The Steiner school has revolutionary aims which have to do with both the curriculum and the social life of the school. The threefold social organisation of a school is a deep and ongoing creative process involving every aspect of the school organism; it is not merely a theory or “one of Steiner’s interesting ideas” considered occasionally on professional development days. It is a total school commitment.
This commitment is important because then the different “organs” of the school and their interrelationships become valued in a new way. For example, the College of Teachers becomes something much more than a Thursday afternoon staff meeting. It becomes the most vital way the ideal of freedom and spiritual unfoldment is recognised and worked with in the school. Commitment means that many structures will be put in place to safeguard the healthy functioning of the College so that it cannot be usurped or eroded.
A school is primarily an organ of the cultural-spiritual sphere of the threefold social organism (with its ideal of freedom), with the College as its heart. That means the central task of a school is to help unfold the capacities of each individual child so they may "go forth in freedom" (see the key quote below).
A school belongs most essentially to the cultural-spiritual sphere but nevertheless has important economic and legal-rights functions. Economically all members of the school organism need to work co-operatively to make the institution a viable economic entity (the economic sphere with its ideal of brotherhood). Further, it has aspects of the legal-rights sphere (ideal of equality) meaning it must develop and work with procedures relating to justice and fairness.
This straightforward picture of the relative importance of the three spheres has a bearing on every dimension of school life.
"A child's spiritual individuality is something completely sacred, and those with a genuine experience of human nature know that it will follow, of its own accord, the influences exerted on it by everything round about. . . The individual will know how to develop through his own power, and his talents may then go far beyond what the teacher possesses. Here is true respect for human freedom!"
Rudolf Steiner, The Tension
between East and West,