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Rudolf Steiner, founder of Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education.
"Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility – these three forces are the very nerve of education."
- Rudolf Steiner

On Rudolf Steiner and His Work

Rudolf Steiner Dr Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), was the originator of anthroposophy, the Waldorf school movement, biodynamamic agriculture and more. He was also an editor. He founded a many-faceted movement based on the notion that there is a spiritual world. He taught that perception of spiritual things is served by training of the human consciousness.

The first Waldorf school was founded in 1919 in Germany. There are now more than 1000 independent Waldorf schools and 1400 independent Waldorf kindergartens in about sixty countries throughout the world. Three-quarters of them are in Europe. Thus, the Waldorf school movement is one of the world's largest independent educational systems. It aims among other things: at ". . . allowing the most fruitful expansion possible to individual initiative and personal worth . . ." [Rudolf Steiner, in Reordering of Society, GA 24]

Steiner Education (Waldorf Education) seeks to let "heart, head, and hands" work together in harmony, as the educator Pestalozzi would have put it. The Waldorf approach emphasises art imagination in learning. The main goal is to provide young people the basis for developing by stages into free, moral and integrated individuals. Steiner launches how concepts should be introduced to growing persons - not like small shoes to feet that keep growing, but ideas that go well with the "assimilation levels" of persons at different stages of development. The stages range from imitation through imagination or imagery to intellectual kernels or ideas, for example. Waldorf education is to a great extent founded on that view.

We may compare the first stages of Steiner's developmental scheme with those of Jean Piaget, which Steiner's findings predate by decades. To adapt a school's curriculum to the levels one assimilates ideas from through life, is more than talk is the fit idea at the bottom of schooling through fables, fairy tales, myths and other artistic presentations in Steiner education (Waldorf Education). In time, more abstract kernels in them may be extracted from the fables other tales and activities the children have been introduced to and worked on by artistic means. And later, when the growing person has got more intellectually awakened, ideas embedded in story forms, are grasped intellectually too, and in this way they can be further "digested" in one's mind in a very common process of developing abstractions.

For those who would like to develop still more and make good use of one's life, there are further stages delineated and worth contemplation. In his book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment (1947), Steiner advocates training of one's imagination, followed by inspiration and intuition. These three may be worked on until they serve as quality guides. Steiner's book delineates his anthroposophical path: he posits that in human consciousness, faculties are sleeping (dormant), and that if they get (nurtured and) awakened, they lead to life-giving wisdom. Steiner also mentions moral qualities to be cultivated on the path. The "I" (egohood) may be vitalised as well. Good meditation is fit for that.

There is also Waldorf-based homeschooling.

Besides, Waldorf methods have been adopted by numerous educators in state and private schools. For example, In Israel, the Harduf Kibbutz Waldorf school includes both Jewish and Arab faculty and students and has extensive contact with the surrounding Arab communities.

Steiner Biography and Timeline

Good Sides to Steiner Education: Findings

  • Less accidents and physical harm caused by other children (Hultin og Kilpinen. Helsinki, 1985).
  • Less stress-related troubles. (Thomas Zdrazil's Doctoral Thesis at Universität Bielefeld 2001)
  • Less allergic rhinitis and atopical eczema, even despite the states of their better-educated parents (2006). A study of 6,600 children from five European countries, ages 5 to 13, showed a lower incidence of allergies amongst children attending Waldorf schools.
  • Presumably less sclerosis (arthrosis) and not as hightened blood pressure and as many heart diseases are found among former Waldorf School pupils in Germany. (H. Barz og D. Randoll, 2007 - Somewhat controversal findings)
Source of all the extracts above: Anette Bender. "Steinerskole og helse. (Do Waldorf Children have a better health?)" Lecture of 25 October 2007

Outperforming Peers

Unesco, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, states that the Waldorf movement's ideals and ethical principles correspond to those of Unesco.

A UK Department for Education and Skills report noted significant differences in curriculum and pedagogical approach between Waldorf and mainstream schools and found that schools in the state sector could benefit from elements of Waldorf education, such as the emphasis on child development guiding the curriculum and examinations; the attention given to teachers' reflective activity and heightened awareness (in collective child study for example); and collegial structure of leadership and management. A 2008 report by the Cambridge-based Primary Review found that Steiner/Waldorf schools achieved superior academic results to English state schools.

An Australian study compared the academic performance of students at university level. It was found that students who had been at Waldorf schools significantly outperformed their peers from non-Waldorf schools in both the humanities and the sciences.

A Canadian study found that Waldorf-educated students scored significantly higher on a test of moral reasoning than students in public high schools and students in a religiously-affiliated high school.

A 1995 survey of U.S. Waldorf schools found that parents overall experienced the Waldorf schools as achieving their major aims for students, and described the education as one that "integrates the aesthetic, spiritual and interpersonal development of the child with rigorous intellectual development", preserving students' enthusiasm for learning so that they develop a better sense of self-confidence and self-direction.

Studies comparing students' performance on college-entrance examinations in Germany found that as a group, Waldorf graduates passed the exam at double to triple the rate of students graduating from the state education system, and that students who had attended Waldorf schools for their entire education passed at a much higher rate (40% vs. 26%) than those who only had part of their education at a Waldorf school.

Waldorf pupils have been tested and found more creative than state-school students.

Waldorf Education Endorsed by Educators

Thomas Nielsen of the University of Canberra considers the imaginative teaching approaches used in Waldorf education (drama, exploration, storytelling, routine, arts, discussion and empathy) to be effective stimulators of spiritual-aesthetic, intellectual and physical development and recommends these to mainstream educators.

Dr. Ernest Boyer has recommended Waldorf education's unique integration of the arts into traditional content as a model for other schools.

Thomas Armstrong sees Waldorf education curriculum as organically embodying Howard Gardner's seven intelligences.

Professor Robert Peterkin considers Waldorf education a healing education whose underlying principles are appropriate for educating all children.

UK educational evaluators see the Waldorf approach conforming to the principal direction of educational theory based upon John Amos Comenius and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi.

Rudolf Steiner, founder of Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

Professor Robert McDermott on Steiner

The Essential Steiner by Professor Robert A. McDermott at Baruch College, The City University of New York, is said to cull the best of some sixty of Steiner's published works. McDermott explains Steiner's methods and contributions in many fields, and describes Steiner's writing as vast, his thought as complex and deep, and "Steiner's teachings seem to me well grounded." [McDermott 1984, xi-xii]

McDermott evidently does not take into account Steiner's milk views, for example, "On each and every planet those who live there have their own milk (2nd Hague Lecture, 1913)." And what about Steiner's teachings on Atlantis? Be that as it may for now, McDermott describes Steiner as "a genius in twelve fields". [1]

"Steiner himself urged that his readers and others interested in his works look to the mode of spiritual perception that made both his knowledge and his work possible." [3]

"A closer look at Spiritual Science, or Anthroposophy, shows that its purpose is to bring to humanity an entirely new capability - knowledge of the spiritual world by conscious sense-free thinking." [3]

About development: "It is necessary to begin with more ordinary, frankly selfish, means and ends." [3]

"Practical application of Steiner's teachings can be helpful." [4]

The collected works of Rudolf Steiner consists of (1) books he wrote, including letters; (2) public lectures, lectures for members, and lectures for some professions; and (3) reproductions. His collected works (in German) consists of 354 volumes. Many of his works are translated into English. The online Rudolf Steiner Archive is an eminent source of translated Steiner works - books and articles.


Rudolf Steiner Quotations

For us not to become eccentrics who onesidedly strive for soul development and get estranged from human feeling and human activity on Earth, it's good that we as earthlings to a certain extent get weight (heaviness) by the use of milk and milk products in the diet. - Rudolf Steiner, in the Hague Lectures (GA 145 and 350)

Each one of us is an independent being. - Rudolf Steiner, in Man's Relationship with the Surrounding World: Lecture Delivered at Nuremberg on the 1st of December, 1907. (Lecture 3 of 18 from the lecture series: The Working of Natural Substance and Spiritual Essence in the Visible World) Source]

Each one of us is his or her own self, an individual. With the exception of . . . differences in individual gifts and skills . . . we are all equal as human beings here in the physical world, specifically in that we all have the same human form and all manifest a human countenance . . . this makes us equal on this footing. We differ from one another in our individual gifts which, however, belong to our inner nature. - Rudolf Steiner, in Geisteswissenschaftliche Behandlung sozialer und pädagogischer Fragen. Siebzehn Vorträge gehalten in Stuttgart. GA 192. Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1991. Zweiter Vortrag. S. 39.]

The one and only thing which matters for the healing of humanity, is the feeling and perceiving of one's own Self in the Spirit. - Rudolf Steiner, in The Necessity for New Ways of Spiritual Knowledge, Lecture 1, Given in Stuttgart 8th September, 1919]

Lectures and lecture series

Lectures and lecture series (Lecture Cycle Groups) that are part of some 350 works of Steiner in the Gesammelte Arbeiten, GA), are arranged according to a scheme:

GA Numbers and Types of Lectures
51- 84   Public Lectures
90-180   Lectures to Members
181-234   Lectures on Spiritual Essence/Being and Its Working
235-240   Lectures on Karmic Relationships
241-246   Lectures on Esoterica
250-264   Lectures on the History of the Anthroposophical Movement
271-276   Lectures on the Arts
277-279   Lectures on Eurythmy
280-282   Lectures on Speech and Drama
283   Lectures on Music
284-291   Lectures on Architecture
292   Lectures on the History of Art
293-311   Lectures on Pedagogy and Education
312-319   Lectures on Medicine
320-327   Lectures on Science
328-341   Lectures on Social Questions
342-346   Lectures for Clergy
347-354   Lectures for the Goetheanum Workmen

More Steiner


Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf Education, Steiner Schools, Rudolf Steiner Education, anthroposophy, Literature  

See Wikipedia articles "Waldorf Education"; and "Anthroposophy"; and "Rudolf Steiner" for the summaries above. References to the research gist above, were/are in the first of them.

Steiner Lecture series and other works are online at the ◦Rudolf Steiner Archive, which is maintained by James Stewart. The Hague Lectures are there too, in Norwegian. [].Steiner books listed below are online there.


McDermott, Robert A., ed. 1984. The Essential Steiner: Basic Writings of Rudolf Steiner. San Francisco: Harper and Row.

A taste of Steiner

Poplawski, Thomas. 2006. Completing the Circle. Fair Oaks, CA: AWSNA.

Steiner, Rudolf. 1922. The Threefold Commonwealth. New York: Anthropsophic Press.

Steiner, Rudolf. 1970. The Case for Anthroposophy. London: Rudolf Steiner Press.

Steiner, Rudolf. 1991. Geisteswissenschaftliche Behandlung sozialer und pädagogischer Fragen. Siebzehn Vorträge gehalten in Stuttgart zwischen dem 21. April und 28. September 1919. (GA 192), Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag.

Steiner, Rudolf. 1996. The Foundations of Human Experience. Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press.

Steiner, Rudolf. 1997. Education as a Force for Social Change. Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press.

Steiner, Rudolf. 1997b. The Effects of Esoteric Development. GA 350. Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press.

Steiner, Rudolf. 2003. Soul Economy: Body, Soul, and Spirit in Waldorf Education. Lectures Presented in Dornach, Switzerland December 23, 1921 – January 5, 1922. Rev. ed. Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press.

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