Educator Profile- Gareth Dicker

Most of you don’t need me to tell you how remarkable the teachers at Emerson Waldorf are. From time to time, however, I’d like to highlight one of our leading stars. With their permission, I will expose a few biographical details and try to explain what your children can expect to receive from their pedagogical embrace. Today I’d like to start with one of the newest members of the faculty, Gareth Dicker.

Mr. Dicker’s father is a British accountant (and a painter and a mathematician), his mother an American cellist. He was born in London but grew up mainly near Princeton, NJ. He attended the local Waldorf grade school, where he encountered the master teacher Elon Leibner. A precocious third grader, he asked Mr. Leibner what happens after death. Mr. Leibner asked him to get back to him when he was older. Tenacious, Mr. Dicker sought out his teacher again when he was 18, at which time Mr. Leibner asked him to read Rudolf Steiner’s Occult Science. Thus began his pursuit of perusing the Steiner archives in order to understand anthroposophy.

While in high school, Mr. Dicker spent a lot of time in his garage using his mechanical, electrical, and programming skills to build 120-pound robots. In 2008, his robot, a nimble, high-scoring basketball player, earned first place in the New Jersey regional robotics contest. While not hunkered down in his garage, Mr. Dicker played first violin in his high school orchestra and capoeira, Brazilian dance-fighting.

Mr. Dicker pursued his interest in robotics in the academy. He attended McGill University to study mechanical engineering, and began to focus on drones. For his master’s degree, which he earned at McGill’s Aerospace Mechatronics Lab, his thesis was about automated flight controllers for drones that allowed them to re-stabilize after collisions with unmovable objects.

Meanwhile, the core question occupying the mind of Mr. Dicker was how to reconcile engineering with anthroposophical ideas. In Steiner’s terms, he sought to understand how to find a balance between Luciferic forces (pulling you upward toward the spiritual realm) on the one hand and on the other by Ahrimanic forces (pulling you downward toward the earth).

When feeling too much of the downward pull during his studies in engineering, Mr. Dicker sought regeneration in travel. A pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, along with backpacking treks to Malaysia , China, New Zealand, India, and Nepal, became a spiritual retreat, during which he sought to incorporate Steiner into his professional life. The philosophical resolution came in the form of being morally active in the material world. In the case of Mr. Dicker and his expertise in the mechanical realm, this entailed joining start-up companies that worked on drones that could be used to deliver medical supplies, perform disaster response assistance, and so on. It is this value of inspired technological creation that Mr. Dicker intends to instill in his students. The drive toward becoming a Waldorf high school teacher, he says, was to help students discover how to put their own mechanical creativity to good use. His robotics club is currently in the planning stages, and with funding should launch within the year.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dicker teaches thermal physics, mechanics, atomic chemistry, electromagnetics, and visual physics in the high school and mathematics in the eighth and ninth grades. He is also helping to write a strategic plan to expand land use, create a farm curriculum, and develop an entrepreneurship center. His efforts are truly at the heart of the mission of Emerson Waldorf pedagogy.

Harry Kavros

Director of Administration