Let’s talk about Rudolf Steiner - A Founder of the Waldorf Education System

Hi Learners! Ever heard of Waldorf School, Waldorf Education, or Steiner Education? This education system is quite popular, especially in European countries, where this education system was first developed. 

In Indonesia, the Waldorf School is also developing, even though it is not as popular as in Europe. Before getting to know more about the Waldorf Education System, let's get to know the founder of the Waldorf education system, Rudolf Steiner.

Let’s talk about Rudolf Steiner

Who is Rudolf Steiner?

Born on February 27, 1861 (some other sources state February 25, 1861) in Kraljevec, an area on the Austria-Hungary border that is now known as Croatia, Rudolf Joseph Steiner was a German-Austrian[1][2]

Steiner studied various disciplines both at schools and independently, such as advanced mathematics and physics, Ancient Greek and Latin, as well as the thought of various philosophers in Germany at the time. Steiner is recognized as a genius who contributed to various fields of science, including philosophy, architecture, science, and education.

How was Steiner’s intellectual development?

Steiner contributed to various fields, such as biodynamic farming methods, the invention of Weleda (which produced homeopathy and herbal medicines), and the discovery of organic architecture[1]Until now these findings are still used in a number of educational institutions, health clinics, therapeutic facilities, banking institutions, and agriculture.

In his autobiography, Steiner stated that his intellectual development was accompanied by supersensible experiences, namely beyond the perception that can be captured by the senses and interpreted transcendentally. This experience is believed to be the basis of the spiritual science of anthroposophy, the foundation of Waldorf's education.

How was Rudolf Steiner’s experience as an ‘influencer’?

Between 1888 and 1924, he gave more than 5000 lectures on anthroposophy and Waldorf education. The lectures were held in 96 cities from 17 countries, including Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Bologna, Oxford, Paris, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest. In the digital era, surely Rudolf Steiner already has many subscribers on YouTube or followers on Instagram, right?

What are Steiner’s contributions to education?

Rudolf Steiner is known as the founder of the Waldorf education system which is now spread in various countries. Together with his friend, Emil Molt, he founded the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart in 1919. 

Steiner was an idol educator at the time because not only did he develop the Waldorf education system, he was also directly involved in its implementation at the Waldorf School, as well as getting to know educators and students. students at the school very well[1].

Why has Steiner been considered an extraordinary figure?

There are various possible reasons why Steiner is considered an extraordinary figure, here are some of them.

First, Steiner is a charismatic leader because he was able to come up with ideas and realize them during difficult times in Germany. His ideas about anthroposophy to this day survive and spread. Btw, the center of anthroposophy is currently in Dornach, Switzerland. 

Second, Steiner's thoughts (ideas) generally originate from his life experiences, even those related to supersensible experiences. 

Third, Steiner's contributions cover various disciplines, including psychology, anthropology, art, medicine, agriculture, religion, to literacy and language.

Was there a negative response to Steiner?

There is an opinion that Steiner's achievements are felt 'underappreciated'. This assumption arises because the response to Steiner's works is less 'visible'. This may be due to Steiner's tendency to publish his work at Steiner's in-house publisher, a publisher that only publishes Steiner's works and his followers[1]. Thus, the response to Steiner's work was the support of his followers. 

As a result, Steiner's work is only known by certain circles. In addition, Steiner's work is also considered too closely related to the occult and theosophical, perhaps because he was involved in the Theosophical Society. Furthermore, Steiner's work is considered quite challenging to be understood.

Why is there a challenge to understanding Steiner’s work?

First, Steiner's works are generally in German and not much has been translated into English. Second, many of Steiner's works are in the form of transcripts of lectures he gave and have not had time to be revised. Third, Steiner's work tends to be extensive and interrelated, so it takes tremendous time and effort, either to access the document or to understand it.

So, what do you think about Rudolf Steiner? Are you interested to know more about Steiner and his works?

Receive the children in reverence, educate them in love, and send them forth in freedom -Rudolf Steiner- 


[1] Gidley, J. M. (2017, April 4). Rudolf Steiner (1861 - 1925). Retrieved Mei 22, 2017, from ResearchGate.

[2] Uhrmacher, P. B. (1995). Uncommon Schooling: A Historical Look at Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy, and Waldorf Education. Curriculum Inquiry Vol. 25, No. 4 Winter 1995, 381-406.

Edited from Thesis entitled "Konsep Pendidikan Waldorf dalam Karya Rudolf Steiner dan Relevansinya dengan Konsep Pendidikan Nasional Republik Indonesia (Waldorf's Concept of Education in Rudolf Steiner's Work and Its Relevance to the Concept of National Education of the Republic of Indonesia"

The thesis was written by Rianita Puspita Sari, M.Pd, and supervised by Dr. Mamat Supriatna, M.Pd., as a thesis to obtain a master's in education from Pedagogy Study Program, Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia, in 2018.

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