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Home: Freunde Waldorf

A Subterranean River Seeking a Way to the Surface

(from: Waldorf Education Worldwide, pp. 68-69, Note the Copyright!)

In the 1970s when Franco’s regime was drawing its final breaths (his dictatorship lasted from 1936 to 1975) only a few individuals in Madrid and the Canaries had heard of anthroposophy and Waldorf Education. People interested in the subject still had to meet in secret, and no works by Rudolf Steiner were to be found on bookshop shelves in Spain. This may sound strange today, but that political situation coupled with old religious traditions provided the environment of early Waldorf efforts in Spain.

Spain has changed so much over the past 20 years that what went before now seems like a bad dream of past times. But the generations born since the middle of the twentieth century bear the stamp of those times, so many are looking hopefully to the young people of Spain who have grown up since the end of the Franco regime.

A Waldorf Kindergarten planned while the Franco regime was still in force

The first Spanish Waldorf Kindergarten was opened in the spring of 1979 by Karen Armbruster and Heidi Bieler. A German-Spanish family had donated a plot of land with a small house needing many repairs. With the help of the International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens in Stuttgart and many other friends that little house became the home of the first Waldorf Kindergarten. It now houses five kindergarten groups and from it grew the first Waldorf School in 1990. It is difficult to fulfil public conditions for recognition of Waldorf Kindergartens in Spain. The curriculum for mainstream Spanish crèches and pre-school children is very different from that of Waldorf Education so it is difficult to establish the work.

But the Waldorf impulse is growing in Spain nonetheless. Madrid now has a Waldorf School reaching from Class 1 to Class 10, and ten kindergartens. In Barcelona there are two kindergartens, and Alicante, Majorca, Gran Canaria, La Palma, Tenerife and Lanzarote have one each, with a playgroup at Vitoria. Madrid and Tenerife each have a curative education establishment.

State recognition for the Waldorf teacher training seminar

The Rudolf Steiner Foundation has been organizing teacher training since 1990. The Centre for Waldorf Teacher Training in Madrid is about to be granted state recognition. There is also a kindergarten seminar in Madrid and an introductory course in Barcelona.

The Waldorf School in Madrid is recognized by the state and is able to issue school reports and certificates. It has a good relationship with the various Ministries, and inspectors and other officials appreciate Waldorf Education. Unfortunately, however, the school has not succeeded in attaining the type of recognition that would lead to financial support by the state as this would jeopardize educational freedom and make it possible to apply the Waldorf curriculum only in a very limited way.

Creating links between people

Waldorf Education has gradually become more known in Spain in recent years, initially through personal recommendation from parent to parent, but then also through books, media coverage as well as lectures and courses at teacher training colleges all over Spain.

The exhibition on Waldorf Education mounted by the Friends of Waldorf Education which toured Spain and Portugal in 1998 was opened by the deputy Minister for Education and supported by public bodies. The exhibition was also shown in Barcelona and Alicante.

Excellent relationship with its environment

In 1999 the Madrid Waldorf School was selected by a group of sociological researchers at Madrid University as the school with the best relationships with its local environment. The sources of this information were the Ministry for Education, the mayoral office of the region in which the school is situated, and the school inspectors. This resulted in the school being taken as an example to other schools, so it had to fill in long questionnaires in order to explain the way it works. Other schools are now also being encouraged to cultivate links with their locality in the same way.

The Madrid Waldorf School is a UNESCO Associated School

The pupils of the Madrid Waldorf School participate in sporting events with pupils from 20 other schools in the region. In 2001 there will be a gathering of upper-school pupils from 8 different schools including some from very poor, socially despised parts of the city and children of immigrants at which they will talk openly about human rights. In July 2001 representatives of the Madrid Waldorf School will join in a meeting with 250 UNESCO Associated Schools in Spain at which they have been invited to give an introductory course on Waldorf Education.

As are all Waldorf Schools, the Madrid school is keen to demonstrate openness to and interest in related establishments and the social surroundings within which it is situated.

Curative education

The situation regarding curative education is anything but simple in Spain. The country is endeavouring to conform to the European Community’s arrangements for organizations in the social arena, and this makes it impossible to design different types of establishment for the disabled which would fit in well with existing types. The state is intending to provide only a restricted range, and anything else will have to be privately set up. Nevertheless it is good to note that the Taller Rafael Curative Establishment in Madrid-Pozuela has thus far succeeded in remaining open. There is an ongoing process of alternating adaptation and organizational change.


Antonio Malagón Golderos
Founder teacher of the Madrid Waldorf School. Built up the Rudolf Steiner publishing house in Madrid. Lecturer.