Education for Freedom: The Goal of Steiner/Waldorf Schools

  • Martin Ashley


To understand Steiner/Waldorf education, it is necessary to journey back to the Germany of 1919 that stood in social ruin at the end of the Great War. Thinking-people were in despair at the ravages of social inequality compounded by national defeat. It was a time receptive to radicalism. These were the conditions that allowed Rudolf Steiner to present his ideas for a new social order, based upon a radical reinterpretation of the time-honored notion of liberty, equality and fraternity. Separation of the three spheres of culture (freedom), rights (equality), and economics (fraternity), a principle known as social threefolding, was fundamental to this. Underlying Steiner’s entire philosophy was the primacy of freedom. Education comes into the sphere of culture, and it is absolutely fundamental that the school should serve the child, not the state. Steiner/Waldorf schools have, as their ultimate goal, the development of fully free human beings, but they operate from the postulate that freedom does not exist simply by virtue of an arbitrary declaration of human rights. For Steiner/Waldorf schools, freedom cannot be a method of education but must be the end result of it (Carlgren, 1972).


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Further Sources of Information

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Copyright information

© Philip A. Woods and Glenys J. Woods 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Ashley

There are no affiliations available

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