This paper asserts that the century-old educational reform movement known as "Waldorf" is an instance of the tremendous potential that semiotic representation holds for school reform. It proposes that Waldorf's staying power is hidden in the reform's semiotic supports: its symbols, motifs, and rituals. Rather than presenting Waldorf's official history, the paper concentrates on the representational images of Waldorf's institutional identity, or how the institution "remembers" itself. It begins with a description of the design of Waldorf pedagogy and its successful dissemination in various countries throughout the world. It then constructs the "memory map" of Waldorf, describing how its foundation story, teacher training and teacher networks, annual festivals and daily verses, curricular ritual of eurythmy (a form of dance), architecture, and birthday celebrations of the original German school serve to perpetuate the institution. The paper concludes that these rituals together form constitutive elements in a powerful liturgy of remembrance, and that the charisma of Waldorf lies in its manifold ways of sacramentally re-producing the past as reality for the present and guidance for the future. Appendices present photographs and verses associated with Waldorf history. Contains 72 references. (EV)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, March 24-28, 1997). Photographs may not reproduce well.