Helena Selsfors


Helena Selsfors, School of Society and Culture, Faculty of Education, Plymouth University Title of the study: Rhythmical and Balanced Education – a Matter of Trust and Boundaries; a Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study about Pedagogic Practice in Swedish Waldorf-Steiner Schools. This study investigates pedagogic practice in Swedish Waldorf-Steiner schools by using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Focus is on lived experiences of rhythms and balance, interpersonal processes, interaction and trust between teachers and students – connected to the mechanisms of power and control. It also investigates the experience of being part of a strong pedagogic tradition. In this study, cognition and experience are understood as social phenomena, shared by participants in a context. Ideas from theories and research studies are connected to general questions about education, to the Swedish context and specifically to the practice in Waldorf-Steiner schools. Together with the data, this constructs a narrative that helps to better understand certain aspects of Waldorf-Steiner pedagogy in Sweden. The data has been constructed from written protocols, observations, and semi-structured interviews with 10 Waldorf-Steiner teachers. The analysis was done by using a thematic analysis complemented with concepts from literature, focusing on ideas from Basil Bernstein and relational pedagogy. This study contributes with new insights about Waldorf-Steiner pedagogic practice in Sweden. It concludes that the practice is permeated by a visible pedagogy with a clear rhythmical structure. Rhythmical and balanced methods are connected to the education and to interaction between teachers and students. During main lesson, classification and framing are strong but can shift to an apparently weaker and interpersonal approach – a condition for this to work is trust between teachers and students. Waldorf-Steiner schools in Sweden have been forced to adjust the practice to the Swedish national curriculum. The participating teachers claim that this has made the practice more transparent and professional although the autonomy has decreased which affects the aesthetical elements in the pedagogy. Despite many compromises, the Waldorf-Steiner pedagogic tradition is still strong, the teachers are keepers of the specific methods, but also challenge the tradition, pointing to areas for development.

Document Type


Publication Date