Alison Packwood Henry, Ph.D. is a 2024 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Alison Henry at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Lize Booysen, Committee Chair, Dr. Stan Chung, Committee Member, Dr. Chérie Rivers, Committee Member, Dr. Fayth Parks, Committee Member..

Dissertation Committee

  • Lize Booysen, DBL, Committee Chair
  • Fayth Parks, PhD, Committee Member
  • Chérie Rivers, PhD, Committee Member
  • Sae-Hoon Stan Chung, PhD, Committee Member


coloniality, decoloniality, decolonization of education, indigenization of education, autoethnography, evocative autoethnography, critical autoethnography, abyssal thinking, narrative, storytelling, humility, humble leadership, leadership, Waldorf education, Waldorf teacher education

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The initial question was innocent enough, at least on the surface: How do scholars and practitioners define child centered, developmentally appropriate, culturally responsive education in places distant from my home in the US? I was originally inspired to ask this question by my graduate students—aspiring and practicing Waldorf teachers—who were wrestling with the Eurocentric nature of the curriculum. In researching this question, I never imagined that I would find myself asking questions about the decolonization and indigenization of education, much less about coloniality. In fact, even as I completed the literature review, I was still so unfamiliar with the word coloniality that I had to look up the definition to grasp the complex web of hegemonic relationships encompassed in the term. So began an unexpected journey, in which I embraced a combination of evocative and critical autoethnography to examine stories and the power they have to re/produce and, potentially, disrupt colonial ways of thinking. What I have learned from this process is that there is no universal answer generalizable to all teachers in all contexts, even all Waldorf contexts. Instead I see promise in small scale initiatives in which teachers collaborate with one another and within their communities, to craft liberatory stories and lessons relevant to the students in their care and to the geographies and cultures they inhabit. Even as I conclude that there is no universal answer, I have come to recognize some crucial ingredients—humility, the courage to be altered, a commitment to relationality and the rigorous intellectual and moral courage this entails—all ingredients that, in my view, help disrupt, perhaps even heal, the violence of coloniality. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


Alison Packwood Henry

ORCID: #0009-0007-2402-0769

As a Waldorf educator and storyteller, Alison Henry asks questions about the practice of child-centered, developmentally appropriate teaching and learning. Since 2018 Alison has pondered these questions as a member of the faculty at Antioch University New England’s Waldorf Teacher Education Program, engaging her students, themselves practicing and aspiring teachers, in a process of rich inquiry and exploration. In addition to teaching courses in Waldorf curriculum, Alison advises students who are earning their MEd by completing a master’s project in an area of deep personal and professional interest.

Alison’s own research interests include humility in leadership, colonial ways of thinking, and the role of narrative in re/producing the complex web of relationships integral to coloniality. In this context, Alison is actively exploring creative and generative ways for settler-colonists and others to find the courage and inspiration to take up decolonial agendas. Alison imagines the possible futures that might result when generations of young people in the Global North and West are freed from the pervasive narratives that render alternative ways of thinking, feeling, and being invisible.