Home: Freunde Waldorf

Daniel Engelsman

Daniel Engelsman is a Waldorf teacher in Prien am Chiemsee. He has been a board member of the Friends of Waldorf Education since spring 2022. He has known the Friends - albeit from a distance – since his childhood, as he tells in the interview.

Daniel, before you became a Waldorf teacher, you worked as an event manager for an agency. How does one go from being an event manager to a Waldorf teacher, what is your connection with Waldorf education?
Yes, I have to start at the beginning: There has been a thread running through my family for generations as far as anthroposophy is concerned. My grandparents were involved in anthroposophical institutions for many years, including at the Alanus Hochschule in Alfter. My father is a class teacher at a Waldorf school and my mother is a eurythmy teacher. I myself went to the Waldorf kindergarten and of course to the Waldorf school. When I finished school, I didn't want to have anything more to do with school. Yet, somewhere in the back of my mind, I had already thought about becoming a teacher, because I was fascinated and enthusiastic about it. But first, I wanted to get to know the world a bit, to discover something else. That's how I ended up in the event management sector. Among other things, I organised conferences and spent a lot of time travelling internationally, and not much time at home. At some point, this old desire – to be a teacher – grew in me again; firstly, to be able to spend more time at home, and secondly, to pick up the thread of becoming a teacher. That's when I did my Waldorf teacher training at the Freie Hochschule in Stuttgart.

So the international aspect has always been important to you, and you speak several languages?
Apart from anthroposophy, that also runs through my family. I grew up in a bilingual, German-Dutch home. My parents always spoke Dutch with us children, while at school and among friends, we spoke German. Then we were in Cape Town for a while, and I went to the Constantia Waldorf School. My parents accompanied Waldorf schools and Waldorf kindergartens in the townships. That's when my English developed, and also Afrikaans, which is, of course, very close to Dutch. At school in Germany I also learned Russian, but there are really only fragments of it left. Two years ago I worked as a Waldorf teacher in Mexico, and then I also learned Spanish.

Did the connection with the Friends come about through your work in Mexico?
I have known the Friends of Waldorf Education and Nana Göbel for a long time, although not personally. Through my parents' connections there has always been a certain connection. The first personal contact actually came about in the run-up to my stay in Mexico. After my first eight years working at a Waldorf School, I wanted to take the opportunity of a sabbatical and make good use of this year. So, I put out some feelers to see what possibilities there were to work with a Waldorf school abroad during this time. And with this in mind, I remembered that the Friends of Waldorf Education have a large network worldwide. So I simply called Nana Göbel and asked if someone like me with my skills was needed somewhere. As a result, I travelled to Myanmar for a fortnight. I got to know a school and took courses with prospective teachers. However, I quickly realised that this was not the right country for a family with four children to make a longer stay. At that time, there was already a mood in Myanmar that later ended in the developments we all know about. After further considerations, I decided to go to a school in Mexico. I started there in September 2019. Like everywhere else in the world, a few months later we had to deal with the Corona pandemic, with online classes and everything. This all led to the school being on the verge of ruin, as there was no government support provided. I helped my school and the Waldorf schools in the area to apply to the Friends. This made the contact with the Friends and Nana Göbel much closer. And after I returned to the Waldorf School in Prien, I was asked if I could imagine being involved in the Friends' board.

Why is it important for you to take this position on the Board of the Friends'?
There are several aspects that make me happy to take on this task. Firstly, it is a basic principle for me to say: If I am needed somewhere and I am behind the cause, then I try to make it possible. Of course, that is not always possible, but if it is, then I try to do my best to make it happen. That was also the case with my teaching career. I didn't choose the school I wanted to work at but said, the first school that needs me and asks me, that's who I will work for. That has proven to be a good principle in my life. In addition, because of my own biography as a Waldorf pupil, as a child of very committed parents, and because of everything I experienced in Mexico, I gained an insight into what Waldorf education can achieve in the world. I would say that it is an educational answer to the really urgent questions of today. I therefore find it very important that there is an association like the Friends of Waldorf Education, which has set itself the goal of promoting this pedagogy worldwide. And if the people who are already active in the Friends believe that I am the right candidate for this and that my skills are needed there, then I am happy about it and will contribute.

Empower & donate now
Empower & donate now