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Research Bulletin

The Research Bulletin is published by the Research Institute for Waldorf Education, an initiative working on behalf of the Waldorf movement, with the following aims:

  • To serve as a newsletter announcing ongoing research and related activities
  • To carry brief but substantive discussions of fundamental research issues and questions
  • To describe research projects currently underway
  • To provide for the exchange of information and views within a growing body of readers

Contact the Research Institute for subscription information.

The Online Waldorf Library offers articles from all back issues of the Research Bulletin dating from 1996 to the present in pdf format.

An index of the most recent issues can be found on the first page, an index and articles in older issues can be found by scrolling down.

Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: From the Editor

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This issue of the Research Bulletin focuses on a single theme. The challenge of providing collaborative, spiritual leadership is one of the hallmarks of independent Waldorf schools in North America. We have gathered reflections that provide context, advice, and experience-based know-how for those who seek either to improve their school’s practice or to understand the rationale for this unusual leadership model. The contributions are broadly divided into three types: theory, biography, and a combination of ideas and practices.

Roberto Trostli provides the historical and philosophical groundwork. In this second installment of his thorough research into the founding of the first Waldorf school, he establishes two additional fundamental dimensions of a College of Teachers. In the first part (printed in the previous issue of the Research Bulletin) he described the essential tasks of a College. In the current installment he adds a discussion of both the membership and the rationale for having a College of Teachers at all. He concludes with a moving meditation on the spiritual forces at the heart of the Waldorf endeavor.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: From the Editor

Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Letter to the Editor

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What do we have to do in order to spiritualize being on the way to become a Waldorf teacher?

To the Editor:

As David Mitchell described in the last issue of the Research Bulletin, 16 (2), the anthroposophical basis of our work as Waldorf teachers consists primarily of spiritual work. There are four different emphases that this work can take.

The first and most important one is self education. The many indications that Rudolf Steiner gave to us are signposts along a path we may follow out of our own initiative. This path will never end, but its pursuit develops new forces in us that are prerequisite for the next steps.

Besides self-education we can study the human being in his relationship with the cosmos. Steiner’s Study of Man lectures are a path of learning to know our human nature ever more deeply. Following this path the human being appears more and more as a wonderful temple, as a picture of the hierarchies and the divine Trinity. Developing our consciousness of human nature helps us increasingly to understand the nature of the individual child. It helps us to find individual answers to the questions that the riddle of each single child poses. Love and a healing impulse may have their sources in this spiritualized knowledge.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Letter to the Editor

Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Report from the Co-Directors

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A Special Focus for This Issue
Because of intense interest across North America concerning the inner working of a Waldorf school, we have dedicated this issue of the Research Bulletin to topics related to this theme. We hope these articles will both inspire and encourage teachers in the deepening of their work.

With the next issue we will return to more global concerns and articles on preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, and high school students, as well as observations on the life of Waldorf graduates. Readers who have researched and written about experiences or observations specific to these areas are invited to submit their manuscript to the Research Institute for consideration by the editorial board of this journal.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Report from the Co-Directors

Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1:On Earth as It Is in Heaven The Tasks of the College of Teachers in Light of the Founding Impulse of Waldorf Education, Part 2

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The Tasks of the College of Teachers in Light of the Founding Impulse of Waldorf Education, Part 2

[Editor’s note: This is the second part of Roberto Trostli’s article, following the first installment which was published in the Research Bulletin, Volume XVI Number 2. Both parts will be included in a new collection of essays on the College of Teachers being prepared by the Pedagogical Section Council.]

II.Who Serves on the College of Teachers?

The College is composed of members of the school staff who are committed to working collegially on behalf of the school. In order to serve on a College, a person will typically have been confirmed in his or her work in the school, intends to work at the school into the foreseeable future, is willing to commit him or herself to upholding the College’s processes, and works with anthroposophy as his or her spiritual path.

In most schools, the College is composed primarily of teachers. This makes sense because they are most directly involved in the education of students and can keep the education as the central focus of all of the school’s functions. Over the years it has been suggested that College membership should be restricted to teachers because they develop special qualities through their work with the children and because the spiritual world expresses itself so directly through children, which helps the teacher perceive what may be needed for the future. I do not think that College membership should be restricted to teachers. While working with the children certainly demands that we grow and develop ourselves, every vocation offers opportunities for growth and self development. Someone who does not work with children develops other qualities and perspectives, and the College can benefit from these. Even the first Waldorf school included members who were not teachers because they had a special reason for participating.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1:On Earth as It Is in Heaven The Tasks of the College of Teachers...

Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Spirit Is Never without Matter, Matter Never without Spirit” - A Narrative Examination of a College of Teachers

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What makes a school a Waldorf school? This apparently straightforward question evokes a range of responses that embraces both physical aspects of our schools and the less tangible forces that frame and shape our work. A College of Teachers is often identified as one core characteristic that makes a school “Waldorf.” Standing at the center of many of our schools, the College forms an essential part of the organizational structure, assuming a wide range of practical and less visible responsibilities and tasks. A College of Teachers is thereby continuously confronted with the challenge of balancing the spiritual and practical life of the school, a challenge that individual schools have met in a variety of ways. An examination of the function and role of a College can shed considerable light on the history and development of a school, its values, and the method by which it meets the challenges of mission, time, and place.

What follows is an attempt to focus attention in some depth on the College of Teachers of a particular school. This study grew out of discussions with colleagues from a number of schools as we all confronted organizational and governance challenges, and my resulting belief that it could be instructive to examine the inception and evolution of one College. Despite the influences of geography, biography, and personality on each school and the necessity for each one to develop its own unique form of organization and governance, Waldorf schools, like other institutions, display lawfulness and commonalities in their development. They pass through predictable phases as they move from fledgling impulse to mature, established schools. Therefore, although there is no standard model or template for the creation or development of a school’s governance and College, it is likely that most will encounter shared issues and challenges and therefore the lessons of one may help clarify process for another. It is hoped that readers of this study will find both helpful insights and cautionary tales in threads that are instantly recognizable to them, as well as aspects that are truly unique to the biography and destiny of one particular school. In this way, both commonalities and differences will allow schools to reflect on their own evolution and form.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Spirit Is Never without Matter, Matter Never without Spirit” -...

Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: The Artistic Meeting: Creating Space for Spirit

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When Rudolf Steiner brought together the individuals who would become the teachers of the first Waldorf school,
he asked them to work in a new way, not only with the children, but also with one another. He asked them to work together in such as way as to invite the interest and guidance of spiritual beings into their endeavor.

The challenge of creating and maintaining a connection with the spiritual world, as difficult as it was then, may be
even more intense in the present time. Materialism has grown considerably stronger in the 21st century, and with it has come an increasing need to bring a balancing, healing, and renewing element to daily life.

The Waldorf classroom is a place where this renewing spiritual element can be found. It arises from the children
themselves and from how we work with them. It can also be found in the meeting life of the school, in how the
teachers and other adults work together. There are many resources available today on conducting effective meetings in the workplace. This article will focus on how we can create a space for spirit in meetings and how this endeavor can support us in our individual development, in our encounters with colleagues, and in strengthening our groups and communities.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: The Artistic Meeting: Creating Space for Spirit

Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Contemplative Practice and Intuition in a Collegial Context: An Action Research Project in a Waldorf School

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An Action Research Project in a Waldorf School

Intuition is a form of knowing-in-practice. It means knowing the right thing at the right moment. It is obviously helpful in understanding children, classroom practice, lesson preparation, and so on, but it is also crucial to the challenges of collegial work in teachers’ meetings where intelligent decisions have to be made, problems have to be solved, complex issues resolved, prejudices overcome, and people with different backgrounds, views, and energies have to find ways of working together. This is a field that requires just as much inspiration and intuition as the classroom.

Guy Claxon1 defines intuition in education as “immediate apprehension, without the intervention of any reasoning process.” Intuition belongs to the field of what Michael Eraut 2 calls “ways to knowing” that involve recognizing previously unrecognized patterns, connections, and meaning, finding novel and creative solutions, grasping complexity, seeing things holistically, making quick decisions, and doing things that can be described as expertise that do not call for lengthy reflection, deliberation, or weighing up of options. Most theories of intuition assume that it draws on existing knowledge and perceptions that we are not aware of in the moment of intuition in a way that enables us to recognize new patterns. Over the past decade there has been an increasing number of studies on the nature of intuition in education,3 medicine and nursing,4 psychology,5 and business.6 There seems little doubt that intuition as a basis for action, decision-making, and judgment is widely acknowledged as a valid counterpart to more rational and systematic forms of knowledge.

There are a number of ways in which intuition can be enhanced. Noddings and Shore7 speak of the importance of acknowledging the validity of intuition as a form of knowledge, and Gill Gregory8 speaks of developing trust in one’s ability. McMahon9 reports on two other factors: reflection on practice and finding periods of inner calm. Peter Lutzker10 has shown empirically that artistic activities such as clowning and improvisation have helped Waldorf teachers gain “enhanced openness and attentiveness, a heightened sense of empathy, a larger degree of presence.. .and played an important role in helping teachers learn to address their own uncertainties, anxieties and mistakes in a constructive and creative manner.” Rudolf Steiner’s approach, discussed below, adds to these elements the activity of meditation and the notion that the human mind has access to spiritual knowledge in intuition.

Read more: Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Contemplative Practice and Intuition in a Collegial Context: An...

Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Contemplative Work in the College Meeting

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Introduction

The possibility of developing a successful collaborative, spiritual-leadership model depends on the participants’
ability to become, collectively, a vessel for wisdom greater than their own. This wisdom may reveal itself in
fundamental insights (Moral Intuitions, in the language of Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path 1), creative visions
for addressing the ramifications of those insights (Moral Imaginations), or plans for incarnating the visions into the specific reality in which the school is operating (Moral Technique). While individuals may well be capable of
achieving some of those steps on their own, the fundamental idea of the collaborative model is that single
capacities can be enhanced through collaboration. Furthermore, collaboration may indeed allow individual
capacities to reach their full fruition by providing the listening attentiveness that often holds the key to sounding out one’s inherent potential.

A second facet of this model is the spiritual dimension: The group is engaged with spiritual beings, and this
engagement implies spiritual effort. This dimension is the one with which this essay is primarily concerned. The
third facet is the element of leadership; the model is meant to offer guidance that can be followed by the school.
Engaging in spiritual work, even in a collaborative fashion, is insufficient in itself; the group still needs to provide
leadership. The guiding imagination for this model, at least in Waldorf schools, is the so-called College
Imagination, delivered by Rudolf Steiner at the inception of the Study of Man course in 1919.2 The fundamental idea of the collaborative model is that single capacities can be enhanced through collaboration.

Steiner describes a circle of teachers, with each member’s Angel standing behind him/ her, placing a hand on the
teacher’s head, and allowing strength to stream forth. Steiner later refers to this as “the spiritual meeting of each
individual with his angel.” This strength allows imaginations to stream into the pedagogical work. Above, Archangels are gathering the strength, which “has been enhanced through uniting with all the others,” and make “a chalice of courage” out of it. Into this chalice, Archai (angelic beings of a higher order than the Archangels) allow a drop of light to fall. Light is a spiritual term synonymous with wisdom, and the process of helping teachers become recipients of light in the manner indicated by the College Imagination is the main goal of this essay. For the full text of the College Imagination, see also the appendix to Roberto Trostli’s article in the previous issue of the Research Bulletin (Volume XVI Number 2).

Read more: Spring/Summer 2012, Volume 17 #1: Contemplative Work in the College Meeting

Autumn/Winter 2011, Vol. 16 #2: From the Editor

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Ideas have a mysterious way of occurring to different people in different places at the same time. The history of science, for example, is rife with discoveries and theories that appeared almost simultaneously to researchers working in different locations, even separated by continents. Words (e.g., “collaborative,” “synergy, ” “emergent”), phrases (e.g., “paradigm shift,” “multiple intelligences,” “contemplative inquiry”), and even conceptual frameworks (e.g., Transcendentalism, postmodernism, string theory) appear on the scene and take their place in the public discourse seemingly overnight when only a short time before they were merely the private musings of a few thinkers.

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2011, Vol. 16 #2: From the Editor

Autumn/Winter 2011, Vol. 16 #2: Report from the Co-Directors

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The election of Arthur Zajonc, professor of physics at Amherst College, as board president of the Research Institute for Waldorf Education opens a new chapter in the biography of the Institute.

A frequent contributor to the Research Bulletin, Arthur is well known as author, teacher, and researcher. As visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, as well as the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, his research has included studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, and most recently the relationship between science, humanities and the contemplative traditions. Among his many publications is a history of optics, Catching the Light, several collections of essays on the scientific writings of Goethe, and a series of dialogues that he organized with the Dalai Lama.

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2011, Vol. 16 #2: Report from the Co-Directors