Waldorf Education and the Adolescent

“He who puts himself in someone else’s hands to be educated offers the greatest possible sacrifice, namely, himself, all his gifts and his entire future. He therefore has the right to demand that through the teacher his self be returned to him Indeed, the condition of this apparent self-relinquishment is that he become stronger and true to himself, so that he may live out his original, natural destiny and his freedom of choice more securely and happily. Thus education should neither give nor take, but simply guide man back to his true nature, which, in turn, is revealed only by his liberal education. Education is the revelation of the creator’s divine love for the human race. Only God can truly teach, and true education is nothing but releasing and freeing. There is more at stake here than mere earthly life and routine existence, more than mere property, liberty and honor.”

~Paul Vital Troxler

“The real need of the present is that the schools be totally grounded in a free spiritual and cultural life. What should be taught and cultivated in these schools must be drawn solely from a knowledge of the growing human being and of individual capacities. A genuine anthropology must form the basis of education and instruction. The question should not be: What does a human being need to know and be able to do for the social order that now exists?, but rather: What capacities are latent in this human being, and what lies within that can be developed? Then it will be possible to bring ever new forces into the social order from the rising generations. The life of the social order will be what is made of it by a succession of fully developed human beings who take their places in the social order. The rising generation should not be molded into what the existing social order chooses to make of it.”

~Rudolf Steiner

Adolescence is a very significant time in the developmental life of a human being. Who among us does not have memories and experiences of that time and the formative power it had upon us? Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education refers to this time of adolescence as “earth ripeness.” He recognizes that with sexual maturity and the ability to procreate come other faculties and capacities, which are newly born and require tending and support in order to be fully realized. One needs to honor the deep inner processes of the adolescent soul and stand by with love, caring and objectivity while each discovers within him/herself the forces and capacities which lie latent but ready to be activated when particular challenges are met.

One aspect of Waldorf education that sets it apart from other educational philosophies is that it recognizes the human being as having a spiritual component that one must address and acknowledge if one is to educate in the spirit of Troxler’s quote. What will be necessary is an affinity for the ideals expressed, motivation to engage in independent and group inquiry of a range of topics and respect and appreciation for the power of community, diversity and the student-teacher relationship.

Click on the Resources page to find excerpts, essays and links allowing you to further explore anthroposophically-based education for adolescents. If you feel that you as a student, or your son or daughter will be well served by the educational philosophy and ideals expressed on these pages, we urge you to consider whether you can support the creation of an adolescent education opportunity within Central Vermont that is grounded in the values of Waldorf education, but adapted to meet the particular geographic, economic and cultural realities of this part of our state.

Also, please consider a donation to support our work. You can find the donation link at right. Your generosity will support our work in preparation, planning and outreach and it will be greatly appreciated.

Education for Adolescence by Rudolf Steiner

A Grand Metamorphosis by Peter Selg

Between Form and Freedom by Betty Staley

Adolescence: the Sacred Passage by Betty Staley

Thirteen to Nineteen: Discovering the Light by Julian Sleigh

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