Welcoming John Burnett
We are very pleased to welcome John as Programme Director for the Diploma in Rudolf Steiner Education.
John’s Career History
John Burnett began his teaching career in 1970 as a Primary Class Teacher in the London Borough of Barking. After working as a state school teacher for several years he decided to follow his growing interest in the work of Rudolf Steiner and, in 1973, he took the post of Class Teacher at Wynstones Rudolf Steiner School near Gloucester. After completing the full eight years with his first class, John then took a year out of teaching, spending a sabbatical year studying artistic therapy. Following this, he returned to Wynstones and commenced a second class of six-year-olds, again staying with them until they were fourteen years of age. On his second sabbatical in 1990, John worked as an advisor for the UK Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, visiting schools and supporting new teachers.
The next stage of John’s career involved taking responsibility for English Language and Literature with High School pupils (15-18 years of age). As well as teaching Main Lessons to Classes 9-12, he prepared pupils for the national UK examinations (GCSEs and A Level.)
After some years of High School teaching, a new career opportunity came his way. This was to take on the role of Programme Director of a BA Honours programme at the University of Plymouth. This was in 1992 and John has remained in this role for the past nineteen years. He has recently retired as a full-time university lecturer and is looking forward to working at Taruna – a marked contrast to the University with its 27,000 students on a large urban campus.
In addition to his work at Plymouth, John has been working with academic staff at Canterbury Christchurch University to develop a new Masters programme in Steiner education. He has also been working on school development programmes in Bangkok and Bangladesh as well as involvement in Masters courses at Auckland University of Technology and Canberra University. He has recently lectured in Kassel, Germany and has run courses for teachers in Spain, Ireland and in the UK.
John’s thoughts on Taruna
“For the past 20 years, I’ve been Programme Director of a three year degree programme in Steiner education at Plymouth University in the UK. On June 14th, I completed my last scheduled meeting at the University, had a couple of days to pack and then set off for New Zealand on the 18th June, starting work at Taruna on the 23rd. Since then, have been reflecting on the new environment I find myself in.
When I started teaching in Plymouth in 1992, it was still possible to look out of the window of our tower block and see the naval ships leaving and arriving in the harbour. Twenty years later, all that is visible are other tower blocks rising up to meet the needs of the 30,000 students and the army of teaching and administrations staff. It’s very different here in the Homestead or the Demeter building, especially on a sunny spring day when the garden, so carefully tended by Rachel Pomeroy and Beckett, is full of light with the Tuis conversing in the trees and the Piwakawakas fluttering in the bushes.
The work I do is similar to that back in the UK: student tutorials, lectures, planning meetings and all the hundreds of things necessary to ensure a course is running smoothly and realising its potential. What is different is the human scale and the wonderful resources of the college. It’s a long time since I worked in an environment where it’s taken for granted that regular eurythmy, watercolour painting and music is combined with lectures on art, science and anthroposophy. In the university, these subjects were timetabled but there were far fewer sessions, the rooms were generally unsuitable and the assessment regime intense.
It’s been a joy to come to such a friendly and lively centre. The students and staff are strong, hard-working people and I have the impression of great potential for the future. The world needs the life-giving forces which anthroposophical education can bring and Taruna is one of those centres, well-placed and well-endowed to achieve this.”