrace Destiny Learning: a heartful place with rhythmic routine, kind friends, and a steady helm. I have already set up Skype sessions to begin to share the practice with two of my Word Sisters. We may be in self-isolation, but there are ways to connect.

My only sadness is that it is unlikely that I will be able to attend Path III in August 2020 with my Canadian friends. And that sadness extends to our ailing world and all fellow travellers on this orb. But a thread of connection has been firmly formed and contributes to the healing so needed now. The Australian is warmly in the room. 

farewelling kind friends,
a murmuration of dreams
– migratory birds

Dale Irving, selfie with melaleucas (tea-trees), by the Tamar River in Tasmania, Australia, December 2019

Upcoming 2020 Summer and Fall Programs

NAL Programs Summer & Fall 2020

Whitsun Conference 2020 Update – Now OnLine!!!! 

Awakening to COVID-19 and My Karmic Imprint.  We have created an On-Line Conference.  

4 – 2 Hour Sessions – Art Exercises & Conversation, May 23 1-3 & 7-9, May 24 – 9-11, 1-3                       

Connections 2020/21- Summer, March Break, Summer 

What are you doing this summer?  Does a week at the lake with an amazing group that learns and does art exercises together, eats and swims together sound like your kind of holiday?  Join Heather Church and Laurie Harper-Burgess at the cottage in the Parry Sound area this summer.  The program is 3 single weeks offered this summer, March Break, and next summer.    For more information and to register, go to  

Leading Learning Communities – Case Studies of Two Waldorf Schools

NAL Processes in Professional & Organizational Development 

Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto – July 20-24, 2020   – Afternoons  

For more information visit

Coming Fall 2020

Creating Home, Family, and Community – Facilitator’s Training 

Term 1 – Home for Body, Soul and Spirit – ON-LINE – Wednesday mornings, September 30 – Nov. 11, 2020

Do you work with parents or home educators?  Are you looking for ways to build their knowledge, develop their capacities, and support them in creating home, family, and community?  Learn to use the NAL adult learning and transformational processes.   

This program is offered in series of 7 sessions, each session being 2 hours. It will be offered on Zoom. A session begins with a sharing of the week’s learning, then a lesson and an art process.  The program is both a professional training and personal development. Through attending the program, each participant receives the curriculum that can be used with parents.  A pre-requisite of the program is that each participant will have 3+ students to share the session with each week.  

For more information and to register see  

New Adult Educator Research / Retreat Week ~ March 29 – April 5, 2020

A group of New Adult Educators met daily for a week by Zoom March 29-April 5.  We have gathered for many years at the “cottage” for a week of study, art, and a Creative Spiritual Research question.  This week was from each of our “home bases” and the first time we’ve done a retreat this way.               Here are a few reviews: 

 “Through this retreat I have entered into a much deeper understanding of the vastness of the Anthroposophical knowledge and path than ever before.    It seems I have been coasting along for many years and am now opening to embracing more. I have always related easily to Waldorf pedagogy but have resisted embracing the essential aspect of Anthroposophy. There is still resistance to take it to my heart, but it’s starting to live in my thinking.                      –Connie White, London 

“It was a remarkable week!  Despite the distance and the use of technology, I felt a wonderful sense of Oneness!  How my heart soared! What each of you shared continues to live with me along with my own explorations. When I look at my paintings, I think of each of you.”   – Marg Beard, Wingham

Laurie-Harper Burgess sent this music video “Joy” following the week:

New Adult Educator Program East – Week II, Feb. 28 – March 8, 2020

Path II ~ Destiny Learning , Meaford, Ont.

“Perhaps it was the arrival in a snowstorm, the blanketed silence of the farm, and the crunch of snow underfoot in the boots Fiona conjured for my safe footfall. The joy of meeting the four friends from the summer at the lake and the reassurance of seeing Arlene. Singing together before our wholesome and colourful meals and even the joy of doing the dishes together. 

The rituals and the routines of our rhythmic days. Listening to night echoes and awakening the ability to re-member our dreams. The trust given to each other; the gentle facilitation of our partner’s journey and theirs of ours. The give and take as we delved deep into karmic memory. Or was it the morning movement circle, especially as we strode out the Valiant Knights’ seven-pointed star in the crisp morning air, by the barn of Bonnieview Farm? 

Or perhaps it was the realization of the power of colour as my transforming drawing turned and looked out over the land and suffused me with relief and wonder. All of these moments were precious and real. This work opens my heart and wakes my vision, and its power to transform the burden of karma truly speaks to the spiritual hygiene it offers. It seems especially pertinent at this present point of crises in our shared world story.” – An offering from the Antipodean.  Dale Irving, Australia

Our time together was truly transformative, particularly in the opening of my heart.  It was a blessing to be in the strong rhythm of the day, that is so protective and healing and so difficult to achieve in the busyness of our daily lives.  But the bright lights, the jewels that first flash up in my mind when I remember our gathering are the one-on-one conversations with others in the group that occurred in transition times: doing the dishes, chopping vegetables, or out on a walk.  In these moments, I got to know you individually.  The week was a gift.  – Donna Huston, Duncan, B.C.

” …. I had resistance to the idea that we could “wake up” to our past lives  because I didn’t realize that it was not with my head that I would be comprehending past lives but rather with my heart.  In a very short time, in an atmosphere of pure love and trust, I was honoured to work with karma — and through experiences that arose from creative processes that we were guided through in groups, I was able to transform for myself those barriers and beliefs. I realized in a completely new way that my concepts and experiences of “self” are coloured by our double. 

My judgement of others in my biography was transformed by the question: “What ails thee because of me?” I met my double and rather than slay it or judge it, I learned to transform it, even to love it and from here forward commit to working together with it.  Evil and darkness, in ourselves and in the world, are asking to be met and to be redeemed. The Manichean Path is to love evil into goodness. Could there possibly be a more worthy task?  I am eternally grateful to have melted the barriers to past lives so as to awaken even more to my destiny, which is to serve humanity.” Nicolette Genier, The Community Farm Store, Freya-Sophia Waldorf Store, The Sol Centre, Duncan, B.C.  

“A passionate facilitator, Arlene created a modern initiation experience, a sacred space where we could face and begin to transform our shadow selves.  Working with transformational processes and artistic exercises, we learned to conduct healing conversations—to apply “heart knowing” to really see and connect with others and with ourselves. Nourishing meals, daily rhythms, and a supportive learning environment helped us to do the inner work required to bring destiny learning to our communities, and to the world. ” – Fiona Hughes, Toronto

New Adult Educator Program West – Path 1 – Langley, B.C., August 2019

“Take it Through the LoopING” by Susie Chin, Sung to the tune of the Eagles song “Take It To The Limit”

“Here we are at the end of the evening.

The last one we will spend for a while.

There’ve been dinners, there’ve being meetings, there’ve been ups, backs, arounds, and downs.

So if we’re looking for some learning, 

Here’s the best place to be.

If we’re wanting to grow,

Among great big giant trees.

And we’re wondering what to believe in…

And we’re puzzlin’ and puzzlin’,

What to do???

So jump onto the LoopING,

1,6,7, 2 through 5.

Take it through the LoopING

One more time.

You can spend all your time reading Steiner.

Or you can think materialistically.

But real learning is amazing!

Especially when it’s done


So we’ve always been the dreamers. 

But nobody seemed to care.

We couldn’t find our friends.

Couldn’t find them anywhere.

But then here WE all gathered!

And we WILLED it out,

And FELT it out,

And THOUGHT it out!!!

We took it through the LoopING

1,6,7,2 through 5

We took it through the LoopING

One more time.

We took it through the LoopING,

Took it through the LoopING,

We took it through the LoopING,

One more time!”

Susie Chin, New Adult Educator West – Path 1, August 2019