What is the work of the Pedagogical Section?
The School of Spiritual Science and its Sections
On the 27th December 1923, the School of Spiritual Science was founded during the “Christmas Foundation Meeting” – the re-founding of the Anthroposophical Society by Rudolf Steiner (Steiner 1963. GA 260).
The School was founded for those who felt ready and able to represent Anthroposophy in their own lives and in public. The series of 19 lessons were given as a meditative path to travel towards the ethical individualism described in the Philosophy of Spiritual Activity but now within an esoteric situation which links inner experience of Anthroposophy, one’s vocation in the public field, and co working with others who tread an inner path both within and without the Anthroposophical Society as a free meditant and Anthroposophist. Necessarily, strength, humility and honesty are asked for.
The original six Sections of the School of Spiritual Science and their leaders were named on 27th December 1923 to encourage spiritual scientific research so that more and more spiritual experience finds its way into the actual work of the vocations.
Today, there are eleven Sections and the current leaders of these Sections form the Collegium of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland:
General Anthroposophical Section– Dr Virgina Sease, Dr. Seija Zimmermann, Paul Mackay, Bodo v. Plato, Sergej Prokofieff, Justus Wittig
Mathematics and Astronomy Section-Dr Oliver Conradt
Medical Section-Dr Michaela Gloeckler
Natural Science Section-Johannes Kuehl
Pedagogical Section– Florian Osswald & Claus- Peter Röh
Art Section– In transition
Youth Section– Constanza Kaliks
Agriculture Section– Ueli Hurter
Section for the Art of Eurythmy, Speech, Drama and Music– Margarete Solstad
Section for Literary Arts and Humanities– Dr. phil. Christiane Haid
Section for Social Sciences– Paul Mackay
In countries with many Waldorf schools and teachers, National organizing bodies for Pedagogical section work have formed to give direction, organize Conferences or coordinate research etc,
So far sixteen countries have founded coordinating/executive councils or “Initiative groups” for Pedagogical Section work. In most countries, a requirement of being a member of such Initiative Groups is that one is already a member of the School of Spiritual Science. The aims of such groups may include the encouragement of Spiritual Scientific research, organizing Conferences, study groups, publishing research etc
The National/Regional Initiative Circles of the Pedagogical Section and their coordinators at present are:
Australia– Peggy Day
Belgium- Jan Meyns
Czech- Tomas Zdrazil
Denmark– Jeppe Flummer
France- Isabelle Ablard-Dupin
Germany- Hartwig Schiller
Great Britain– Arthur Osmond
Italy– Dr Stefano Pederiva
Netherlands – Marcel de Leuw
New Zealand -Neil Carter
North America (USA &Canada) James Pewtherer
Norway- Ellen Fjeld Koettker
South Africa– Michael Grimley
Spain– Antonio Malagon
Sweden– Regula and Goeran Nilo
Switzerland– Andres Studer
The Section after it was formed in 1995 here in Adelaide with Dr.Heinz Zimmermann and Dr Karl Kaltenbach present, spent a couple of years having regular meetings. Dr Alduino Mazzone who was the coordinator had a list of ‘members’ and we organised meetings interstate. In our view we were trying to find out together what indeed the work of the section was.
In the meantime we were going about our regular teaching work, our meditative work and initiating contacts with other schools, organising conferences and remaining in touch with colleagues both interstate and overseas. Alduino published little newsletters. He also completed a Masters In Educational Studies on a theme from the area of Waldorf Education (“Islands of Culture”: The Origin and Development of Steiner/Waldorf Schools in Australia-1995) and a PhD (The Implications for Teacher Education of Rudolf Steiner’s Educational Philosophy and its Practice in Waldorf Schools-1999). Alduino and Karl published a paper together about the working together of the Rudolf Steiner Schools Association and the Anthroposophical Society. They presented that paper jointly at a conference in Byron Bay in 1996.
We specifically struggled with the question of membership, believing at the time that membership of a Section had as a prerequisite, membership of the School of Spiritual Science.
In about 2001 Peter was appointed coordinator of the Section when Alduino retired from that position.
We continued to have meetings at opportunistic times (one of them was at a conference at Mt Barker in 2001). Increasingly we were uncomfortable with a kind of exclusivity that seemed to be inherent in the way we were running things, even though that was far from our intention.
We realised that research and deepening of our vocational work was at the crux of the Section work and were relieved when Hans Mulder (then General Secretary of the New Zealand Anthroposophical Society) published a letter in 2001 which framed the work of the Section in a way that we felt much more comfortable with. Briefly, he suggested that anyone who was involved with deepening the work of Waldorf Education out of Anthroposophy was a co-worker of the Section. This view was supported by a conversation that we had with Dr. Michaela Gloeckler where she showed us Steiner’s diagram of the relationship of the various levels of working within the Section.
See Fig 1. Our rendering of Dr Steiner’s diagram.
In this drawing it seems clear that the Section work is not confined to the School of Spiritual Science but receives its direction from groups of people- from both within the School of Spiritual Science, the Anthroposophical Society and other Workers associated with various Anthroposophical Institutions.
We found it very freeing to think we could just get on with the work that we do anyway. Of course there is the accountability side of the story, which is where the ‘Initiative Circle’ comes in. In the little book ” ‘The Constitution of the School of Spiritual Science’ – lectures by Steiner shortly after the Christmas Foundation Meeting he outlines the work of the Sections and makes it clear that activities done under the auspices of the Section need to communicated and agreed to by the leadership of the Section. Here we imagine there is a body (The Initiative Circle) made up from members of the School who are also trying to keep in active touch with the Section Leadership in Dornach and elsewhere in the World. Their job would be to accompany initiatives in their own area and support them where possible. To this end, we have been in touch with each other for the last years and collaborated on the Journal for Waldorf Education.
We have also worked on the organisation of the Kolisko Conferences in Sydney (2004,2006), together with the Medical Section and the Association of Rudolf Steiner Schools in Australia and have been actively engaged in helping educational initiatives in India, Thailand and other parts of the World.
More recently Peter has been asked to represent the Pedagogical Section on the Professional Development Group of the RSSA. (Rudolf Steiner Schools Association of Australia) along with Jennifer West another member of the Initiative Circle of the Section.
Neil Carter, as co-coordinator in New Zealand, has joined the Federation of Rudolf Steiner schools in New Zealand “NZ Steiner Teacher Education group (NZSTE). This group gives support to the Taruna Teacher one year Steiner teacher Diploma, the two year In-service Certificate Courses for Waldorf teachers and the Auckland University of Technology Degree Courses in early Childhood and Primary Education- Bachelors and Masters Degree.
It has been a very positive step that the Section and Federation now collaborate in the area of Waldorf Teacher education in this way.
The Group we have named the Initiative Group, is functionality based rather than a fixed institution. We communicate with the many great individuals who impulse the work in Education out of Anthroposophy and we try to bring about an awareness of this work being done in many centres in Australia. The Initiative Group is a group of active members of the First Class who are also carrying the work of the Section in their consciousness. We are hopeful that many more such people will be in touch and accompany us in this important endeavour, which has been ongoing and will continue into the future. It is more a process of engaging, supporting and making conscious what is already there so that it will grow and prosper, rather than founding a new forum for meetings, of which, in our opinion we have enough.
There is an interesting record of the early Waldorf School teachers approaching Steiner and asking him if the first school should become a member of the School for Spiritual Science Steiner’s answer was comprehensive and can be found in the “Conferences with teachers”, Tuesday, February 5, 1924, 8:00 p.m.
It gives an insight into the areas of accountability, freedom of action and responsibility in regard to the School for Spiritual Science.
Pedagogical Section work in New Zealand
In New Zealand, following two years preparatory work and study by several groups nationally, Dr Zimmermann acknowledged the establishment of the New Zealand Initiative Circle, in 1998 The original coordinator was Ineke van Florenstein Mulder.
Since 1999, individual Initiative Circle members have organized several Conferences, published three books and regularly produced the Journal for Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner Teachers– now in collaboration with the Circles in Australia and Hawaii.
A pre-requisite for being an Initiative Circle Member in New Zealand is to also be a member of the School of Spiritual Science, as explained above.
They hold an annual meeting – open to any Waldorf teacher interested in the work- – usually during Anthroposophical or Educational Conferences. At these meetings the purpose of the Pedagogical Section and the results of activities such as publishing, research, collaboration with other educational organizations etc are shared.
We consider that a Waldorf Teacher actively working out of anthroposophy in their work may identify themselves as ” co-workers” of the Pedagogical Section if they so wish.
We hope that as more teachers become involved on the one hand, in the work of trying to bring their insights into a spiritual scientific relationship, and on the other hand, the fruits of their meditative work into the active work in the classroom, that the Pedagogical Section will evolve its form as a place where we can develop enough strength in our own individual artistic striving to bring newness to the work and enough humility, that we can admire and appreciate the strivings and insights of our colleagues, as we work together at this task that is greater than us all.
Dr Alduino Mazzone