Research and Training


The Educational Section of the School for Spiritual Science today recognises the contribution of the different organisations and research projects for the investigation and development of the new educational direction and its fundamental principles, for Spiritual Science. Besides what the weekly teacher’s meetings do in the way of hands-on research in the schools, and the culture of conferences and enrichment programs which extended between the 50’s and 80’s both regionally and internationally, since the 80’s there is an increasing amount of research done at universities.

Besides dissertations, doctorates and research projects within the framework of academic research, there have arisen internal research centres or institutes for Waldorf Education, above all in the area of teacher training. An example of this is the Pedagogical Research Unit of the Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen in Stuttgart and Kassel founded in 1984. A comprehensive and widespread literature on Waldorf Education has emerged from these centres.

Teacher education for the Waldorf schools took place right into the 50’s mainly in the form of teacher enrichment courses and conferences; since 1925 there were efforts, besides the Jena-Zwätzener attempt at an educational training circle, to found an independent educational seminar in Stuttgart. Immediately after the Second World War, I-year, full-time training courses begin (co-workers, amongst others: Erich Gabert, Sophie Porzeit), which lead in 1951 to an educational college carried by the Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen.

Shortly after this, in 1951, a Teachers seminar is also founded at the Goetheanum in Dornach, in 1962, at Emerson College, the first training college in the English-speaking world. Keeping pace with the spread of Waldorf Education, there are 65 training centres that have been founded in 27 countries on the educational principles of Rudolf Steiner.


Coordinating Institutions and Recent Developments

The exchange of experience and coordination of the growing international school initiatives have since the 1920s gone though different stages of cooperation. The first attempts to establish an international schools movement, the “Weltschulverein” in which Rudolf Steiner placed such high hopes since 1920, with functions beyond the locally oriented school trusts of the individual Waldorf Schools, ended in failure in the mid-20s. (See Willem Zeylmans van Emmichoven) But the idea of such global relationships is taken up again and again in the following years.

The institutionalised development of the Waldorf Schools movement in Germany after WW II is heavily influenced by the “Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen” in Stuttgart. To meet the growing political pressure exerted on the Waldorf schools in Germany in the 30’s, Annie Heuser, Ines Arnold, Ernst Weissert, Christoph Boy and René Maikowski improvised an “Imperial Association of Waldorf Schools” on May 10, 1930 as a protection against attacks from the side of the National Socialist government - shortly afterwards called the “Association of Waldorf Schools.” (See Manfred Leist 1998, P. 17f.) In the years after the war, beginning in 1946, all teachers were invited twice a year to partake in Waldorf Teacher’s Conferences in which common goals and tasks were discussed. This initiative led to the founding of the “Bund der Waldorfschulen e.V” on the 15 June 1949, which, supported by the schools and individual members, realised aims like teacher training, the organisation of teachers’ conferences, public representation, and the political representation of the Waldorf Schools in Germany. ( Founding members: Erich Schwebsch,(chairman), Emil Kühn, Ernst Bindel, Sophie Porzeit, Emil Leinhas, Konrad Sandkühler, and Walter Rau. Later, amongst others, Ernst Weissert, Herbert Hahn, Helmut von Küglegen, Christoph Lindenbergh). The “Bund” delegates, besides the administrative Executive, various sub-committees for different areas of responsibility, amongst others the “Advisory Counsel” that takes on the task of representation and assistance in the founding of new schools. (in the beginning, amongst others, Hermann von Baravalle, Carl Brestowski, Erich Gabert, Georg Hartmann, Gisbert Husemann, Helmut von Kügelgen, Siegfried Pickert, E. A. Karl Stockmeyer, Johannes Tautz, Robert Zimmer) (see: Leist, 1998, P. 37 f.).

The “Bund der Freien Waldorfschulen” publishes the magazine “Erziehungskunst,” which, with a brief interruption between 1937 and 1946, appears monthly (Editors, amongst others, Caroline von Heydebrand, Friedrich Hiebel, Erich Schwebsch, Helmut von Küglegen, Manfred Leist).

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart, the Hague Circle was founded at Pentecost 1970 as working group and administrative college of the European Waldorf Schools, (amongst others Ernst Weissert, Wim Kuiper). From 1951 onwards, representatives of the Dutch, English and German schools have met either in Stuttgart or The Hague, (chairman; Francis Edmunds), in order to prepare conferences, and represent the interests of Waldorf Education internationally.

Similarly, since the mid-sixties there exists the initiative of the Educational Section to build up an educational advisory counsel and thereby to bring together the global schools movement under the auspices of the Educational Section. (N 1965, No. 42). With the developing globalisation of the school’s movement and the cooperation between the Section and the Hague circle, amongst other things in the preparation of the international Teacher’s Conferences, (World Teacher’s Conference, Jörgen Smit) since 1979, The Hague Circle today, as an organ of the Educational Section, tries to foster the spiritual connection between the schools world-wide in their anthroposophical foundation.

Leading on from the “Verein für ein freies Schulwesen” (Association for a Free Education,” the “Verein der Freunde der Waldorf-Pädagogik e.V.” (Association of the Friends of Waldorf Education) is founded in 1971 by Ernst Weissert and Manfred Leist in order to bring to the schools movement official recognition and financial security. A group of former Waldorf students in 1976 organised an “International support fund” within what is now called the “Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e.V.” (Friends of the Educational Art of Rudolf Steiner) with the expressed aim of “establishing an educational policy within which those actually involved in the educational process can themselves, without the interference of the state, determine the nature of teaching and instruction, and not to limit this possibility to Western Europe.” (Freunde der Erziehungskunst (Hrsg.) 2001, P. 13). Today, annual sums of several million Euros in donations can flow into the support of school initiatives, teacher training, and educationally oriented development aid, as well as fostering an established co-work with international educational organisations such as UNESCO.

Running parallel to the increasing globalisation and expansion of the different aspects of Waldorf Education in the 90’s, a dialogue began on the various factors affecting the development of identity within this education on the one hand, and on the other, a growing cooperation with related educational bodies and new representative organisations. Hence we have, since 1990, the “European Forum for a Free Education” (EFFE), from 1991 the “European Council of Steiner Waldorf Schools,” from 1993 the “International Association of Waldorf Education in Central and Eastern Europe and Countries Further East” (IAO) and since 1999, the “Alliance for Childhood”.

Robin Schmidt

Translated by Eric Hurner

(Robin Schmidt, Literatur und Quellen: GA 293–311, GA 259; BGA, Nr. 27/28, 31; Freunde der Erziehungskunst [Hrsg.]: Waldorfpädagogik weltweit. Ein Überblick über die Entwicklung der Waldorfpädagogik sowie der anthroposophischen Heilpädagogik und Sozialtherapie, Berlin 2001; Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners [Hrsg.]: Waldorfpädagogik. Ausstellungskatalog anlässlich der 44. Sitzung der Internationalen Konferenz für Erziehung der Unesco in Genf, Stuttgart 1994; Gabert, Ernst: Lehrerbildung im Sinne der Pädagogik Rudolf Steiners. Das Lehrerseminar der Freien Waldorfschulen, Stuttgart 1961; Götte, W. M.: Erfahrungen mit Schulautonomie – Das Beispiel der Freien Waldorfschulen im 20. Jahrhundert, Diss. Bielefeld 2000; Husemann, Gisbert/Tautz, Johannes [Hrsg.]: Der Lehrerkreis um Rudolf Steiner in der ersten Waldorfschule 1919–1925, Stuttgart 1977; Leber, Stefan u. a.: Die Pädagogik der Waldorfschule und ihre Grundlagen, Darmstadt 1992; Leist, Manfred: Entwicklungen einer Schulgemeinschaft. Die Waldorfschulen in Deutschland, Stuttgart 1998; Lindenberg, Christoph: Rudolf Steiner. Eine Biographie, Stuttgart 1997; Tautz, Johannes: Lehrerbewusstsein im 20. Jahrhundert, Dornach 1995; Werner, Uwe: Anthroposophen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, München 1999; EK, Sondernummer August/September 1969; Berichtsheft des Bundes der Freien Waldorfschulen (insbes. Advent 1982); Archiv der Forschungsstelle Kulturimpuls; N; Rpäd; MbW; FW; BP; AB; Msch; O; RSS; ZP; Ber; CaM; EK; VOp; Med; EaA)