Open Access Presidential Scholars Thesis
Melissa L. Heston
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
1 PDF file (38 pages)
©2000 - Sara Wright
Wright, Sara, "The evolving child: Theories of human development in Waldorf education" (2000). Presidential Scholars Theses (1990 – 2006). 154.