Waldorf School

From Academic Kids

Waldorf Schools employ a curriculum that addresses subjects on three levels:

  • the intellect, as in thinking and logic
  • the heart, as in feeling--art and spirit
  • the hands, as in craft and practical work.

The attempt is made to integrate art into all aspects of the curriculum, including the teaching of science. A conscious effort to build a sense of community and environmental responsibility is fostered at every level.

Steiner's 3-stage model of child development is utilized in Waldorf education:

  • until approximately age 7 a child learns through imitation, so it is best to surround him with the goodness of the world and caring adults to emulate, children are not taught academics at this time and are sheltered from media and even stories which include violence;
  • after age 7 and until puberty, rigorous instruction is integrated with arts, craft and physical activity;
  • after puberty, the child should begin a guided, but independent search for truth in himself and the world around him.
Contents

History

Waldorf education was developed for Emil Molt of the Waldorf Astoria Tobacco Company in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner as an attempt to reach through the shock of World War I into the minds and hearts of the children. Steiner insisted upon four conditions before opening: 1) that the school be open to all children; 2) that it be coeducational; 3) that it be a unified twelve-year school; 4) that the teachers, those individuals actually in contact with the children, have primary control of the school, with a minimum interference from the state or from economic sources. The schools were closed down by the Nazi regime and were later reopened. Today there are over 800 independent Waldorf schools worldwide, growing Waldorf charter public school movement, and a large homeschooling movement utilizing Waldorf theory and methods.

Praise

Many hail Waldorf schools' pedagogy and practice for their creativity and intelligent design.

"The advent of the Waldorf Schools was in my opinion the greatest contribution to world peace and understanding of the century".
"My parents...felt that the Waldorf school would be a far more open environment for African Americans...I think the end result of Waldorf education is to raise our consciousness...It taught me how to think for myself, to be responsible for my decisions. Second, it made me a good listener, sensitive to the needs of others. And third, it helped (me) establish meaningful beliefs".

Critical Opinion

Waldorf educators are most often questioned about not teaching reading and academics until approximately age 7. Critics claim that a "window" of intellectual opportunity is lost; while proponents believe that the literacy-building techniques they use at this time -storytelling, music and singing,games, speech and movement exercises-help to nourish imagination and a love of language which will be carried long after the child learns to read.

Waldorf schools have been criticized for their spiritual nature, which many interpret to be religious. Some critics feel that the teachers influence the children with Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science which all Waldorf teachers study.

External links

Finding a Waldorf School

Finding Critical Information

nl:Vrijeschool fi:Steiner-koulu sv:Waldorfpedagogik

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