Thursday, January 17, 2013

What is Waldorf?

Waldorf is the largest independent, alternative education movement in the world.  There are independent Waldorf schools located in 60 countries, as well as public and charter Waldorf schools and numerous Waldorf homeschooling environments around the world.
Waldorf is a form of education developed by the Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner in 1919 that emphasizes imagination in learning.  Steiner, born in Croatia in 1861 advocated a form of ethical individualism. He based his beliefs both on personal experience and on Goethe's world view, in which “Thinking … is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.”[1] One consistent thread running throughout Steiner's life work is the goal of demonstrating that there are no essential limits to human knowledge.[2]

Waldorf Education is based on a profound understanding of human development in order to address the needs of the growing child. Waldorf teachers provide a richly artistic curriculum that works with and enhances a child's developmental stages from early childhood through high school.  In addition to fostering a child's innate sense of creativity, Waldorf education cultivates social and emotional intelligence and works to connect children to nature.  An important goal of Waldorf education is to ignite passion for lifelong learning.[3] 
Teachers in Waldorf schools are dedicated to generating an inner enthusiasm for learning within every child. They achieve this in a variety of ways. Even seemingly dry and academic subjects are presented in a pictorial and dynamic manner. This eliminates the need for competitive testing, academic placement, and behavioristic rewards to motivate learning. It allows motivation to arise from within and helps engender the capacity for joyful lifelong learning. [4]

The Waldorf curriculum is broad and comprehensive, structured to respond to the three developmental phases of childhood: from birth to approximately 6 or 7 years, from 7 to 14 years and from 14 to 18 years. Rudolf Steiner stressed to teachers that the best way to provide meaningful support for the child is to comprehend these phases fully and to bring "age appropriate" content to children that nourishes healthy growth.[4]
Here are a few links to help you get started on exploring Waldorf Education on your own:

 References for this article:

1 comment: