The Spirit of the Waldorf School: Lectures Surrounding the Founding of the First Waldorf School, Stuttgart – 1919
6 lectures and an essay, 1919-1920 (CW 297)
World War I destroyed the structures, values, and self-confidence that created the seeming greatness of the nineteenth century. In its place stood ruins and the shards of a civilization. In response to this, Emil Molt – the director of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory and a student of Rudolf Steiner—decided to establish a school to educate people who could create a new culture. Thus, the Waldorf school movement was begun. Rudolf Steiner agreed to act as the school’s consultant, and his insights guided the school in accomplishing this ambitious task.
The goal of this education was that, through living inner work guided by the insights of Rudolf Steiner, the teachers would develop in the children such power of thought, depth of feeling, and strength of will that they would emerge from their school years as full members of the human community, able to meet and transform the world.
These lectures occurred around the opening of the first Waldorf school. They serve as an excellent, inspiring introduction to Waldorf education as a whole. Here Steiner outlines – with freshness, immediacy, and excitement – the goals and intentions of a new form of education and speaks to parents of prospective students. He explains the school’s guiding principles and describes how parents must participate, with understanding and interest, in the awakening of their children’s creative forces so that a healthier society can come about.
Introduction by Robert Lathe and Nancy Whittaker
1. The Intent of the Waldorf School
2. The Spirit of the Waldorf School
3. A Lecture for Prospective Parents
4. Supersensible Knowledge and Social Pedagogical Life
5. The Social Pedagogical Significance of Spiritual Science
6. Spiritual Science and Pedagogy
“The Pedagogical Objective of the Waldorf School in Stuttgart” (an essay from the journal The Social Future)
German sources: Die Waldorfschule und ihr Geist (GA 297); “Die pädagogische Zielsetzung der Waldorfschule in Stuttgart,” from Soziale Zukunft, Feb. 1920 (GA 24).
About the Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.
Robert F. Lathe has translated several books by Rudolf Steiner on Anthroposophy and Waldorf education.