Steiner’s Waldorf Philosophy

Waldorf Education was founded by Austrian born, Rudolf Steiner, who was an educator, scientist and philosopher. He also created Eurythmy (a form of movement similar to and predating modern dance) and biodynamic farming, one of the earliest forms of organic farming. None of us can predict what information our children will need to know twenty years from now, but we do know that to be successful they will need the ability to think and solve problems. Waldorf education is based on an understanding that key to developing problem solving skills for the 21st century is an active imagination and a commitment to pursuing one’s purpose in life.

Intellectual flexibility, independent judgment, and moral courage will be essential to our children’s success as creative and responsible human beings. To nurture these characteristics, the Waldorf curriculum carefully balances academic, artistic, and practical activities to stimulate the imagination and prepare the students for life. Rather than relying on rote memorization of standardized information, Waldorf education seeks to engage the whole child in the learning process.

Every subject is taught artistically, using movement, drawing, painting, music, storytelling, and rhythm, teachers bring the material to life and endow the developing child with a lifelong sense of wonder and a joy of learning. Whether they become anthropologists or zoologists, mathematicians or musicians, the creative capacities developed through a Waldorf education will give students the foundation they need to be successful and adapt to changing circumstances.

Waldorf teachers understand that children pass through distinct stages of development and that both the subject matter and manner in which it is taught need to be specific to the age of a growing child. This understanding distinguishes Waldorf education from other approaches to education. Ideally, the teacher moves forward with the class each year so that an extended family is created to help children transition through these stages in a healthy manner. The development model is inspired by the thoughts and writings of the visionary educator, scientist, and philosopher, Rudolf Steiner.

Shortly after the first World War, Steiner was asked to create the curriculum for a new school for the children of workers at the Waldorf Astoria Company in Stuttgart, Germany. Because of its philosophy and its innovative methods, the original Waldorf School quickly gained international recognition and inspired the establishment of new Waldorf schools in Germany and many other countries. Eight decades later, Waldorf education is a worldwide independent educational movement, with over 700 schools on five continents. Waldorf education is nonsectarian and works to inspire a true morality through the development of gratitude, reverence, and love for the world. Seasonal festivals are celebrated throughout the year, including events from the Jewish and Christian traditions. While the study of the history of civilizations acquaints the children with spiritual traditions and leaders of humanity such as Buddha, Jesus, Moses, and Zarathustra, the school leaves the question of religion strictly to the family.