Waldorf education was developed by the Austria philosopher and metaphysicist Rudolf Steiner in the 1920 and is based around his views on Child development. Steiner believed that the development of children paralleled world history and the development of mankind and tailored the Waldorf school curriculum to compliment that. A good example of this aspect of Waldorf education can be seen in the Waldorf social studies curriculum:
- Grades K-1 - Fairytales and folktales
- Grade 2 - Fables and stories of the saints
- Grade 3 - Old testament of the bible stories
- Grade 4 - Norse & Native American legends and sagas
- Grades 5 & 6 - The Indus Valley cultures, Egypt, Greece, & Rome
- Grade 7 & 8 - The Middle Ages, Renaissance, Age of Enlightenment and Revolutions
- High school - The modern world and their future.
Lessons consist of in 2-3 week long Blocks or thematic units in which all subjects - Math, science, history, language arts - are related back to the main theme.
Steiner also believed in educating the "whole" child and integrated a strong arts and movement based teaching style into Waldorf Education. Each morning is begun with movement and recitation exercises designed to stimulate the child's mental functioning and alertness. This is followed by the main lesson - an intensive 1-2 hr lesson on the main topic being studied. The Waldorf curriculum also includes regular weekly lessons in geometric form drawing, water color painting, crafts, and movement arts.
An important aspect of the Waldorf philosophy is that if the curriculum is properly laid out that the children will learn the main concepts on their own. Students are not told the main concepts, but guided to discover them on their own thus stimulating their creativity and higher thinking skills.
Steiner also believed in the importance of the child having a strong and long lasting relationship with their teacher. In the Waldorf lower school teachers stay with the same class, often for eight years (Grades 1-8). The belief being that a child can develop a trust for that teacher and the teacher will know on a much deeper level what is best for that child. This depth of understanding goes one step further in the homeschooling parent.
Waldorf Education in a school setting is often expensive, depending on the social philosophy embraced by the individual school. Steiner himself believed strongly that schools should implement a sliding scale based on ability to pay, but few schools have been able to make that work today.
- Steiner Schools in Australia - This site contains lots of information on Waldorf Education in Australia, and beyond.
- Waldorf World - This is a great site to come learn about Waldorf Education. Included are school directories, articles, teacher training and employment links, plus links to other sites.
- Live Education! - Here you'll find commercial homeschooling supplies for families inspired by a Waldorf perspective.
- An Introduction to Waldorf Education - by Rudolf Steiner, 1919 (translated from German)