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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 2007, Vol. 13 #1: The Moral Reasoning of High School Seniors from Diverse Educational Settings

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The impetus for my topic arose from personal observations made while my two daughters attended the Haleakala Waldorf School on Maui, Hawaii. During that time I was employed as a school psychologist and had daily contact with students from a number of diverse educational settings. The differences I observed between my daughters (and their Waldorf school classmates) and students in other settings puzzled and intrigued me.

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Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1: Can Moral Principles Be Taught?

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This article is extracted and abbreviated from a chapter in Octave, a new book by Magda Lissau published in November 2007 by AWSNA Publications.

Pedagogy will bear fruit especially when the virtues of courage and moderation will be seen in the right light. These virtues need to be considered individually by educating children in such a way that they will retreat gradually from creating sorrows for themselves.1

Rudolf Steiner speaks several times of virtues related to morality, virtues that were already recognized in antiquity, for instance by Plato.2 Steiner describes these virtues and connects them with human physiology, for the constitution of the physical body itself has been endowed with the potential of serving human beings in developing morality. One aspect of helping parents and teachers to help children
develop a moral outlook is to understand how the human constitution is related to these virtues, because the physical body in its essence supports the essentially human, which, by its nature, is inherently moral.

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Octave is available as an ebook on this website.

Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1: Transformative Education and the Right to an Inviolate Childhood

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Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s earliest memory reaches back to when he was three years old. He was brought into a room by his governess and asked, in the presence of some guests, to say his evening prayers. Kneeling before the icon he began, “Dear Mother! God, all my hope is in Thee—give me shelter under Thy wing.” This prayer he never forgot. He taught it to his own children and repeated it throughout his life.1
This event, from the early decades of the nineteenth century, is far removed from the experience of most children of today. A deep-seated attitude of reverence, nurtured and developed in the early years, is for nearly all the world’s children a thing of the past. The tensions and turbulence of our times leave little space for such attitudes to be fostered. Hence the growing debates about spiritual values in education and the raising of children have become important aspects of current concern.

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Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1: The Riddle of Teacher Authority: Its Role and Significance in Waldorf Education

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The following excerpts examine the relationship of Steiner’s concept of teacher authority to the modern
world. The second half of the paper (not included here) examines Steiner’s work and the work of others on teacher authority specifically in Waldorf school classrooms.

The diverse nature and rapid pace of change in many areas over the last eighty years technological, geopolitical, social, and economic, to name some—are key elements in a discussion of teacher authority. The dynamics of change raise questions concerning the continuing relevance of the concept of authority itself.

While Waldorf education continues to identify the concept of teacher authority as a guiding principle in the education of the child between the ages of 7 and 14,1 the term is rarely included in writing in the wider educational community. There are several possible reasons for this: the waning of formal position and status in society over the last hundred years; the growth of progressive, liberal ideas in social and economic policy; the emergence of concepts of non-hierarchical forms of management and organization, the development of political and legal frameworks for the progressive realization of universal human rights, and respect for the dignity of the individual. Against this mosaic of developments, the term “authority” has tended to be associated, rightly or wrongly, with outmoded concepts of power, position, and patronage.

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Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1: Religious and Moral Education in the Light of Spiritual Science

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The following is excerpted from a lecture given by Rudolf Steiner at the Hague on November 4, 1922. It
appears for the first time in English translation as part of a collection entitled
Education, Teaching, and the
Practical Life (available from AWSNA Publications).

An artistic element, I might call it a mood of piety toward the human essence, belongs in education, in teaching. This is particularly the case if we direct our gaze at the religious and moral education we want to bestow on the child. And here anthroposophical spiritual science shows us that especially when it comes to the religious and moral element, there is something in the human time-body that is of great significance for the life span on earth of the entire human being. If one can recognize the small child’s mood as that of an essentially imitative being imitating the outer world, and if we can put ourselves in this mood, the only way to characterize it is this—the child is completely open to the outer world; the child gets lost in the outer world. Just as the eye loses itself in the outer world of color, the outer world of light, so too the child loses itself in the outer world. The inner world dawns in the child only gradually. Specific mental representations emerge little by little out of dreams, which still completely live and weave in the
outer world.

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Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1: Work of the Research Fellows

Profits and Paradigms, Morality and Medicine by Philip Incao M.D.
We often hear and read today about moral lapses in medical practice and in medical research. In “Corporate Greed Infects Medicine,” Richard Fried states, “It never fails to amaze me how cheaply doctors can be bought.”1 In recent years several books have detailed the corruption of medical research by the lure of profits. In his book Science in the Private Interest, Sheldon Krimsky shows us that the prime driver of scientific research today is the hope of commercial gain, and not the pursuit of “pure science” as it once was. Academic and research institutions are no longer in a protected ivory tower but are increasingly influenced by the profit motive of our economy. 2
In his 1920 lecture, “Hygiene as a Social Issue,” Rudolf Steiner warned: “If the profit motive continues to prevail in our economic sphere, then the economic will become master over the spiritual [sphere]. This must not happen!”3 Sadly, this is precisely what is happening, and not only in medicine and scientific research, but increasingly in education, too, which presents a serious challenge to Waldorf schools. Education and medicine belong to the spiritual sphere of the social organism and, in order to function in a health-giving way, they must remain as free as possible from political and economic influences.

Visions of Peace: Joining Tibet and Hawai‘i in Social Exchange by Michael Mancini
Waldorf education is based on the principle that education should make possible healthy changes in society, often referred to as “social renewal.” What does social renewal look like today? Surely it is different than it was at the time of the founding of the first Waldorf school in 1919. As well, it may differ depending on our location on the planet, influenced by our cultural surroundings. I continue to discover that the specific needs for social renewal change and evolve, based as they are on our sense of culture and place. In Hawai‘i, where I live, the needs for social change are evident because a reviving indigenous people and culture are surrounded by a wave of modern technological advancements.

" A Still Small Voice": Three Tools for Teaching Morality by Patrice Maynard
Stories full of powerful and beautiful images build a child’s imagination. Artistic practice in digesting experiences of the world builds a child’s idealism with inspiration and a yearning to make the world more beautiful. Moral adults, who work on inner strength and self-development, give children these activities of self-discipline and self development to emulate. As they emulate they build their intuition and sense the rightness and beauty of life on earth. These three—stories, artistic practice, and self-discipline—make a gallant start in understanding the teaching of morality to children. These can build the moral capacity of children more deeply and effectively than any lesson on moral living or cartoon about “Goofus.” They speak to a child’s developing awareness of his or her own “still small voice” and engage a child’s yearnings to be good.

From Virtue to Love by Arthur Zajonc
Around 1300 the Catholic Church faced a moral dilemma. One of its most pious members, Margarete Porete, had written a book in which she described her dramatic conversion from a parishioner in the “Little Church” of obedience to the “Great Church” of Love. As a consequence of learning to “love Love,” she wrote: “Virtues, I take leave of you for evermore. Now my heart will be freer and more at  peace than it has been.” In other words, Porete sought to live the maxim of Augustine, “Love, and do what you will.” The conventional moral teachings and rules of the Church were no longer binding on her. She was a moral universe unto herself through her direct and loving relationship to God. Her every action would be right and true not because it was endorsed by the ecclesiastical hierarchy of the Church but because it flowed directly from her union with Love.

Autumn 2007, Vol. 13 #1: Reports from Current Projects of the Research Institute

"Teaching Sensible Science" Heads West by Michael D'Aleo
In October 2007 a new cycle of the “Teaching Sensible Science” course––the first on the West Coast––began at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California. Present were 18 experienced class teachers from British Columbia, California, Colorado, Oregon, and the state of Washington. This group represents the largest enrollment to date in the program, now in its third cycle.

News From the Online Waldorf Library by Marianne Alsop

Spring 2007, Vol. 12 #2

Included in this issue are:

Report from the Co-Directors by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin
From the Editor by Stephen Sagarin
Standing Out Without Standing Alone: Profile of Waldorf School Graduates by Douglas Gerwin and David Mitchell
Reading in Waldorf Schools, Part 3 - Beginning in Sound and Form
by Arthur Auer
Living Language in Waldorf Education
by Helen Lubin
Anthroposophy and the Riddle of the Soul
by Rudolf Steiner
Playing "Steiner Says": Twenty Myths about Waldorf Education
by Stephen Sagarin
New Research on the Power of Play
by Susan Howard
High-Stakes Testing
by Eugene Schwartz
Rethinking the Waldorf High School: Two European Examples
by David Mitchell
Teaching Science Through Experience and Discernment: Teaching Sensible Science,
An Interview with Michael D'Aleo
The Online Waldorf Library
by Marianne Alsop
Schools for the Future: Meeting the Needs of the Children in the New Millennium
by Michael Mancini
Mathematics and Memory
by Lori MacKinder
Excerpts from:"Tilling the Soil of the European Higher Education Area"
by John Burnett



Spring, 2007 Vol. 12 #2: Report from the Co-Directors

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The Survey of Waldorf Graduates, Phase II, has consumed our attention this year. We gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) Board of Trustees and the AWSNA Delegates. We have been invited to make presentations at several Waldorf schools in North America. We will hold seminars at this summer’s AWSNA Teachers’ Conference at the Highland Hall Waldorf School in California, and at a gathering of world leaders in Waldorf education next autumn at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. You may download electronic copies of the Survey, the Abstract of the Survey, and the PowerPoint presentation from either of the Research Institute’s web sites, or You may purchase a hard copy of the full survey from AWSNA Publications by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We are enthusiastic about our continued collaboration with research centers in Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand. One joint project will examine the effects of high-stakes testing on children. The project’s immediate goals are to provide Waldorf school communities, and a wider audience, with an up-to-date, comprehensive summary of the known effects on children of testing and to build a clear picture of educational assessment that does not use testing.

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Spring, 2007 Vol. 12 #2: From the Editor

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As I write, we are enjoying April snows and flooded streams here in New England; nothing balmy about it. An inner balminess blows through many of the articles in this issue of the Bulletin, however, and that will suffice for now. Reading through the contents this season, it is striking how our writers refresh our engagement with Waldorf education. We present here a spring cleaning, if you will, or at least some directions for how to find one. Enjoy the balm.

Arthur Auer, continuing his series on teaching reading, expands our understanding of Steiner’s work, calling our attention to the various modes—too easily smothered by simply drawing pictures for each letter—by which Steiner pictured the teaching of writing and reading. Running and playing in the mud (or clay) do as well as beautiful beeswax crayon drawings to reinvigorate children as they learn the dull conventions by which we adults communicate.

In a report on her work as a speech artist and teacher, Helen Lubin details the ways in which speech supports, informs, and revives our work in Waldorf schools from early years through high school and into teacher education. In particular, she notes objective and subjective elements present in all speech, poles between which individuals mediate experience of the world and communication occurs.
A centerpiece of this issue is a summary report of the Research Institute’s Survey of Waldorf Graduates by Douglas Gerwin and David Mitchell. The authors’ clear presentation of significant data on Waldorf school graduates serves to dust away cobwebs of false belief—for instance, that Waldorf students don’t “do” science—and adds color to a picture of who it is we have been teaching all these years.

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