Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was the Austrian philosopher, scientist, artist and educator who formulated the principles that gave life to Waldorf education. Born in Austria in 1861, Rudolf Steiner studied sciences at the Technische Hochschule in Vienna. As a young man he edited the Weimar edition of Goethe’s scientific writings, studied philosophy, and received his doctorate in this field. Rudolf Steiner’s first major work, The Philosophy of Freedom, appeared in 1893 and established the foundation for the world-view known as anthroposophy.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, Rudolf Steiner became increasingly well-known as an author and lecturer. Truly a “Renaissance man,” he developed a way of thinking that he applied to different aspects of what it means to be human. Over a period of 40 years, he formulated and taught anthroposophy, a path of inner development or spiritual research. From what he learned, he gave practical indications for nearly every field of human endeavor. His works include over 50 books and approximately 6,000 lectures on philosophy, the sciences, history, religion, medicine, agriculture, the arts, and education.
The foundations of Waldorf education were laid by Steiner in 1919. At the end of World War I, Emil Molt, director of the Waldorf Astoria Company in Stuttgart, Germany, asked Steiner to found a school for the factory workers’ children. Because of its philosophy and its innovative methods, the original Waldorf School quickly gained international recognition and inspired the establishment of new Waldorf schools in Germany and many other countries.
Waldorf Education approaches all aspects of schooling in a unique and comprehensive way. The curriculum is designed to meet the various stages of child development. Waldorf teachers are dedicated to creating a genuine inner enthusiasm for learning, that is essential for educational success. Waldorf education is based on a developmental approach that addresses the needs of the growing child, and Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child---the heart and the hands, as well as the head.
from the Haleakala Waldorf School, Kula, Hawai'i