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Waldorf Education

Receive the child with reverence, educate the child with love, and send the child forth in freedom. ~Rudolf Steiner.

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Waldorf education is now the fastest growing, non-sectarian, independent educational movement in the world, offering the full range of education for children from 3 to 18 years of age. Waldorf schools, always begun by groups of parents and teachers, are now found in 83 different countries. Each school is autonomous but is linked to all other Waldorf schools through the common vision that this schooling can help children to become free-thinking, socially-responsible, and strong-willed adults.

 

History

The first Waldorf school opened in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919. Emil Molt, the owner/director of the local Waldorf Astoria Cigarette Factory, asked Austrian scientist and philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, to establish a school for the children of his employees that would be the ideal education for the times. Steiner took this opportunity to demonstrate how a school curriculum and teaching methods could develop clarity of thought, sensitivity of feeling and strength of will in human beings. The result was Waldorf education.

There are presently 150 Waldorf schools in North America and nearly 1000 Waldorf schools worldwide. The first school in the United States was the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan , established in 1928. There are fourteen Waldorf teacher training centers in North America.

What is Waldorf Education?

Waldorf education is a vital, living approach to learning, rooted in a long tradition of honoring the stages of childhood.

Founded in 1919 by the Austrian philosopher, scientist and artist, Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf education has grown into a worldwide movement with over 1,000 independent schools in 87 countries.  The faculty of any Waldorf school holds ultimate responsibility for the curriculum and school governance.  As a result, every Waldorf school is uniquely shaped by the particular needs of its children, community and teachers.

Fundamental to all Waldorf schools, however, is the recognition that each human being is a unique individual who passes through distinct life stages and it is the responsibility of education to address the physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual needs of each developmental stage. The curriculum is designed to naturally complement these stages. In kindergarten, learning is experiential, with a focus on storytelling, songs, outdoor play, and free play with natural toys. As students enter the lower grades and begin to learn traditional subjects such as language arts and mathematics, the teaching methods rely on the concrete, hands-on techniques appropriate for younger children. In the upper grades, as students begin to develop individuality and critical thinking skills, the curriculum shifts again while building on the skills laid down in the early years.

Waldorf teachers receive specialized training in Waldorf philosophy and methodology at a number of training institutes and typically follow the same class through all eight years of school.  The relationship of the teacher with his or her class becomes so deeply founded that the teacher, through development of powers of observation, knows in any given moment what is needed for any particular child and the class as a whole.

Learning at Suncoast Waldorf School is an imaginative, enlivening and creative process.  By creating an environment that balances the academic, artistic and practical disciplines the school fosters a life-long love of learning, enables students to develop self-confidence, creative and critical thinking skills.  Our graduates have a sense of moral purpose and a sympathetic interest in the world and the lives of others.

Waldorf Graduates

A vast majority of Waldorf graduates go on to pursue and complete degrees in higher education.  Graduates can be found in every discipline and many attribute the foundation they received through a Waldorf education as fundamental to their success.  Click here to download “Standing Out Without Standing Along: Profile of Waldorf School Graduates” and you can click here to download the Waldorf Graduate Survey prepared by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA).

What Colleges say about Waldorf

“Being personally acquainted with a number of Waldorf students, I can say that they come closer to realizing their own potential than practically anyone I know.”
Joseph Weizenbaum, Professor (now emeritus), MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), author of “Computer Power and Human Reason”.

“We love Waldorf kids. We reject some students with 1600s on their SATs and accept others based on other factors, like the creative ability Waldorf students demonstrate.”
Donna Badrig, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions for Columbia University.

“The students that come to us from the local Steiner school are better prepared than the ones who come from the local state schools.”
Steven Jones, Principal, King Edward VI Community College, Devon.

“Waldorf School graduates see behind the facts that often must be repeated or explained on examination. They are keenly interested in the macrocosm of the universe and the microcosm of the cell’s ultrastructure, but they know that Chemistry, Biology and Physics can’t tell them much about the nature of love… I feel certain that all Waldorf School graduates believe in the orderliness of our universe, and they believe the human mind can discern this order and appreciate its beauty.”
Dr. W. Warren B. Eickelberg, Professor of Biology, Director, Premedical Curriculum, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York.

“Those in the public school reform movement have some important things to learn from what Waldorf educators have been doing for many years. It is an enormously impressive effort toward quality education, and schools would be advised to familiarize themselves with the basic assumptions that under gird the Waldorf movement.”
Ernest L Boyer (1928-1995), Former President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“No other educational system in the world gives such a central role to the arts as the Waldorf school movement. Even mathematics is presented in an artistic fashion and related via dance, movement or drawing, to the child as a whole. Anything that can be done to further these revolutionary educational ideas will be of the greatest importance.”
Konrad Oberhuber (1925-2007), world leading expert on Raphael, former Director of the Museum of Art Albertina in Vienna, former Professor of Fine Arts, Harvard University, then at International Christian University, Mitaka, Tokyo.

“Based on a comprehensive, integrated understanding of the human being, a detailed account of child development, and with a curriculum and teaching practice that seeks unity of intellectual, emotional and ethical development at every point, Waldorf education deserves the attention of all concerned with education and the human future.”
Douglas Sloan, Ph D, Professor [Emeritus] of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.

“Waldorf education has been an important model of holistic education for almost a century. It is one of the very few forms of education that acknowledges the soul-life of children and nurtures that life. It is truly an education for the whole child and will continue to be an important model of education as we move into the 21st century.”
Jack Miller, Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education the University of Toronto.

“The importance of storytelling, of the natural rhythms of daily life, of the evolutionary changes in the child, of art as the necessary underpinning of learning, and of the aesthetic environment as a whole – all basic to Waldorf education for the past 70 years – are being “discovered” and verified by researchers unconnected to the Waldorf movement.”
Paul Bayers, Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Resources

Affiliations & Memberships

Suncoast Waldorf School is a member of the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA), the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN), and the International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens.

Links

Association of Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA)

Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN)

International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens

Alliance for Childhood

Waldorf Teachers

Waldorf Today

Recommended Reading

Barnes, Henry. An Introduction to Waldorf Education, a collection of articles by noted Waldorf Educators.

Petrash, Jack. Understanding Waldorf – Education from the Inside Out.

Fenner, Pamela Johnson and Rivers, Karen. Waldorf Education – A Family Guide.

Baldwin, Rahima. You are Your Child’s First Teacher.

Interviews

Joan Almon interview with Rebecca Thompson of The Consciously Parenting Project: Importance of Play, Winter 2011

Suncoast Waldorf School rejects computers in the classroom. Interview with Isabel Mascarenas of Channel 10 News, December 1, 2011

Videos

Suncoast Waldorf You Tube Channel