The Development of Waldorf Education - from Stuttgart to around the world

Waldorf education is an educational concept developed by Rudolf Steiner, a German philosopher and education expert. Waldorf's concept of education was even put forward as one of the educational theories that had a great influence on nationalists in Indonesia in the 1920s and 1930s as a reference for Taman Siswa education[8].

This article presents the development of Waldorf education, namely the Waldorf Astoria Free School as the first Waldorf school founded, as well as the development of Waldorf education on various other continents.

Waldorf Astoria Free School, Stuttgart
Waldorf Astoria Free School, Stuttgart

The First Waldorf School, Waldorf Astoria Free School in Stuttgart, Germany

It is not complete to discuss the development of the Waldorf School without mentioning the founding of the first school.

On April 23, 1919, Rudolf Steiner visited a Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Germany. He gave a speech to factory workers about the urgency of social reform, including community organization, political life, and culture[1].

There, Steiner stated that encouraging people to develop skills through comprehensive education was more important than just meeting the needs of the industrial world at that time[10].

The speech not only made an impression on the workers but also caught the attention of the factory owner, Emil Molt. Molt and Steiner had been friends since World War I, with them studying Anthropology and the Threefold Social Organism, which eventually became the foundation of Waldorf's education.

Molt expressed interest in Steiner's educational idea of ​​a 'comprehensive school'. Initially, Molt wanted to establish a school for the children of his factory workers, so that their practical needs in the future were expected to be met[2][9].

Steiner responded with great enthusiasm. He agreed to establish a school with Emil Molt if Molt was willing to fulfill several conditions, namely the school must be open to all children regardless of social and economic background, the school is a twelve-year curriculum, co-educational, minimal interference, and economic assistance from the government, and must be impartial towards certain religious orientations[1][10]. Molt agreed to the terms.

On September 7, 1919, the Independent Waldorf School (Die Freie Waldorfschule) officially opened; named Waldorf Astoria Free School which is located in Stuttgart and is considered relevant to the concept of New Education in Germany after the end of the first world war[5].

The Development of Waldorf Education

There is an assumption that after the establishment of the Waldorf Astoria Free School, Waldorf schools became schools for anthroposophical children and did not represent schools for the general public[2]. However, Waldorf education developed very rapidly in Europe, then the Waldorf education movement in other continents followed. 

The Waldorf school movement in particular developed in Western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand[5]. Several Waldorf schools are also recognized and established for indigenous people, including the Lakota Waldorf School in South Dakota, the Kusi Kawsay School in Peru, as well as the Everlasting Tree School, and the Douglas Cardinal Foundation for Indigenous Waldorf Education in Canada[2].

As of March 2017, there were 1,092 Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner Schools in 64 countries and 1,857 Waldorf Kindergartens in more than 70 countries[3]. Until now, the number continues to increase.

The Development of Waldorf Education in Europe

Europe is still considered the main host for Waldorf Education. Recorded up to 734 Waldorf Schools for primary to secondary schools, as well as 2,219 kindergartens spread across various countries[3].

Germany is the country with the most Waldorf Schools, namely 237 Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner Schools, as well as 561 kindergartens. Besides Germany, the Netherlands is a country with a large number of Waldorf Schools. The first Waldorf school in the Netherlands was founded by Daniel van Bemmelen in 1923[7].

The Development of Waldorf Education in America

The first Waldorf School in America was founded in New York in 1928. Based on the Directory of Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner[3], there are 215 Waldorf Schools spread across the Americas, including Canada, the United States, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Brazil, and several other countries.

There are not as many Waldorf Schools in the Americas as in Europe. However, Waldorf School is considered to be one of the favorite alternative schools for some IT experts at Silicon Valley, who choose to enroll their children in schools (especially elementary schools) that do not prioritize the use of computers, television, and similar technologies for their early development[4][6]

The Development of Waldorf Education in Asia

The starting point for the development of Waldorf Education in Asia was the establishment of the Waldorf School in Tokyo in 1986. The number of Waldorf schools in Asia continues to grow and is spread across many countries, including Indonesia. Several schools in Indonesia are oriented towards the Waldorf Education concept, including Kulila Waldorf in Yogyakarta, Bunga Waldorf in Jakarta, and Jagat Alit and Arunika Waldorf in Bandung.

The Development of Waldorf Education in Australia and New Zealand

There are 50 Waldorf primary and secondary schools in Australia, 10 Waldorf primary and secondary schools in New Zealand, 31 Waldorf kindergartens in Australia, and 23 Waldorf kindergarten schools in New Zealand[3].

Even in New Zealand, the Waldorf school is considered successful in applying its educational concept to the Maori[2]. Although there is controversy about this statement. Some indigenous Maoris who are graduates or educators at the New Zealand Waldorf School admit that the Waldorf school combines Waldorf pedagogical concepts with indigenous knowledge. However, other opinions reveal that there is still a lack of incorporating local culture in schools.

The Development of Waldorf Education in Africa

In 1990, the first Waldorf school was founded in Africa. The school was founded in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa. Today, in Africa there are 22 Waldorf primary and secondary schools and 23 Waldorf kindergartens[3]. The schools are spread across Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, and Tanzania.

That's information about the development of Waldorf Education in various regions. Are you interested in knowing more about Waldorf education?


[1] Barnes, H. (2012, Juni 19). Waldorf Education . . . An Introduction. Dipetik Februari 02, 2017, dari The Online Waldorf Library:

[2] Boland, N. (2015). The Globalisation of Steiner Education: Some Considerations. Research on Steiner Education (ROSE) Journal, Vol.6, 192-202.

[3] Directory of Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner Schools, K. a. (2017, March). Waldorf World List. Dipetik April 03, 2017, dari Freunde der Erziehungskunst:

[4] Dwyer, L. (2011, Oktober 6). Why Are Silicon Valley Executives Sending Their Kids to a Tech-Free School? Dipetik Mei 5, 2017, dari GOOD Worldwide Inc.:

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

[6] Hidayat, W. S. (2011, November 2). Sekolah Tanpa Komputer Disukai Petinggi Silicon Valley. Dipetik Mei 5, 2017, dari

[7] Lutters, F. (2011). An Exploration into the Destiny of the Waldorf School Movement. New York: The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA).

[8] Shiraishi, S. S. (2001). Pahlawan-pahlawan Belia: Keluarga Indonesia dalam Politik. Jakarta: KPG (Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia).

[9] Steiner, R. (1995a). The Spirit of The Waldorf School. New York: Anthroposophic Press.

[10] 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.

Post a Comment