Presidential Scholars Theses (1990 – 2006)


Open Access Presidential Scholars Thesis

First Advisor

Melissa L. Heston


Waldorf method of education;


Due to its strong emphasis on spiritual development in conjunction with physical and cognitive development, Rudolf Steiner's educational philosophy and its role in Waldorf schools have been relegated to relative obscurity within the educational establishment. Steiner's theories have been perceived as too radical and unusual for incorporation into traditional educational practices. However, upon closer examination, the organizational structure of Steiner's developmental theory bears significant similarities to better-known models of human development. For example, the division of children's cognitive growth into a hierarchical series of stages is also found in Piaget's celebrated model of human development. Furthermore, parallel revelations concerning children's cognitive abilities can be noted in both models. In terms of moral development, Steiner's views concerning moral education are echoed in Kohlberg's conclusions; both Steiner and Kohlberg advocate a pervasive, universal perspective in methods of moral instruction. However, although similarities between Steiner and the two cognitive theorists exist, Steiner extends his theory beyond the inherently cognitive structures of Piaget and Kohl berg to embrace spirituality and a holistic conception of the child. Waldorf education's anonymity is the result of this infusion of spirituality into pedagogy. Yet, amidst both the ongoing social debates concerning conventional educational practices and parents' continuing quest for quality schools and alternative forms of education, Waldorf education, firmly founded upon Steiner's theory of human development, warrants academic acknowledgment and practical exploration.

Date of Award



Department of Educational Psychology and Foundations

Presidential Scholar Designation

A paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation Presidential Scholar


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this Presidential Scholars thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit an email request to Include your name and clearly identify the thesis by full title and author as shown on the work.

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (38 pages)

Date Digital



©2000 Sara Wright





File Format