What is Waldorf school?

Origins of Waldorf school system of education

Let's look at the Waldorf system of education: where it came from, who its founder is and what are the main methods of teaching children about this system in pre-school and school institutions.

The founder of this system is the German philosopher and educator Rudolf Steiner, who is also the ancestor of anthroposophy, the science of human wisdom.

Waldorf education is based on Rudolf Steiner's philosophical and anthroposophic concepts of human, history and society.

Since 1919, where the first Waldorf school was openen in Stuttgart, Germany, an advanced ecosystem of kindergartens, schools, special schools and higher schools for the training of teachers, educators and social workers is grown up.

Corner marks of Rudolf Steiner educational philosophy

According to Rudolf Steiner's education philosophy the aims, contents and methods of education should be derived "from the knowledge of man and his individual instincts"; It is necessary to overcome the ideal of the "man of knowledge" in favor of an integral person with a developed emotional, moral, aesthetic and volitional spheres.

Steiner believed that early learning is an enemy of imagination, since abstract thinking is useful to a child only after 12 years, so logical constructions in Waldorf kindergartens are not respected, which can not be said about the physical development of children: they pay great attention to how they talk, breathe, move. That is why the Waldorf system makes the main emphasis on creativity, spiritual development and upbringing.

Schooling and education should be guided by the characteristics of each age level. These features are described in the language of anthroposophy, which claims to be an integral description of the essence of man: the person's (human) being, characterized by freedom and responsibility, is considered in the context of psychic, psychosomatic, sensual and bodily conditions of its disclosure and formation.

Early childhood education according to Rudolf Steiner

Waldorf kindergartens are very distinguished from other preschool institutions. Some special rules are:

  • prohibition of early intellectualization and training (upbringing is not designed for the development of intelligence and for early education, up to 7 years avoid the burden of memory and thinking, a small child comprehends the world by an experienced, not a rational way, as long as possible to leave the child in his figurative -said world, it is much more important to address not to thoughts, but to the will of the child, causing his desire for various actions);
  • an absolute media free policy: the ban on radio, film and television (it is believed that the media for a young child - a source of too strong impressions that have an impact, they affect the child destructively, he can not defend his own world and is dependent on technology);
  • ban on any grading of the child (the child who is waiting for grading, acts under the external pressure of the adult, while he is deprived of the opportunity to act on the basis of his essence, out of love for the business itself).

Some basic methodological and didactic principles of the Waldorf kindergarten should be lined out in this place. The general methodological and didactic principles of the Steiner Waldorf system of education as the nature of development and upbringing are specified in the following provisions:

  • education through imitation and example;
  • cultivation of diverse forms of gaming activities (primarily "free games", rhythmic games, traditional folk games, etc.);
  • rhythm and repetition;
  • general artistic and aesthetic background

The internal and external appearance of Waldorf kindergarten is not usual: planed floors, tables, chairs. Everything including toys is made of natural materials.

Waldorf pre-school educators believe that "dead" toys - for example, from plastic - do not charge vital forces, but take them away. Preference is given to pupae, sewn by childrens own hands, knitted animals, which are stuffed with wool. Also you would find there many toys made of wood. Primitive wooden bunnies and cheerful dolls become friends. Waldorf kindergarten educators and Waldorf parents, in the opinion of the uninitiated, are engaged in strange things: string beads, sew and plan dolls, cook jam, cut fruit and vegetables for a common table.

Waldorf school education

Here are some key facts about the school time at the Waldorf school:

  • Schooling starts at age 7 and is designed for 11-12 years. From the 1st to the 8th grade all main subjects are taught by the same teacher, who has been trained and certified at the Waldorf Teacher Training Seminar.
  • In elementary school, classical subjects from a state school are given little attention. Initial education is slow.
  • Reading is not taught until the 2nd grade, although children are introduced to letters (in the 1st and 2nd grades) - read further some details about reading teaching at Waldorf school.
  • Gradually introduced are items from the field of art. Teaching of two foreign languages ​​is conducted from the first class in the same way as the native language - from the simplest words, poems, songs, games.
  • From the 1st to the 8th grade the main reference person is a teacher who trains, watches, takes care of children and stays with the class for 8 years of training.
  • In primary school, much attention is paid to the development of small motor skills in the child, which is closely related to the development of the speech centers of the brain. Children learn to embroider, sculpt, carve wood, stone, and they deal exclusively with natural materials. Waldorf schools conduct in-depth study of the subjects of the humanitarian cycle: literature, history, history of world culture.
  • Subjects are taught by "epochs": one subject is taught for a period of 3-5 weeks, then another "epoch" is another subject, etc.
  • The so-called main lesson continues two hours in the morning, every day. Textbooks in the conventional sense are not usual, the necessary records are made by pupils in self-made notebooks "by epochs".
  • Evaluations and asessments are not exhibited not only at the pre-school but at the school education too. They are replaced by pedagogical characteristics.
  • Waldorf institutions are managed by the teaching counsels with parental participation.
  • Some surveys show that children who graduate from the Waldorf school, choose for themselves in the future the specialty of the humanitarian direction or activities related to the social sphere: doctor, teacher, social worker, missionary.

Thats all for this article with the short explaination about what is Wladorf educating system! If you are here, it means, you are really interested inthe topic of Steiner Waldorf education.

Please take time and listen to the great Waldorf practitioner and expert in early childhood education, Stephen Spitalny. He talks about meaning of discipline related to the young child and how parents establish discipline and never fall into conflict or punishment

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