In this short, simply written and transparent text, Alduino Mazzone elucidates the essentials of Rudolf Steiner's thinking as it relates to Steiner Waldorf education.
It is as notable for its clarity and precision as Steiner's own voluminous writing is for its complexity and at times almost impenetrable density. Yet he does not over simplify or talk down to his readers. He seeks for the essence and succeeds so often in finding it. And he does not make a fundamentalist reading. Rather does he nuance his reframe to take account of the rich supporting work of scientific and mystical thinkers since Steiner's time, further personalised through his unique teaching experience.
The work is refreshingly devoid of propaganda and spin. He has delved deeply into Steiner's world, and has emerged with a simple clarity that is testament to the integrity of his own soul and spirit.
Perhaps, with Alduino Mazzone's template as my guide, I might attempt again to read some Steiner, with I suspect more chance of productive comprehension.
And I will certainly look at Waldorf schools with more aware consciousness of their spiritual and broader social purposes.
— Noel Wilson
PhD, BSc, BEd, former Principal Research Office, SA Education Department
TESTIMONAL I read a Passionate Schooling by Alduino Mazzone in collaboration with his life partner Sue Laing, in one breathtaking sitting. For 47 years, I have been involved in Australia and internationally in Steiner-inspired organisations as a student, practitioner, leader and consultant, including Waldorf Schools. This is the first book describing the essence and practice of Waldorf education that I have read with the joy of a learner, parent, grandparent, professional, teacher and researcher in equal measure. Ali and Sue have managed in my view to do three very important things with this book: Firstly, distill and convey extremely complex ideas in their essence and application, without dumbing down. Secondly, reveal the human face, character and innermost yearning of the man Steiner as a public figure in context of his ideas, the philosophical landscape of the times he lived in, and his struggles with his own colleagues in working collaboratively to bring about social and political change in the public domain. Thirdly, this book offers a critique of Steiner's philosophical axioms and educational paradigm with reference to the new paradigms and discoveries in science and education that have emerged since his lifetime. In short, refreshing, authentic and informative. This is a book that I am delighted to share with friends, colleagues, academics, professionals, students and family members because it stands its own ground without succumbing to ideological persuasiveness. I gave this book to my daughter in law to read, a mother of two very young children, and rather a skeptic of anthro-culture! A teacher herself, interested in human centred education, she has often felt frustrated and put off at the answers to her questions about education by Steiner teachers and supporters she meets and reads. She has until now not found Steiner's writing style accessible. She is a smart, contemporary and socially conscious person. After reading A Passionate Schooling, she told me excitedly: 'I get it! I get it! Yes, of course it makes sense!' Intrigued, I asked her what was it exactly that she now got, and she replied: 'It gives specific real world examples of the application clearly and simply - what is done in the classroom and links it back to the spiritual significance of the child's development. It says, this is what is done, and this is why; without mincing words, in plain language, showing how every aspect, attitude and activity has a spiritual meanin g for the child's development of spirit, body and soul'. I am looking forward in the not too distant future, to attending the class play of my oldest grandson, at the thriving Steiner class in the local primary school! Julia Wolfson Turning forward www.turningforward.org
— Julia Wolfson
Thank you so much for your book. I have just finished reading it and came away inspired. The book does indeed what the title promises. It is a marvelously concise summary of key ideas in Steiner education. I admired the way Alduino (and Susan) were able to translate the arcane concepts informing Waldorf education into a language that is accessible to everyone. I think the book contains Alduino’s mission, the building of bridges between mainstream and Steiner pedagogy. The book will find its way because it is much needed. I met with decades of study and penetration distilled. There are few people in the world with such a comprehensive grasp of the the topic and don't know of anybody else who could have expressed it in a more contemporary form. I was particularly touched by the way Alduino linked the three major phases of childhood with the content of the School of Spiritual Science. This book will help newcomers to enter and 'old hands' to deepen and expand what they already know. I highly recommend it.
— Horst Kornberger
I knew I would love this book when I first saw its cover and title. It's stylish. Those words
have the sprezzatura that signifies the true vitality of Steiner education. Alduino Mazzone
- in collaboration with his partner Susan Laing - has written a testament both to his life and
work, and to Steiner Waldorf education. For a small book, its range is comprehensive; and yet
it is accomplished.
In his Introduction, Alduino sets out the core concepts of his enquiry. I'll present them here as
a list, noting that in each case Alduino elaborates his meaning. He suggests Waldorf education
is based on a number of broad concepts:
a spiritual anthropology;
an epistemological foundation;
a clearly articulated metaphysics;
a spiritual psychology;
a social theory;
an educational methodology and curriculum.
As a list it may seem daunting. In fact, many teachers will know something of the spiritual
psychology and a probably a fair bit about the educational methodology and curriculum, but
may prefer to leave the rest to the anthroposophists, as it’s sometimes said. But these other
areas are the source of the originating forces of the education; if we do not work our way into
them, the education may be in peril of becoming merely a set of recipes.
I want to enthuse about the way in which Alduino enters those complex territories. The book
is lucid, and in this clarity it reminds me that the more original meaning of "theory" is not
something invented in the brain but "a way of seeing". In this sense, Rudolf Steiner’s theory
is not complicated but it is complex.
To help us on our way into this complex way of seeing, in the first section of the book a
succinct biography of Rudolf Steiner is presented, placing his development into an historical,
social, and intellectual context. The times in which he lived were very interesting; in the
humanities, sciences and arts, extraordinary events were occurring. This initial sketch helps us
see him both as a man of his time and of the future.
Then, in eight brief chapters Alduino explores the "key ideas underpinning Rudolf Steiner's
educational thought". These include the basis of spiritual science; freedom and thinking; the
human constitution; human development; evolution of consciousness; the threefold human;
the significance of the Christ; and how the schools arose from the seeds of the threefold social
This is deep stuff! But the gesture of the author throughout is generous. There is a passage
in A Passionate Schooling that we all could well reflect upon. Alduino introduces Rudolf
Steiner speaking of a particular experience of the presence of Christ: "He suggests that
what streams in as grace in this way could be called an expression of the highest self and an
early manifestation of the potential of the human archetype ..." And then he quotes Steiner
directly: "This that comes from the spiritual world may be called whatever we like, that is not
important, only the feeling is important."
In these times when dogmatism and a fundamentalist refusal to think independently are rife,
these words are a wonderful reminder of how an open mind can embrace spiritual reality.
It also may help those teachers in Steiner schools who find it hard to get to grips with the
originating ideas of this education to find their way... Anthroposophy, livingly perceived, is
illuminating, inspiring. But a new teacher may often encounter an ideological tyranny in a
Steiner School: "Rudolf Steiner says..." Or "this is how we do it here..." Then, concepts such
as the "etheric body" can seem like "autopilot phrases" rather than living ideas clearly seen by
the colleague attempting to instruct the new chum. I feel this book is approachable, and hope
that those who have had such experiences may be encouraged to read it.
In A Final Word, Alduino reiterates his plea "encouraging continuing research into Steiner
Waldorf education", with the suggestion for one to 'unashamedly immerse oneself in the
spiritual ground out of which Waldorf education emerges' for a more profound understanding
of how and why it works. He is talking about the effect of potentising that comes through
Throughout A Passionate Schooling I felt I was engaged in a dialogue; much was familiar,
and some of it was contentious for me. It made me think, and re-evaluate my understanding. I
recognised that I was learning, anew or newly, and this was refreshing.
I would recommend this book to anyone who, coming new to Rudolf Steiner's body of work,
feels daunted by the substance of it, or by the way it is presented. Alduino provides a way in.
And for those of us who may feel quite comfortable with Rudolf Steiner, Alduino has some
original insights, some fresh perspectives on the familiar, and a deeply enlivening approach to
anthroposophy and Waldorf Education.
So this book is good for all of us. Schools would do well to purchase copies for their teacher’s
libraries and for collegial study. Those parents who want to learn more about the basis of this
education would find it accessible. And teachers would find it good holiday reading.
Alduino Mazzone - I salute you for this accomplishment.
— John Allison
What an inspiring book! I found it so engaging, honest and clear. This book will become a valued gift to many, I am sure, and has had the positive effect for me, personally of bringing the possibilities of Steiner's ideas back into focus. Too often I feel weighed down by responsibilities instead of buoyed up by possibilities. Thank you for your treasure of insights that you have shared in this book.
— Allye Sinclair
What a refreshing book this is! Alduino writes with such clarity, demystifying complex issues and applying them to practice without dogmatism or jargon. I have a special interest in Chapter 8, on Steiner's Social Theory, a subject that I taught for some years at Parsifal College in Sydney. At that time, I used to distribute an earlier article by Alduino to students, as the clearest and most accessible introduction to the topic I had ever discovered. This updated version is even better - it is thoroughly enjoyable and interesting and will be invaluable to students and practitioners and parents.
— June Cunningham
It is a wonderful book to read and I believe very timely. I really enjoyed and appreciated how you led the reader to the depths of Rudolf Steiner's educational research and insights. So I found your book very accessible and easy to read but at the same time providing the reader with a depth of understanding that needs to flow into all educational work.
— David Baldwin
I have managed to get a glimpse of the chapter on Evolution of Consciousness and the Waldorf curriculum. It is fantastic. I love the style and it is totally digestible by non Anthroposophists who are not accustomed to reading original Steiner texts. It seems so “non-alienating” that it could be required reading for beginner teachers and all parents. Having spent only a little time looking , it seems very free of jargon that normally glazes eyes and minds. Even the layout is great and easy on the eye. In fact, I cannot wait to get to read the rest. They remind me of how totally engaging your lectures on Waldorf Education were, Alduino. We came away feeling that we had really been inspired, and I think that is what you have embodied in what I saw of this book.
The FEEL is great! The SOUL is great.
— A Waldorf Parent
My reading of A Passionate Schooling has given me a good overview of Steiner's life and philosophy. It is an excellent book for prospective parents and uni students. There was nothing so comprehensive when my child was at Waldorf. In those days I never did have the time or the persistence to read the standard texts in the school library.
— A Past Steiner Waldorf School Parent