Anthroposophy and Education

"Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility - these three forces are the very nerve of education." Rudolf Steiner

We believe in the value of Steiner education because we have seen how it works in practice. We have seen how it can help children to achieve their potential as active, independent-minded and creative adults, and it is for this reason that our school will be based on the Steiner tradition.

Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher and a mystic. He saw his work as forming a coherent philosophy, which he called Anthroposophy. Steiner saw all aspects of life as being rooted in mystical truths, and the practical ideas that he put forward were based on Anthroposophy, his own spiritual philosophy.

We recognise the importance that spirituality and religion have for many people; however, we believe that they are matters of private belief. We will therefore neither promote nor denigrate any particular religious or spiritual beliefs. Our school will uphold the right of all individuals to hold their own beliefs and values, remaining neutral and inclusive on all matters of religion and spirituality.

Because of this, we will neither teach nor promote Anthroposophy. Individual staff and parents are free to come to their own interpretations of the philosophy that Steiner saw as the basis for his ideas, accepting or rejecting the spiritual elements according to their own private beliefs. We are committed to the practice of Steiner education, but this can be approached from many different viewpoints; this diversity can only enhance the vitality of our school.

Within Steiner education teachers and parents have always formed their own interpretations of Anthroposophy. Steiner himself insisted that his ideas should be tested and disputed rather than being simply accepted and this critical spirit has allowed Steiner education to evolve to meet contemporary needs. We will be part of this ongoing evolution, open to ideas from other educational traditions if they help us to deliver our vision of an excellent education within a creative, happy school.

The evolving nature of Steiner education has meant that interpretations of Steiner's ideas have changed over time. In particular, some of Steiner's Anthroposophical work related to race and ethnicity. His ideas on race reflect the racism of the time and place in which he lived, and have been rejected within Steiner education. Instead, Steiner schools have focussed on his ideas of the unity of humanity and the value of the individual, above any categories of race, gender or nationality. Our school will share these values, building on Steiner's vision of a common humanity and rejecting all forms of prejudice.

We feel that the educational practices of Steiner schools stand on their own merits. For example, Steiner felt that children should not be taught to read and write until the age of seven.

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Steiner Academy Hereford - (c) 2013

For him, this related to the stages by which the soul is incarnated into the body; before seven, the spirit is still adjusting to the material world. However, there are other reasons for delaying formal literacy teaching. It gives time for children to develop imagination, social skills, oral literacy and fine motor skills including pen control, laying the groundwork for later learning; it also younger children to learn from play and freely express themselves in an unpressured environment. As may be, successive studies have suggested that a later start in reading and writing has no negative effect on literacy later on (eg. Suggate, Schaughency, Reese, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 2013). This is recognised in the mainstream educational policy of some European countries.

Steiner education works. It is a tried and tested system that has evolved over a hundred years to meet the needs of children in many different cultures around the world. Our school will be part of the ongoing global development of Steiner education, valuing its roots in Steiner's work but moving forwards without dogma, in a spirit of love, curiosity and freedom.