The Development of the Person in Waldorf Steiner Education

Subjectification and Possible Links to Non-formal Learning Situations and Expansive Learning in Waldorf (Steiner) Education


  • Martyn Rawson University of Plymouth


The development of the person is a core aim of Waldorf (Steiner) education. This article offers a theoretical account of some of the processes involved. Personal development is conceived of in terms of Biesta’s (2013) notion of subjectification or self-formation and is located within the spectrum of contemporary Bildung theory. The paper draws on the outcomes of a small-scale practitioner study of students at the end of their school career in a Waldorf (Steiner) school in Germany, conducted and written up as a doctoral thesis in education (EdD) at a UK university. The students in the study associated their personal development significantly more with non-formal learning situations such as projects, internships, drama productions and the class community, than with formally taught subjects. This article offers two possible reasons for the association between development of self and informality; experiences of interruption and discontinuity, and the lived experience of sojourning in authentic communities of practice. It also offers a possible explanation why formal class-room learning may be experienced as estranging, leading to defensive rather than expansive learning. It considers the impact of scaffolded reflection in support of the development of the person.

Author Biography

Martyn Rawson, University of Plymouth

Lecturer on Masters Programme Seminar für Waldorfpädagogik Kiel, Germany


Teacher, Freie Waldorfschule Elmshorn, Germany


EdD Alumni Student University of Plymouth





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