Mathematics Alive!

Professional Development Program
for Elementary and Middle School Teachers

Forthcoming Course
“If you want to build a ship don’t drum up people to gather wood, divide the work and give orders, rather teach them to long for the vast open sea.”
    – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

geometry drawing Since 2010, The Nature Institute has offered a program of professional development in the field of mathematics. A main aim of the weekend workshops is to help teachers enter actively into the process of doing mathematics and gain greater confidence in their own abilities. This is what enables mathematics teaching to come alive, because the teacher is working out of a living inner experience, rather than instructing about rules.

What is the significance of learning and understanding mathematics in the developing child? How can engagement in doing geometry help students as they enter adolescence? Can we bring algebra alive in a way that gives it meaning for both teachers and students? These are some of the questions that have informed the workshops.

Each workshop engages a variety of different learning modalities: Movement, form-drawing, hands-on exercises, geometrical constructions, mathematical proofs, imagination exercises, and collegial exchange. The workshops offer the opportunity to meet, share with, and learn from other teachers.

Program Staff

Henrike Holdrege has been teaching in the adult education programs at The Nature Institute since 2002. Before that she was a Waldorf and public school teacher. She holds master’s degrees in mathematics and biology (University of Münster, Germany). Her interest is to share the contemplative inner work that is possible in mathematics with others — also those who at first might not be mathematically inclined — and to explore the deeper aspects of mathematics as it supports the developing human being. For more about Henrike, click here.

geometry students at work Marisha Plotnik has been teaching as a high school and middle school mathematics and physics teacher at the Rudolf Steiner School, New York City, for many years. She also consults and mentors at Waldorf schools around the country and teaches in professional development courses for math teachers. She graduated from the Toronto Waldorf School, earned her Honours B.Sc. (Physics) from Trent University, her B.Ed. from the University of Western Ontario and her M.A. (Education Leadership) as a Klingenstein Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received her Waldorf High School Teaching Certificate (Mathematics) from the Center for Anthroposophy. Her primary interest beyond work in the classroom is collaborating with teachers wishing to deepen their work.

Comments from participants in earlier courses

“What I learned and will take with me is the importance of forming a relationship with numbers. To allow numbers to root themselves in us internally and that this is a growing relationship for the rest of one’s life. I want to deepen my own relationship with numbers and foster that relationship with my students. I loved the games and mental math exercises that we learned and am excited to use them inside and outside of math class. I also want to work with my students to create math endurance so that they take the time to be frustrated and allow themselves to struggle through problems to make progress. I feel stronger, smarter and more confident leaving this workshop knowing that the language and conversation of mathematics is a journey and an enjoyable one. I am grateful to have been here. You both are an inspiration and a light for women in math. I only wish it was a longer workshop because there is still so much to learn. As I become more comfortable and confident in my math skills, I look forward to making my lessons more creative and even spiritual for my students with the use of pictures and stories. Collaboration is a fundamental piece of math. Thank you.”

geometry students at work “The new proof of

a2+ b2= c2

gave me an ‘ah-ha’ moment I wish I experienced in 10th grade myself. It has taken me 30 years to fall in love with Math. It may have happened sooner had I been taught the way I’ve learned to teach it! Thank you for this journey.”

“The work which you presented was very inspiring. Not only did I learn a lot, I felt like you were guiding me towards seeing a universal truth that was/is very awe-inspiring. You were very perceptive and caring, helping individuals when we got ‘lost’ and noticing when and where extra guidance was needed. You both complemented each other very nicely, offering different perspectives. The movement portion was very helpful in deepening the learning and bringing it to life. I feel less nervous (and very excited about what lies ahead.) I am surer about what I need to bring or practice with the children for the rest of the year.”

2020 Mathematics Alive! Course

Mathematics Alive!
The Five Platonic Solids

A weekend workshop for middle school teachers and home-schooling parents with Henrike Holdrege and Marisha Plotnik.

This weekend workshop for Waldorf class teachers and math subject teachers aims to strengthen and enliven math teaching in the middle school. This year we will explore the five platonic solids and their relevance for the adolescent student from a variety of points of view. The study of the platonic solids allows students to discover the clarity and lawfulness inherent in geometric forms. By exercising precise mathematical imagination they can discern the wisdom-filled relations that these unique forms reveal. Movement, drawing, imagination exercises and collegial exchange will all be part of the weekend.

Class meets on Friday, from 6 to 8:30 pm; Saturday, from 9 am to 5 pm; and on Sunday, from 9 am to noon. Sliding scale fee: $150 – $250. You can register by calling 518-672-0116, or by filling out this form online.


Friday: 6 pm – 8:30 pm

Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm

Sunday: 9 am – 12 noon

We will serve snacks during morning and afternoon breaks.

Registration and fee

Sliding scale fee: $150 – $250. Please register by March 10, 2016. Call 518-672-0116 or download this registration form and mail it to The Nature Institute. For information about housing, click here or call us for assistance in locating lodging within homes of the local community.

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