Background and History of the Center for Contextual Studies


Ten years ago a small circle of 20 experienced educators from across the country met at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan for a weekend of focused study and conversation. In the center of the dialogue was the question: What are the questions that will determine the next 20 years of Waldorf education? This first gathering was followed by six further weekends. Each time colleagues gathered to work together on one of Rudolf Steiner’s talks to the teachers of the first Waldorf school, to share their questions and to give one another the opportunity to speak about the initiatives each was taking in his or her school or classroom. The gatherings gave colleagues the opportunity, free of external considerations, to deepen their relationship to and understanding of the pedagogical impulse out of which Waldorf education was born.


At the final gathering of this group in 2014, one of the participants spoke about the things she had seen change in the Waldorf school movement since the group had begun its work. The list was impressive. She ventured the statement that many of these changes had their roots in the way of working that had been cultivated in these yearly gatherings. This is the true nature of a spiritually grounded non-violent revolution. The Center for Contextual Studies (CCS) arose out of these and similar gatherings. It was founded as a non-center with the understanding that true change only comes about through individual initiative born out of a deeper understanding of the spiritual nature of the challenges we meet in today's world. The intentions of the five founding teachers would be better expressed by calling it the Periphery of Contextual Studies.


Initiatives of the Center

Ongoing colloquia and working groups

December 2016 Economics Teaching Weekend
November 2015 History Teaching Weekend
October 2013 Young Teachers’ Initiative Weekend
July 2012-2014 Summer Research Colloquium
2012-2014 Science Teachers’ Working Group
2009-2013 Annual Study of Man Workshops
2008-2013 Annual Advanced Studies Meetings

Conferences and Workshops
November 2016 Mathematics Research Colloquium
February 2016  Being Present: The Role of Encounter in Education
February 2015 Breaking the Mold Teachers' Conference
February 2014, 2015, 2016  Science Teachers’ Conferences
November 2013 Lectures: Anthroposophy in Education
2012-2013 Research: Technology and Changing Consciousness
2008-2011 Joint Adolescent Education Conferences with ASWNA
October 2011 HS Math Workshop
January 2010 Adolescent Development Workshop

"Two things stand out for me about the summer workshops through the Center for Contextual Studies. The first has to do with the experience itself. These workshops are truly collaborative experiences. There is some guidance given by the people from the CCS, but it really is a group of educators coming together and finding the best ways to explore, learn and grow together to become better teachers. Every individual's input has a place and a value, with the result that insights come frequently, from many sources, in many forms. This leads me to the second aspect of these workshops that has been important to me - what I take back to my teaching.  It can best be characterized as a heightened ability to recognize what is needed in a given educational situation, and the courage to act upon that recognition."

Steve Crimy
Lake Champlain Waldorf School