Learning journey: leadership

Our project team:

BVS schooladvies (NL) – Federatie steinerscholen (BE) – IMO (NL) – elewa-eLearningWaldorf e.V. (GE) – ECSWE  European Council Steiner Waldorf Education

Decision making in Steiner/Waldorf schools

We are interested in the field of leadership and school management in Waldorf/ Steiner schools. As a first project  we offered offered an interactive online blended learning course with four live events online with interesting and well-known speakers and opportunities for exchange and discussion in groups. Additionally we collected text and video material (e.g. interviews with school leaders) that can be accessed at any time. The course is hosted by the elewa platform and is a joint project of BVS schooladvies (NL), federatie steinerscholen (BE), IMO Nederlands (NL) and elewa-eLearningWaldorf e.V. (GE).

After this interesting journey we are now in the process of considering how we can continue on our leadership journey and involve more school leaders or people interested in the filed of leadership and school governance in a international co-operation.

Until then you are welcome to access the course material and watch inspiring video interviews with colleages from around the world on various aspects of leadership and school governance.

For more details on the contents see below or directly go to the course.

We had four live-online workshops focussing on different topics
1st meeting
2nd meeting
3rd meeting
4th meeting

Working with mandates and delegations

Speakers:                           Miriam Watson-Kastell (GE)    Jos De Blok (NL)

Participation of parents and students

Speakers:                          Janoes Vermeijden (NL)      Martí Domokos (H)

Styles of leadership and communication

Speakers:                                Otto Scharmer (US)          Adriaan Bekmann (NL)          

Professionalization of teachers                                       

Speakers:                               Kath Bransby (UK)         Florian Osswald (CH)  

What is leadership in Waldorf schools?

Leadership in Steiner or Waldorf schools is as important as in any other kind of school. However, Waldorf schools present a range of challenges that are quite specific to this educational approach, not least because this is an aspect of the education that has not travelled well since the first Waldorf School was founded in Stuttgart in 1919 by industrialist Emil Molt and the philosopher, writer, lecturer, artist and anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner. When Steiner inaugurated the school with an induction course for the teachers, he outlined his vision for the school’s leadership and management:

We have to reconcile two opposing forces. We need to know our ideals and we need to be flexible enough to adapt to requirements that are at odds with these ideas. Reconciling these two forces will present a challenge to each of you and you will need to commit to it from the start, with your whole being. For this reason, our school will not be governed from above but administered in a republican manner. In a true teachers’ republic no teacher can hide behind the principal’s  instructions but each one will take full responsibility for everything that needs doing. Each of us must take full responsibility. We will replace the need for a principal with this preparatory course where we will engage in a practical study of what it is that makes the school truly comprehensive…

(Steiner, 20. 8.1919, translation by Margot Saar )

Every translation is an interpretation and the way these words of Steiner (recorded by a stenographer at the time), along with his writing about threefolding, have been interpreted have provided the basis for multiple understandings (and misunderstandings) of leadership and management in Waldorf schools every since. The reality is that there is no single authoritative interpretation and the very different educational traditions and legal requirements in different countries means that there is no ‘standard model’. 

So comparing structures and procedures is not particularly instructive for practicing school leaders and administrators. Therefore, we decided to focus on a series of generative principles of leadership that are common to all Waldorf institutions. In particular we will be hearing from experts and from practitioners in the field of presencing, encountering the future, distributed leadership, holistic and spiritual school leadership. And of course we will be learning from each other!

project partners