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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.

Autumn/Winter 2010, Vol. 15 #2: Knitting It All Together

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Rudolf Steiner mentioned that handwork is gymnastics in miniature. Handwork teaches very refined, minute movements that take the material world and fashion it finely, merging form and function. Spacial Dynamics is about a larger gymnastic activity: choosing, creating, and crafting one’s own Gestalt. Spacial Dynamics draws on that most overlooked of all artistic raw materials: the very space around us. Simply put, in handwork we learn to take the world and make things to wear. In Spacial Dynamics we learn how to “wear our space” in the world. The patterns of movement woven in both disciplines entwine to become living works of art.

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Autumn/Winter 2010, Vol. 15 #2: Seven Myths of Social Participation of Waldorf Graduates

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Waldorf education continues to be relatively unknown. When first making contact with this pedagogy, people in general tend to find in it certain oddities that may elicit admiration or incredulity, as well as some doubts. Parents who decide to send their children to a Waldorf school know that they are taking a courageous step to be “different.” The decision is not easy, because Waldorf education presents many differences in comparison with other teaching methods. Among the most obvious ones:

Read more: Autumn/Winter 2010, Vol. 15 #2: Seven Myths of Social Participation of Waldorf Graduates

Autumn/Winter 2010, Vol. 15 #2: Volunteerism, Communication, Social Interaction A Survey of Waldorf School Parents

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Parents form an integral part of any Waldorf community. And yet very little research has been undertaken to determine their attitudes toward what the schools ask of them as parents, especially as volunteers in and outside the classroom.

As a first step towards describing the Waldorf school experience from the point of view of parents, a survey at around a dozen North American Waldorf schools was conducted to take the pulse of parents on a wide range of social issues relating to their participation in the life of their schools. The primary objective of this survey was to explore community member involvement in their schools through volunteerism, and how they felt about it, school communication, inclusivity, parents’ perceptions of social interactions, and transparency in schools.

A questionnaire of some 30 questions—some multiple-choice, some open-ended—was administered to a convenience sample of parents, many of whom had attended a workshop on parent relations led by Martin Novom. Multiple choice questions provided background information about respondents and incidence of common school activities (newsletter, parent handbook, and so forth). Open-ended questions yielded more indepth information and helped to answer some of the bigger Why? questions about the attitudes of parents to their Waldorf communities.

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Autumn/Winter 2010, Vol. 15 #2: A Timeline for the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America

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The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt membership organization. The primary purpose of AWSNA is to aid each member and affiliated school to improve the quality of the education
that it offers. The Association seeks to support and encourage the development of schools whose teachers are committed to strive out of Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy of education. This philosophy seeks to address the full and harmonious development of the child’s spiritual, emotional, and physical capacities, so that he or she may act in life as a self disciplined and morally responsible human being. Since its inception, AWSNA has extended advice and encouragement to Waldorf schools in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It collaborates regularly with schools in Europe and throughout the world.

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Autumn/Winter 2010, Vol. 15 #2: Work of the Research Fellows

More Online! by David Blair

Readers may be interested to look at three articles that are to be found in their entirety on the website of the Research Bulletin (http://www.waldorflibrary.org/ResearchBulletin. htm). The first is Saralea Chazan’s study of the
Children’s Developmental Play Instrument (CDPI), reviewed in this issue by Renate Long-Breipohl. Though not prepared by or for Waldorf teachers, the study does reflect a growing scholarly interest in childhood play and its role in learning. Perhaps after reading Dr. Breipohl’s review, one might be inclined to follow the above link to examine the actual study more closely.

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Is Technology Producing a Decline in Critical Thinking? David Blair’s review of an article by Patricia Greenfield

As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles. Learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology, says Greenfield, who has analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the Internet, and video games. Her research was published in the journal Science Daily. “Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not,” Greenfield said.

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Review of Saralea E. Chazan, Observing Play Activity:
The Children’s Developmental Play Instrument (CDPI) with Reliability Studies
by Renate Long-Breipohl

According to the abstract, “The Children’s Developmental Play Instrument is a multidimensional tool intended for use in observing the play activity of mainstream children.” It was developed by S.E. Chazan, who adapted the “Children’s Play Therapy Instrument” (CDPI) for observations of ‘mainstream’ children, whereas the CDPI is used to evaluate play activity of children with clinical diagnoses. The origin of the CDPI is clearly recognizable by the quality of the range of indicators, beyond the focus of educational research, which focuses mostly on developmental and social aspects of play. The CDPI observational tool is designed to examine not only developmental, cognitive, and emotional aspects of play, but also play styles and the function of play in the adaptation to challenges which a child may face in her own life. In the words of Saralea Chazan: “An emphasis on the function of play activity and the provision of a multidimensional, inclusive, structural framework mark the CDPI as a new contribution to child indicator research.”

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Spring 2010, Vol.15 #1: What Can Rudolf Steiner's Words to the First Waldorf Teachers Tell Us Today

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The first years of the Stuttgart Waldorf School can be seen as prototypical of the development of Waldorf  schools and Waldorf teachers in general. We can benefit today from the events that took place in the six years between 1919 and 1925, while the first school was led by Rudolf Steiner. Examining Steiner's work in the school can give direction to the development of teachers and schools in the 21st century.

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Spring 2010, Vol.15 #1: Social Emotional Intelligence: The Basis for a New Vision of Education in the United States

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Classes were in session and the halls almost empty. A teacher first noticed the little boy— small but chunky, maybe a second grader—then two other boys, a bit older, walking near him. One of the two called out: “Hey, Fatty! You stink up the soccer field! You suck at soccer!” The object of the taunt took a deep breath and squared his shoulders, then turned to face his attackers. “You’re right,” he said. “I’m not good at soccer. And you are really good—one of the best in the school. But you know what? I’m really good at art. I can draw almost anything.” The air seemed to go out of the boy who had hurled the insult, and he said: “You’re not so bad. Want me to show you some moves after school?” Then the pair walked off in another direction, the little guy still standing near the teacher. “Gimme five!” she said to him, acknowledging how he had handled the situation. This teacher also found the second grader’s teacher and let her know what he had done.

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Spring 2010, Vol.15 #1: Rudolf Steiner’s Research Methods for Teachers

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Several things that distinguish Waldorf education are unusual in education today. The first is the awareness that a human being is only fully understood if we take the unseen, spiritual aspect of a child’s nature into account. Another is the explicit assumption that a teacher is required to research the curriculum, teaching methods, and factors that influence the learning and development of children. Further, Waldorf education is based on an epistemology and ontology that acknowledge no formal limits on knowledge of spiritual aspects of life. It is of paramount interest, therefore, that the methods by which this knowledge is generated be well-known and accessible to teachers.

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