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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 2009, Volume 14 #2: Identity and Governance

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It is a rare Wadorf school that does not struggle with questions of governance at some point in its life. Today many schools find themselves in the midst of such struggles. To some extent these struggles revolve around questions of authority, questions that at their worst spiral downward into struggles for power, or they reflect a loyalty to forms that have been handed down as appropriate for Waldorf schools. In some cases we recognize in these forms the inability to create and sustain viable structures out of a sense for the whole. At the center of all of them lies the question of the identity of Waldorf education.

This question of identity has grown more pressing over the course of the last fifteen years as the number of Waldorf schools has grown and as a new generation of teachers has moved into positions of responsibility within the schools. It has been accompanied by a concerted effort toward institutional stability and assimilation into the greater educational landscape. This push has embraced forms of school development and quality assurance that are ubiquitous in the mainstream, while making efforts to adapt them to the special situation of Waldorf education with its focus on individual learning. Although it has resulted in stronger institutional forms and a somewhat more professional face for Waldorf education, it has also exacerbated the increasingly existential question: What makes a Waldorf school Waldorf?

Read more: Autumn 2009, Volume 14 #2: Identity and Governance

Autumn 2009, Volume 14 #2: Changing Old Habits: Exploring New Models for Professional Development

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Late in 2007, River Valley Waldorf School (RVWS) in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania (about 40 miles north of Philadelphia), commissioned the Triskeles Foundation, a non-profit organization based in nearby Exton, to oversee a new model for in-house professional development for teachers, or "peer coaching," a process that would develop an alternative to the traditional mentoring process. Shortly after work began in January 2008, it became clear that the plan would necessitate a rededication of meeting time away from business issues and toward pedagogical concerns. This shift would require developing a more efficient governance model. Triskeles's original charge to help the faculty make in-house teacher development a priority led to the reorganization of River Valley Waldorf School governance.

Read more: Autumn 2009, Volume 14 #2: Changing Old Habits: Exploring New Models for Professional Development

Autumn 2009, Volume 14 #2: Developing Coherence: Meditative Practice in Waldorf School Colleges of Teachers

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Rudolf Steiner refers to his practical suggestions in a wide variety of fields as "indications" (Zeichen: literally, "signs"). Understanding what is meant by an indication may help to explain some of the tangling to which Waldorf school collegiality is prone. What does it mean that Steiner describes his propositions for the conduct of the first school as indications? What are the implications of indications?

In broad terms, Steiner's lectures and books are primarily concerned with providing readers with the big picture, the universal dimensions of a question. A lecture cycle such as Education as a Social Problem(1), for example, has relatively little to say about the specifics of national or international politics of the time. Steiner presents an overview of global or cosmic trends. In particular, he presents a threefold description of (in)human potential: the animalization of the body, the "vegetablization" of the soul, and the mechanization of the spirit, which he associates, in turn, with the "East," "Central Europe," and the "West." Such characterizations are powerful, but they are "meta-statements," and are not directly applicable in, say, schools. To put it crudely, I do not look at my American colleagues and say, "Ah, here are mechanizing spirits," nor do I conclude that my German friends have vegetable souls, or my Asian ones animalized bodies. As a pragmatic AngloSaxonCelt, there would be little purpose in my starting a campaign to halt the mechanization of the spirit; I may, however, meditate on what this means and attempt to bring active spirit into my relationship with material things.

Read more: Autumn 2009, Volume 14 #2: Developing Coherence: Meditative Practice in Waldorf School Colleges of...

Autumn 2009, Volume 14 #2: Teachers' Self Development as a Mirror of Children's Incarnation, Part 2

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In part one (Research Bulletin XIV, 1, Spring 2009), I looked at four signs of the zodiac that are related to the process of human incarnation, and I will now look at four signs that Rudolf Steiner relates to will activity of human beings.(2) When we look at our life of will, our earthly endeavors, we may turn to the images contained in the signs of Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.(3)

In order to approach our life of will in respect to selfeducation, we may remind ourselves that Steiner speaks of living with an openness to what life brings and with a gesture of gratitude and acceptance toward destiny. This openness is present in young children when they play freely, without preconception or plan. The process is important, not the outcome. Children surrender to the flow of play. In the same way, we adults may stand in the stream of life, open to what approaches us.

Read more: Autumn 2009, Volume 14 #2: Teachers' Self Development as a Mirror of Children's Incarnation, Part 2

Autumn 2009, Volume 14 #2: Social-Emotional Education and Waldorf Education

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Try to remember the days of September … and your school experiences. For the majority of us, what we were taught and what we remember from our school years present two different pictures. We sat through countless hours of lessons about common denominators and mitosis, about heliotropism and split infinitives, about world revolutions and the Industrial Revolution.

Our skills developed quietly in the background at a rate equal to our interest. In the foreground, like a guardian to a fortress, was our feeling-life. Our emotions set the stage for our learning. Early memories contain the many sweet recollections of childhood but also feelings of intimidation suffered on the playground, the loneliness we felt as we tried to figure out who we were, awkward, blundering moments with the opposite sex, victories and defeats, and the antagonism we felt toward adults who seemed so sure in their correctness. As we matured, perhaps, we swam in a sea of insecurity lifted by waves of hope. In this area of our life-education, we were often largely on our own.

Read more: Autumn 2009, Volume 14 #2: Social-Emotional Education and Waldorf Education

Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2

Articles in this issue include:

Report from the Co-Directors by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin
From the Editor by Stephen Keith Sagarin
Rhythm and Learning by Dirk Cysarz
Thinking and the Consciousness of the Young Child by Renate Long-Breipohl
Assessment without High-Stakes Testing: Protecting Childhood and the Purpose of School
by David Mitchell, Douglas Gerwin, Ernst Schuberth, Michael Mancini, and
Hansjörg Hofrichter
The Art of Education as Emergency Aid: How Waldorf Education Enables the Souls of Traumatized Children to Breathe Again by Barbara Schiller
What Have We Learned? Comparing Studies of German, Swiss, and North American
Waldorf School Graduates
byJon McAlice
Cultivating Humanity against a “Monoculture of the Mind” by Stephen Keith Sagarin
Disturbances in the Child’s Relationship to Inner and Outer Pictures of Reality by Christian Rittelmeyer
Work of the Research Fellows:
“Learning, Arts, and the Brain” The Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition
—Patrice Maynard
Waldorf Around the World —James Pewtherer
The Intercultural Waldorf School of Mannheim, Germany —David S. Mitchell
The Health and Heartiness of Waldorf Graduates —Douglas Gerwin
Reports from Current Projects of the Research Institute:
The Power of Grammar: A Working Weekend—Anne Greer
Teaching Sensible Science—Michael D’Aleo
Report on the Online Waldorf Library—Marianne Alsop

Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2: Report from the Co-Directors

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Since the publication of the last Bulletin, the leitmotif for the work the Research Institute for Waldorf Education has been “reaching out.” Late autumn and Easter saw trips and presentations in Germany and Switzerland. In Stuttgart we met and had fruitful conversations with the Board of the Pädagogische Forschungsstelle—the European equivalent of the Research Institute. We also visited Kassel and met with leaders in the phenomenological scientific work at the teacher training seminar there. We presented the Survey of Waldorf Graduates, Phase II at the world leadership gathering of the Pedagogical Section and a gave a course on “Will-Developed Intelligence” at the eighth World Teachers’ Conference, both events at the Goetheanum.

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Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2: From the Editor

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Owen Barfield pointed out that we need at least two words to say what we mean by “heart,” one for the muscular organ in our chests and one for courage, sympathy, and other qualities associated with feelings in and around the muscular organ. In earlier times these meanings were tightly bound. To speak of one was to speak of the other; material and immaterial meanings were virtually identical; quantity and quality were inseparable. Our present world favors material meanings and quantity over immaterial meanings and quality. Qualities are believed to be secondary characteristics, illusions, subjective perceptions, or “mere” metaphors. Several of the articles in this issue of the Research Bulletin address this imbalance of meaning around the word “heart,” implicitly and explicitly.

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Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2: Assessment without High-Stakes Testing

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Protecting Childhood and the Purpose of School

In the final analysis, educational reform is the task of a school’s circle of educators, not of a government’s house of legislators. Teachers need to be charged with the task of studying their students, deepening their expertise, and developing appropriate methodology as a result. They can then set appropriate educational policies based on freedom and cultural pluralism. The task of the government is not to guarantee equal schooling for everyone; rather it is to guarantee equal access to the kinds of education that parents believe right for their children.

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Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2: Rhythm and Learning

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We might be inclined to define rhythmical phenomena as periodically oscillatory processes. A moment’s thought, though, proves this statement to be incomplete. Taking the natural pattern of the course of the sun, for example, we could surely define it as a periodical feature that brings us day and night, but at the same time it is characterized by its fixed itinerary in the sky. Its position is predictable and no major deflection from physical laws is ever likely to occur. By the same token, many processes in our technical world imply a periodicity—such as clocks and turn signals on cars—but, again, they follow a standard sequence that can be correlated to physical laws. These periodical processes are fixed; no mutation is possible. And rightly so. If a clock were not accurate, it would be of little value, and if the sun were to cease following its fixed course, we would quickly recognize that the world was “out of joint.”

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