Rudolf Steiner

 

Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy

SteinerThe first Waldorf School was founded in 1919 when Emil Molt, director of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany, asked Rudolf Steiner to establish a school for the children of the workers. Steiner agreed, with the condition that the school be open to all children, be independent of political and economic control with educational and administrative responsibility in the hands of the teachers. Today, more than 600 schools in 40 countries, on all continents, work with the Waldorf approach to education. Each school is administratively independent. In 1928, the first Waldorf School in the United States was founded in New York City; currently there are over 120 schools in this country.

Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a respected and well-published scientist and thinker, with particular fame for his work with Goethe's scientific writings. The roots of Waldorf Education come from the spiritual-scientific research of Steiner. According to Steiner's "Anthroposophy", a human is a threefold being of body, soul, and spirit, whose capacities unfold in developmental stages on the path to adulthood.

Foreseeing that during our century the standards and traditions that formerly guided human behavior and activity would begin to crumble, Rudolf Steiner intended this education to be a source of inner strength for the upcoming generations. Since external culture will have less and less power to form and guide the individual's thoughts, feelings, and will in a healthy way, the aim of a true education must be "to develop free human beings, who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction in their lives." According to Steiner, "We shouldn't ask 'What does a person need to know or be able to do in order to fit into the existing social order?' Instead we should ask: 'What lives in each human being and what can be developed in him or her?' Only then will it be possible to direct the new qualities of each emerging generation into society. Then society will become what young people, as whole human beings, make out of the existing social conditions. The new generation should not just be made to be what present society wants it to become."

Worldwide Waldorf Movement

With approximately 1000 Waldorf schools internationally, Waldorf education is the fastest growing educational movement in the world. The subsequent findings of eminent child specialists such as Jean Piaget, David Elkind, Joseph Chilton Pearce, and members of the Gesell Institute confirm the soundness of Steiner's approach.

For further information about the Waldorf movement or Rudolf Steiner, please see the links page.