The Bildung of Humanity and Earth. The ecospiritual potential of Waldorf education

Bo Dahlin


This paper purports to identify the critical potential of Waldorf education within the context of environmental education and ecospirituality. It sees Steiner’s thinking as a further development of early Romantic philosophy and takes both as rooted in Western esotericism. In line with this, the Romantic critique of the mechanistic view of Nature, characteristic of Enlightenment science and philosophy, has a parallel in Steiner’s critique of the materialist world view, and how this is spread through mainstream education. Steiner’s conception of the relations between humanity and the Earth/Nature is showed to have forerunners in the conceptions of Herder and Novalis. Hence, this is part of the ideational grounds of Waldorf education. The technocratic, neoliberal and capitalist regime, that rules globally today, stands in sharp contrast to the visions of Romanticism, as well as of Waldorf education. This contrast is illustrated by examples from the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva. Finally, the participatory epistemology and vision of child in Waldorf education illustrate how its critical potential in environmental education and ecospirituality can be realized.

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