Steiner (Waldorf) education is a unique approach to learning and child development that is based on the educational philosophies of Rudolf Steiner, a prominent scientist and philosopher who was active in a number of social fields early in the twentieth century. This form of education has become the largest independent educational movement in the world.
The first Waldorf School was founded in 1919 and there are now 1092 schools in 64 countries (as at March 2017), and over 2000 kindergartens.
The Waldorf curriculum arises from a deep understanding of the human spirit and human development and honors all spiritual and cultural traditions and embraces the diversity of humanity. Each school differs according to the culture and character of their local communities. However, each school shares a reverence for childhood and accepts the challenge of delivering a broad curriculum in a holistic framework. Each school aims to help children grow into adults who can stand in the world with freedom, fulfilling their own individual potential as a human being.
Goodness, Beauty and Truth
All Waldorf schools strive to bring the ideals of goodness, beauty, and truth into the world of childhood and the maturing adolescent. These ideals permeate all aspects of a Waldorf education at MRSS – from the creativity of our integrated curriculum and the close relationship between teacher and students to the aesthetic furnishings of the classroom – allowing students to cultivate all of their inherent capacities: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.
Learning in this nurturing environment, each student is provided with the tools to become an individual with imaginative thought, an empathetic heart, and the confidence to positively shape his or her world.
Stages of development
Waldorf schools work with an understanding of the evolving human being and seek to educate the hands and the heart, as well as the head. Steiner recognised that the growing child passes through three major developmental stages on the journey to adulthood. Specific forces are at work in each phase and different capacities develop as the child grows into his/her body.
During the first 6 or 7 years the child is primarily a being of will; he/she learns through doing. Children at this age have an amazing capacity for imitation and need to learn through hands-on experiences and through watching others. Steiner observed a major transition at around the age of 7, when children begin to lose their baby teeth. Children at this age become ready to use their forces of memory in order to learn in a more structured environment. The third stage begins with adolescence, when a capacity for critical judgement begins to develop. This is the time to foster a regard for different perspectives and to develop the young person’s need for moral action.
Rather than pushing primary school children into intellectual modes of thinking from a young age, the Steiner curriculum celebrates number and language through imaginative stories, living pictures and artistic impressions. The beauty of the Steiner curriculum is that it delivers the right stimulus at the developmentally appropriate time for the child, engaging their natural enthusiasm and fostering a genuine love of learning.
Please read Description of Main Characteristics of Waldorf Education written and approved at the International Forum of Waldorf/Steiner Schools (Hague Circle) in November 2009.
If you are interested in scientific research conducted on Steiner Education, visit RoSE (Research on Steiner Education) website.
This YouTube link takes you to a talk about Waldorf Education given by David Blair of Shining Mountain Waldorf School. David captures the essence of Steiner education in straightforward language.
This video was made for the Steiner Fellowship in the UK. It explains some of the philosophies behind the educational approaches of Rudolf Steiner Schools.