At this time, an important event occurred in his life which was to prove vital to his whole pedagogical impulse. This would become the genesis of his curative educational work with children. In 1884, he became the resident tutor with the Specht family. The Spechts’ had four boys and Otto, the youngest, suffered from hydrocephalus and was judged to be both mentally and physically retarded. Steiner’s work with the normal sons gave him the outlines by which he was to develop his own methods of education for which he is now most widely known. His work with Otto bore fruit as well. Steiner tells us in his autobiography, The Course of My Life, of the methods of instruction he had to evolve in order to reach this retarded child whose spirit and soul was unable to enter rightly into his body. Otto was so successfully guided back into a healthy relationship with himself and with the world around him through Steiner’s schooling that he was eventually able to enter the School of Medicine at Vienna and graduated as a doctor. He practiced for many years as an accomplished physician until he was killed in action during the First World War.
Rudolf Steiner obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Rostock in Northern Germany in 1891 for his dissertation on the theory of knowledge, titled "Truth and Knowledge", also known as "Truth and Science" which places no limits on human cognition. The way was now open to complete the book that had been maturing in him for many years, and in 1894 his most basic and seminal work, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, was published. This work, also called The Philosophy of Freedom, undoubtedly constitutes his most important philosophical work. In it, Steiner claimed he had laid the groundwork for everything he was to give out later as Anthroposophy, which is the name he gave spiritual science. The far reaching changes that took place in Steiner’s life by the end of the 1890’s led to his most significant supersensible experience of the Being of Christ - to what he describes as extending his spiritual gaze to Christ’s earthly life culminating in the crucifixion and resurrection. This experience was to become the heart of his whole spiritual conception of a human-centred world view.
By the turn of the new century he was invited by the Theosophists to speak to them. This circle consisted of people who were interested in direct information about the spiritual world. Here, as elsewhere, Rudolf Steiner explicitly upheld only his own convictions and the results of his own investigations. Though he accepted the offer to become the executive secretary of the German Section of the Theosophical Society, he inclined towards founding his own movement. This coupled with his refusal to go along with some of the policies of the Theosophists led to his founding of the Anthroposophical Society in 1912 - 1913. At Christmas 1923, he made another new start by founding the worldwide General Anthroposophical Society and remained its President until his death in 1925. It was from 1901 onwards that he assumed the role of a teacher and lecturer of the hidden wisdom contained within the western esoteric tradition. Preferring to give lectures to live audiences rather than to write books, Steiner crisscrossed Europe speaking about reincarnation and karma, human and planetary development, the intricate correspondences between man and the cosmos, and most importantly the incarnation of Christ on Earth as the focal point of human history. This is the central fact of the Anthroposophical world view and he proclaimed that it represented a great picture of the various facets of the spiritual world, but that only by looking at the main figure, the ideal of the human being - at the Christ - do we understand the spiritual world which underlies and informs our own world in all its details.