Waldorf education

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Waldorf school in Trier, Germany.

Waldorf education (also known as Steiner or Steiner-Waldorf education) is a pedagogy based upon the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Learning is interdisciplinary, integrates practical, artistic, and conceptual elements,[1] and is coordinated with "natural rhythms of everyday life".[2] The Waldorf approach emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning,[3][4][5] developing thinking that includes a creative as well as an analytic component.[6][7] Studies of the education describe its overarching goal as providing young people the basis on which to develop into free, moral[8][9] and integrated individuals,[10][11][3] and to help every child fulfill his or her unique destiny (the existence of which anthroposophy posits).[2][12] Schools and teachers are given considerable freedom to define curricula within collegial structures.[13]

The first Waldorf school was founded in 1919; there are now about 1000[14][15] independent Waldorf schools and 1400 independent Waldorf kindergartens[16] located in approximately sixty countries throughout the world, making up one of the world's largest independent educational systems; there are also Waldorf-based public and Charter schools, homeschooling environments,[3] and schools for special education. Waldorf methods have also been adopted by numerous educators teaching in other schools, both state and private.[17][18][19]


[edit] Pedagogy and theory of child development

The structure of the education follows Steiner's pedagogical model of child development,[20] which describes three broad developmental stages of childhood, each having its own learning requirements;[21] the stages are similar to those described by Piaget.[22]

  • Early childhood learning is largely experiential, imitative and sensory-based.[23] The education emphasizes learning through practical activities.[24]
  • Elementary school years (age 7-14), learning is regarded as artistic and imaginative. In these years, the approach emphasizes developing children's "feeling life" and artistic expression.[25][21]
  • During adolescence, to meet the developing capacity for abstract thought and conceptual judgment[24] the emphasis is on developing intellectual understanding and ethical thinking, including taking social responsibility.[21]

The theory of child development underlying Waldorf education is founded upon the Anthroposophical view of the human being. The approach has been termed "the most complete articulation of an evolutionary developmental K-12 curriculum and creative teaching methodology".[26]

[edit] Pre-school and kindergarten: birth to age 6 or 7

Waldorf schools approach learning in early childhood through imitation and example.[27][28] Extensive time is given for guided free play in a classroom environment that is homelike, includes natural materials and provides examples of productive work in which children can take part;[21] such an environment is considered by Waldorf pedagogues to be supportive of the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of the child through assimilative learning.[28] Outdoor play periods are also generally incorporated into the school day, with the intention of providing children with experiences of nature, weather and the seasons of the year. In Waldorf schools oral language development is addressed through songs, poems and movement games. These include daily story time when a teacher usually tells a fairytale, often by heart.[22] Aids to development via play include the Waldorf doll, a style of doll made intentionally simple in order to allow the child playing with it to strengthen their imagination and creativity. Waldorf kindergartens and lower grades discourage exposure to media influences such as television, computers and recorded music, as they believe these to be harmful to cognitive development in the early years.[23][29]

The education emphasizes early experiences of daily and annual rhythms, including seasonal festivals drawn from a variety of traditions. Though Waldorf schools in the Western Hemisphere have traditionally celebrated Michaelmas and Martinmas in the autumn, Christmas in winter, Easter and May Day in the spring, and St. John's Day in summer,[30] Western schools are now incorporating an increasingly wide range of cultural and religious traditions,[31] and schools located where Jewish, Buddhist, or Islamic traditions are dominant celebrate festivals drawn from these cultures.

[edit] Elementary education: age 6/7 to 14

Waldorf elementary school classroom

In Waldorf schools elementary education may begin when the child is nearing or already seven years of age.[32] The elementary school centers around a multi-disciplinary arts-based curriculum that includes visual arts, drama, artistic movement (eurythmy), vocal and instrumental music, and crafts.[24][33] Throughout the elementary years, students learn two foreign languages (in English-speaking countries often German and either Spanish or French).

Throughout the elementary years, concepts are first introduced through stories and images, and academic instruction is integrated with the visual and plastic arts, music and movement.[34] There is little reliance on standardized textbooks;[35] instead, each child creates his or her own illustrated summary of coursework in book form.[36] The school day generally starts with a one-and-a-half to two-hour academic lesson that focuses on a single theme over the course of about a month's time[7] and generally begins with an introduction that may include singing, instrumental music, recitations of poetry, including a verse written by Steiner for the start of a school day,[30] and practice in mathematics and language arts.

An objective of most Waldorf schools is to have a single teacher loop with a class throughout the elementary school years, teaching at least the principal academic lessons;[7] Waldorf teachers have been cited for their level of personal commitment to their pupils.[37]

Waldorf teachers use the concept of the four temperaments to help interpret, understand and relate to the behaviour and personalities of children under their tutelage. The temperaments, choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, and sanguine,[35] are thought to express four basic personality types, each possessing its own fundamental way of regarding and interacting with the world.

Waldorf elementary education allows for individual variations in the pace of learning, based upon the expectation that a child will grasp a concept or achieve a skill when he or she is ready.[12] Cooperation takes priority over competition.[37][2] This approach also extends to physical education; competitive team sports are introduced in upper grades.[23]

[edit] Secondary education

In most Waldorf schools, pupils enter secondary education when they are about fourteen years old. The education is now wholly carried out by specialist teachers. The education now focuses much more strongly on academic subjects,[38] though students normally continue to take courses in art, music, and crafts. Pupils are encouraged to develop their own independent and creative thinking processes.[38] The curriculum is structured to help students develop a sense of competence, responsibility and purpose,[6] to foster an understanding of ethical principles, and to build a sense of social responsibility.[21]

[edit] Curriculum

There are widely-agreed guidelines for the Waldorf curriculum,[39][40][41] supported by the schools' common principles;[33] nevertheless, independent Waldorf schools are autonomous institutions not required to follow a prescribed curriculum. Government-funded Waldorf-method schools may be required to incorporate aspects of state curricula.

There are a few subjects largely unique to the Waldorf schools. Foremost among these is Eurythmy, a movement art usually accompanying spoken texts or music which includes elements of role play and dance and is designed to provide individuals and classes with a "sense of integration and harmony".[2]

Waldorf schools generally introduce computers into the curriculum in the teenage years.[42]

[edit] Origins and history

Growth of Waldorf Schools Worldwide

Rudolf Steiner wrote his first book on education, The Education of the Child, in 1907. The first school based upon these principles was opened in 1919 in response to a request by Emil Molt, the owner and managing director of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company in Stuttgart, Germany. This is the source of the name Waldorf, which is now trademarked for use in association with the educational method. The Stuttgart school grew rapidly, opening parallel classes, and by 1938 schools inspired by the original school or its pedagogical principles had been founded in the USA, UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Hungary, and in other towns in Germany. Political interference from the Nazi regime limited and ultimately closed most Waldorf schools in Europe; the affected schools, including the original school, were reopened after the Second World War.[43] As of May 2008, there are 965 independent Waldorf Schools worldwide.[15]

Waldorf schools have traditionally been numerically and culturally centered in Europe; the number of non-European schools has been slowly increasing, however, leading to a trend toward reinterpreting the formerly Euro-centric curriculum.[44]

[edit] Governance

One of Waldorf education's central premises is that all schools (not only Waldorf schools) should be both self-governing and grant teachers a high degree of creative autonomy within the school.[34][20][45] Most Waldorf schools are not directed by a principal or head teacher, but rather by a number of groups, including:

  • The college of teachers, who decide on pedagogical issues, normally on the basis of consensus. This group is usually open to full-time teachers who have been with the school for a prescribed period of time. Each school is accordingly unique in its approach, as it may act solely on the basis of the decisions of the college of teachers to set policy or other actions pertaining to the school and its students.[30] Waldorf schools have been cited for having a high level of teacher collegiality.[37]
  • The board of trustees, who decide on governance issues, especially those relating to school finances and legal issues.

Parents are encouraged to take an active part in non-curricular aspects of school life.[2] Waldorf schools have been found to create effective adult learning communities.[46]

There are coordinating bodies for Waldorf education at both the national (e.g. the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America and the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship in the UK and Ireland) and international level (e.g. International Association for Waldorf Education and The European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education (ECSWE)). These organizations certify the use of the registered names "Waldorf" and "Steiner school" and offer accreditations, often in conjunction with regional independent school associations.[47] Some Waldorf schools are independently accredited by governmental authorities.[48]

[edit] Social engagement

Waldorf schools seek to cultivate pupils' sense of social responsibility,[49] respect, and compassion; to develop their cooperative capacities; and to enable them to contribute to societal and cultural renewal.[50] The educational philosophy has been commended for being based upon peace and tolerance.[51]

[edit] Intercultural links in socially polarized communities

Waldorf schools have linked polarized communities in a variety of settings.

  • Under the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Waldorf school was one of the few schools in which children of both races attended the same classes, despite the ensuing loss of state aid. A Waldorf training college in Cape Town, the Novalis Institute, was described by UNESCO as an organization which had a great consequence in the conquest of apartheid: "It has prepared the way and laid the foundations for a new and integrated [community].”[51][52]
  • In Israel, the Harduf Kibbutz Waldorf school includes both Jewish and Arab faculty and students and has extensive contact with the surrounding Arab communities;[53] it also runs an Arab-language Waldorf teacher training.[54] In addition, a joint Arab-Jewish Waldorf kindergarten, the first Arab-Jewish, bilingual and bicultural kindergarten in Israel,[55] was founded in Hilf (near Haifa) in 2005.[56]
  • In Brazil, a Waldorf teacher, Ute Craemer, founded a community service organization providing childcare, vocational training and work, social services including health care, and Waldorf education to more than 1,000 residents of poverty-stricken areas (Favelas) of Sao Paolo.[57]

[edit] Links to UNESCO

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known as UNESCO, states that the Waldorf movement's "ideals and ethical principles...correspond to those of UNESCO,"[16] and has chosen a number of UNESCO Waldorf schools in Germany, Africa and Asia[58] to be associated project schools.

UNESCO also sponsored an exhibit about the Waldorf schools[30] at the 44th Session of their International Conference on Education in Geneva. An exhibition catalogue was published by UNESCO under the title Waldorf Education Exhibition Catalog On Occasion of the 4th Session of the International Conference on Education of UNESCO in Geneva.[59]

[edit] Spiritual foundations

[edit] Anthroposophy's role

Both historically and philosophically, Waldorf education grows out of anthroposophy's view of child development, which stands as the basis for the educational theory, methodology of teaching and curriculum. This includes the belief that humans possess an innate spirit that, having passed through previous lives, will in this life develop in its karmically appropriate environment, before returning to the spirit world and later reincarnate in another body.[60] Waldorf pedagogics see that the teacher has "a sacred task in helping each child's soul and spirit grow".[20] Steiner's "extra-sensory anthropology" has been the source of criticisms of Waldorf education in Germany.[35]

While anthroposophy is not generally taught as a subject, the degree to which anthroposophy is described by the schools as the philosophical underpinning of Waldorf education typically varies from school to school. At times this has led to parents objecting that the role of anthroposophy in the educational method had not been disclosed to them, prior to enrollment.[23]

One study questioned the pedagogy's reliance on a single theory of child development and noted that many Waldorf teachers display an uncritical attitude toward anthroposophy.[13]

[edit] Spirituality and religion

Throughout the curriculum, Waldorf education is implicitly infused with spirituality.[2] The curriculum includes a wide range of religious traditions without favoring any single tradition.[43][2]

In Germany, where religious classes are a mandatory school offering in some federal states[61] each religious denomination provides its own teachers for the Waldorf schools' religion classes; the schools also offer an open religion class for those who have no professed religion. Religion classes are universally absent from American Waldorf schools.[62]

[edit] Celebrations and festivals

Festivals play an important role in Waldorf schools, which generally celebrate seasonal observances by showing work of students in the class. The faculty of each individual school decides which festivals and celebrations would best meet the needs and traditions of the students in their particular school. Waldorf theories and practices have been adapted by schools to the historical and cultural traditions of the surrounding communities, whereby there is wide variation to what extent educators detach from Waldorf education's traditionally European Christian orientation.[6] Examples of such adaptation include the Waldorf schools in Israel and Japan, which celebrate festivals of their particular spiritual heritage, and classes in the Milwaukee Urban Waldorf school, which have adopted traditions with African American and Native American heritages.[2]

[edit] Studies

[edit] General

  • UK comparison with mainstream education

A UK Department for Education and Skills report noted significant differences in curriculum and pedagogical approach between Waldorf/Steiner and mainstream schools and recommended that schools in the state sector could benefit from the following elements of Waldorf education:[63] early introduction and approach to modern foreign languages; the combination of block (class) and subject teaching for younger children; development of speaking and listening through an emphasis on oral work; the good pacing of lessons through an emphasis on rhythm; the emphasis on child development guiding the curriculum and examinations; the approach to art and creativity; the attention given to teachers’ reflective activity and heightened awareness (in collective child study for example); and collegial structure of leadership and management, including collegial study. There were also aspects of mainstream practice which, the researchers recommended, could inform good practice in Waldorf schools: management skills and ways of improving organizational and administrative efficiency; classroom management; work with secondary-school age children; and assessment and record keeping.

A 2008 report by the Cambridge-based Primary Review found that Steiner/Waldorf schools achieved superior academic results to English state schools.[64]

  • Australian study of academic success at university

An Australian study comparing the academic performance of students at university level found that students who had been at Waldorf schools significantly outperformed their peers from non-Waldorf schools in both the humanities and the sciences.[65]

  • Comparison with Montessori and traditional schools

A study compared the drawing ability of children in Steiner/Waldorf, Montessori and traditional schools, concluding that "the approach to art education in Steiner schools is conducive not only to more highly rated imaginative drawings in terms of general drawing ability and use of color but also to more accurate and detailed observational drawings."[66]

  • Comparative study of moral development

A Canadian study found that Waldorf-educated students scored significantly higher on a test of moral reasoning than students in public high schools and students in a religiously-affiliated high school. Waldorf students were also far more likely to volunteer opinions about the survey and research in general, suggesting possible improvements in the survey technique and offering new possibilities to resolve the moral dilemmas raised in the survey.[8]

  • U.S. Waldorf schools survey

A 1995 survey of U.S. Waldorf schools found that parents overall experienced the Waldorf schools as achieving their major aims for students, and described the education as one that "integrates the aesthetic, spiritual and interpersonal development of the child with rigorous intellectual development", preserving students' enthusiasm for learning so that they develop a better sense of self-confidence and self-direction. Some parents described upper grades teachers as overextended, without sufficient time to relate to parental needs and input, and wished for more open and reciprocal parent-school support. Both parents and students sometimes described colleges of teachers as being insular and unresponsive.

Rudolf Steiner School, New York City

The students overall were positive about the school and its differences; experienced the school as a "community of friends"; and spoke of the opportunity to grow and develop through the broad range of activities offered, to learn when they were ready to learn, to develop imagination, and to come to understand the world as well as oneself. Many students spoke of the kindness of their peers and of learning to think things through clearly for themselves, not to jump to conclusions, and to remain positive in the face of problems and independent of pressure from others to think as they do. Improvements the students suggested included more after-school sports programs, more physical education classes, more preparation for standardized testing, a class in world politics and computer classes. Faculty, parents and students were united in expressing a desire to improve the diversity of the student body, especially by increasing representation of minority groups such as African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.[6]

  • Standardized testing: USA and Germany

Despite their lessened exposure to standardized testing (especially in the elementary school years), U.S. Waldorf pupils' SAT scores have usually come above the national average, especially on verbal measures.[23] Studies comparing students' performance on college-entrance examinations in Germany found that as a group, Waldorf graduates passed the exam at double to triple the rate of students graduating from the state education system,[23][35] and that students who had attended Waldorf schools for their entire education passed at a much higher rate (40% vs. 26%) than those who only had part of their education at a Waldorf school.[67] Educational successes of private Waldorf schools may partially reflect the social status of their students.[35]

  • Miscellaneous
    • An international study found that Waldorf pupils were more creative than state-school students, as judged by the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking Ability.[68]
    • An Australian study found that Waldorf-educated adolescents were more oriented towards improving social conditions and had more positive visions of the future than those who attended state schools.[69]
    • A study comparing the prevalence of xenophobic and right-extremist attitudes in pupils in various types of German schools found far fewer students in Waldorf schools who were intolerant of foreigners (2.8%) than in college-preparatory (8.4%) or other schools (16.4% - 24.7%); similarly strong differences were found in the numbers of right-extremist students (1.2% in Waldorf, 2.1%-9.5% in other schools.[70] Similar results were found in a Swedish study which reported that the proportion of the Waldorf pupils who supported counteracting or stopping Nazism and racism was considerably greater (93%) than that of the pupils at municipal secondary schools (72%).[71]
    • A study of 6,600 children from five European countries, ages 5 to 13, showed a lower incidence of allergies amongst children attending Waldorf schools, an effect which correlated with the extent to which they lived an "anthroposophic lifestyle" in terms of restrictive use of antibiotics, antipyretics, and measles, mumps and rubella vaccination.[72] A second, Swedish study found the incidence of atopy or allergy-like symptoms in pupils in Waldorf schools to be half (13%) of that in neighboring non-Waldorf schools (25%).[73]

[edit] Specific schools

  • Milwaukee Urban Waldorf School

Since switching to Waldorf methods, the Milwaukee Urban Waldorf Elementary School has shown an increase in parental involvement, a reduction in suspensions, improvements in standardized test scores for both reading and writing (counter to the district trend), while expenditures per pupil are below many regular district programs.[74] The school converted to Waldorf methods in 1991, when it had 350 students, about 90% of them African American. On the Milwaukee public schools standard third-grade evaluation, the number of children reading above grade level went from 26% in 1992 to 63% in 1995.[2] Waldorf's adaptable and individualized curriculum has been mentioned as a factor in the school's success in addressing children of poverty and children of color.[75]

In 1996 a team of seven mainstream educational researchers conducted a study of the school. In a report published at the conclusion of the study, the school was cited as a positive learning environment, in which the students as well as their background seemed to be treated with respect, and where pupils are both encouraged and trusted to be responsible. The report quoted the school principal's evaluation of the Waldorf approach: "Practical and effective, not first and foremost in academics, but in allowing children to be children again...Waldorf gives you connection to your environment, to nature, to school, to others." The study cited the school's pleasing aesthetic, positive teaching environment, safe atmosphere and warm relations despite the "difficult life that surrounds UWS and many of its children".[63] The report also discussed the challenge of meeting societal racism, unsuspected biases of teachers and students in modern-day America, and anthroposophy and Waldorf education's underlying theory of the evolution of consciousness which "sometimes places one race below another in one or another dimension of development".[2] The researchers noted that teachers "have found a way to put respect for the children before other considerations", and that the school was attempting to combat racism.

  • T. E. Mathews Community School

The T. E. Mathews Community School in Yuba County, California serves high-risk juvenile offenders, many of whom have learning disabilities. The school switched to Waldorf methods in the 1990s. A 1999 study of the school found that students had "improved attitudes toward learning, better social interaction and excellent academic progress."[76][77] This study identified the integration of the arts "into every curriculum unit and almost every classroom activity" of the school as the most effective tool to help students overcome patterns of failure. The study also found significant improvements in reading and math scores, student participation, focus, openness and enthusiasm, as well as emotional stability, civility of interaction and tenacity.[77]

[edit] Reception and controversy

[edit] Reception by mainstream educationalists

Waldorf methodology has had a generally positive reception by educationalists:

  • Dr. Ernest Boyer has recommended Waldorf education's unique integration of the arts into traditional content as a model for other schools.[78]
  • Thomas Armstrong sees Waldorf education curriculum as organically embodying Howard Gardner's seven intelligences.[79]
  • Professor Robert Peterkin considers Waldorf education a healing education whose underlying principles are appropriate for educating all children.[80]
  • Thomas Nielsen of the University of Canberra considers the imaginative teaching approaches used in Waldorf education (drama, exploration, storytelling, routine, arts, discussion and empathy) to be effective stimulators of spiritual-aesthetic, intellectual and physical development and recommends these to mainstream educators.[81]
  • UK educational evaluators see the Waldorf approach conforming to the principal direction of educational theory based upon Comenius and Pestalozzi.[20]

Some Waldorf methods have also been adopted by teachers in both public/state and other private schools.[82] One researcher studying an urban Waldorf school has criticized the lack of greater efforts to implement Waldorf methods in public education.[75]

[edit] Reading and literacy

Steiner-Waldorf education emphasizes the oral tradition, deferring the introduction of reading and writing until age 7.[83] Todd Oppenheimer contrasted the Waldorf schools' approach to reading with early learning approaches:

Emphasis on the creative also guides the aspect of a Waldorf education that probably frightens parents more than any other: the relaxed way that children learn to read. Whereas students at more competitive schools are mastering texts in first grade, sometimes even in kindergarten, most Waldorf students aren't reading fully until the third grade. And if they're still struggling at that point, many Waldorf teachers don't worry. In combination with another Waldorf oddity -- sending children to first grade a year later than usual -- this means that students may not be reading until age nine or ten, several years after many of their peers. ...

It's no surprise, then, that Waldorf parents occasionally panic. Others may distrust Waldorf education because they have heard tales of parents who pulled their children out of a Waldorf school in the third grade when the kids still couldn't read. "That's like a standing joke," [one parent], the mother of two graduates of the Rudolf Steiner School, told [Oppenheimer]. "People say, 'Oh, can your kids read?' There was no concerted effort to drum certain words into the kids. And that was the point." Before teaching sound and word recognition, Waldorf teachers concentrate on exercises to build up a child's love of language. The technique seems to work, even in public schools. Barbara Warren, a teacher at John Morse, a public school near Sacramento, says that two years after Waldorf methods were introduced in her fourth-grade class of mostly minority children, the number of students who read at grade level doubled, rising from 45 to 85 percent. "I didn't start by making them read more," Warren says. "I started telling stories, and getting them to recite poetry that they learned by listening, not by reading. They became incredible listeners." Many Waldorf parents recall that their children were behind their friends in non-Waldorf schools but somehow caught up in the third or fourth grade, and then suddenly read with unusual fervor.[23]

Child psychologist David Elkind, who examined the Waldorf schools focus on hands-on exploration and conceptualization in early childhood education,[84] cites evidence that late readers ultimately fare better at reading and other subjects than early readers.[23][84]

According to Lucy Calkins, a reading specialist at the Teachers College of Columbia University, in most public schools the students who start reading later tend to do worse. Calkins also says that Waldorf students might also benefit slightly if they started earlier, but stated that she "would not necessarily be worried in a Waldorf school....The foundation of literacy is talk and play."[23]

Oppenheimer also cautions "the system isn't fail-safe," noting that faith in the Waldorf system for reading instruction can lead teachers to overlook genuine learning disabilities in some students, including dyslexia.[23]

The British Government's Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is planning from September 2008 to compel all early years 'settings' in England - including Steiner kindergartens - to follow Learning and Development requirements that will require the teaching of reading, writing and numeracy to children of age 5 and below. This Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is currently (early 2008) being contested by the broadly-based OpenEYE campaign and the Steiner-based Save Steiner Schools campaign.

[edit] Concerns over immunizations

The founder of Waldorf education suggested that children's spirits benefited from being tempered in the fires of a good inflammation.[85] A report about a growing trend against childhood immunizations describes parents of a Waldorf school in Colorado who believed vaccinations had harmful effects.[85] Concerns have been raised that unvaccinated students, some of whom attended Waldorf schools, may have been compromising public health by spreading disease, even among vaccinated populations[86][87][88] or that schools have discouraged immunization.[89]

In response, the European Council of Waldorf Schools, representing 630 of the 900 Waldorf schools world wide, [90] has stated unequivocally that opposition to immunisation per se – or resistance to national strategies for childhood immunisation in general – forms no part of the goals of Waldorf education. It also stated that a matter such as whether or not to inoculate a child against communicable disease should be a matter for parental choice, and that insofar as schools have any role to play in these matters, it is in making available a range of balanced information both from the appropriate national agencies and from qualified health professionals with expertise in the field. [91]

[edit] Publicly-funded schools


As of 2007, there were 30 public Waldorf-methods schools in the state of California.[92]

In 1998 a lawsuit was filed in California by a small group, PLANS, against two government school districts which employed Waldorf methods in two of their schools. PLANS argued that publicly-financed Waldorf-methods schools violated the principle of the separation of church and state in the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The group also protested at other government schools in California, claiming the Waldorf training and methods were rooted in a New Age, cult-like religious sect.[93][94]

At the trial, held in 2005, the court ruled against PLANS, dismissing the case on its merits. The judgment followed 30 minutes of attorney questioning during which PLANS told the trial judge that it could present no witnesses qualified to testify in the case who met the requirements of prior evidence rulings. PLANS appealed the outcome in 2006,[95][96] the appeal was granted in November, 2007, and the case was remanded to trial.[97]


There are currently 10 Steiner programs operating in government-run schools in Australia.[89]

In 2006, State-run Steiner schools in Victoria, Australia were challenged by parents and religious experts over concerns that the schools derive from a spiritual system (anthroposophy); parents and administrators, as well as Victorian Department of Education authorities, presented divergent views as to whether spiritual or religious dimensions influence pedagogical practice. If present, these would contravene the secular basis of the public education system.[98]

A number of State-run schools in Victoria run "Steiner-influenced" programs in parallel with standard curricula. Possibly the first was at East Bentleigh Primary school, which commenced the program in 1991. Controversy over the Steiner stream has arisen at Footscray City Primary, a school in Footscray that introduced a Steiner program in 2001.


In July 2008, the Hereford Waldorf School in Much Dewchurch, Herefordshire, U.K. secured funding to become a state-funded "academy" specializing in the natural environment, to be known as The Steiner Academy Hereford.[99]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Rist and Schneider, Integrating Vocational and General Education: A Rudolf Steiner School, Unesco Institute for Education, Hamburg 1979, ISBN 92-820-1024-4, p. 150
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ray McDermott, Mary E. Henry, Cynthia Dillard, Paul Byers, Freda Easton, Ida Oberman, Bruce Uhrmacher, "Waldorf education in an inner-city public school", Urban Review, June 1996
  3. ^ a b c Thomas William Nielsen, Rudolf Steiner's Pedagogy Of Imagination: A Case Study Of Holistic Education, Peter Lang Pub Inc 2004 ISBN 3039103423
  4. ^ Carrie Y. Nordlund, "Art Experiences in Waldorf Education", Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Missouri-Columbia, May 2006
  5. ^ Southworth, Cheryl Ridgeway, Geometry, fir trees and princes: Imaginative cognition in education, Ph.D. dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1988, 294 pages; AAT 8823477
  6. ^ a b c d Freda Easton, The Waldorf impulse in education:Schools as communities that educate the whole child by integrating artistic and academic work, Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University Teachers College, 1995
  7. ^ a b c Ogletree, Earl J., Creativity and Waldorf Education: A Study.
  8. ^ a b Hether, Christine Anne, The moral reasoning of high school seniors from diverse educational settings, Ph.D. dissertation, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, 2001, 209 pages; AAT 3044032
  9. ^ *"The overarching goal is to help children build a moral impulse within so they can choose in freedom what it means to live morally." - Armon, Joan, "The Waldorf Curriculum as a Framework for Moral Education: One Dimension of a Fourfold System.", (Abstract), Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, March 24-28, 1997), p. 1
  10. ^ Peter Schneider, Einführung in die Waldorfpädogogik, Klett-Cotta 1987, ISBN 3-608-93006-X
  11. ^ Ronald V. Iannone, Patricia A. Obenauf, "Toward Spirituality in Curriculum and Teaching", page 737, Education, Vol 119 Issue 4, 1999
  12. ^ a b P. Bruce Uhrmacher, "Uncommon Schooling: A Historical Look at Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy, and Waldorf Education", Curriculum Inquiry, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Winter, 1995), pp. 381-406
  13. ^ a b Mary Barr Sturbaum, Transformational Possibilities of Schooling: A Study of Waldorf Education, Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1997
  14. ^ Holger Niederhausen, "Kulturfaktor Waldorfschule", Das Goetheanum, 30 November 2007
  15. ^ a b List of Waldorf schools worldwide
  16. ^ a b UNESCO 2001 Annex VI
  17. ^ The Waldorf Promise
  18. ^ Stephanie Luster Bravmann, Nancy Stewart Green, Pamela Bolotin Joseph, Edward R. Mikel, Mark A. Windschitl, Cultures of Curriculum, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000. p81, "[Steiner, who] developed the Waldorf School system of education, is another whose ideas are reproduced, often less in whole than in part...in an expanding number of American public and private schools today."
  19. ^ Peter Schneider, Einführung in die Waldorfpädagogik, ISBN 3-608-93006-X, p. 16; "more than 2,000 participants per year, most of whom are state-school teachers, attend summer Waldorf pedagogical seminars in Stuttgart, Herne and Hamburg."
  20. ^ a b c d Woods, Ashley and Woods, Steiner Schools in England, University of West of England, Bristol: Research Report RR645, section 1.5, "Findings from the survey and case studies"
  21. ^ a b c d e Carolyn Pope Edwards, "Three Approaches from Europe", Early Childhood Research and Practice, Spring 2002
  22. ^ a b Iona H. Ginsburg, "Jean Piaget and Rudolf Steiner: Stages of Child Development and Implications for Pedagogy", Teachers College Record Volume 84 Number 2, 1982, p. 327-337.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Todd Oppenheimer, Schooling the Imagination, Atlantic Monthly, Sept. 99
  24. ^ a b c P. Bruce Uhrmacher, Making Contact: An Exploration of Focused Attention Between Teacher and Students", Curriculum Inquiry, Vol 23, No 4, Winter 1993, pp433-444.
  25. ^ Thomas William Nielsen, "Rudolf Steiner's Pedagogy of Imagination: A Phenomenological Case Study", Peter Lang Publisher 2004
  26. ^ Joan Jaeckel, cited in "Sparking Greater Innovation in K-12 Education", Education Week, March 26, 2008
  27. ^ Ginsburg and Opper, Piaget's Theory of Intellectual Development, ISBN 0-13-675140-7, pp. 39-40
  28. ^ a b Rist and Schneider, Integrating Vocational and Generla Education: A Rudolf Steiner School, Unesco Institute for Education, Hamburg 1979, ISBN 92-820-1024-4, pp. 144-6
  29. ^ Earl J. Ogletree, Creativity and Waldorf Education: A Study 1991, ERIC #ED364440, op. cit., p14
  30. ^ a b c d Ida Oberman, "Waldorf History: A Case Study of Institutional Memory", Paper presented to Annual Meeting of the American Education Research Association, IL Mar 24-28, 1997, published US Department of Education - Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC)
  31. ^ Fitzjohn, Sue, et al, Festivals Together: A Guide to Multi-Cultural Celebration, ISBN 1869890469
  32. ^ Criteria for school readiness often include the onset of primary tooth loss, which has been found to correlate strongly with somatic and psychological criteria of school readiness. Cf. Ernst-Michael Kranich, "Anthropologie", in F. Bohnsack and E-M Kranich (eds.), Erziehungswissenschaft und Waldorfpädagogik, Reihe Pädagogik Beltz, Weinheim 1990, p. 126, citing F. Ilg and L. Ames (Gesell Institute), School Readiness, p. 236ff and "...the loss of the first deciduous tooth can serve as a definite indicator of a male child's readiness for reading and schoolwork", Diss. Cornell U. Silvestro, John R. 1977. “Second Dentition and School Readiness.” New York State Dental Journal 43 (March): 155—8
  33. ^ a b Woods, Ashley and Woods, Steiner Schools in England, University of West of England, Bristol: Research Report RR645, section 5.2, "Curriculum"
  34. ^ a b Freda Easton, "Educating the Whole Child, 'Head, Heart and Hands': Learning from the Waldorf Experience", Theory into Practice by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., pp 87-94.
  35. ^ a b c d e Ullrich, Heiner, "Rudolf Steiner" "Prospects: the quarterly review of comparative education, UNESCO: International Bureau of education, vol XXIV, no. 3/4, 1994, pp. 555-572
  36. ^ TRESD Waldorf-methods charter schools
  37. ^ a b c Gay Ward, "Education for the Human Journey", paper presented at Australian Association for Research in Education International Conference 2-6 Dec. 2001, cited in DFES report
  38. ^ a b Rist and Schneider, Integrating Vocational and General Education: A Rudolf Steiner School, Unesco Institute for Education, Hamburg 1979, ISBN 92-820-1024-4, pp. 146-8
  39. ^ Martyn Rawson and Tobias Richter, The Educational Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum,
  40. ^ E. A. Karl Stockmeyer, Rudolf Steiner's Curriculum for Waldorf Schools, Steiner Schools Fellowship, 1985
  41. ^ Rena Upitis, In praise of romance
  42. ^ "Reading is a habit that we can't afford to lose", Sunday Herald, Dec. 2, 2007
  43. ^ a b P. Bruce Uhrmacher, "Uncommon Schooling: A Historical Look at Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education", Curriculum Inquiry, Vol. 25, No. 4. Winter 1995
  44. ^ Alduino Mazzone, Waldorf Teacher Education (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Adelaide), p. 164
  45. ^ Rist and Schneider, Integrating Vocational and General Education: A Rudolf Steiner School, Unesco Institute for Education, Hamburg 1979, ISBN 92-820-1024-4, pp.8-10
  46. ^ Tom Stehlik ("Parenting as a Vocation", International Journal of Lifelong Education 22 (4) pp. 367-79, 2003, cited in DFES report
  47. ^ WASC Accrediting commission for schools
  48. ^ Rhode Island accreditation
  49. ^ Robert McDermott, The Essential Steiner, Harper San Francisco 1984 ISBN 0-06-065345-0
  50. ^ Christensen, Leah M., "Going Back to Kindergarten: Applying the Principles of Waldorf Education to Create Ethical Attorneys". Suffolk University Law Review, 2006
  51. ^ a b Tolerance: The Threshold of Peace., UNESCO, 1994.
  52. ^ Peter Normann Waage, Humanism and Polemical Populism, Humanist 3/2000
  53. ^ Salaam Shalom Educational Foundation
  54. ^ Salaam Shalom
  55. ^ "Garten des Friedens", Anthroposophie Weltweit, 8/07
  56. ^ When Ahmed met Avshalom, Israel21c, May 28, 2006. See the online version of article.
  57. ^ Women of the Year nominee for 1997 (English translation). Accessed 2008-04-29.
  58. ^ UNESCO List of project schools
  59. ^ UNESCO Catalog
  60. ^ Giesenberg, Anna (2000) Spiritual development and young children, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 8(2), 23 — 37. doi:10.1080/13502930085208551.
  61. ^ "Education and Social Cohesion--Religion in the Classroom", Institute for Cultural Diplomacy
  62. ^ Mark Riccio, Rudolf Steiner's Impulse in Education, dissertation, Columbia University Teachers College, 2000, p. 87
  63. ^ a b 2005 report Steiner Schools in England by Philip Woods, Martin Ashley and Glenys Woods of the University of the West of England, Steiner Schools in England, University of West of England, Bristol: Research Report RR645
  64. ^ "Primary schools exert unnecessary pressure on students"
  65. ^ "Sunday Night" broadcast of July 15, 2007
  66. ^ Maureen Cox and Anna Rolands, "The Effect of Three Different Educational Approaches on Children's Drawing Ability", British Journal of Educational Psychology 70, pp. 485-503 (abstract)
  67. ^ Der Spiegel, December 14, 1981
  68. ^ Earl J. Ogletree, The Comparative Status of the Creative Thinking Ability of Waldorf Education Students
  69. ^ Gidley, J. (1998). "Prospective Youth Visions through Imaginative Education." Futures 30(5), pp395-408, cited in Gidley, Batemen, and Smith, Futures in Education, Australian Foresight Institute Monograph Series, 2004 Nr. 5
  70. ^ "Eingegangene Stellungnahmen zu der schriftlichen Anhörung zu dem Dringlichen Antrag der Fraktion BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN betreffend Bekämpfung des Rechtsextremismus in Hessen", p. 130
  71. ^ Bo Dahlin et al: Waldorfskolor och medborgerligt-moralisk kompetens. En jämförelse mellan waldorfelever och elever i den kommunala skolan (Waldorf schools and civic moral competency. A comparison of Waldorf pupils with pupils in public schools. Report 2004:2 Karlstad: Institution for educational science, University of Karlstad, Sweden.)
  72. ^ "Allergic disease and sensitization in Steiner school children", Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, January 11, 2006 [1]
  73. ^ Klotter, Jule, "Anthroposophic lifestyle and allergies in children", Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients 274 (May 2006): 24(2)
  74. ^ Dr. Richard R. Doornek, Educational Curriculum specialist with the Milwaukee Public Schools quoted in Phaizon Rhys Wood, Beyond Survival: A Case Study of the Milwaukee Urban Waldorf School, dissertation, School of Education, University of San Francisco, 1996
  75. ^ a b Phaizon Rhys Wood, Beyond Survival: A Case Study of the Milwaukee Urban Waldorf School, D.Ed. dissertation, Univ. of San Francisco, 1996, p. 135, 149, 154ff
  76. ^ Arline Monks, "Breaking Down the Barriers to Learning: The Power of the Arts", Journal of Court, Community and Alternative Schools
  77. ^ a b Babineaux, R., Evaluation report: Thomas E. Mathews Community School, Stanford University 1999, cited in Monks, op. cit.
  78. ^ Ernest Boyer, cited in Eric Oddleifson, Boston Public Schools As Arts-Integrated Learning Organizations: Developing a High Standard of Culture for All, Address of May 18, 1995: "One of the strengths of the Waldorf curriculum is its emphasis on the arts and the rich use of the spoken word through poetry and storytelling. The way the lessons integrate traditional subject matter is, to my knowledge, unparalleled. 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."
  79. ^ Thomas Armstrong, cited in Boston Public Schools As Arts-Integrated Learning Organizations: Developing a High Standard of Culture for All, :"Waldorf education embodies in a truly organic sense all of Howard Gardner's seven intelligences. Rudolph Steiner's vision is a whole one, not simply an amalgam of the seven intelligences. Many schools are currently attempting to construct curricula based on Gardner's model simply through an additive process (what can we add to what we have already got?). Steiner's approach, however, was to begin with a deep inner vision of the child and the child's needs and build a curriculum around that vision."
  80. ^ Robert S. Peterkin, Director of Urban Superintendents Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education and former Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, in Boston Public Schools As Arts-Integrated Learning Organizations: Developing a High Standard of Culture for All:"Waldorf is healing education . . . It is with a sense of adventure that the staff of Milwaukee Public Schools embraces the Waldorf concept in an urban multicultural setting. It is clear that Waldorf principles are in concert with our goals for educating all children."
  81. ^ "Rudolf Steiner's Pedagogy of Imagination: A Phenomenological Case Study"
  82. ^ Stephanie Luster Bravmann, Nancy Stewart Green, Pamela Bolotin Joseph, Edward R. Mikel, Mark A. Windschitl, Cultures of Curriculum, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000. p81, "[Steiner, who] developed the Waldorf School system of education, is another whose ideas are reproduced, often less in whole than in part...in an expanding number of American public and private schools today."
  83. ^ Janet Howard (1992). Literacy learning in a Waldorf school: A belief in the sense of structure and story. Ed.D. dissertation, State University of New York at Albany.
  84. ^ a b David Elkind, "Much Too Early", Education Next, a Journal of Opinion and Research, Hoover Institute, Standford University, Summer 2001 [2]
  85. ^ a b Arthur Allen, Bucking the Herd, The Atlantic Monthly, September 2002
  86. ^ Katherine Seligman, Vaccination backlash, The San Francisco Chronicle May 25, 2003[3]
  87. ^ Pamela White, A shot in the dark, Boulder Weekly, Aug 8 2002 [4]
  88. ^ "Thomas R. DeGregori, The Deadly Perils of Rejected Knowledge, American Council on Science and Health, Sept 13, 2002 [5]
  89. ^ a b Milanda Rout, "Questions about Steiner's classrooms", The Australian July 28 2007
  90. ^ European Council of Waldorf Schools
  91. ^ Consensus statement, agreed by members of the ECSWE, meeting in Copenhagen, 21 January 2001.
  92. ^ "Waldorf educator visits Orchard Valley", Barre Montpelier Times Argus, Dec. 1 2007
  93. ^ Beth Reinhard, "Public Waldorf School in Calif. Under Attack", Education Week June 25, 1997. PLANS was cited as "calling Waldorf an offshoot of a 'cult-like religious sect'."
  94. ^ Linda Jacobson, "Court Allows Lawsuit Over Waldorf Teaching Practices To Progress", Education Week October 13, 1999. Archived copy. Accessed 2007-12-17.
  95. ^ Chrisanne Beckner, "Change of PLANS", Newsreview.com Sep 22 2005
  96. ^ Chrisanne Beckner, "Separation anxiety", Newsreview.com Jan 26 2006
  97. ^ Damrell, Frank C., Minute Order, Nov 27 2007. Text of order. Accessed 2007-12-17.
  98. ^ Steiner education in state schools. ABC National Radio. 25 July 2007 Religion Report, I, 1 August 2007 Religion Report II
  99. ^ Mark Bowen, New academy to open in Hereford, Hereford Times, 24 July 2008. Accessed 2008-07-25.

[edit] References

[edit] Works by Rudolf Steiner

  • Education: An Introductory Reader (Christopher Clouder, ed.), Sophia Books (March 2004), ISBN 1-85584-118-5. Collection of relevant works by Steiner on education.
  • The Education of the Child, and early Lectures on Education (Foundations of Waldorf Education, 25), ISBN 0-88010-414-7. Includes Steiner's first descriptions of child development, originally published as a small booklet.
  • The Foundations of Human Experience, ISBN 0-88010-392-2; also known as The Study of Man, these fundamental lectures on education were given to the teachers just before the opening of the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart in 1919.

Note: all of Steiner's lectures on Waldorf education are available in PDF form at this research site

[edit] Selected works by other authors

  • Aeppli, W., The Developing Child Anthroposophic Press ISBN 0-88010-491-0
  • Clouder, C. and Rawson, M., Waldorf Education Floris Books ISBN 0-86315-396-8
  • Cusick, L, Waldorf Parenting Handbook Mercury Press ISBN 0-916786-75-7
  • Edmunds, Francis, An Introduction to Steiner Education Rudolf Steiner Press ISBN 1-85584-172-X
  • Gardner, John F., Education in Search of the Spirit: Essays on American Education Anthroposophic Press ISBN 0-88010-439-2
  • Masters, Brien, Adventures in Steiner Education Rudolf Steiner Press ISBN 1-85584-153-3
  • Nobel, Agnes, Educating through Art: The Steiner School Approach Floris Books ISBN 0863151873
  • Petrash, Jack, (2002): Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out Floris Books ISBN 0863154300
  • Querido, René, The Esoteric Background of Waldorf Education Rudolf Steiner College Press ISBN 0-94580-325-7
  • Wilkinson, R. (1996): The Spiritual Basis of Steiner Education. London: Sophia Books ISBN 1-85584-065-0

[edit] External links

[edit] Studies of the education

[edit] Journal and newspaper articles

[edit] Waldorf resources

[edit] Schools and colleges

Associations of Waldorf Schools
Finding a Waldorf School
Teacher training programs

[edit] Special education and homeschooling

Personal tools