10 lectures, Dornach & Stuttgart, Apr. 23 – Aug. 17, 1919 (CW 296, 192, 330/331)
These radical lectures were given one month before the opening of the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart—following two years of intense preoccupation with the social situation in Germany as World War I ended and society sought to rebuild itself.
Well aware of the dangerous tendencies present in modern culture that undermine a true social life—psychic torpor and boredom, universal mechanization, and growing cynicism—Steiner recognized that any solution for society must address not only economic and legal issues but also that of a free spiritual life.
Steiner also saw the need to properly nurture in children the virtues of imitation, reverence, and love at the appropriate stages of development in order to create mature adults who are inwardly prepared to fulfill the demands of a truly healthy society—adults who are able to assume the responsibilities of freedom, equality, and brotherhood.
Relating these themes to an understanding of the human as a threefold being of thought, feeling, and volition, and against the background of historical forces at work in human consciousness, Steiner lays the ground for a profound revolution in the ways we think about education.
Also included here are three lectures on the social basis of education, a lecture to public school teachers, and a lecture to the workers of the Waldorf Astoria Cigarette Company, after which they asked him to form a school for their children.
German sources: Die Erziehungsfrage als soziale Frage (GA 296); lectures 4, 5, and 6, the "Volkspädagogik" lectures in Geisteswissenschaftliche Behandlung sozialer und pädagogischer Fragen (GA 192); lectures 2 and 11, Neugestaltung des sozialen Organismus (GA 330–331).
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.
Robert F. Lathe has translated several books by Rudolf Steiner on Anthroposophy and Waldorf education