What is Waldorf ?
At the heart of Waldorf education lies the understanding that every person is first of all his individuality, a treasure trove of vitality, creativity and intelligence. Every human being is born with the innate capacity for inner transformation. The goal of Waldorf education is to develop a student’s ability to access his inner resources in order to transform both himself and the world around him.
To assist the teachers in this task, Rudolf Steiner described in depth how teaching directly affects the student’s inner experience (thinking, feeling and willing), down to the physiological chemistry of the child. From this point of view, education can be seen as a healing art, something that is commonly overlooked in many educational philosophies. Rudolf Steiner provided teachers with wonderful tools to understand the far-reaching health effects that educational activities can produce. This is what constitutes Waldorf pedagogy and methodology, practiced in all Waldorf schools.
In the Waldorf schools, children will have the same teacher who will teach them all the way through eight years. The class teacher is a guide and mentor and he will teach all the main academic subjects. This allows time for the children and the teacher to bond. For the teacher to get to know the child deeply throughout the years while observing the changes as the child matures. For the parents - to develop trust and mutual support with the teacher. That in turn, ensures the kind of continuity and follow-through that will optimize each child’s educational experience.
The curriculum introduces subjects year-by-year to support natural human development. Learning springs from interactions with nature and real-life experiences. The decisions about the curriculum are based on exactly what is happening in the child’s physical, and emotional development and also in the development of the child’s consciousness. There are no textbooks until high school but teaching happens through stories, descriptive language and mental images that involve the child’s imagination and feelings.
Block Teaching - Immersion Learning the Waldorf Way
In the Waldorf schools, children will have the same teacher who will teach them all the way through eight years.
The class teacher is a guide and mentor and he will teach all the main academic subjects. This allows time for
the children and the teacher to bond. For the teacher to get to know the child deeply throughout the years while observing the changes as the child matures. For the parents - to develop trust and mutual support with the
teacher. That in turn, ensures the kind of continuity and follow-through that will optimize each child’s
Stirner was first to introduce the idea of immersion learning. Every morning for a block of 3 to 4 weeks a selected academic subject is comprehensively taught. This allows for a concentrated, in-depth experience, giving children time to digest what has been learned, experience of success and feeling of enthusiasm.
Subjects are related to one another. Lessons balance cognitive and emotional intelligence with an activity where each assignment integrates academic work with fine and practical arts, handwork, music, movement, theater. Subjects are revisited during the year, year-by year, giving the child the opportunity to deepen their knowledge.
The child becomes immersed in what he is learning. The world that the child is learning about is experienced as a whole of which he is a part of. This means that he understands more deeply and can remember what he has learned.
Skills such as drawing, painting and craftwork are valued as highly as cognitive ones. All students participate in all artistic activities and classes, not just the "talented" ones. All students learn to play an instrument, sing, knit, and perform in class plays. We are all born with these capacities, and experiencing them all as we grow is what makes us fully human. This gives every child an opportunity to shine and builds confidence and self-esteem.
Recitation of poetry and prose is a daily part of the curriculum. The children learn poems and speeches by heart, while clear enunciation and voice quality are stressed and we use tongue twisters and other vocal exercises. This helps with vocabulary, grammar as well as spelling.
Waldorf is the only educational method to use rhythm as a learning aid. You can read more here.
The result is a profound, well-rounded age-appropriate education.