Steiner or Waldorf education is a humanistic approach to pedagogy based on the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy.

The first Steiner school was founded in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany. Steiner created it at the request of Emil Molt, owner of Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company, to serve the children of the factory's workers.

At present there are over 4,000 Steiner schools located in 60 countries. In Hong Kong, there are 2 international and 2 local kindergartens and 1 international primary school. There are also several groups of parents working on the establishment of local Waldorf primary schools. We have collected their information in a directory on our website.

Pedagogical theory

The educational philosophy's overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence.

Steiner's division of child development into three major stages is reflected in the schools' approach to early childhood education, which focuses on practical, hands-on activities and creative play; to elementary education, which focuses on developing artistic expression and social capacities; and to secondary education, which focuses on developing critical reasoning and empathic understanding.

Photo courtesy of Highgate House School
Photo courtesy of Highgate House School ©

Early childhood education

Steiner believed that the intellectual development of children must be balanced by the nurturing of their life force. This is especially important for young children, as early learning is profoundly connected to the child’s own physical body and sensory experience. Everything he sees, hears, and touches has an effect. Thus a clean, orderly, beautiful, quiet setting is essential. When toys are used, they are made of natural materials. The use of electronic media is discouraged. Adults should speak and sing in a peaceful manner to foster a warm and loving environment.

Photo courtesy of Highgate House School ©

Introductory books on Steiner education

Steiner education in the world

Anthroposophy and its practical applications

Anthroposophy (meaning “wisdom of the human being” or “consciousness of one’s humanity”) was defined by its founder, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) as “a path of knowledge, to guide the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe.”

Steiner considered anthroposophy to be a science of the spirit, and a necessary complement to natural science.

The philosophical foundation of the Waldorf approach, anthroposophy, have been applied practically in many areas in addition to education. It has spawned the Camphill movement (special education), biodynamic agriculture, medicine, ethical banking, organizational development, and the arts.

Photo courtesy of the Goetheanum ©