(K. Brodner, T. Baade, and A. Baker)

About Steiner

Rudolf Steiner (1861- 1925) was born in Kraljevec, Austria (now in Croatia). His father was a telegraph operator. He went to high school in Wiener-Neustadt near Vienna. He enrolled in Technical University in Vienna taking math and science; he also studied German philosophy and literature. He was greatly influenced by Johann Wolfgang von Geothe. He spent seven years as an editor and an archivist for Goethe's works. He then received a PhD in philosophy from the University of Rostock. His first important work was Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom . He married in 1899, but ended unfortunately in divorce. He remarried in 1914 to an actress. In 1847 he moved to Berlin and became an editor. In his works he rejected anti-semitic views. Steiner involved himself in radical groups and movements. He branched away from philosophy and began teaching two evenings a week discussing universal education and freedom. After world war one Steiner created the first Waldorf school.

About Waldorf School System

After the war he was giving a lecture about the need for a new social order of conflict resolution to workers at the Woldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory in Germany. After his speech, the factory owner suggests he should set up a school for the factory worker's children modeled on his ideas expressed. Steiner agreed and the first Waldorf school was created and named after the factory. Waldorf education is a unique form of education from preschool to high school, based on the view that the human being is a being of body soul and spirit. The view encourages that children develop though a number of basic stages starting from childhood to adulthood. Waldorf's curriculum was designed to aid the children through each of these stages. In this philosophy there is a value on the whole child and childhood. The system is supported by parents and the children are encouraged to discover themselves. The Waldorf system is separated into three cycles of seven years from childhood to adulthood. The first cycle is from zero to seven years and it is associated with the moon. During this stage psychic forces transform the child's body from the inherited form of the parents into an individual personality. The second stage is from seven to fourteen years and it is associated with Mercury. It is where the child's imagination and emotions become essential and fundamental. The last stage is from fourteen to twenty-one and it is associated with Venus. It is where the adolescent mind develops and grows. This development can be disrupted by puberty. Anthroposophy (literaly, wisdom or knowledge of man), Steiner's broader philosophy and teachings is carried into Waldorf education as striving to develop in each child their innate talents and abilities. Waldorf schools operate in a non-discriminatory way, without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Today, the Waldorf movement is one of the fastest growing independent school movements in the world. Currently there are around 870 Waldorf schools worldwide. For a list of Waldorf Schools click here.

The Waldorf Experience

In the Waldorf School children begin grade one at the age of seven, because that was when this view believed children were ready to start academic work. In the first grade curriculum children learn the four basic operations; addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The curriculum also includes stories and kinaesthetic ways to instil theses operations. One thing that is discussed greatly when talking about Waldorf curriculum is the language arts grade one portion. This is discussed because reading is not in the curriculum till grade two. Children in grade one are supposed to learn about the letters of the alphabet the sounds they make and how to recite stories or poems. As for foreign languages children in Waldorf Schools learn two. These two are selected by the surroundings and to get them to understand the beauty of other cultures, most of the time these languages are not similar. On a typical morning in school children will have about 30-45 minutes of circle time. This is where the children sing, dance, and recite stories, verses, and poems. Art and physical activity are common in these schools. Children are encouraged to learn using their imaginations. Waldorf Education is unique because its goal is "to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives"(Waldorf Answers) and to educate the whole child, their head, heart and their hands. One of the criticisms of the Waldorf schools is that children learn to read much later than in regular schools. Waldorf schools believe that children that learn to read at a later date do not fall behind, but may even surpass children that learn to read at an earlier age. They believe this occurs because when children read at a later age they do not get tired of reading and reading stretches into the child's adulthood. Ideally teachers in Waldorf schools will stay with the children from grade one to eight. The Waldorf curriculum includes English, history, science, mathematics, foreign language, art and hand work just as in a regular school. A question many people have about Waldorf schools is about the technology used in the classroom. This method of teaching instills a curiosity and a love of learning into it's students. Technology is used in these schools to learn skills, abilities and to gain knowledge. When Waldorf students reach high school they are encouraged to develop their full potential as scholars, artists, athletes and communities members.

For Other Video on Waldorf Schools click here.
Questions Asked about Waldorf Schools
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