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Rudolf Steiner: Education: The Road to the Higher Self Rudolf Steiner: Education: The Road to the Higher Self
by Rene Wadlow
2023-02-25 08:03:24
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Rudolf Steiner (1861 - 1925) was a person with many interests and made contributions to several fields.  (1) We note his birth anniversary on 25 February.  The link among his many interests was that each person has a Higher Self, which he sometimes called "the Soul", and that the road to the flowering of this Higher Self was through education, especially self-education.

rud001_400To consider every child as a unique individual and to establish a relationship with the child based on mutual trust is the aim of the Rudolf Steiner schools, also called the Waldorf Schools after the first one he created shortly after the end of the First World War in Stuttgart, Germany. German youth had to deal with the tramas of the defeat and radical changes in society.  In periods of crisis, creativity, imagination and audacity are needed.

Today, children are facing global challenges that require the child to unfold faculties which go beyond the conventional skills which were adequate for the past. More than ever, areas of social unrest and violence call upon teachers who can take personal initiatives and have a sense of responsibility.

Closely related to the belief that there is a Higher Self, Steiner stressed that the seed of the Higher Self existed within the child and that the role of education was to give nourishment for the seed to grow. Steiner emphasized the importance of achieving balance in the three different ways in which a person relates to the world - through physical activity, the life of the emotions, and the realm of thinking - which he symbolized as hand, heart and head.

Steiner also held that there are stages in childhood at which definite new developments occur, especially in seven year cycles: seven, fourteen, twenty-one.  These seven-year cycles must be properly met in the education system.  The task is to awaken the faculties that lie in each child by means of the everyday activities in the classroom and at home. In the Steiner schools, an emphasis is placed on cooperation with parents.  Family life should have some of the same characteristics of learning as that of the school.

The role of the school is to equip pupils with the ability to learn independently of exam pressure and to set out on a continuous process of self-education.  Self-education, coping with one's difficulties is the aim. Much in the Steiner-influenced education is based on observation of nature. Such observation is based on the conviction that there is a deep relationship between humans and the natural environment.  Watching a sunrise or a sunset can be a learning moment. Feelings that emerge in such special moments have a quality of their own.

Today, in many countries, there is an evaluation of education systems in light of a fast-changing world society.  The ideas of Rudolf Steiner and the practice of the schools merit active consideration;


1) Colin Wilson. Rudolf Steiner: The Man and his Vision (Wellingborough, UK: Aquarian Press, 1985)

You can find an earlier piece on Steiner by Rene Wadlow, HERE!


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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