Appealing freedom?

Mathias Maurer

There is a good reason why the Waldorf school movement sees it as worthwhile to have its own teacher training. Because otherwise there would be no teacher training based on the anthroposophical understanding of the human being. Waldorf schools need Waldorf teachers, not any old teachers. This teacher training is community financed by means of so-called per pupil rates which include an element from the parental contributions and support a dozen teacher training seminars.

But there are problems. The need is growing. Too few teachers – or none at all – make it to the schools, too many leave again at an early stage or there are problems with accreditation since the training in one German federal state is not recognised in another. At the same time student numbers are falling in some places. Where it is not possible to obtain large amounts of external funding from foundations to make locations more attractive, for example through investment in buildings or for advertising measures, things look bleak.

Funds are allocated to the training centres by the German Association of Waldorf Schools in accordance with a distribution mechanism decided by the school movement. This mechanism is now being questioned. The question is: in view of the problems with the statutory registration regulations and allocation, does the so-called Augsburg model of community funding still work efficiently? Are the funds still raised collectively? After all, we are talking 8.5 million euros per year.

One part of the model proposed by the finance councils is a voucher from the regions for a training place; in other words, individual schools are to be enabled to finance training at centres selected by them. That is intended to give new impulses. But why not be consistent and go one step further? Why could the new financing model not be converted fully to study vouchers? The wretched discussion about distribution, the creeping loss of solidarity would be ended and the number of students would show which training centre and which training provision have a future.

We know that teacher training can no longer be financed in the long term without external funding, that it will be increasingly difficult to reach a consensus about the distribution of communally raised funds. And we know that the problems surrounding the legal issues of recognition of our training centres as well as the registration hurdles facing graduates will keep growing. That is why we need a Waldorf education council, a round table at which foundations, students, teacher training centres and the Association of Waldorf Schools, trusting in the future of teacher training, give each other new latitude for their further development. There could then be an accredited higher education centre with a dozen branches none of which would have to give up their profile.