Michael Preston: Waldorf Education, Trusting in Synchronicity, and the primacy of perception

I believe in meaningful coincidences.
— Michael Preston

Michael Preston is a Master Waldorf Teacher.  I consider him a Wisdom Elder, someone who has lived a life of curiosity and authenticity, and in doing so has learned much about the deeper insights and wisdom that life makes available to us.  And I’m deeply grateful that he taught my son's class from 1st grade through 3rd grade before retiring.

At a young age, while pursuing his teaching degree, Michael was introduced to the work of Rudolph Steiner and Waldorf education.  That was followed by a series of synchronistic events that gave him the inner assurance to pursue his life's work as a Waldorf educator.  

He left his home in New Zealand at age 17, hitchhiked across Australia with a few dollars in his pocket, convinced the Head of Waldorf teacher training in England through a series of letters that he was ready and committed to Waldorf training, and then eventually made it to Emerson College in Sussex, England to begin his vocational studies.  

In this conversation Michael reflects on his journey and eloquently provides context, educational philosophy, and depth in regards to Waldorf education.  He reveals his love for humanity, particularly children, by telling his own story of development and search for a meaningful way forward. 

Michael has committed his life to training children to be whole humans, capable of moving through the world with intellectual inquisitiveness, compassion, and through socialization and play.  His love for education is grounded in a doctorate in philosophy of education, which makes this a colorful and poetic conversation.

Michael is also an accomplished ukulele player and recorder player.  He has published numerous books on learning ukulele and will be releasing a recorder book to assist Waldorf educators in teaching recorder. 

Michael has directly influenced me personally and my family as a whole.  His thoughtfulness and caring approach to life has been imprinted on our family for ever.  

The subject matter that Michael and I discuss in this conversation includes:

Waldorf education is like complimentary or alternative medicine.
— Michael Preston

Michael's Biography

Michael Preston was born to British parents in Uganda, and was later educated in Kenya and Tanzania. When he was thirteen, his family immigrated to New Zealand, where he and his two brothers attended high school in Auckland. When he was eighteen, he volunteered to work for the New Zealand organization, ‘Volunteer Service Abroad,’ and was sent to Vanuatu (west of Fiji)  to teach in a village school, on the coast of the island of Espiritu Santo.

At age nineteen, Michael left Auckland University and worked in a geological exploration team in western Australia, before moving to England to take up Waldorf teacher training at Emerson College in Sussex .He followed this by taking his state teacher training in the Lake District and teaching in two public elementary schools, as well as several years in the Canterbury Steiner School. In between these teaching years he received government scholarships to further his academic studies at the University of London, with a masters, and later a doctorate in philosophy of education, with emphasis on the writings of Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty.

 In 1990, Michael was offered a class teacher position in the Honolulu Waldorf School, where he taught for 15 years. His son Joseph, joined him and later graduated in architecture from the University of Hawaii. 

In 2006, Michael and his wife, a trained Waldorf PSK teacher, moved to Bellevue.    After graduating two classes, a 6th- 8thand 5th- 8th at Three Cedars Waldorf school, he joined Bright Water Waldorf School in Seattle to lead his final class from 1st through 3rd grade, before retiring. His wife continues to teach in her Waldorf inspired home pre-school in Kirkland.

Michael has published several articles for ‘Renewal’ Magazine and five books: ‘Music from Around the World for Recorders’ (AWSNA), and four ukulele instruction books for Mutual Publishing of Hawaii. He is currently finishing a new, three part recorder book of music round the world, which includes a CD. He and his wife have three children and six grandchildren.