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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 2008, Vol.13 #2: Thinking and the Consciousness of the Young Child

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Recently while observing young children in a child care situation, I watched one little boy around the age of two who was totally immersed in moving blocks into various positions. He stayed absorbed in his activity without looking up or saying a word. Was he thinking? Something was happening within this child that I wanted to understand in order to adjust the environment around him so that nothing would disrupt his concentrated activity.

My own study of the subject of thinking set me on a journey: I re-read essential works on the first three years, looked at developmental research, and observed children whenever the opportunity arose. Here I would like to share some aspects of my work in progress that relate to coming to terms with thinking as an adult, the development of thinking as a process during the first three years, and events occurring in the third year of life.

To put it bluntly, thinking is not a favorite activity of our time. While we are surrounded by an endless variety of products based on sophisticated human thought and created by a fairly small group of highly trained engineers and designers, the actual process of thinking for oneself is experienced as stressful by many contemporaries.
Students often find it strenuous to pursue a train of thought related to a question, and teachers find it difficult to engage students in processes that require concentrated thinking activity.

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Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol. 13 #2: The Art of Education as Emergency Aid

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How Waldorf Education Enables the Souls of Traumatized Children to Breathe Again

A team of six educators, an anthroposophical doctor, and a helper traveled in the name of the Friends of Waldorf Education (Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners) to Beirut in October 2007 to help traumatized children. It was the first deployment of a new branch of our work—pedagogical emergency aid—with the task of helping as many children as possible to stabilize themselves following trauma. Barbara Schiller led the team.

It was strange to sit in Berlin, Stuttgart, or Munich and try to imagine the emotional consequences for children and young people who survived the war between Israel and Lebanon last summer. Naturally, there are also traumatized children in Germany. But what would it be like in Beirut? All of us––eight persons who are normally active in various Waldorf education and curative settings––thought about this in the weeks leading up to our departure. First Step Together Association (FISTA), an organization that represents various curative institutions in Lebanon and which has been in contact with the Friends of Waldorf Education for many years, had requested our help. The idea behind our project was that through artistic therapeutic work with the children we could gain pedagogical therapeutic insight into how we could help heal the emotional wounds of these children and youngsters. Our work was to be spread among four locations—in the curative Rudolf Steiner School, in a curative kindergarten, in a kindergarten and meeting place for children in the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila, and in a small school in the south of Beirut.

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Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2: What Have We Learned?

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Comparing Studies of German, Swiss, and North American Waldorf School Graduates

Waldorf education is a riddle of modern civilization. In a world in which accomplishment is thought to be quantifiable, where the only outcomes that matter are those that can be measured, this school movement has struggled to find its guidance in the immeasurable. This may be changing. A series of studies published in various countries appears to offer quantifiable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of Waldorf education.

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Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2: Cultivating Humanity against a “Monoculture of the Mind”

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Dry, rigorous, and, in the end, philosophical, Bo Dahlin’s study on Waldorf education in Sweden nonetheless provides a ringing endorsement for the power of Waldorf schools to humanize students, for the possibilities of Waldorf teacher education programs to meet state requirements, and for the necessity to preserve and support holistic and other non-mainstream pedagogies in the face of a developing global, technocratic “monoculture.”

Between 2002 and 2005, Dahlin, Professor of Education at Karlstad University, and colleagues conducted a study to compare Waldorf schools, including students, teachers, and parents, with Swedish “municipal” (public) schools in three areas: pupils’ knowledge attainment; relationship of the schools to society; and teacher training.

The study, released in preliminary reports on results for each of six questions, was based on questionnaires and interviews with students, parents, and teachers. These findings were supplemented with classroom and school observations; in addition, some data were generated by including test questions and other assessments in questionnaires.

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Keywords: results of Waldorf education, Waldorf graduates, Waldorf teacher training, teacher education

Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2: Disturbances in the Child’s Relationship to Inner and Outer Pictures of Reality

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Two pediatricians from a German municipal health office studied the capacity for pictorial perception among two thousand preschool children ages five and six prior to school entrance. In order to determine the children’s cognitive maturity and their pictorial perception and reproduction abilities in particular, they administered the so-called draw-a-person test, in which the children were to draw pictures of a person. The drawings were later evaluated by the pediatric medical doctors according to specific criteria, e.g. head-torso relationship, number of fingers on each hand, dynamic or static quality of the drawing, depiction of eyes and noses, and so forth. In this manner, it was possible to distinguish high-performing from low-performing children in each of the tested areas. The children’s scores were then compared to their average daily consumption of television and (in row C, below) to the daily extent of their “passive smoking,” that is, the number of cigarettes smoked by their mothers and fathers in the children’s presence.

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Keywords: children's drawings, media, television, video games

Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2: Work of the Research Fellows

Learning, Arts, and the Brain The Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition by Patrice Maynard
A recent report from the Dana Foundation, whose mission focuses on sharing knowledge about and sponsoring research on the brain, immunology, and arts education, offers the results of three years of research in seven areas concerning education in the arts and brain development. These areas of research include: how arts training influences cognition; music as it influences mathematical cognition and cognitive systems; dance and the development of the brain and of memory; and training in the arts and reading skills.

Waldorf Around the World by James Pewtherer
A meeting of the Hague Circle1 took place recently at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, within the context of the biennial “Pedagogical Section Working Days.” These large meetings provide an opportunity to delve more deeply into topics of importance for the worldwide Waldorf school movement, which now officially includes more than 1,000 schools.2 This time we took up these three topics:
• Criteria for Waldorf Schools;
• Surveys of Waldorf Graduates in Germany, Switzerland, and North America; and
• An Introduction to Portfolios and Projects in Assessing Student Learning.

The Intercultural Waldorf School of Mannheim, Germany by David Mitchell
In an age of globalization, in which the world’s population is growing and distances are shrinking, teachers have to find fresh ways to bring together highly disparate cultures. For instance, children from very diverse religious and cultural backgrounds can be brought together to study under the same roof, allowing children to experience––and come to respect-––a great array of cultural traditions and festivals. A new inner city Waldorf school in Mannheim, Germany, is attempting to form such a community. In the changing face of modern Europe, Mannheim is a city that has a total area of more than 90 square miles and a population of 324,000; of this total, twenty percent are immigrants attracted by the job market and fourteen percent are on welfare. This combination creates many social challenges.

The Health and Heartiness of Waldorf Graduates by Douglas Gerwin
Do Waldorf graduates enjoy better health as they age, compared to others in their peer group?

A recently published survey of graduates aged 21 to 82 from Waldorf schools across Germany concludes that former Waldorf students suffer fewer incidents of chronic ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart conditions including angina pectoris, and “arthrosis” or a general hardening of the organism. According to the survey, Waldorf graduates report a significantly lower number of these ailments even when compared to the top socio-economic stratum of German society, in which these conditions are generally less prevalent.

Autumn/Winter 2008, Vol.13 #2: Reports from Current Projects of the Research Institute

The Power of Grammar: A Working Weekend by Anne Greer
Waldorf high school teachers share a deeply held belief that our task is to awaken students to life-long questions: How do I know what I know? How can I be a conscious participant in my own experience?
We ask such questions and, with our students, struggle toward answers through language. How then do we come to understand language and its role in what we know and how we know what we know? What is the meta-language with which we can talk about language?

Teaching Sensible Science by Michael D'Aleo
The flow of the day in the Teaching Sensible Science course is central to helping teachers experience, understand, and embody the experience and concepts that they will later present to the students. The morning sessions, led by Michael D’Aleo, investigate the nature of our experience through observational exercises, discussions, and presentations. These are aimed at helping each teacher consciously awaken to his/her own inner activities of perception and conceptualization. It isn’t new thoughts that are being developed but the activity of thinking that is being encouraged.

Report on the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1

Articles in this issue include:

Report from the Co-Directors by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin
From the Editor by Stephen Keith Sagarin
Human Development and Moral Force: An Anthropology of Moral Education by Ernst-Michael Kranich
The Moral Reasoning of High School Seniors from Diverse Educational Settings by Christine Hether
Can Moral Principles Be Taught? by Magda Lissau
Transformative Education and the Right to an Inviolate Childhood by Christopher Clouder
The Riddle of Teacher Authority:Its Role and Significance in Waldorf Education by Trevor Mepham
Religious and Moral Education in the Light of Spiritual Science by Rudolf Steiner
Work of the Research Fellows:
Profits and Paradigms, Morality and Medicine
—Philip Incao
Visions of Peace: Joining Tibet and Hawai‘i in Social Exchange —Michael Mancini
“A Still Small Voice”: Three Tools for Teaching Morality —Patrice Maynard
Blinking, Feeling, and Willing —Eugene Schwartz
From Virtue to Love —Arthur Zajonc
Reports from Current Projects of the Research Institute:
Teaching Sensible Science” Heads West—Michael D’Aleo
News from the Online Waldorf Library—Marianne Alsop

 

Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1: Report from the Co-Directors

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Several new publications and a second sortie into the archives of the Rudolf Steiner Library have highlighted the activities of the Research Institute for Waldorf Education (RIWE) during the first part of this academic year. We can report the printing of Education, Teaching, and the Practical Life, one of Rudolf Steiner’s last remaining collections of lectures on education not previously translated into English.
Selections from this volume have appeared in the last three issues of the Research Bulletin, including this one. Most of these lectures were given in the early 1920s as new Waldorf schools were springing up in Germany, Holland, and other parts of the world. Although there is some overlap in content from one lecture to another, it is a delight to sense the joy and warmth with which Steiner spoke about the potential of Waldorf education in its early years. The book, which provides many examples and clear observations concerning childhood, is available from AWSNA Publications.

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Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1: From the Editor

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In this issue of the Research Bulletin we take moral education as its theme. The centerpiece of the issue is Ernst-Michael Kranich’s article on moral development, describing how the very growth and development of our physical bodies make possible our simultaneous growth and development as moral beings. Implications for teachers abound. An analogy occurred to me as I read Kranich’s work over and over, part of the editorial process: Plants show in their physical forms how they are affected by the world around them. Climate, soil, wind, and water all contribute to their health and growth or disease and stunted development. We can “read” in the form of a plant its life in the world. Children are not so easy. Outwardly, their forms do not change much whether or not we nourish them soul-spiritually. They are resilient. They maintain their ten fingers and ten toes. But, given the details of Kranich’s work, we must believe that internally they are plant-like, that what we do to or for them affects them deeply, even if the results remain invisible.

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Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1: Human Development and Moral Force: An Anthropology of Moral Education

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This article was extracted from Moralische Erziehung by Ernst-Michael Kranich,
translated by Jon McAlice and published in Waldorf Journal Project #10.

Among the notes and fragments of the German poet Novalis we find the following remark: “Rightly understood, morality is the actual realm of life for a human being.”1 What we call morality begins when we look beyond our narrow, personal wishes and interests; when we free ourselves of the bias of egotism; and when other persons, other beings, become important to us and we feel the urge to share their experiences. When empathy and caring move us to dedicate our lives to others, to place ourselves at the service of our fellow human beings and our surroundings, then the realm in which we live can be called moral. It is easy to imagine that life in this realm can grow ever stronger and more powerful. As this happens, we move from having a childlike dependency on our environment to taking on a co-creative role. We can experience how our actions flow from a living center, our own “I” or ego.2 Through this living center we are able to gain insight into the nature of things, to see the spiritual in outer manifestations. In this living center, this ego, we experience the inspirations of our artistic creativity. We can sense that human nature reaches its highest form of expression when we connect ourselves with our surroundings through moral forces and impulses. When this occurs, the illusion of separation disappears. The moral realm is related, too, to the element of warmth, which, with its invigorating force, penetrates the surface and reaches deep within us.

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