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Hands, hearts, and heads : childhood and esotericism in American Waldorf education.

Author: Sarah W Whedon; University of California, Santa Barbara. Religious Studies.
Publisher: [Santa Barbara, Calif.] : University of California, Santa Barbara, 2007.
Dissertation: Ph. D. University of California, Santa Barbara 2007
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Document : Thesis/dissertation : eBook   Computer File : English
Summary:
Waldorf education is a rapidly growing alternative pedagogical system based on anthroposophy, the esoteric teachings of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). This dissertation combines historical and ethnographic methods in a close study of two American Waldorf schools, The Waldorf School of the Finger Lakes (WSOFL) and the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara (WSOSB). The work seeks to fill a gap in scholarly work on Waldorf
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Details

Genre/Form: Online resources
Dissertations, Academic
Material Type: Document, Thesis/dissertation, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Sarah W Whedon; University of California, Santa Barbara. Religious Studies.
ISBN: 9780549269175 0549269177
OCLC Number: 759566976
Notes: Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 68-10, Section: A, page: 4341.
Adviser: Catherine L. Albanese.
Description: xiii, 213 leaves

Abstract:

Waldorf education is a rapidly growing alternative pedagogical system based on anthroposophy, the esoteric teachings of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). This dissertation combines historical and ethnographic methods in a close study of two American Waldorf schools, The Waldorf School of the Finger Lakes (WSOFL) and the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara (WSOSB). The work seeks to fill a gap in scholarly work on Waldorf education and anthroposophy. It demonstrates that esotericism is not limited to the realm of texts but that Western esoteric traditions have had an impact on the physical, the practiced, and the practical. More important, it argues that children matter deeply for the making of religious and cultural worlds. In Waldorf schools, children, adults, and texts cooperate and compete to construct each other and to make worlds of meaning, both those in which they are immersed and those that transcend them.

In interviews with Waldorf participants, in archival materials, and in published Waldorf texts, key concepts cluster around notions of innocence, motherhood, nature, and secrecy. However, none of these concepts is static. Their precise meaning and value are always contested. Parents and teachers struggle to understand each other, to reach agreement, and to live up to the ideals of Waldorf education. Children differ from adults, sometimes consciously resisting their ideals, sometimes resisting out of ignorance, and often agreeing for different reasons than do the adults. Whereas Waldorf teachers seek to protect children's innocence, children often seek ways to grow faster; whereas teachers see moral and spiritual value in nature education, children find pleasure; and whereas teachers look to Steiner's teachings as the basis for all significant choices, children often do not know who he is. The project demonstrates the importance of children's roles in constructing religious meaning in Waldorf education as well as the need for greater scholarly attention to children.

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