Journey into leadership


Our project team:

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

We are interested in the field of leadership and school management in Waldorf/ Steiner schools. As a first project  we offered an interactive online blended learning course. Additionally we collected text and video material (e.g. interviews with school leaders) that can be accessed at any time. The course material is hosted on the elewa platform.  (via button below) Now we are starting a second edition of our leadership journey in order to involve more school leaders or people interested in the field of leadership and school governance as well as advocacy and PR in an international co-operation.

Between September 22 and January 23, we are offering four live-online workshops focussing on different topics of school governance and leadership. The Online meetings offer input and inspiration as well as space for dialog between participants. Online meetings will take place once a month on Mondays between 3 pm and 5 pm CET.

In order to foster collegial dialogue, we are planning to offer collegial circle meetings for  reflection and community learning in the intervals in between meetings.

a next online event is still in planning.

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