“……whoever takes it upon himself to study his (Steiner’s) voluminous works (at least a hundred publications) with an open mind will find himself in the presence of one of the greatest thinkers of all time, whose mastery of modern sciences is as wonderful as is his knowledge of the sciences of antiquity. Steiner is no more a mystic than Albert Einstein; he was first and foremost a scientist, but a scientist who had the daring to penetrate the mysteries of life.” – Russell W. Davenport in: The Dignity of Man (New York, 1955)
Dr Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) was an Austrian Philosopher and thinker, whose life work enlightened areas such as education, art, medicine, architecture and spiritual philosophy.Although Steiner was born in the West, his philosophy is universal, similar to that of a Rishi.
Dr. Steiner’s educational philosophy is based on his understanding that a child is a multi–faceted being, with a threefold nature comprising body, soul and spirit. His aim is to make the child healthy, strong and inwardly free through education.
The first Steiner school was established in Stuttgart in Germany in 1919. Today, with more than 1,000 Waldorf schools in 83 countries, Waldorf Education is the fastest growing independent educational movement in the world. These schools exist in large cities and small towns, suburbs and rural enclaves. No two schools are identical; each is administratively independent. Nevertheless, a visitor would recognize many characteristics common to them all.
Developed by Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf education is based on a profound understanding of human development that transforms teaching into an artistic and health-giving approach to education. Waldorf education inspires a life-long love of learning in children and adults alike.
At the end of WWI, Europe was teetering on the brink of economic, social, and political chaos. Rudolf Steiner was concerned about the need for social renewal, for a new way of organizing society and a shift in political and cultural life. In 1919, Emil Molt, the owner of the Waldorf Astoria company, asked Steiner if he would establish and lead a school for the children of the employees of the factory. Steiner agreed but set four conditions, each of which went against common practice of the day:
1) that the school be open to all children;
2) that it be coeducational;
3) that it be a unified twelve-year school;
4) that the teachers, those individuals actually in contact with the children, have primary control of the school, with minimum interference from the state or from economic sources. Steiner’s conditions were radical for the day, but Molt gladly agreed to them. On September 7, 1919, the independent Waldorf School (Die Freie Waldorfschule) opened its doors.