Projects funded by NORENSE

Research article: Tabula Rasa - The blackboard's performative and unique materiality

Marius Wahl Gran
NORENSE funding: 37.000 NOK in 2017 (25.000 for writing the article and 12.000 for translation to English)

Background and motivation
The article will be about the use of the blackboards in Waldorf education today. The blackboard still has a central position in the daily practice of Waldorf teachers. I find the topic relevant, because it is also connecting Steiner Waldorf education to research, practices, and concepts on education in general and also making clear the connection between art and pedagogy. 

Research questions
How is the blackboard used by three teachers in Waldorf school classrooms? What experiences and reflections do teachers have in using the blackboard? Pupils perspectives and experiences are included only indirectly through observation and interviews with teachers.

Sources, methods and theoretical perspectives
Three ideas structure this research project. The first is the teacher's blackboard activity as a form of performance. The teacher is here understood as a performer who performs chalkboard activity in front of pupils. The chalkboard activity is here categorized under the term performance (Benschnitt, 2007). Performance means that there is an interaction between the artwork, the person performing, as an act of dancing, singing, painting etc. and an audience. In this way, the borders between artworks, performers and spectators can be diminished. If this border is reduced, the audience can partake more actively in the artwork. What characterizes a performance is that a unique one-time event occurs in the presence of people.

In the second category, the blackboard is understood as a surface where the teacher makes site-specific images and texts. Here is the term unique (Benjamin, 2013) is used as a category. Benjamin's concept is here applied in relation to when teachers draw pictures by hand with chalk on the blackboard. The concept highlights the uniqueness of the created images and text representations in a specific educational context.

The third category is based on the materiality of the blackboard and its significance for the human relations to the blackboard in an educational context. Aspects that the blackboard has in itself as a blackboard and the materials related to this, such as sponge and chalk are taken into account. Here is the concept focusing feature (Sørensen, 2009) is central. The blackboard is in this context regarded as a focal point in the classroom, with its own voice. Blackboard features, materials, and the relationships between blackboard, teacher and pupils are therefore central in this context. Teaching materials like blackboards are in this sense viewed as invisible partners in educational activities.

The research questions are related to how three teachers are practising blackboard use when teaching at Waldorf schools. Video observation was chosen as one of the methods for the study. The starting point was to collect visual data material as a basis for further analysis and get a foundation to later conduct interviews with the teachers who were observed. The observed teachers taught in classes with pupils belonging to three different age groups. I filmed each teacher at two instances, in two consecutive days where they taught the same subject. For analysis, I selected such events from the video recordings where there was a large chalkboard activity by the teacher. Based on sequences from the video observations, interview guides were prepared. The questions were designed to be related to the three categories of theories. Before the interviews began, each of the teachers silently watched small clips from their respective films.

Research article: Conceptions of history and history teaching in Waldorf Schools

Frode Barkved
NORENSE funding: 37.000 NOK in 2017 (25.000 for writing the article and 12.000 for translation to English)

Background and motivation
As a Waldorf teacher through twenty years and as a lecturer at the Rudolf Steiner University College (Oslo, Norway), for ten years, the question of the relationship between the ideas and views on history coming from the anthroposophy and the teaching practise has been of great interest for me. In a master thesis, which I finished in May 2016, I worked with Steiner's concept of history in relationship both to the current educational and historical discourse, and to how the teaching of history is described in the Waldorf curriculum and practised by waldorf teachers. Questions and problems which came out of the master thesis:

1) The culture epoch's theory and Rudolf Steiner's concept of history - the relationship between anthroposophy and Waldorf education.
2) History teaching in Waldorf Schools in relationship to the global - and multicultural society and the question of eurocentrism.
3) The complexity of Steiner´s views on history, and how Waldorf teachers relate to and reflects on this.

Research question
How can conceptions of history expressed in Rudolf Steiner's works relate to curricula and teaching in today's Waldorf Schools, and how do experienced waldorf teachers reflect on this? Can their reflections and a closer examination of the issue have an impact on the development history teaching in Waldorf Schools?

Methods and theoretical approaches
Connected to the master thesis I made five qualitative interviews/conversations with experienced Waldorf teachers. In the interviews, the teachers told about how they relate to Steiner´s concepts of history and how they use motives form the curriculum to form their teaching. In the interviews I had Jennifer Mason's (2002) words in mind, when she writes that through working with qualitative research you can discover dimensions in the social world "including the texture and weave of everyday life, the understandings, experiences and imaginings of our research participants, the ways that social processes, institutions, discourses or relationships work, and the significance of the meanings that they generate". For me the words life, understanding and experience was of special importance in the interviews I did. The approach to an answer to the research question is based on interviews, curricula and theory. In the research article, I will look closer to central aspects coming from these qualitative interviews together with curricula, theoreticians in the anthroposophical-academic field (including Bartoniczek, Edlund, Heisterkamp, Lindenberg, Mazzone, Stabel and Zech), as well as Steiner´s works. The article will also include relevant aspect on the themes coming from current historical discourse (including Burke, Crossley, Kjeldstadli, Lund, Foucault, and Hanegraaff).

Bendik og Årolilja - The Ballad's tale about the Circumstances of Love 

Hanne Weisser
NORENSE funding: 25.000 NOK in 2017

Background and motivation
The medieval ballad Bendik og Årolilja belongs to a group of Scandinavian ballads dealing with various aspects of love and marriage. These 'love'-ballads are about betrothal and courting, faithfulness and deception in and outside of marriage, clandestine childbirth and the murder of infant. The ballads are from a period of transition in Europe and seems to mirror conflicts in religious belief, in the relationship between man and woman and in the individual's duties towards family and relations when choosing a life partner. The project Bendik og Årolilja is a continuation of a long-term interest in folk songs and medieval ballads, which until now has resulted in different kinds of articles and a book with cultural historical essays about seven medieval ballads: Folkevisenes fortellinger - Helter, helgener, hverdagens hendelser, Gyldendal forlag 2006.

Research questions, methods, sources
In the research project the ballad Bendik og Årolilja will be studied and read in a social historical context, to see if and how the ballad reflects questions, ideas and mentalities related to a specific historical period. Bendik og Årolilja deals with romantic love, which became an issue in literature, poetry and songs in the 12th century. In this century, women for the first time became a judicial subject in matrimony law. A question will be: to which degree does the ballad reflect the conflicts that emerged when the church, in canon law in the 12th hundred, proclaimed that a marriage was legal only if the woman had given her consent? - Indirectly, a woman from now on, was in her right to refuse a marriage, this being a new right for her.
The storyline in the ballad will be discussed in relation to social conditions, moral laws and women's legal position in medieval Europe as well and in premodern Norway. The text in the different variants of the ballad will be read closely, for the reason to find eventual coherence between the theme in the ballad and the social questions and dilemmas in society at the time the ballad was sung and orally transmitted. Extensive and interdisciplinary reading of literature and research will be necessary to substantiate and support points of view as to what the ballad's major theme might be, and how this theme corresponds with changes in society.

Exploring Bildung and practical wisdom in Waldorf education practice through case narratives: a framework for empirical research

Ruhi Tyson
NORENSE funding: 25.000 NOK in 2017

 Background and motivation for the project
The aim of this project is to discuss how Alasdair MacIntyre’s (2011) concept of a practice can be helpful in empirical research on Waldorf education when combined with a case narrative approach. It is especially concerned with the virtues and goods of Waldorf education as practice that are otherwise difficult to surface and that are covered by the concepts of Bildung and practical wisdom. This is generally motivated by a lack of documented history of practice in teaching, something Shulman pointed out in 1987 (Shulman 2004). Specifically, it is motivated by a need to begin articulating Waldorf education as a practice by those participating in it. Such articulations of enacted and experienced curricula can contribute both to the development of the practice from the ground up and to opening it to outsiders. In both cases it hinges on the cases being ones in which the practitioners themselves judge that the practice comes close to its ideal state, ie. the cases need to be about unusual success or richness. The article draws on the results from my recent PhD thesis (Tyson 2017) and develops them further in relation to Waldorf education.

Research question

How can the use of case narratives to articulate Bildung and practical wisdom in Waldorf educational practice contribute to both research and development?

Sources, methods and theoretical perspectives
Theoretically this inquiry is located in the context of phronetic social science (Flyvbjerg 2001) where the aim of research is to contribute to the wisdom of practice rather than to the formulation of generalizable theory. Conceptually the article draws on the traditions of Bildung and practical wisdom to both interpret case narratives and in guiding informants on what to narrate. Furthermore it draws on MacIntyre’s concept of a practice as a way of situating the cases in a more theoretical framework. Methodologically the approach is oriented towards the collection of case narratives of unusual success or richness, a kind of extreme and paradigmatic case approach in Flyvbjerg’s terminology (2001). In order to illustrate and drive the argument I will also present some case narratives taken from the Waldorf educational context.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2001). Making social science matter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
MacIntyre, A. (2011 [1981]). After Virtue. London: Bloomsbury.
Shulman, L. (2004). The wisdom of practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Tyson, R. (2017). The rough ground. Narrative explorations of vocational Bildung and wisdom in practice. Dissertation, Department of Education, Stockholm University. Link:

Eurythmy and movements in three dimensions: In which ways can they be understood to support the child´s development? 

Maria Keller Birnbaum
NORENSE funding: 37.000 NOK in 2017 (25.000 for writing the article and 12.000 for translation to English)

Background and motivation
Eurythmy and remedial eurythmy, practised in Steiner schools for almost a century, would benefit from the further development of a supporting theoretical framework and the understanding of eurythmy´s function in a school context.

Research questions
How can we understand the role movement and movement training plays in the developing child?
The significance of movement in the three spatial dimensions - how does movement in a particular spatial direction relate to the evolving of specific inner faculties in a child?

Sources, methods and theoretical perspectives
In Behold the Child (Keller Birnbaum, 2010) assessment methods employed in a remedial eurythmy practice within a Steiner school was evaluated. Through progressive focusing and Grounded Theory the emphasis was put on discovering which active reflexes had been retained by 29 students with difficulties in concentration, reading and writing deficiencies or emotional problems. The method of observing early childhood developmental movements together with the performance of eurythmical vowel and consonant movements showed itself to be a suitable foundation on which individual movement programs could be designed. The study The Horse and Rider (Keller Birnbaum, 2016) evaluated movement programs created for and practised by six children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses such as dyslexia, ADHD and Autism. The interventions were followed up through observation and interviews with teachers, parents and the children themselves. Specific learning difficulties were found to correspond to the appearance of retained reflex movements in a specific spatial dimension. Problems with reading and writing proved to be associated with retained reflexes uin the lateral dimension, difficulties in concentration with the sagittal and emotional problems with the vertical. Remedial interventions performed in the corresponding dimensions proved helpful for the child. The link between movements in one spatial dimension and the development of specific learning prerequisites is discussed in the light of psychological and educational theories.

Intended form of publication

The article is intended to be published in a peer-reviewed journal such as RoSE and in a relevant popular journal such as På Väg and Balder.


Keller Birnbaum, Maria. (2010). Behold the child - An evaluative case study of assessment methods used within a remedial eurythmy practice in a Steiner school. (Master), University of Plymouth, Plymouth.
Keller Birnbaum
, Maria (2011). En pedagogisk läs - och skrivutredning med förslag till åtgärder En fördjupad fallstudie av Lisa 9 år. Stockholms universitet, Stockholm.
Keller Birnbaum, Maria (2016). Specialpedagogik, kunskapssyn och sinneslära, i Granstedt, Pär (Red.) Kunskap utan gränser Antroposofisk och jämförande kunskapsteori.
Järna: Kosmos förlag.

PhD project: Phronetic knowledge and action in the background philosophy of Steiner teacher Education

Markku Niinivirta
NORENSE funding: 245.000 NOK in 2016

Background and motivation for the project
There are no previous Ph.D. studies accomplished on the topics of Steiner Teacher Education or Snellman College in the field of Finnish academic research. Snellman College has strong links to the Finnish educational background through the Finnish national philosopher J.V. Snellman. Snellman's philosophy and educational philosophy has its Hegelian roots, but he developed his philosophy further in his independent way. Philosopher, professor Reijo Wilenius, the founder of Snellman College was also the chief editor of the collection of selected works of Snellman and he found the similarities between Snellman's and Steiner's philosophies (epistemology and ethics) and ideas of education. According to Wilenius, with his emphasis on artistic education Steiner is more practical. Reijo Wilenius published in 1975 an important work [The Conditions of Education] (Bildningens villkor), based on the Aristotelian practical knowledge and action in education, and in which he updates these ideas to our postmodern times. Wilenius takes here a step further compared to his teacher's Georg Henrik von Wright's idea of Aristotelian practical syllogism and its link to the theory of action. In 2002 Snellman College was evaluated for the first time by the external evaluation group of FINHEEC (Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council). The results of the assessment were positive, but a recommendation that the background philosophy of Snellman College should be studied more closely was put forward. That would be valuable not only for Snellman College but also for the Finnish Teacher education system in its entirety. The aim of this study is to open the academic discussion on Steiner teacher education both on the national and Nordic level.

Research questions
The main research question is: What kind of experience of phronetic knowledge and action have the Steiner school teachers who graduated from Snellman College acquired during their studies?
The main question is divided into three research areas:

  1. What is the meaning of the Aristotelian concept of phronesis? How to understand its historical and philosophical development and significance from Aristotle through the modern philosophers Georg Henrik von Wright and Reijo Wilenius to today's discussion on education in Finland? How to reinterpret phronesis in the context of modern teacher education as its background philosophy? 
  2. Snellman College: the history of its foundation in 1980, and its teacher education, especially the relationship to phronetic knowledge and action in the context of its educational ethos and curriculum design. 
  3. Empirical study / Interviews with seven teachers, graduates from Snellman College: 

How do they evaluate the teacher education they received now after gaining practical experience in Steiner Schools? 

Methods and theoretical approaches
From the methodical and theoretical point of view, the theme of the study is approached from three different angles, which form the structural basis of the thesis:
Chapter One, Introduction and Methodology. Chapter Two is dedicated to the study of phronesis, concentrating on its features of readiness to act/action. In Chapter Three readiness to act (phronesis) will be operationalized and the focus lies on the question of teacher education as educational action at Snellman College. In Chapter Four interviews and their narrative analysis are examined with a focus on processes of mimesis1,2,3.. Plot, says Aristotle, is the mimesis [imitation] of action. Chapter Five Conclusions and Discussion. 

Waldorf Teacher Education 2017

Rudolf Steiner University College, Norway (RSUC)
NORENSE funding: 200.000 NOK in 2016

Objectives for the project The RSUC institutional development project, Waldorf Teacher Education 2017, aims at developing an updated and contemporary teacher education based on core ideas, practices and values within Steiner Waldorf Education. This teacher education programme will provide relevant knowledge, skills and competences required for teaching in Waldorf schools, and aims at the same time to provide qualifications for employment in public schools.

Subproject 1 - Waldorf teacher education 2017
The current three year, bachelor degree Waldorf teacher education programme at RSUC contains three subject groups: 1) Pedagogy and student knowledge, 2) Language and social studies and 3) Mathematics and natural science, each comprising 60 ECTS). Arts are integrated into all subject groups. From 2017, all mainstream teacher education in Norway will have a duration of five years and be at a master's level. The plan for the new teacher education at RSUC is to deliver the three first years as a Waldorf educational programme with emphasis on age-appropriate teaching, Waldorf educational didactics and other relevant Waldorf educational topics. The two subsequent master years will be given in collaboration with a state university college. A challenge will be to find the right balance between the wide array of Waldorf topics and the required credit points to be taken in one school subject. The aim of this subproject is to develop specific models and plans for establishing this new combined, five year, teacher education programme from 2017. The project will be based on the current Waldorf teacher education at RSUC, as well as the results of subproject 2 and 3.

Subproject 2 - what are the right Waldorf educational qualifications now
Which educational knowledges, skills and competencies are required in today's Waldorf schools? How should a Waldorf teacher training relate to the qualification requirements given in the upcoming curriculum for a mainstream teacher education at the master's level? These questions will be discussed with all stakeholders within the Waldorf school movement in Norway; parents, teachers, school leaders, the federations, teacher students and RSUC lecturers. Subproject 2 aims at providing good and mutually accepted guidelines for outlining a set of appropriate knowledges, skills and competences for Norwegian Waldorf teachers. Based on this work, a collection of arguments will be formed that can be used in further negotiations with the authorities to ensure alternative requirements for employment and school provision for Norwegian Waldorf schools in the future.

Subproject 3: how to build up teaching qualifications in mainstream schools?
This project will investigate various models of extending the existing Waldorf teacher education programme at RSUC (bachelor's degree) in such a way that it can lead to qualifications for employment and teaching in Waldorf schools as well as in public schools. RSUC has been in contact with The Norwegian Educational Ministry on this matter, likewise with Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA) (the largest provider of teacher education in Norway). There is already established a good basis for cooperation on different possible models with HiOA. A suitable model must ensure that students can acquire the required credit points in the main subjects Norwegian, English and Mathematics. The teacher education at RSUC is structured differently than mainstream teacher education programmes, with a wider scope of topics compared to the emphasis given to single school subjects in mainstream teacher education. A good model for integration must be found.

Project organisation
The project group consists of school leaders in Waldorf schools, a social scientist, students and lectures at the RSUC and the project leaders, who both have previous experience of such work. The project gets its mandate from a steering committee and regularly reports to it. The steering committee consists of the chairmen at RSUC, at The Norwegian Waldorf Federation and at The Association of Waldorf Parents.

Project owner
RSUC and The Norwegian Waldorf Federation are the project's owners.

Gender and Waldorf Early Childhood Pedagogy and Practice 

Sara Fröden
NORENSE funding: 50.000 NOK in 2016

Background and motivation for the project
The overall purpose of the project is to increase the knowledge and understanding of Waldorf early childhood education and also contribute to the discussion of feminist pedagogies in preschool practices. There is a relatively small amount of research in the area of Waldorf early childhood education in general and publications that particularly address issues concerning gender and the educational practice are scarce. I intend to complete an article where the central results of my doctoral thesis (Fröden 2012) are presented and further developed. This article, with the working title When gender becomes non-relevant: Situated decoding of gender in a Swedish Waldorf kindergarten, highlights the importance of rethinking the feminist theorizing of younger children's understanding, experiencing and performing of gender.

Research questions
The aim of the article is to further examine the concept of situated decoding of gender - a concept first developed in my thesis. Firstly, by showing how this on-going process emerges and how it is maintained in the Waldorf pre-school practice. Secondly, by relating the concept to feminist theories, pedagogies and early childhood educational practices: How can the concept of situated decoding of gender contribute to a development of a feminist early childhood education? Is it possible to transfer the results of the study to another educational practice? Or in other words, is it likely that the situated decoding of gender will exclusively occur in the context of the Waldorf preschool and if so, why?

Sources, methods and theoretical perspectives
My thesis is based on an ethnographic study, which examines the practice of a Swedish Waldorf kindergarten with a specific focus on gender, age and spirituality in relation to material and spatial dimensions. A fieldwork was conducted over a period of 1.5 years with a group of seventeen children aged 3-6 years and two female Waldorf preschool teachers. The methods used were mainly participant observations and in-depth interviews. Drawing on Judith Butler's understanding of performativity and (un)doing of gender, this article will contribute to the field of feminist theories by developing the theorizing of young children and gender, as well as to Waldorf early childhood education in general.

 Fröden, Sara (2012): I föränderliga och slutna rosa rum. En etnografisk studie av kön, ålder och andlighet i en svensk waldorfförskola. örebro: örebro Studies in Education 35. Link to dissertation 

Group dynamics during playtime in Waldorf Kindergartens when 5-year olds are the oldest

Renate Krämer Østergaard
NORENSE funding: 100.000 NOK in 2015

Background and motivation for the project
In 1997 Waldorf kindergartens got the permission to keep their 6-year olds in age mixed groups when the mandatory age of school entrance was lowered from seven to six years in Norway. Today, however, also in most Waldorf kindergartens the 5-year olds have become the oldest children, while the 6-year olds have become first-graders in separate, age-homogeneous groups. The 5-year olds have thus lost the 6-year olds as playmates and role models. My project deals with the question of what effect this change has on the group dynamics in Waldorf Kindergartens, with special focus on the 5-year olds' self-instructed play - now as the oldest children of the group. Research question
 How does the absence of 6-year olds affect the group dynamics during playtime in Waldorf kindergartens?

Sources, methods and theoretical perspectives
The project is based on observations of self-instructed play in groups with and without 6-year olds and semi-structured interviews with Waldorf kindergarten teachers. The results will be discussed in the perspective of theories of play, group dynamics, adult roles and learning concepts.

Preliminary findings
Preliminary findings of my pilot project show that Waldorf kindergarten teachers experience the absence of the 6-year olds as a great loss. They feel obliged to replace the role of the 6-year olds personally. For playtime this means that the adults get more directly involved in the children's play than they would like, basically for providing ideas, giving directions and solving problems and conflicts. This new adult role in Waldorf kindergartens challenges the traditional self-understanding of the ideal role of a Waldorf kindergartener, which is fundamentally based on not directly to intervene in children's self-directed play but only to arrange the best conditions for it. Nevertheless, Waldorf kindergarten teachers are willing to open up new ways to meet the needs of the 5-year olds without losing sight of their ideals or compromising the original and crucial ideas of Waldorf pedagogy.

Intended form of publication of results
The findings will serve as a foundation for an article that is intended to be presented in an academic journal such as ROSE and in relevant popular journals such as Steinerskolen. 

Østergaard, Renate. K. (2016). Før skolen begynner. Seks steinerpedagogers syn på pedagogisk arbeid med 5-åringer i steinerbarnehagen. Tidsskriftet FoU i Praksis 10(2), 5-22.Link to article in Norwegian.

Phenomenology of audial experience in music education

Torbjørn Eftestøl
NORENSE funding: 80.000 NOK in 2015

Background and motivation for the project
 The purpose of my research is to investigate the relation between musical practice and meditative work in relation to perception, in the Goethean sense of developing a "delicate empiricism". This will be explored from a theoretical perspective in the current article (to which a more educational perspective will follow later).

Research question
The fundamental research-question pursued is: As a musician and teacher, how can I develop and deepen the listening experience? This will lead to the more methodological question of how a phenomenological pathway can be developed and grounded in theory and philosophy of perception?

Sources, methods and theoretical perspectives
The question of method will explore the interplay between thinking and sensing in the constitution of experience, and ask how this dynamic can be developed and enacted in a practical way. I will deal with the question of how a phenomenology of art needs to develop a different kind of thinking which work immanent within the sensible experience, a theme common to many phenomenologists. This will compose a trajectory which goes through three stages. First I want to discuss the insight that perception is conceptually saturated. Then I will espouse the Deleuzian theory of sensation and his concept of how art requires a "thinking in terms of percepts and affects". This will be exemplified with compositions from contemporary music. As a third stage I want to relate this conception of aesthetic experience to Rudolf Steiner's method as it is presented in Grenzen der Naturerkenntnis, and elaborated by Yeshayahu Ben-Aharon in his The New Experience of the Supersensible. On the basis of this I will discuss if this can be viewed as the first step in developing a conscious and scientific super-sensible experience based in artistic work.

Intended form of publication
The writing will be published both in a peer-reviewed journal and in a relevant popular journal. 

Practice-oriented research into teacher education

Ruhi Tyson
NORENSE funding: 20.000 NOK in 2015

Background and motivation for the project

An aspect of teacher training that has remained in need of further development and understanding is the issue of how to provide an education for those aspects of the work of a teacher that are either craft-like or virtue- and wisdom-based, both of which require a predominantly practice-based training. As it involves issues related to practice one way of elaborating on this matter is through research into teacher training programs where it has received unusual consideration. Being practice-oriented this could take the form of more apprenticeship-like programs, programs with extensive role-playing of lessons and programs where there is an elaborated and systematic exchange between practicums of various forms and academic reflection coupled with these. The motivation for the project is to conduct a series of case-studies of institutions with unusual emphasis placed on these matters in order to analyze, compare and discuss different approaches to such practice-based teacher training.

Research question
The research question can be formulated as: what are some of the current curricula for practice-based teacher training, how do they compare with each other and how can they contribute to a deeper and more differentiated understanding of the practical aspects of teacher knowledge.

Sources, methods and theoretical perspectives

The sources of the research project will be a group of, at the most five, teacher training institutions that have paid unusual attention to the development of teacher's practical knowledge forms. Methodologically the documentation will be of intended curricula and practices of enacted curricula. This implies a combination of textual studies, interviews and observations in order to construct the individual cases for comparison. The theoretical perspective forming the background to the study is situated within practical philosophy as it has developed over the past 30 years, particularly Heron & Reason's (1997) participatory inquiry perspective as well as Aristotle's analysis of practical knowledge as part techne (making), part phronesis (practical wisdom or prudence). The Aristotelian perspective together with Schön's (1983, 1987) views on reflective practice serve as analytical lenses through which to structure, compare and discuss the cases. This theoretical context has been developed in my recent licentiate thesis (Tyson 2015) as well as in a forthcoming article for the journal Vocations and learning (Tyson forthcoming) of which there is an early version in the thesis. References:

 Heron, J. & Reason, P. (1997). A participatory inquiry paradigm, Qualitative Inquiry 3(3) 274-295.
 Schön, D. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Schön, D. (2003). The reflective practitioner, how professionals think in action. London: Ashgate. Tyson, R. (2015). Vocational Bildung in action. Stockholm University.
 Tyson, R. (forthcoming). Educating for vocational excellence, in Vocations and learning.

Tyson, Ruhi. (2016). What would Humboldt say: A case of general bildung in vocational education? International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET), 3(3), 230-249. Link to pdf. 

Complexity and change in Waldorf schools: a narrative study into perceptions of decision-making processes

Fabio Bento
NORENSE funding: 100.000 NOK in 2014 

Background and motivation for the project The objective of this study is to contribute to the debate about organizational change in Waldorf schools by analysing narratives of decision-making process told by formal leaders and teachers in one Norwegian school. Therefore, the present study departs from an organizational perspective to investigate perceptions of decision-making processes in Waldorf schools in Norway. Recent waves of educational policy reform in Western countries have aimed at altering school governance by increasingly promoting a shift from a traditional character based on principles of professional authority and consensual decision-making towards more a hierarchical configuration incorporating elements usually associated to managerial/bureaucratic structures. In this context, Norwegian Waldorf schools have faced the challenge to address not only complex external demands, but also internal perceptions of limitations of a once established decision-making model usually associated with flat structures and consensual decision-making.

Research questions
How do narratives of decision-making processes in Waldorf schools illustrate process of organizational change?

Sources, methods and theoretical perspectives I articulate complexity in way that it provides a conceptual framework to investigate and discuss decision-making processes in organizations. By analysing organizations as complex systems, it means that we look at them as networks of interactions among interdependent agents who are connected to a cooperative dynamic by a shared goal, perspective or necessity. A presentation of a frame of reference offered by complexity that embeds a choice of research methods that takes into account contextuality, temporality and human agency. The study followed a narrative approach by gathering and analysing stories of decision-making processes presented by six staff members in one Waldorf school in Norway.

Results and conclusions
 The findings here present a multi-layered social reality related to decision-making composed by a mosaic of narratives illustrating mechanisms of interaction presented in relation to an overall structure. The narratives illustrate a complex relation between perceptions of rationality, conflicts between different interest groups and individuals, and cultural appropriateness related to decision-making. The analysis of such multi-layered reality questions simplistic notions equating, on one hand flat decisional structures with democracy and participation, and on other hand, those equating top-down approaches with rationality and control. Such findings raises questions regarding the limitations of regarding organizations such as schools as living organisms.

Bento, Fabio. (2015). Complexity and change in Waldorf schools: A narrative study into perceptions of decision-making processes. Research on Steiner Education (RoSE), 6(2), 78-94. Link to pdf

Education in time

Arve Mathisen
NORENSE funding: 116.000 NOK in 2014

Background and motivation for the project
Education in time' is an interview based Nordic research project studying time, timing and the experience of time in schools. Very little research has been done on time and time experience in education. Therefore, the interviews will cover the most general aspects of time in relation to teaching and learning. Altogether 16 teachers from the grades 4-6 (5-7 in Norway) will interviewed; eight from public schools and eight from Waldorf schools. We want to know how teachers experience the organisation of time in their work, and how they experience the timetables that frame their teaching and their pupils' learning. We also want to hear something about how teachers are planning their teaching and how they use repetitions and evaluations to look back on their teaching afterwards. Variations, change in topics or activities, rhythms or patterns in teaching and learning is another important aspect of time. We will ask teachers about their experiences with bringing variety into their teaching. We are also interested in who decides over time in the classroom and what do teachers think about how the 'future' is presented to today's children and youth. The project is hosted by Rudolf Steiner University in Norway, and its research team counts members from Nordic Waldorf higher educational institutions as well as from state universities in Norway and Denmark.

Research question
What experiences and reflections have primary school teachers in Nordic Waldorf and public schools on time, temporality and time use in education?

Methods of research
This project will be conducted as a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Interviews are chosen because the research question asks for teachers' experiences and reflections. Semi-structured interviews allows for a good balance between thematic focus and openness towards new or unpredicted information. The analysis will utilise coding, memoing and data display, and proceed according to well-documented qualitative strategies. All ethical standards pertaining to educational research will be followed, and the project is reported to the Privacy Ombudsman for Research, Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD).

Intended form of publication of results
As a first step, one research article will be written in the name of all participating researchers. This article will report the main findings from the study. The intention is to present this research at an appropriate educational research conference and to publish it in a peer-reviewed academic journal. The project will also be reported in the form of a popular article suitable for the Nordic Waldorf educational magazines. During the course of the study, it will be clear if further articles can be written and published. Arve is currently working on a theoretical paper on rhythms in education.

Mathisen, Arve. (2015). Rhythms in Education and the art of life: Lefebvre, Whitehead and Steiner on the art of bringing rhythmical transformations into teaching and learning - Part I. Research on Steiner Education (RoSE), 6(2), 52-67. Link to pdf.

Mathisen, Arve. (2015). Rhythms as a pedagogy of becoming: Lefebvre, Whitehead and Steiner on the art of bringing rhythmical transformations into teaching and learning - part II. Research on Steiner Education (RoSE), 6(2), 52-67. Link to pdf.

Mathisen, Arve. (2016). Ekte skole: Hva er engasjement og hvordan oppstår det? Steinerskolen (3). Link to pdf. 

Visions and Conditions - The history of the Steiner School in Norway and its development from 1926 to 2004

Anne-Mette Stabel
This PhD project was defended in public the 31.of January 2014 at The University of Oslo. The project has been funded both by RSUC and by NORENSE. In 2010, NORENSE supported the project with 224.000 NOK and in 2011 NORENSE with 240.000 NOK. 

The study was undertaken at The Department of Educational Research at the Faculty of Education, University of Oslo. During the work, she was also working part time at Rudolf Steiner University College in Oslo (RSUC).

There is no previous study of how The Steiner School has developed within the framework of the Norwegian educational history, and knowledge about the Steiner school activities is seldom part of the Norwegian education science.  

Research Question
How has the Norwegian Steiner School, within changing educational historical conditions, evolved from an alternative educational idea to a publicly accredited school offering a 13-year curriculum and how have visions and pedagogical justifications contributed to this development?

Sources, theoretical perspectives and methods
The survey was based on a wide range of sources. Plans and curricula for the Norwegian Steiner schools and a selection of articles published in the Norwegian Steiner School Journals have been the most important sources. Hermeneutic perspectives and analytical narration are used as methodological approaches in addition to periodization the period from 1926 to 2004. Didactics and historical perspectives on education are the theoretical perspectives in the thesis.

In the thesis, an historical theory of the development of the Norwegian Steiner School is presented. The investigation has shown that there is a high degree of continuity in the visions of The Steiner School, e.g. visions concerning how the students can develop into free and independent individuals. The thesis also shows that the inner and sacred part of all individuals has been considered important. The progression in the curricula and the tradition of teaching has therefore been guided by these ideas. There has also been a continuity in the vision that there should be freedom for schools and teachers, and a strong emphasis has been put on the importance of a wide range of methodological approaches in teaching. Teaching is looked upon as art, and the teacher's inner work has been given attention. 

The investigation has shown that legal provisions, laws and reforms, have increasingly covered The Steiner School and it appears from the survey that The Steiner School has adapted to the changing education conditions and also tried to change them. The investigation has shown that The Steiner School partly has been ahead of reforms in the Norwegian school, and in part, the school has had to accept and adapt to the reforms. The Steiner School slowly became a player in the efforts to improve the school's financial terms, but that The Steiner School barely has been used in the work of reform in the public schools. 

When the law on state subsidies to private schools was established in 1970, the premises were that the Curriculum of The Steiner School had to be approved, which meant that the legitimacy of the school was a legal matter. Previously the school had legitimized their activities through informal programs, small and fragmented curricula and articles in which visions for schoolwork and qualitative aspects of each grade were described.

The investigation has shown that it is necessary to question how legal terms for alternative schools must be designed for the teaching freedom to be real, a question that affects all schools. The study raises therefore questions, not only valid for private alternative schools, but schools and education more generally.


Stabel, Anne-Mette. (2014). Visjoner og vilkår: Om steinerskolens utvikling i Norge fra 1926-2004. (PhD), Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo. Link summary in Norwegian

Stabel, Anne-Mette. (2016). Hva skal vi med skole? Steinerskolens historie i Norge 1926 - 2016. Oslo: Pax. Link to book

The Praxis of the Waldorf Teacher
An empirical study of the interactive knowledge, ethics and didactic traditions in Waldorf teaching in relation to Rudolf Steiner's view of freedom and individuality

Leif Tjärnstig
NORENSE funding: 150.000 NOK in 2013

Background and motivation for the project
This is a PhD project placed at åbo Academy, University in Finland, started in September 2013. The research interest and the project purpose rests upon an assumption that the pedagogical aims and thoughts that stem from Rudolf Steiner have persisted until today and been transmitted mainly through a culture of teaching praxis traditions within the community of Waldorf schools. Therefore, it suggests that viewing Waldorf education as a (soon) one-hundred-year-old continuous educational praxis can elucidate how original pedagogical intention has developed, deepened and re-contextualized itself throughout its history of pedagogical praxis. Philosophical views on professional praxis also suggest that praxis in itself carries norms, traditions and values concerning the attentiveness and sense of implicit virtues of professional action. From this view, the pedagogical visions, principles and ideas from the beginning of Waldorf schools in 1919 have been subject to continuous renegotiation in terms of their educational culture, norms, values and ethics. This renegotiation is done throughout the history of innumerable individual teachers in their intersubjective teaching practice; in tacit intuitive pedagogical actions; in the countless interactive micro- decisions that are made every day. This is seen as the making of teacher's professional teaching praxis knowledge. Theodore Schatzkis concept of "teleoaffective structures" that permeates and constitutes praxis knowledge is in this central. The profession of teaching is in this perspective regarded as a living culture, a praxis of human interaction in which renegotiation of interaction, interrelations, ethics, human values and beliefs creates professional knowledge and its history of pedagogical practice

Research methods and analysis
The methodology is based along the research tradition of Stimulated Recall Interviews (SRI). The research project encompasses seven SRI sessions carried out over a period of eight months. Empirical material used in this research project is assembled through video filming a group of four experienced Waldorf teachers reflecting on their own teaching activity from filming lessons of their own. In each reflection session, selected short video sequences are dealt with in which the interaction between teacher and class or pupil takes unexpected or problematic turns. Viewing these situations and discussing them together with the group of teachers, the intention is to uncover and make explicit their ethical deliberations as well as the underlying values that constitute the teacher's pedagogical Praxis. The analysis process focuses on narrative sequences in the teachers' dialogue. Analysis strategies are built on "concentration of meaning" and thematic structures of "sub-discourses" of the research question that are "internally bound together by a coherent topical trajectory and/or a common activity". The analysis and discussion is carried out within three different thematic perspectives. These perspectives are enunciated through adductive reading and reasoning of selected works from Rudolf Steiner's educational lectures, parallel with reading transcripts from the SRI sessions.

Results and conclusions
Tentative results indicate that participating teachers' beliefs, values and personal ethics and mission underpins the judgmental capacity in pedagogical interactions. The analyses also indicate that the teachers' acting and decision-making are not solely informed or controlled by sets of norms, beliefs and values. Teaching activity, pedagogical interactivity, instead produces educational and human values and educational interactive ethics. The research will result in PhD theses in the form of a monograph. Estimated delivery of the thesis is late Autumn 2016 

"I learned to learn from myself" - An ethnographic action research study studying the development of the language awareness while implementing a dialogic teaching method in the High School Finnish language and literature lessons - a PhD project

Eeva Raunela
NORENSE funding 31.200 Euro in 2012

Background and motivation for the project
The aim of my ethnographic action research study has been my interest in understanding myself as a Finnish language and literature teacher and my actions in teaching situations in Lappeenranta Steiner High School. Specifically, I have aimed to improve my own pedagogical practice.

Research questions
 My research questions have been:
 1. Is the language awareness in Lappeenranta High School students improving during the three High School years through student-centered dialogic methods?
 2. What kind of experiences do the students in Lappeenranta High School attribute to their understanding of language?
 3. What kind of impact has the dialogic teaching method on the Finnish language and literature lessons?

Sources, methods and theoretical perspectives
 I've made my research report into a chronological narrative about growing into becoming a teacher. The report also includes the history of Lappeenranta High School Finnish language and literature lessons as far as I've been contributing to them as a teacher. This has included a conscious attempt to discard lecturing in favour of attempting to activate students thought more dialogic methods. The empirical implementation of the study was participant observation. It consisted of an observation period of three school years: from Autumn 2009 to Spring 2012. During this time I followed one High School class and its' development in language awareness. In analysing the development of language awareness I used phenomenography as the method. The data was all the writing tasks the five students in the followed class wrote during their High School Finnish language and literature courses. In addition to the writing tasks I followed my own impact to the development of the language awareness through three surveys for three High School classes and my own reflective/observation journal.
The results of the research will be available at the end of this year.

Intended form of publication of results
A PhD monograph 

The spatial dimension of Waldorf education

Margunn Bjørnholt
NORENSE funding: 105.000 NOK in 2011

The project has explored the ideas of and use of space, rooms and architecture as part of Waldorf education and practice.

Over the last decade, major changes of spatial and organizational character have taken place in working life as well as in Norwegian schools and kindergartens. The trend is towards larger units, looser and shifting group structures and open plan spatial structures, more virtual forms of communication and neoliberal management and teaching regimes. Compared to this development, Waldorf schools, with their fixed class structure, their aesthetic-tactile approach to learning and reluctance towards computerization of education, represent an alternative.

Design and methods
The study is based on case studies of one Waldorf school and one Waldorf kindergarten, which involved qualitative interviews with teachers, preschool teachers and architects, observation of localities, and review of research literature and key texts.

Waldorf schools are based on Steiner's ideas on education, and Waldorf school buildings are often, to a greater or lesser extent, inspired by Steiner's ideas as an architect, but the relations between Waldorf education, Steiner's architectural ideas and school buildings, are only briefly touched upon in much of the research literature. This project has tried to bring them together. The findings presented are based on an analysis of the school case. Overall, there was a strong spatial involvement in the school, involving teachers and parents, institutionalised in a permanent building committee, and renovation projects with varying levels of participation and drawing on professional expertise. The teachers emphasised the importance of the aesthetic-spatial arrangements mirroring and supporting the growing and developing child, and there was an ongoing spatial reflection regarding the fit between the children, their age-specific needs and the education. The study concludes that spatial and aesthetic considerations are an integrated part of and interconnected with the Waldorf school curriculum and Waldorf teachers' practices.
The classrooms, and even to some extent whole buildings were shaped and modelled by the teachers and the school community, to form a personalised space, aimed at reinforcing class identity and the teacher and class as a team. Aesthetic shaping and modelling was also used to modify spatial limitations actively. Some of the rooms had been visually modified, to appear less square, using particular painting techniques. The teachers also actively decorated and shaped the room to fit the class, the stage and the topic at hand. This general involvement around the buildings and aesthetics formed the background of the conceptualisation of the classroom as a physical structure and a common reflective space, providing the spatial and social structures for learning and thinking as a collective endeavour, and the class as a reflective community. The building structure as well as the class structure provide room, physically as well as socially, for collective reasoning in the class (-room), fostering the class as a reflective community and provide room for thinking.
Despite the architectural limitations of some of the buildings, the building structures are enabling: the combination of traditional classrooms and a large number and variety of special rooms, ranging from the large theatre to the smithy, enables the variety and the distinctiveness of the Waldorf curriculum, and special rooms for arts, crafts, and music support these particular activities in their specificity. The teachers argued that they needed these special rooms, and saw their school as a contrast to many public schools today, where rooms are designed for flexible purposes. In contrast to the "flexible" architecture in many public schools today, the teachers saw their fixed structures as necessary frames. The existence of special rooms of different sizes and for different uses was seen as providing flexibility, such as teaching choir to several classes at once. Social space was also important. Some years ago the largest and best room was reallocated into a canteen, and, according to the teachers, it was now an important social space, which they referred to as the heart of the building. I think this example and the idea that buildings should have a heart is illustrative of the attitude towards the school as a space to be.
The spatial-educational dimension is not fixed finally, but is subject to ongoing negotiations, reflections and change. The integration of the spatial dimension in Waldorf education and vice versa, makes Waldorf schools a distinctive alternative to public schools, but Waldorf schools are also under pressure to conform to current trends in public school.

 The consistency of the spatial and educational dimensions of Waldorf education gives reason for Waldorf schools to be self-confident, and for others to look to Waldorf schools. On the other hand, Waldorf schools' adaptations to the general pressure to conform to the test regimes and standards of public schools may undermine Waldorf schools spatial-educational distinctiveness.

Bjørnholt, Margunn. (2014). Room for thinking - The spatial dimension of Waldorf education. RoSE - Research on Steiner Education, 5(115-130). Link to pdf

Vocational Bildung in action. A case study of the vocational education biography of master craftsman Wolfgang B.

Ruhi Tyson
NORENSE funding: 2012, 30 000 SEK 

Background of project
The immediate background of the project is connected with questions concerned with the separation of general Bildung and vocational education. Especially the problematic understanding of manual techniques as machine-like and easily replicated and trained. The issues have been pursued through a joint conceptual frame resting on Donald Schön's reflection in action as well as the philosophical tradition in education of Bildung as it has developed in vocational contexts.

Aim: The aim of the study is to increase our understanding of Bildung in action in a craft vocational context. As outlined above, this is part of a research context that on the one hand brings together Bildung and vocational education and on the other hand tries to differentiate our understanding of the actual practice of teaching vocational subjects, techniques and skills, ie. didactics or the "in-action."

Research questions
What constitutes aesthetic Bildung in action in a craft vocational context, especially in the field of vocational subjects, ie. in the teaching of a subject or a technique?
How is vocational excellence part of Bildung in action throughout the case, in the double sense of considering the act of teaching itself and the extent to which such considerations of teaching episodes themselves in turn contribute to the development of excellence?

Sources, methods, theoretical perspectives
The study is a combination of philosophical didactical research and case study incorporating an extensive biographical exploration of the vocational education biography of a retired craftmaster. The philosophical perspectives are situated in practical philosophy, especially Aristotle, as well as Schön, Schiller and portions of narrative inquiry. The results of the study are first and foremost the development of a conceptual framework for understanding Bildung in vocational contexts from a didactical or "in action" perspective.

Tyson, Ruhi. (2014). Aesthetic bildung in vocational education: The biographical case of bookbinding master Wolfgang B. and his apprenticeship. Vocations and Learning, 7(3), 345-364. Link to article.
Tyson, Ruhi. (2016). Yrkesutbildning eller yrkesbildning: vad lär vi oss egentligen? En introduktion till empirisk yrkesbildningsdidaktik. Nordic Journal of Vocational Education and Training, NJVET, 6(2), 1-16. Link to article.
The study as a whole, Vocational Bildung in action, is available here. 
It is published by the Department of Education, University of Stockholm, 2015. ISBN 978-91-7649-073-0