(from: Waldorf Education Worldwide, pp. 24-31, Note the Copyright!)
The aims of Waldorf Schools are neither political nor economic, and they are certainly not ideological. Their quest for an understanding of the human being is not theoretical but concrete, i.e. it is existential. Although occasional dogmatic narrowness has to be admitted, the fact remains that the main characteristic of Waldorf Education throughout the twentieth century has been its search for a spiritual understanding of human beings and their development.
The foundation and expansion of Waldorf Schools
A t the beginning of the twenty-first century there are over 850 Waldorf Schools in 57 countries while the education as such is also practised in several more. Of all the schools, 790 were founded in the second half of the twentieth century, 740 not until the final third. In 1951 there were 24 schools in Germany, and between 1970 and 2000 the number increased by an annual average of 24.
An even clearer illustration of the foundation and expansion momentum in the final third of the century is provided by the following figures: During the 20 years from 1950 to 1970 the number of schools doubled from 50 to 100; in the 1970s it grew from 100 to 200; in the 1980s from 200 to 400, and in the 1990s from 400 to over 850.
Apart from this quantitative aspect, the continuity of the schools once they were founded is also remarkable. Educational projects draw on the future and do not live solely on their initial foundation. There are surprisingly few instances of closure. During the 1920s and 1930s school projects in Cologne and Essen, in Lisbon, Budapest and Oslo had to close in consequence of changing political circumstances. And the period when they were forbidden under the Nazis led to a sharp reduction (see Table 1).1
Apart from initiatives founded in recent years which of course still need to prove their durability, Waldorf School foundations have on the whole led to permanent school organizations. The foundation momentum has led to a development dynamic which has proved to be founded on continuity.
The available data also make it possible to determine the age structure of the school movement in the year 2000: 400 schools are aged between 1 and 10 years, 200 between 11 and 20, 100 between 21 and 30, 50 between 31 and 50, with the oldest between 51 and 81 years.
Leaving aside the size, the number of teachers or pupils, the location or the quality and reputation of individual schools, the figures themselves show that the interest of parents, teachers, friends and the pupils themselves to work or be educated in accordance with the Waldorf outlook increased continuously during the twentieth century and rapidly in its final third.
Motives behind foundation and expansion
What has brought about the momentum in the founding of the Waldorf Schools and their subsequent expansion? Why should what from today’s perspective is a relatively old idea - the first school was, after all, founded in 1919 - have met with such growing interest over the last 30 years? Has the basic idea of the Waldorf School changed as fundamentally as have virtually all other cultural values and institutions during the course of the twentieth century?
The fundamental questions and motives of Waldorf Education are the same today as they were in 1919. The figures make it obvious that the basic intentions from which the schools have emerged are felt by increasing numbers of people to be as topical as ever. In 1923 Rudolf Steiner characterized anthroposophical education as having the purpose of solving the problem of how to develop human beings through education; the Waldorf School was to be a “school which suited all human beings”.2 But the slogan was only the beginning. Steiner’s descriptions of the human being are complex, detailed and concrete. At teacher training establishments and in teacher faculties within the schools, work continues to this day in the endeavour to fathom all he had to say which can underpin the education. The most decisive aspect is that the yardsticks for the work in the schools are derived from an understanding of the human being, i.e. they rest on an anthropological foundation.
The aims of Waldorf Schools are neither political nor economic, and they are certainly not ideological. Their quest for an understanding of the human being is not theoretical but concrete, i.e. it is existential. Although occasional dogmatic narrowness has to be admitted, the fact remains that the main characteristic of Waldorf Education throughout the twentieth century has been its search for a spiritual understanding of human beings and their development. Against the background of inhumanity in that century, the failure of ideologies, the loss of illusions regarding the possibility of modifying the human being, it is understandable that a type of education which seeks in practical ways to understand human beings and their development should meet with increasing acceptance.
Another reason for the growing world-wide interest in Waldorf Education lies perhaps in the fact that any new developments arise entirely spontaneously out of personal initiative. There is no such thing as an “organization” that has set itself the goal of founding Waldorf Schools all over the place. Neither the individual schools themselves nor the “movement” as a whole can be planned or programmed. In every case it is those involved who simply “do” the school, bringing it to birth and shaping it anew day by day. Furthermore, the schools have no material advantages to offer. The majority of parents are faced with having to shoulder considerable financial burdens while the teachers, not being employees of the state, earn considerably less than their colleagues in mainstream education. Pupils in their turn do not emerge from an education that yields a reputable certificate likely on its own merit to open career doors for them. In fact, a Waldorf School is a risky enterprise for all those involved.
Above and beyond this a school’s method of self-administration makes heavy demands on parents, teachers and friends while not always being particularly efficient. It expects them all to join in thinking about how things should be done and be prepared to take on responsibilities. In this way qualities are practised and promoted which contribute to the way pupils are led into becoming full human beings - qualities which flow into the living reality of the school’s adult environment in non-explicit ways and thus all the more strongly affect the growing youngsters. The founding and carrying of a Waldorf School is always a matter of individual effort and collaboration among those directly involved while also calling for collaboration and understanding at national and international levels. Each school retains its autonomy and - however much it might resemble others - its own unmistakable character. By comparison with the situation a hundred years ago, there is now a far more concrete, radical and existential call for both individuals and freely formed groups to take initiatives and bear responsibility, and in this sense Waldorf Schools are addressing a real and increasingly urgent need of modern human beings.
In recent decades there has been an increasingly international dynamic in the founding of Waldorf Schools. Although this education first came into being in the German-speaking region where it has also undergone its greatest expansion, there has never been any particular need to adapt it to other cultures or those that are undergoing change. Experience has shown that in the way it approaches generally human aspects it “fits in” with all ethnicities and cultures. It seeks out the human being in someone from Kyrgyzstan, Japan or Australia, in a black African or a Swiss national, without negating what is specifically Kyrgyz, Japanese, Australian, black African or Swiss. People from any culture can work with Waldorf Education.
Although the first Waldorf School founded in Stuttgart in 1919 was intended to be an anthroposophical initiative for the children of workers at the Waldorf Astoria cigarette factory, it was from the outset never regarded as a school specifically for the children either of workers or of anthroposophists. Neither was it aimed at the particularly poor or particularly rich, nor at children who were intelligent or “stupid”. Unlike his contemporaries, Steiner regarded coeducation as essential. The point of departure was not people’s world view, their milieu, their capabilities or their gender, but simply their humanity with all its potential for development. His concept was of a general education in which future locksmiths, factory workers, physicians or lawyers would share the same classroom from Class 1 to Class 12 without any differentiation along the lines of superimposed achievement standards. It was this all-embracingly human and all-embracingly cultural point of departure which gave Waldorf Education its potential for the remarkable international expansion that began in the 1960s.
From the time of the early schools to 1945
Waldorf Education’s independence of national boundaries and also its capacity for taking account of regional, cultural elements have been made visible today by the expansion that has taken place, but these qualities were in fact present from the outset. Although Stuttgart was where it all began, Steiner also gave introductory courses on the education at Dornach and elsewhere in Switzerland as well as in Britain 3 and Holland.4 He also gave numerous single lectures in various towns such as Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, London, Stratfordon-Avon and Kristiania (Oslo), in fact wherever he was seriously asked to do so. The places where schools were founded in the 1920s and early 1930s reflect this initial situation:
1923 The Hague and Essen
1926 Basle, Budapest, Hanover, Kings Langley, Lisbon and Oslo
1927 Vienna and Zurich
1928 New York and Berlin
1929 Bergen and Dresden
1930 Breslau, Hamburg-Altona and Kassel.5
In 1926, seven years after the first foundation, there were 11 schools, 4 in Germany, 2 in Britain and 1 each in Holland, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and Hungary.
A further 9 were founded in the seven years leading up to 1933. Three initiatives had to close,6 so fourteen years after the first foundation there were 17 Waldorf Schools, 8 in Germany, 2 each in Britain, Norway and Switzerland, and 1 each in Holland, Austria and the USA.7
Its independence from state education systems is another intrinsic characteristic of Waldorf Education in addition to its independence from national boundaries. Of course the education authority of Württemberg was initially sceptical about the Stuttgart school. But after a thorough inspection in 1926 it not only withdrew the limit set on the induction of new pupils but also expressly stated “that this authority has a special educational interest in the continued existence of the Waldorf School”.8 After his visit, School Inspector Hartlieb published a 7-page detailed report in the Württemberg teachers’ journal of October 1926.9 Two short passages in that report not only represent a decisive step forward in early public acceptance but also show that a representative of the existing state education system was able to understand much of Steiner’s thinking on the subject and wanted to anticipate its inclusion in general education: “I am also optimistically hopeful that ...very many teachers will at least feel the wish to get to know the Waldorf School through a lively personal association with it and will want to form intimate links with this interesting school which has developed so promisingly in such a short time and which fascinates anyone who has once felt its lively pulse. One criterium that demonstrates the value and quality of a thing is, as we know, whether we in our turn improve personally and become more capable professionally through concerning ourselves with it. From this point of view I am all too sorry that I did not sooner have the good fortune of getting to know the Waldorf School both in the way it is run and in its psychological and educational foundations.”
Later in the report Inspector Hartlieb then commented on the possibility of bringing the fruits of Waldorf Education to bear in mainstream education: “I now feel able to say that my occupation with the Waldorf School has produced a valuable result in me in that ... I have taken a considerable step forward in coming closer to the spirit of the new state curriculum of Württemberg. For a 60-year-old, non-anthroposophical education official who is not involved in the Waldorf School, and whose orientation regarding teaching and method is in many respects different from that of its teachers, to make such a confession shows that he regards the Waldorf School and its ongoing development as being worthy of loving interest and concern on the part of the school authorities.”
Seven years later, in November 1933, a rather different note was struck, one which had significant repercussions in the international development of Waldorf Education. After a visit to the Stuttgart School the National Socialist Inspector of Schools declared the Waldorf School to be a foreign body in the National Socialist education system and concluded that the state would be obliged to “remove our young people, even against the wishes of their parents, from this Jewish-occult atmosphere.”10 Beginning in February 1934 strict obstacles to new intakes were in place “since the lessons and education in a Waldorf School do not accord with the principles of National Socialism and since it is unlikely that the teachers will be able to accept those principles on account of their devotion to the service of their anthroposophical ideal of education, which cannot be overlooked”. Forced and voluntary closures of Waldorf Schools in Germany took place from 1936 to 1941.11 The school in Vienna closed after Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938, and the school in The Hague shut its doors in 1941.
Many of the teachers emigrated to Switzerland, Britain or the USA where new schools were soon founded: in the USA the Kimberton Waldorf School (Pennsylvania) and High Mowing School (New Hampshire), and Wynstones School in Britain. The number of Waldorf Schools was reduced to 9 worldwide.12 The newly-founded and existing schools in the USA and Britain and the existing ones in Switzerland and Norway contributed to the survival of the movement as a whole. In addition many of the first generation of Waldorf teachers survived and there were also many former pupils and parents who began to hope for a new beginning after the end of Nazism and the Second World War.
Progress and international development from the Second World War until today
"Please help the children, they are without guilt." This call for help - no less valid throughout the world today - came from a destroyed Germany to the Waldorf Schools in the USA after the collapse of National Socialist terror. “Some of the children have only rags to wear and all are very hungry. I am asked for shirts for men, women and children...Undernourishment has become starvation.”13
A teacher described what happened when the first consignment of milk powder from the Rudolf Steiner School Association in the USA arrived at the Stuttgart school: “They contained so much milk-powder that all the pupils and teachers could have their cupful of milk every second day. Some of the teachers and most of the growingups had not had full-milk for six years. You, together with other kind givers, should have seen how these little ones of the first grade lapped up the sweet milk to the last drop like hungry kittens, whereas my ten-year-old pupils looked more like dreamy calves with their milk-bearded mouths. The older pupils realised deeply the social character of the gift. It symbolised mankind, of which they had not yet heard or believed much.”
Another letter from Stuttgart described the situation of the school in the autumn of 1946: “Since the Waldorf School, having now one thousand pupils, is absolutely unable to take on more pupils, a meeting was held and it was declared that it would be absolutely necessary to build up a second school before Easter next year. For this second school they already have 400 pupils.”
Many Waldorf teachers had been convinced that the closure of their schools during the Nazi period was merely an interruption. They were waiting for an opportunity to reopen the schools in a different political climate. The few foreign schools provided important conceptual as well as material support but it should not be forgotten that in many cases immediately after the war both teachers and parents received aid from the state education authorities as well, for they were grateful for any initiatives taken by individuals who were prepared to carry responsibility for education in those chaotic times.
When the first education conference took place in Stuttgart in mid-October 1945, the schools in Hanover, Hamburg-Wandsbek and Stuttgart had already reopened,14 while three more had been founded, at Engelberg, Marburg and Tübingen.15 In 1951, six years after the end of the war, Germany had 24 Waldorf Schools - triple the number that had existed prior to the closures forced by the Nazis. Many towns and cities also had parents and Waldorf associations willing to found schools, but there was a shortage of trained Waldorf teachers.
Although to this day Germany still has the greatest number, the importance of Waldorf Schools outside the country has increased continuously since the Second World War. Between 1945 and 1955, 4 more were founded in Britain, 3 each in Switzerland and the USA, 2 each in Denmark and France, and 1 each in Argentina and Brazil. In Norway the Oslo school reopened.
In the mid-1950s there were 62 schools world-wide, 53 in Europe and 9 in North and South America (see Table 1).
Over the last 25 years the founding impetus has been markedly greater outside Germany than within. In Australia, for example, the number has risen from 2 to 28 (a rate 19 times greater than in Germany), in Sweden from 3 to 41 (almost 14 times greater), and the impetus is hardly less in the other northern countries, the USA, Holland or Brazil, South Africa or Britain and Italy.
An even clearer picture of how Waldorf Schools are developing internationally is given by relating population figures to the number of schools. The following table shows how many thousand head of population a country has per school:16
New Zealand 235
Beside the countries “traditionally” associated with Waldorf Education, i.e. the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany (which has the greatest number although it occupies the tenth place as regards the density of schools per number of population17) we see that in addition to Scandinavia the whole of the Baltic region is open to this education, as are Australia and New Zealand. By contrast Spain, also in Europe, has only 2 and Portugal at present none, whereas the Ibero-American continent has 28. As regards the rest of southern Europe, the number in Italy stands out as having risen from 6 in 1992 to 20 in 2000. There are no Waldorf Schools in Greece or Turkey.
A relatively rapid spread of the education is noticeable in countries where Socialism formerly suppressed any independent school initiatives, but although the new political framework now makes such ventures possible, instances where they are supported by the state are the exception rather than the rule. One example is Romania, where the Ministry for Education is showing an interest in the development of Waldorf Education. Founding and maintaining a school in these countries is incomparably more difficult materially than in the democratic countries of the West. All the more impressive is the number of schools now existing in the Czech Republic (8), Hungary (17), the Ukraine (7), Romania (10) and Russia (26). Equally impressive is the fact that such schools also exist in Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia.
Visually the international rise in the number of Waldorf Schools is becoming increasingly noticeable on account of the considerable building activity the schools are generating. A documentation published in 1982 presented about one hundred completed buildings world-wide which give a good impression of the varied architecture an anthroposophical understanding of education can inspire.18
Teacher training is crucially important for the unfolding of Waldorf Education. In the 1920s and early 1930s responsibility for this lay in the hands of the teachers at the Stuttgart school. In the 1950s a further training seminar was established in Switzerland and the 1960s one each in England, Sweden and the USA. Thereafter the number rose in step with the spread of the schools.
At present there are 65 teacher training establishments in 27 countries. In fact there are now more training seminars than there were Waldorf Schools in the middle of the twentieth century. The following list shows the foundation year, location and country of a number of such establishments:19
1951 Stuttgart (Germany)
1953 Dornach (Switzerland)
1962 Forest Row (Great Britain)
1967 Spring Valley (USA)
1968 Göteborg (Sweden)
1971 Melbourne (Australia), Chatou (France)
1972 Northridge (USA)
1973 Witten-Annen (Germany)
1974 Nuremberg (Germany)
1975 The Hague (Holland)
1976 Fair Oaks (US), Edinburgh (Great Britain)
1977 Skanderborg (Denmark)
1978 Mannheim (Germany)
1980 Zurich and Berne (Switzerland), Helsinki (Finland)
1981 Oslo (Norway), Antwerp (Belgium)
1982 Hertfordshire (Great Britain), Wilton (USA), Havelock North (New Zealand)
1983 London (Great Britain), Kassel (Germany), Vienna (Austria)
1984 Toronto (Canada)
1988 Hamburg and Kiel (Germany), Basle (Switzerland)
1989 San Francisco (USA)
1990 Eugene (USA), Berlin (Germany)
1991 Bucharest (Romania), Moscow and St Petersburg (Russia), Detroit / Ann Arbor (USA), Solymár (Hungary)
1992 Chicago (USA), Exmouth (Great Britain), Cape Town (South Africa)
1996 Duncan (Canada)
1997 Honolulu (USA)
2000 Greenwich and York (Great Britain)
Since the 1920s international exchanges of experience between Waldorf teachers, the schools and the teacher training establishments and also a degree of coordination within the movement have been sought and practised in various modes of collaboration. Attempts were made in 1926 to found a “World School Association” but this was never realized. Apart from this the original Stuttgart school and the foundation advisory group set up after the Second World War by the Federation of Independent Waldorf Schools have to date played the main part. They were joined in 1971 by the Friends of Waldorf Education which supports and advises on Waldorf Education outside Germany, and in 1970 by the Hague Circle, an international advisory organ which brings together representatives of national Waldorf School associations. Since the end of the 1970s the Education Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum has gained in importance at the conceptual, spiritual rather than the operative level.
Figures and tables - essential for gaining an overview - make it easy to forget that behind every educational initiative or school foundation there is energetic personal involvement by individuals and groups. Everywhere in the world they face educational questions and are moved by the misfortune and distress of children and youngsters while through encountering Waldorf Education they discover ways and means of setting about taking action.20 Initiatives have developed in the favelas of Sao Paolo, in the townships of South Africa, on an Indian reservation in South Dakota, in Kenya, Namibia or Nepal, in Taiwan or Thailand, to name but a few. The fact that Waldorf Education is practised there but also in Japan, Israel, Egypt or India is raising the challenging question as to its identity. How can this education maintain its identity and continue to develop while taking root in such widely differing regions and cultures of the world? Is it perhaps the case that it need not assert its identity over against other cultures because its spiritually cosmopolitan streak is the essential ingredient in that identity? Will this come increasingly to the fore in the future as the current trend of expansion continues to develop?
The figures we have compiled provide no information as to the success or failure of Waldorf Education in the twentieth century. In the last resort its successes can only be measured by the yardstick of its achievements. But the achievements of a type of education can only become recognizable in the long term. Today’s expansion of Waldorf Education is a sign of its success in so far as it describes an effect of the work carried out in the few schools that existed in the decades between 1920 and 1950: so many Waldorf Schools exist today because the education proved itself to be meaningful and fruitful before the tremendous growth spurt it underwent during the final third of the last century.
Differentiation within Waldorf Education: kindergartens and curative, socially therapeutic establishments
Rudolf Steiner’s educational perspectives were not restricted to full schools providing a general education although these formed the starting point and main emphasis. In a logical progression, pre-school education and special needs education developed in parallel.
In 1924 a kindergarten was established within the first Stuttgart school, while as early as 1920 there had already been a so-called “special class” which catered for children of various ages who had developmental problems. In addition, children with learning difficulties were cared for in an annexe to the anthroposophical clinic at Arlesheim, Switzerland. Steiner gave a course of lectures on curative education in June 1924 at the request of some teachers.21 The current ongoing work in anthroposophical curative and social therapeutic establishments rests on the suggestions he made in those lectures. Although the kindergarten work did not really begin until after the Second World War, a number of anthroposophical curative institutions existed at various locations in the 1920s and 1930s. Here, too, the real expansion did not begin until the second half of the twentieth century.
Although the available figures do show the extent of anthroposophical curative education and social therapy, the great variety of developments cannot be deduced from Table 3.
Some of the establishments cater for a specific age range, i.e. they deal exclusively either with children or young adults or adults. Others comprise two or all three of these age ranges. Caring for people with special needs does not really come within the orbit of Waldorf Education as such because communal living situations have to fulfil quite other conditions and requirements than do establishments for children or youngsters. However, there are strong links between the two as regards their spiritual and anthropological origins, so it does seem legitimate to include establishments for adults with special needs under the umbrella of anthroposophical education in the wider sense.
As far as the figures go, however, they do not differentiate between day schools attended by internal and/or external pupils, sheltered workshops, homes and communal living set-ups. The increasingly important aspect of anthroposophically-based care in the community for people with disabilities does not show in the figures at all.
Finally, from about the middle of the twentieth century onwards it has become increasingly difficult in many cases to distinguish between children whose needs are “normal” and those who have “special” needs. As early as the 1950s some Waldorf Schools set up special classes to help those with borderline requirements, and the variety of such initiatives has been on the increase ever since.
The figures for recent decades clearly show a steady growth in public awareness of the fact that people with disabilities, i.e. those who do not conform to what current culture regards as the “norm”, need help to live a dignified life. This has led to a degree of recognition that both general and also anthroposophically oriented care is a task that falls to the responsibility of the community at large. Consequently, public funding in this area is considerably greater than that for “normal” education. In the second half of the twentieth century society discovered that people with disabilities have the right to develop their full human potential.22
Eight “curative and educational establishments for children and youngsters in need of special soul care” which worked on the basis of anthroposophy existed in Germany during the 1920s and 1930s. Due to certain astonishing circumstances these survived the Nazi measures aimed at “the annihilation of life not worth living”. One such circumstance were the courageous sermons preached during the summer of 1941 by the Catholic Bishop of Münster, Clemens August Count von Galen, which are known to have persuaded those in power to call a halt to their destructive measures for some time.23 Some of the anthroposophical homes were requisitioned by the army or by the Nazi organization that sent children to rural areas for holidays. But without a single exception those being cared for there were saved by the circumspect and cautious actions of their carers.24
Towards the end of the 1930s the anthroposophical physician Karl König emigrated from Austria to Scotland where he founded what later became the Camphill Movement which initiated the care of special needs adults in village communities.
After the war, when anthroposophical work in the curative field recommenced in Germany, only rudimentary progress was possible in what became the German Democratic Republic, whereas the work developed rapidly in West Germany and in many other countries.
As with the Waldorf Schools, establishments working on the basis of anthroposophy in curative education and social therapy world-wide increased rapidly in number during the second half, but especially in the final third of the twentieth century. There were 112 establishments in 1964, 194 in 1974, 382 in 1995, 509 in 1998, 534 in 2000.
Outside Europe there are noticeably fewer anthroposophical curative establishments (only 55, or barely 10%, of the 534 world-wide) compared with Waldorf Schools (30%) or kindergartens (26%). In recent years, however, a turnaround in development has begun, especially in Brazil and the USA, but also in the Scandinavian countries, Holland, Germany and Switzerland. Apart from the last two, where public awareness about anthroposophical curative education already existed in the 1960s and 1970s, activity in the field only began to unfold more rapidly in other European countries from the 1980s and especially the 1990s onwards.
In view of developments over the last 20 years, the need to train workers in anthroposophical curative education and social therapy establishments has also grown. To date there are 74 centres in 19 countries offering a wide variety of trainings. Since 1979 individual initiatives, institutes, training centres and associations working with anthroposophical curative education have collaborated under the umbrella of the Assembly for Curative Education and Social Therapy within the Medical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum in Switzerland.
Pre-school education and kindergartens only came to the fore as an issue during the second half of the twentieth century when a general shift in cultural and social perceptions began to lead to young children being given less and less scope for development. During the 1960s it became obvious that modern civilization - with its technology and media as well as its early-learning ideologies - was beginning to restrict child development especially in the earliest years. Not only were the requirements for proper development becoming less well fulfilled, but development possibilities were being reduced and their very existence threatened in some situations. This resulted in a sudden growth in interest in Waldorf Kindergartens which has lasted beyond the end of the century.
There are now over 1600 Waldorf Kindergartens world-wide. Until the 1960s it was usual for kindergartens to develop near existing schools, but this tendency has since become reversed so that now as children move up in a kindergarten the need arises to found a school to cater for their future needs. However, since far greater resources are needed to found and then further develop a school, it was not always possible to do this, so that soon the number of kindergartens overtook that of schools.
In 1969 the kindergartens combined to form the International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens, and growth has continued to increase since the 1970s. In 1978 there were about 240, in 1988 over 600. A year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, one kindergarten was inaugurated in Budapest. In 1994 there were 1043 kindergartens and in 2000 the figure had risen to 1675 (see Table 2).25 The International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens promotes and structures regional and international collaboration in the form of advisory services, general or specialist conferences, and by organizing exchanges of experience, thus bringing greater efficiency to the movement. One point of emphasis is the promotion and coordination of training for kindergarten teachers. In 1994, 25 years after the founding of the International Association there were 40 training and further training establishments for Waldorf Education in the pre-school years in 23 countries.
As with the schools, the building projects undertaken by the kindergarten movement are remarkable. Of course a kindergarten can begin and even continue its work in minimal premises. But over the years it has become obvious that they really do require a specific style of architecture, and this has been developing over the decades - often hand in hand with school projects.26
Recent developments arising out of the Waldorf movement have been political initiatives aimed at increasing public awareness of the right to childhood as one of the fundamental human rights.
Finally, the Alliance for Childhood founded in the USA in 1999 and the cooperation of the Friends of Waldorf Education with UNESCO are examples of enterprises which strive to realize the type of social interaction without which neither Waldorf Schools nor curative establishments nor Waldorf Kindergartens will be able to do their work for humanity at large which is becoming increasingly necessary in the culture of today.27
BODO VON PLATO
For earlier documentation on the international development of Waldorf Education, curative education and social therapy, see inter alia:
• Norbert Deuchert Die Anfänge einer internationalen Schulbewegung. Waldorf- und Rudolf-Steiner-Schulen 1919-1945, Federation of Independent Waldorf Schools, Advent 1985, p.74-95. (The beginnings of an international school movement. Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner Schools 1919–1945. German only.)
• Waldorfschule heute. 70 Jahre Waldorf-Pädagogik, “Erziehungskunst” 8/9, 1989.
• C. Pietzner (Editor), A Candle on the Hill: Images of Camphill Life. 1990
• H.-J. Mattke (Ed.) Waldorf Education Worldwide, Stuttgart 1994
• Seelenpflege in Heilpädagogik und Sozialtherapie, report of a meeting of delegates at the Goetheanum, October 1997. (English and German)
b.1941 in Danzig, Germany. Studied Germanics and Economics at Freiburg im Breisgau and Paris. Upper school teacher at the Verrièrele-Buisson Rudolf Steiner School, Paris. Work with special needs young people at Reutlingen, Germany. Freelance work at the Friedrich-von-Hardenberg-Institut für Kulturwissenschaft at Heidelberg, Germany. From 1995, responsible for establishing and directing the Archives of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum at Dornach, Switzerland.
Bodo von Plato
b.1958 at Bad Bevensen, Germany. Worked with severely disabled adults. Studied History, Philosophy and Waldorf Education. Upper school teacher at the Verrièrele-Buisson Rudolf Steiner School, Paris. From 1989 responsible for establishing and directing the Forschungsstelle Kulturimpuls at the Friedrich-von-Hardenberg-Institut für Kulturwissenschaft at Heidelberg, Germany. From 2001, member of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum at Dornach, Switzerland.