waldorf education

Shakespeare and the New Ideals - Rudolf Steiner

Receiving Shakespeare into our minds and souls might therefore be the very stimulus to give us men and women of today the power, the inner impulse to follow ideals, to follow real, spiritual ideals. We shall see our true ideals aright if we bear in mind how transitory many modern ideals have been and are, and how magnificently firm are many old ideals that still hold their own in the world by their effectiveness.
— Rudolf Steiner, APRIL 23, 1922

What Forces are at Work in Waldorf Education?

All our methods, all our ingenious, formed, outer methods of education, are of little value in this respect. Answers to the question —how can this or that be achieved? — are of little use. What is of the greatest importance, however, is for a person to have enthusiasm in his work and to be able to develop this enthusiasm to the full if he is to be a true teacher. This enthusiasm is infectious, and it alone can work miracles in education. The child eagerly responds to enthusiasm, and, when there is no response on his part, it usually indicates a lack of this enthusiasm in the teacher. - Rudolf Steiner

Forces Leading to Health and Illness in Education

We can say, of course, that the outer life within which human beings stand, making it possible for them to earn a living, requires them to have capacities that they cannot have yet as children. We must impart such capacities to them. The behavior proper for adults is also, perhaps, something that the child cannot acquire by himself; it must be imparted to him through education. - Rudolf Steiner

This weekend, I am fortunate to witness the burning fire of education, as I meet early childhood teachers from around the country at the WECAN Early Childhood Educators Conference. As I watched a workshop led by Dr. Adam Blanning, I could see this infectious enthusiasm that Steiner spoke about, the great humility of the task of a teacher and physician, and the experience of a former Waldorf student as he now stood as the teacher of teachers.

This is the magic I have witnessed within the Waldorf education community, a place that nurtures the enthusiasm and love for children and the reserved task of education. As we share lectures and books each Sunday on this blog, it is my hope that it will invite you into this magical world of education that has as its focus a reverence for what it means to be human. A place where human development and the nurturing of each soul is of the highest importance.

As I spoke to Dr. Blanning after his workshop, he shared that as a child in a Waldorf school it was this underlying intention that energized his schooling years. As you read the complete lecture take time to sit with it and take it into your work with children as a neighbor, community member, or family member. Our world’s children need us to share our gifts with enthusiasm to kindle their own light for the world. - Kathy Donchak

Forces Leading to Health and Illness in Education by Rudolf Steiner

The Task of Education is Connected with the Development of Humanity

Now that I am at the beginning of what I actually want to dis-

cuss about education, you can see that I do not wish to begin

with some theoretical discussion, but rather with a feeling. We

cannot begin with a pedagogy of rules, but with a feeling. We

must feel that the content of the human soul has been given to

those who are to teach and educate young people. It is healthy to

feel within ourselves the future of humanity. That is the proper

starting point, not whether we know one thing or another, but

when we feel that the entire task of education is connected with

the development of humanity. - Rudolf Steiner


The beauty of the educational ideals espoused by Rudolf Steiner can be seen in his reverence for human development. He crafted his lectures and shared his indications for an educational model that is responsive to the needs of children and the world in which they live.

As I read Steiner’s lectures, I am encouraged to read and then think about how those words can change the way I feel about the children I am guiding as a parent. It must begin with the sense of feeling if we are to support the development of future generations. I encourage you as teachers, parents, grandparents, and community members to read Steiner’s words on education and then allow them to transform your individual gifts as a guiding force in your communities.

Kathy Donchak


THE TEACHER AS SCULPTOR OF THE HUMAN SOUL

Rudolf Steiner

Basel, April 23, 1920

Everything depends upon your working inwardly with what such books or lectures offer as a thread. - Rudolf Steiner

Up to now I have tried to show how we can approach the human being from the outside. Today I would like to approach our task from the other side, from the side of inner experience. Through this way of considering things—the way of science in the future—the human being becomes transparent from the outside. In a sense, this kind of consideration of the human being, of the activities of the organs and all of human nature, can lead us to discover a person’s inner experiences, what he or she experiences as thinking, feeling, and willing. The commonly held perspective confronts us with a dark, impenetrable, incomprehensible being.

At the same time, we are concerned with more or less abstract inner experiences of thinking, feeling, and willing that we cannot perceive or feel concretely. We have seen that the human being has three aspects: thinking, feeling, and willing. Let us look at these three aspects from within. We will soon see how the inner and outer paths of consideration are connected. The content of thoughts is essentially very abstract. As teachers, we cannot approach the developing human being through these thoughts. In a certain sense, there is an impenetrable wall between us. That wall exists in social life and brings us many social problems. It also exists in areas such as teaching and education.

Through the scientific materialism that has taken over all our thinking and, to an extent, our feeling, everything we have to say about the soul or spirit has slowly become empty words. We cannot work out of empty words. We can find no relationship to other adults through empty words, nor can we find a relationship to children through them. We need to move forward to reality. We cannot encounter reality if we have only the abstract intellectual reasoning that modern science has implanted in us. We do, however, come to the spirit through this reasoning. The entire content of reasoning within our intellectually oriented education is spirit, but it is a filtered spirit. It is a spirit that in a way cannot break out of its own confines, which cannot experience itself as real content, and thus remains brutal. This spirit controls our lives. This spirit penetrates nothing; it is a spirit that in art creates only the external form instead of developing the form out of the material itself. It is a spirit that wants to force itself upon the external social relationships connected with the shape of human society instead of developing those relationships directly from living human beings. We can arrive at a very different position in regard to the spirit if we hold to what spiritual science can give us. The way spiritual science approaches things is much more important than its actual content. If you stay with what is knowledge today, you will find that it simply reflects what already exists. That is how we have arrived at a kind of naturalism that only recreates the external world in art, because our understanding does not penetrate beyond the external world; it has no independent content. We move about in a mere copy of the external world. We do not understand how living content can germinate from the human being, since this living content cannot arise from anything other than the spirit. Let us contrast spiritual science and conventional science. When they first hear what spiritual science has to say, many modern people understand it as something silly, a fantasy. Why? Simply because people are not accustomed to hearing in the way that spiritual science speaks. People are accustomed to speaking about the world so that it is possible to compare what is said with what we see, with what the eyes perceive or we perceive in other ways.

Spiritual science presents things to which we cannot find any correspondence in the external world, things we cannot find when we observe only with our senses. It presents things we can understand only when we work out of our own spirit. Of course, what we create comes from a deeper aspect of the world, but we must actually produce that out of the spirit. This creation out of the spirit is important. When we study spiritual science, we do not wait until we encounter a tree or an animal that we can then conceptualize. Instead we form the concept in our inner life. In a moment, we will see some examples of how we create concepts inwardly through spiritual science and how they can become alive in the human being. We can therefore say that our intellectual reasoning has slowly lost all meaning, and that spiritual science gives our reasoning something through which it can regain some content. If you take my book An Outline of Esoteric Science and read it like any other book, you may not understand it. Today, even with art, we ask ourselves where in the world we would find something like it. In dramas and novels, that is, in products of our imagination, we demand that their content can be found in exactly, or nearly exactly, the same way as in the world. You cannot do that with the content of Esoteric Science. You have to do something else, which is why there is so much opposition to spiritual science: people must do something quite different than in modern conventional science or art. You need to carry out an inner activity for each step described by the writer of such a spiritual scientific book. You will gain nothing from reading such a book if you do not produce something from yourself according to the directions in the book. In this way spiritual science runs quite counter to our modern way of thinking. Today people love to attend lectures that present what they are to learn through slides or other perceptible means. People go to movies because they can see something there. They do not value the fact that there are also some words. People want to remain passive; they just want to be people who watch. You will gain nothing from a spiritual-scientific book or lecture if you allow these modern habits to predominate, as spiritual scientific lectures or books contain nothing of that sort. Everything depends upon your working inwardly with what such books or lectures offer as a thread.







Get Informed: Childhood Illnesses and Immunizations in Waldorf Education

This book, a highly researched yet accessible body of work, explains how current influences, primarily immunizations, infiltrate the child’s organism and make growing up more difficult. The book, however, then also offers many practical ways to overcome those hurdles. Supporting the health of the developing child with anthroposophic education and anthroposophic medicine will thus ‘soften’ the blow to the archetypical, desired development. The authors show dedication, integrity and clarity throughout the book.
— Mary Jo Oresti, MA, Founding member of the Educational Support Program at the Detroit Waldorf School and Director and founding member of the Teacher Educational Support Program, an international professional development program sponsored by the Association for a Healing Education

Like many parents with children young children, we were concerned about the safety of immunizations when our twin boys were born. We read articles, books, and had lengthy conversations with our pediatrician. My husband, a scientist, could read and understand the ingredients in the proposed vaccines and we had a world-class physician who heard our concerns and helped us formulate a plan for our family. All parents deserve to be informed. I had access to experts that helped me make an educated decision.

At SteinerBooks, we bring those experts to you. The book Childhood Illnesses and Immunizations: Anthroposophic Ideas to Ensure the Wellbeing of Our Children in This Digital Age by Ross Rentea, Mark Kamsler and Andrea Rentea is a resource that every Waldorf teacher and parent should have on their bookshelf. Based on the authors’ many years of medical experience in the “trenches,” this book offers new ways of looking at the complex topic of childhood illnesses and immunizations.

Essential information is presented from an anthroposophic point of view:

CHILDHOOD ILLNESSES — their fundamental characteristics and meaning IMMUNIZATION INFORMATION — benefits and dangers

REMEDIES (more than 100!) — related to immunizations and the general wellbeing of our children

ANTHROPOSOPHIC MEDICINE — essential concepts

SPIRITUALIZED EDUCATION — Why it is essential to immunizations?

RUDOLF STEINER’S TEXTS — a comprehensive selection on immunizations and childhood illnesses

BASIC IMMUNOLOGY — combining natural and spiritual scientific insights

Practical Training in Thought

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The revolutionary ideas that come to education in the future will come from the hoards of parents leading the experimental movement called homeschooling. 

I am reading a new book that was sent by Steiner Books, one that a few sentences into the first chapter, I said: “oh my…”. 

Books are my favorite way to learn of new ideas, and consider them against my own beliefs and experiences. 

This book had an energy to it. I knew I would want to share it but not in the physical sense - get your own! This one will be on my bookshelf to share with my kids.

I consider books an asset of ideas to pass down to my kids. What if you had a personal collection of books, and notes to tell your kids how it changed your thinking? A hope chest or bottom drawer of ideas to consider has been whirling in my mind for a while now. A physical collection of ideas to consider as they make their way in the world. 

My father was a reader; he loved a good crime novel or book of history. We traded books often when we lived nearby, and later in life when I moved out of state and Amazon became my gift (book) delivery service, I would send him books I thought he would enjoy. 

Home library collections can show the journey of discovery over our lifespan. 

As families dive into the possibility of directing their child’s education, Waldorf education is likely to come into view. As I began searching for methods to consider with my children, the healing power of sunlight diffused rooms, natural materials, beautiful chalk drawings drew me in without even as much as a small understanding of Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy on education. It just felt right.

How many things in our lives just feel right?

The book I chose for my first read was Anthroposophy in Everyday Life: Four Lectures by Rudolf Steiner published by Steiner Books. The book drew me in from the introduction. 

“we find their so-called “practical thought” is often not thought at all but only continuing pursuit of traditional opinions and habits.” Rudolf Steiner

As parents dive into the world of home education, they will find themselves in a sea of opinions and habits of others. Without realizing it, we look to authorities to see our way, not governmental authorities necessarily, but rather individuals that have become an expert in homeschooling. 

I would venture to say there is no such thing. 

We need thought leaders and visionaries to share ideas without authority, much like our hope chest of ideas to consider. I believe in my small understanding of Steiner; he gave indications for learning which is what will bring the revolution needed in education. As a visionary, his thinking was years ahead of others, but it is time we begin to unwrap his thoughtful gifts for the well-being of our children and theirs.

My initial thoughts on Practical Training in Thought Karlsruhe, January 18,1909.

If we embarked on this journey of directing our children’s education through homeschooling to help them retain and discover who they are and what their journey through life will bring to the world, then Practical Training in Thought is an essential foundational skill.    

" When something really practical has been invented, it has often been done by a person without practical knowledge of that particular subject." R.S. 

This statement confirms what millions of parents are doing worldwide for their children by directing their education. The innovations of business, science, the arts, and design thinking are coming together in pursuit of a vibrant, safe education for our children. 

Training your thought begins with practicing in nature. It is something I do without even thinking, but Steiner's words remind me that we must practice objective thinking and nature allows us the perfect connection.

I don't want to ruin the experience for you by telling you every detail, but take a moment each day and look up at the sky. Don't try to define the type of clouds or predict the weather, just observe and you are well on your way to training your thinking mind.

I will share more of my impressions from Anthroposophy in Everyday Life: Four Lectures by Rudolf Steiner by Steiner Books, but why wait? Order your copy and read along with me.