First, the DON’Ts:
- DON’T skim the surface
- DON’T expect to get it the first time or to get it fast
- DON’T dismiss it until you’ve pondered for a time
Here are my top 3 suggestions for reading Steiner successfully.
The best advice I ever got about how to read Steiner came from Torin Finser, who at the time was the head of the Waldorf Teacher Training program at Antioch University. When I asked Finser about this question I had just applied for acceptance to the program and was a busy mother of three.
I was already teaching, working full time in a developing Waldorf school, so I asked Finser for his best recommendations on how best to read Steiner so that I could begin to study the philosophical foundation for my Waldorf teaching.
His advice was to put the reading material by my bedtable and just read very small passages before going to sleep. There was this idea of meditating on what I read rather then cramming it all into my brain. He advised not to read it in big chunks or too passively/casually. A small paragraph well digested was better than reading a whole book but only skimming the surface. I took that to heart. I eased off of trying to power-read a whole book in a few weeks and settled into a more leisurely pace.
2. Read with others.
I recommend if you do read Steiner, to give it time and try at some point to read Steiner with others and try to “sit with it” for a while. Ponder it over. It was a slow process for me and I had to become more patient with it over time and am still working on that and still studying with others who greatly accentuate my understanding of the material.
There is a comprehensive collection of Steiner lectures on Rudolf Steiner Archive website. I recommend starting there to get an idea of what Steiner spoke about during his life. It’s very esoteric. It’s free, and just perusing the listing of titles might be enough to give you an idea of whether the endeavor would be worthwhile to you.
Much of it could be overwhelming in its depth and I question if very many of the titles would truly help the average person just trying to find a good school for their child, or particularly someone who is not interested in delving into the study of philosophy or human spirituality. A person doesn’t need to read everything of Steiner’s get some of the gems though. But there are some key ideas that I do think every parent could benefit from knowing.
But, if you are really wanting to get a full picture and really understand it and are willing to go straight to the source, I recommend to read The Study of Man. http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA293/English/RSP1966/StuMan_index.html
3. Have an open mind.
I recommend also reading it when you are in a philosophical mood, because much of what he reveals to his audience is a bit like going on a guided journey through the human being’s development and our innate structure on a spiritual level.
If you live in the greater Houston area and would like to study Steiner in person with others, I invite you to connect with me via this blog or on Facebook and we will add you to the Friends of Michael Study Group for meeting times and locations. We meet bi-weekly, rotating in the homes of members who host voluntarily. Most members of our group are affiliated with Great Oak School, but you don’t have to be associated with the school to study/read Steiner with us. Contact
I will say, that in addition to Steiner, some of my favorite writers and thinkers in the field of education include the John’s: John Taylor Gatto, John Dewey, and John Holt, but also Maria Montessori, and many others. In some of my future posts perhaps I can condense what I love about these as well into what is useful for parents and educators.