A major quantitative and qualitative study of senior secondary students in the three largest Steiner schools in Australia was undertaken by Jennifer Gidley in the mid-nineties. It investigated the Steiner-educated students’ views and visions of the future, replicating a major study with a large cross-section of mainstream and other private school students undertaken a few years prior.
The findings as summarised below contrasted markedly in some areas with the research from mainstream students at the time.
- Steiner-educated students were able to develop richer, more detailed images of their ‘preferred futures’ than mainstream students.
- About three-quarters were able to envision positive changes in both the environment and human development; almost two-thirds were able to imagine positive changes in the socio-economic area;
- They tended to focus on ‘social’ rather than ‘technological’ ways of solving problems;
- In envisioning futures without war, their visions primarily related to improvements in human relationships and communication through dialogue and conflict resolution rather than a ‘passive peace’ image;
- 75% had many ideas on what aspects of human development (including their own) needed to be changed to enable the fulfilment of their aspirations. These included more activism, value changes, spirituality, future care and better education;
- In spite of identifying many of the same concerns as other students – global-scale environmental destruction, social injustice and threats of war – most of the Steiner students seemed undaunted in terms of their own will to do something to create their ‘preferred future’;
- There were no gender differences found in the students’ preferred futures visions or in the richness and fluidity of their creative images.
An Australian Study of academic success at university
An Australian study comparing the academic performance of students at university level found that students who had been at Waldorf schools significantly outperformed their peers from non-Waldorf schools in both the humanities and the sciences.
In 2008, the Rudolf Steiner Schools Association of Australia funded a research project to investigate the relationships between Steiner pedagogy and related 21st century academic discourses. The report on the project is called ”Turning Tides: Creating Dialogue between Rudolf Steiner and 21st Century Academic Discourses”. A bibliography of all the studies that were identified is also available online as is the extended project data.
– Gidley, J. (1998). ”Prospective Youth Visions through Imaginative Education.” Futures: The journal of policy, planning and futures studies 30(5): 395–408.
– Gidley, J. (2002). Holistic Education and Visions of Rehumanized Futures. Youth Futures: Comparative Research and Transformative Visions. J. Gidley and S. Inayatullah. Westport, Connecticut, Praeger: 155-168.
– Hutchinson, F. (1992). Futures consciousness and the school: Explorations of broad and narrow literacies for the twenty-first century with particular reference to Australian young people. Armidale NSW, University of New England: 410.
– ”Sunday Night” broadcast of July 15, 2007
– ”Turning Tides: Creating Dialogue between Rudolf Steiner and 21st Century Academic Discourses.
– Bibligraphy of Gidley Steiner Project
– Steiner-related PhD and Masters dissertations