About Rudolf Steiner
“Our highest endeavour must be to develop free individuals who are able out of their own initiative to impart purpose and direction to their lives” – Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner (25 Feb 1861-30 March 1925) was an Austrian philosopher and social reformer who founded the first free Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919.
He designed a curriculum to meet the developmental stages of childhood and to encourage the imagination and creative thinking. Steiner education is known for providing a sound and practical basis for working with children, enabling them to find their creativity and to become free individuals who can think for themselves, make their own judgements and find their own purpose and direction in life.
In the chaos of post-WW1 Germany, Rudolf Steiner questioned the senselessness of war and the need for new social forms. He concluded that to meet the needs of the future, individuals needed to be educated differently. He initiated the opening of the first Steiner/Waldorf school in 1919, through the sponsorship of Emil Molt (owner of the Waldorf factory – hence the use of the alternative name – now widely used across North America). This school was for the children of the factory workers, was co-educational and the tuition was free.
Today there are over 1,300 Steiner/Waldorf Schools and 2,000 early childhood centres in over 60 countries worldwide – with around 60 in Australia. Steiner education is state funded in most European countries as well as in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Holland.
The approach to education is based on Steiner’s educational insights, specifically those that relate to child development. These form one aspect of what Steiner called ‘anthroposophy’, literally, ‘human wisdom’ or ‘knowledge of the human being’.