the self-taught specialist in pedagogics came to prominence as the founder of a new school. Steiner’s educational anthropology now absorbed—sometimes contrary to his own ideological concepts—many contemporary ideas based on the reality of education that could not be arrived at merely through an abstract formula.
In the historical and systematic perspective, the practical work of the Rudolf Steiner schools (and kindergartens) shows particularly close links with other trends of the New Education. This holds well in the first place for its structure and organization which have remained practically unchanged to the present day: They are establishments that maintain their own financial and curricular autonomy and are characterized by a child-centered educational tendency. Parents and children work together in the interest of developing the child. The Rudolf Steiner kindergarten has the atmosphere of a living room with a maternal educator. The guiding aims are to develop the senses by imitation and the experience of community life with a rhythmic progression. Factors that contribute to this are the two-hour period set aside each day for free play with natural materials and the particular emphasis placed on artistic creation and a natural religious outlook. The Rudolf Steiner schools are continuous establishments in which the pupils learn together in stable year- groups from the first to the twelfth year of schooling, without any interruptions or repeat years. Instead of official reports containing marks, the teachers write annual character portraits or learning reports in their own free wording. The syllabus and method of teaching are supposed to be guided in the first instance by the genetic and organic development of the child. The all-round personality of the pupil is supposed to be shaped through placing the equal weight on cognitive, artistic-affective and technical-practical activities in both tuition and school life. Practical training—through agricultural activities in the school garden, handicrafts and industry—are intended to develop a practical outlook on life. In the first eight years of school, the teachers see themselves in the first place as educators. They remain in charge of the same class for eight years as the class tutor. The teacher gives a two-hour daily period of epoch teaching that covers one of the traditional main subjects during a four-week cycle. Teaching takes place without standardized textbooks; the most important learning material consists of the epoch notebooks prepared by the pupils themselves. Two modern foreign languages are learned from the first year of schooling in play-conversation and recitation. Rudolf Steiner schools have no headmaster. They administer their own organizational and educational functions at weekly conferences arranged in a collegial manner. In most countries there are national associations of Steiner Waldorf schools. The German association has its headquarters in Stuttgart. These structural features of the Waldorf School generally cause all observers—be they parents, educational scientists or politicians—quite rightly to regard these schools in the first place as a practical model of the New Education. In terms of the history of these schools, as is already apparent from 1919, the year of their foundation, a close relationship exists with the model of the living community school that developed simultaneously with the experimental schools in Hamburg in the 1920s. Their synthesis is in Peter Petersen’s Jena Plan School in Germany. As autonomous unified co-educational schools motivated by the children themselves, the Steiner and Jena Plan Schools are characterized by a school atmosphere which resembles that of the home, intensive attention to school life, the continuation of the classrooms by gardens, workshops and practical courses, attention to the physical and spiritual well-being of the pupils, an emphasis on musical education, and a rhythm of school life marked by festivals and ceremonies. Parents are closely involved in school life. The teachers see themselves primarily as persons who accompany the development of the child. All forms of compromise with bureaucratic selection criteria and state policies are outlawed. Among the other schools founded on the ideas of the New Education, the specific profile of the Rudolf Steiner schools and kindergartens emerges from the strong emphasis: (a) on educational leadership (class teacher, 18
frontal teaching); (b) artistic systematic and ritually-based
and religious experience (fairy tales, sacred organization of education and teaching.