|Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education is based on
view and understanding of the human being, that is, as a being of body,
soul and spirit. The education mirrors the basic stages of a child's development
from childhood to adulthood, which in general reflects the development
of humanity through history from our origin, far back in past times up
to the present.
The central focus for the Waldorf teacher
is the development of that essence in every person that is independent
of external appearance, by instilling in his/her pupils an understanding
of and appreciation for their background and place in the world, not primarily
as members of any specific nation, ethnic group or race, but as members
of humanity and world citizens.
Thus, the Waldorf kindergarten cultivates
and works in support of the pre-school child's deep, inborn natural attitude,
belief and trust in and basic reverence for the world as
an interesting and good place to live in.
In the lower grades in elementary school,
this leads over to more of a stress on using artistic elements in different
forms (rhythm, movement, color, form, recitation, song, music), not primarily
as a means of personal self expression, but as a means to learn to understand
and relate to the world, building an understanding for different subjects
out of what is beautiful in the world in the broadest sense
of the word.
And in the upper grades and high school,
this leads in steps to an ever more conscious cultivation of an observing,
reflecting and experimental scientific attitude to the world, focusing
on building an understanding of what is true, based on personal
experience, thinking and judgment.
The goal of Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education
is to enable students as fully as possible to choose and, in freedom, to
realize their individual path through life as adults.
While anthroposophy forms the philosophical and
theoretical basis of the teaching methods used in Waldorf schools
and is reflected in the attitudes of many Waldorf teachers and in the general
and orientation of Waldorf education during the different stages
of development, anthroposophy is not taught as such to the students
in the overwhelming majority of Waldorf schools world wide.
If anthroposophy is taught in some form
by an individual teacher, this is done against the basic Waldorf tradition
complete contradiction of the intention of Waldorf education, as expressed
by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education.
Most of the c. 870 Waldorf schools world wide in
different countries (beginning of 2004) are non-profit, independent schools,
starting with no public financial support. But an increasing number of
Waldorf schools are supported by government funding in different countries.
In the U.S., a number of schools have been established as Waldorf-methods "charter schools" within the public school system.
In the future, Waldorf schools may increasingly
be based on school vouchers. This will make a basic Waldorf oriented education
freely available to all as one option among others, irrespective of the
socioeconomic status of the parents.
For more, see
A more in depth description of the origin, goal and
methods of Waldorf education, as described by its main founder, Rudolf
Steiner, can be found online at the
site of Steiner Books. See also the site of Rudolf Steiner Archive.
For more on Waldorf education, see our articles section and links page, and also Waldorf Answers.