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New Social Foundations for Education

Education in 'Post Secular' Society

Edited By Philip Wexler and Yotam Hotam

There has been growing scholarly attention to questions about the revival of religion and religiosity on global social, cultural and political fronts and the emergence of a ‘post-secular’ society. New Social Foundations for Education is dedicated to the drawing of the implications of the contemporary ‘post-secular’ social transformation for education. Though the question of the ‘post-secular’ stands at the focal point of a wide range of academic debates and discussions, within educational discourse it has not received close scholarly attention. This volume aims to correct this lack by presenting groundbreaking works of leading scholars from Europe, the United States, and the Middle East. Contributions discuss such topics as the mystical tradition and its social and pedagogic implications; transformative and ecological education; ‘new age’ spiritualism and its educational implications; and the relations between secular and religious education in different local contexts.
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5. Pedagogy, Spirituality, and Curricular Design in Waldorf Education


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5. Pedagogy, Spirituality, and Curricular Design in Waldorf Education


Since its foundation in 1919, Waldorf education has become a well-established and recognized pedagogical alternative adopted by a wide range of schools, educational institutes, and organizations around the world, “from Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States to Brazil, Argentina, Japan and India” (Uhrmacher, 1995: 381–406). In some places—such as Germany—it even constitutes the second largest independent schooling system after the church-sponsored system (Zander, 2008: 1). It began as Rudolf Steiner’s enthusiastic response to a request to open a school in a Stuttgart Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory run by a German industrialist by the name of Emil Malt, in which 256 students—primarily children of the factory workers—were enrolled in eight grades. Its educational ideology was a direct outcome of Steiner’s philosophy, to which he gave the name Anthroposophy and regarded as a form of spiritual science. Being specifically devised to reflect its founder’s unembarrassed spiritual predisposition, it integrated explicitly religious dimensions into theories of human development and pedagogy. One of the most prominent expressions of this direction was its emphasis upon artistic expression—drawing, singing, playing, and dancing—as ways of promoting spiritual growth.

Given its strong spiritual overtones, it comes as little surprise that Waldorf education remains a controversial type of schooling. The community of educators as a whole, in fact, appears to be largely ignorant of the method (Uhrmacher, 1995: 381–382; Zander,...

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