Confessions of a Closet Waldorf Parent
Waldorf education really comes down to the difference between teaching a curriculum and teaching children. Children learn best when a caring, connected adult incorporates the rhythm of life, music, art, and movement into the classroom.
Waldorf Education was developed by Rudolph Steiner in the early 1900's in Germany, for the children of factory workers. The basic principles, which are mostly guiding versus strictly adhered to, include:
- Self-paced and independent learning;
- Imagination, art, music, movement & spirituality (non-religious) integrated into content;
- A focus on nature and the rhythm of the body, day, week, month, and year;
- An appreciation of nature, natural fibers and fresh air; and
- A consistent teacher (up to 9 years together) and family atmosphere.
One of my daughters started Waldorf education in preschool but left after kindergarten because she was reading too much and I was afraid it would conflict with Waldorf principles. We did however keep many of the art skills and rituals we learned in Waldorf with us and it is still a major part of our lives.
Today in the United States there are many private Waldorf schools and 44 public ones, most of them k-8th grade. All of the classrooms begin with a teacher shaking the hand of the student and looking them in the eye with a morning greeting, and ending with a blessing for a safe journey.
There is a magic and respect in a Waldorf classroom that I have never perceived in other classrooms, and I cannot help thinking that every teen would be better off to have this kind of connection to a teacher, school, and classroom.
Photo by nessman