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Waldorf Education

Rudolf Steiner, Doctor of Philosophy, was born in Austria in 1861 and died in Dornach, Switzerland in 1925. He studied Maths, Physics and other fields of the arts and sciences. His research work into the scientific writings of Goethe is well-known. This research led him to set up a Free University of Spiritual Science in Basel, Switzerland, where students from all over the world attended his seminars and workshops about various types of medicine. Rudolf Steiner founded anthroposophy, based on the wisdom and knowledge of man, aware of the fact that from the beginning of the 20th century modern man needed to discover a new idea of the world and of themselves.

During his life, the educational work expressed through Waldorf teaching attracted great attention. It consisted of the education of children and youths towards freedom by means of a continual renewal of society. The idea of using art to teach as a basis of true social renewal is always present in Waldorf education.

The emergence of Waldorf education was closely associated with the fate and changes of the 20th century. Just after the First World War in 1919, with its social and political upheaval, Rudolf Steiner received a commission from the industrialist Emil Molt to organise and lead a free school for the children of the employees of his Waldorf Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart. Rudolf Steiner accepted the offer and formed the first group of teachers at the new school, which he managed for five years. It was destined to become an active educational and social model, according to his idea of the Threefold Social Organism.

Education had to be performed as artistic work, in a free and creative environment. Its performance had to be based on friendly co-operation between teachers and parents as the pupils will always be at the centre of all activities.

Between childhood and youth, from nursery school until they are 18 years old, the children will experience life at a co-educational school. It is a school of the present and for the future which supports the evolutionary development of the child making use of over a thousand years of cultural heritage, while continually adapting to the demands of modern life. The teachers educate and teach by using intellectual, artistic and practical elements in their classes. During their weekly meetings they subject their work to a deep analysis as part of permanent professional training and renewal. The schools do not put pressure on the children with examinations and performance demands, instead they encourage co-operative development based on an emphasis on the individual.

The model of the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart, created in 1919, found great resonance in Germany and its neighbouring countries. The teaching conferences organised by Steiner from 1923 and the conferences given by his teachers resulted in the appearance of many other schools in Holland, England, Switzerland and Germany. All of the schools were closed during the Second World War, but in 1945 it was established that this great educational idea had continued to expand in secret.

There are currently more than 2,000 Waldorf primary schools, secondary schools and high schools and more than 1,900 pre-school education institutions in more than 90 countries, in less developed nations such as Brazil, Ecuador, Colombian and Peru, as well as developed countries such as Switzerland, the USA, Canada and Australia. It is free to attend these schools and children are admitted irrespective of their cultural, social, financial or religious origin.

There are many Waldorf initiatives in Spain which form part of the ASSOCIATION OF WALDORF EDUCATIONAL CENTRES OF SPAIN. In Las Rozas in Madrid there is the Escuela Libre Micael which has a pre-school, primary school and secondary school. A plan for a high school is currently being carried out. Furthermore, new primary schools have opened in Aravaca (Madrid), Bellaterra (Barcelona) and Benidorm (Alicante). There are also plans to create new pre-school and primary school centres in Oviedo, Girona, Valencia, La Coruña, Segovia, Cadiz, Malaga and Granada.

Freedom is a basic condition for the existence of a culturally creative life.

Rudolf Steiner did not just work in the fields of education and sociology, he also worked in agriculture, art, music and song. He created the art of words and eurythmy or the art of movement. He gave important guidelines for the development of anthroposophical medicine and curative education. In Central Europe there are renowned hospitals, special centres of education and laboratories, such as Weleda, Ischia, Wala, with a wide range of pharmaceutical and dietetic products. A large quantity of students and doctors who are interested in learning about this new aspect attend and work at the centres.

Rudolf Steiner also created the method of biological dynamic farming which attempts to help the present day farmer (from time immemorial connected to nature) regain the traditional wisdom which connected him to the earth and provided him with nourishment so that he can once again become that country expert of the metamorphosis that governs the growth of vegetable species. The farmer must consciously recover the ability to make sense of the vital functions and not overlook details such as the flow of the seasons, planetary influences, to know the “likes” and “dislikes” of the seeds he sows. This method does not seek to double the harvest at any price; it requires the farmer to know and respect the laws of the organic world, the rhythm of its fields and the time the seeds require. The words “cultivation” and “culture” belong to the same family and indeed culture and art in the history of peoples has grown and helped the human thought, fantasy and wishes latent in them flourish.

In order to gain more knowledge about the work of R. Steiner read the following publications, which are some of his numerous books and series of conferences published in Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan. You can also find literature by authors in other fields, such as biodynamic farming, Waldorf education, curative education, anthroposophical medicine and therapy, sociology, history, architecture and other fields of the arts:

  • Editorial Rudolf Steiner, Calle Guipúzcoa, 11, 1º Izqda., 28020 Madrid, España;

  • Quaderns Pau de Damasc, Apartat 95 – CP 08197 Valldoreix, Barcelona. –

  • Editorial Antroposófica, Cañada 220, Del Villa Obregón, 01900 México, D.F., México;

  • Editorial Epidauro, Ramos Mejía 2615, AR 1609 Boulogne, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina;

  • Editorial Antroposófica Crisólogo, Larralde 2224, Capital Federal, AR 1429 Buenos Aires, Argentina;

  • Editorial Antroposófica, Rua Sao Benedito 1325, Casa 45, Sao Paulo, Brasil;

Other links:

Goetheanum Pedagogic Section (Suiza):

Waldorf Resourcing:

Friends of WaldorfEducation:

Bund der FreienWaldorfschulen:

European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education (ECSWE):

Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA):

Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship website (UK):

International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education :

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