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Where is the book in which the teacher can read about what teaching is? The children themselves are this book.

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We should not learn to teach out of any book other than the one lying open before us and consisting of the children themselves. Waldorf pedagogical theory considers that during the first years of life children learn best by being immersed in an environment they can learn through un-selfconscious imitation of practical activities. The early childhood curriculum therefore centers on experiential education , allowing children to learn by example, and opportunities for imaginative play.

Waldorf preschools employ a regular daily routine that includes free play, artistic work e. Pre-school and kindergarten programs generally include seasonal festivals drawn from a variety of traditions, with attention placed on the traditions brought forth from the community. Waldorf kindergarten and lower grades generally discourage pupils' use of electronic media such as television and computers.

Waldorf pedagogues consider that readiness for formal learning depends upon increased independence of character, temperament, habits, and memory, one of the markers of which is the loss of the baby teeth.

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Waldorf elementary schools ages 7—14 emphasize cultivating children's emotional life and imagination. In order that students can connect more deeply with the subject matter, academic instruction is presented through artistic work that includes story-telling, visual arts , drama, movement, vocal and instrumental music, and crafts. Elementary school educators' stated task is to present a role model children will naturally want to follow, gaining authority through fostering rapport and "nurturing curiosity, imagination, and creativity.

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. Each class normally remains together as a cohort throughout their years, developing as a quasi-familial social group whose members know each other quite deeply.

A central role of this class teacher is to provide supportive role models both through personal example and through stories drawn from a variety of cultures, [56] educating by exercising creative, loving authority. Class teachers are normally expected to teach a group of children for several years, [77] a practice known as looping. The traditional goal was for the teacher to remain with a class for the eight years of the "lower school" cycle, but in recent years the duration of these cycles has been increasingly treated flexibly.


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Already in first grade, specialized teachers teach many of the subjects, including music, crafts, movement, and two foreign languages from complementary language families [16] in English-speaking countries often German and either Spanish or French ; these subjects remain central to the curriculum throughout the elementary school years. While class teachers serve a valuable role as personal mentors, establishing "lasting relationships with pupils," [77] especially in the early years, Ullrich documented problems when the same class teacher continues into the middle school years.

Noting that there is a danger of any authority figure limiting students enthusiasm for inquiry and assertion of autonomy , he emphasized the need for teachers to encourage independent thought and explanatory discussion in these years, and cited approvingly a number of schools where the class teacher accompanies the class for six years, after which specialist teachers play a significantly greater role.

Steiner considered children's cognitive, emotional and behavioral development to be interlinked. For example, "cholerics are risk takers, phlegmatics take things calmly, melancholics are sensitive or introverted, and sanguines take things lightly. Seating arrangements and class activities may be planned taking into account the temperaments of the students [81] but this is often not readily apparent to observers. In most Waldorf schools, pupils enter secondary education when they are about fourteen years old. Secondary education is provided by specialist teachers for each subject.

The education focuses much more strongly on academic subjects, though students normally continue to take courses in art, music, and crafts. In the third developmental stage 14 years old and up , children in Waldorf programs are supposed to learn through their own thinking and judgment. The overarching goals are to provide young people the basis on which to develop into free , morally responsible , [50] [85] and integrated individuals, [70] [86] [87] with the aim of helping young people "go out into the world as free, independent and creative beings.

The philosophical foundation of the Waldorf approach, anthroposophy , underpins its primary pedagogical goals: to provide an education that enables children to become free human beings, and to help children to incarnate their "unfolding spiritual identity," carried from the preceding spiritual existence, as beings of body, soul, and spirit in this lifetime. While anthroposophy underpins the curriculum design, pedagogical approach, and organizational structure, it is explicitly not taught within the school curriculum and studies have shown that Waldorf pupils have little awareness of it.

Waldorf schools frequently have striking architecture, employing walls meeting at varied angles not only perpendicularly to achieve a more fluid, less boxed-in feeling to the space. The walls are often painted in subtle colors, often with a lazure technique, and include textured surfaces.

The schools primarily assess students through reports on individual academic progress and personal development. The emphasis is on characterization through qualitative description. Pupils' progress is primarily evaluated through portfolio work in academic blocks and discussion of pupils in teacher conferences. Standardized tests are rare, with the exception of examinations necessary for college entry taken during the secondary school years. It is noted that Waldorf education is not a matter of "assessment-driven instruction or vice-versa" and there is no anxiety-producing experience on the part of the learner of suddenly being tested.

Though Waldorf schools are autonomous institutions not required to follow a prescribed curriculum beyond those required by local governments there are widely agreed upon guidelines for the Waldorf curriculum, supported by the schools' common principles. The main academic subjects are introduced through up to two-hour morning lesson blocks that last for several weeks. This has been described as a spiral curriculum. Many subjects and skills not considered core parts of mainstream schools, such as art, music, gardening, and mythology, are central to Waldorf education.

Elementary students paint, draw, sculpt, knit, weave, and crochet. Fine art instruction includes form drawing, sketching, sculpting, perspective drawing and other techniques. Music instruction begins with singing in early childhood and choral instruction remains an important component through the end of high school. Around age 9, diatonic recorders and orchestral instruments are introduced. Certain subjects are largely unique to the Waldorf schools. Foremost among these is eurythmy , a movement art usually accompanying spoken texts or music which includes elements of drama and dance and is designed to provide individuals and classes with a "sense of integration and harmony.

Other differences include: non-competitive games and free play in the younger years as opposed to athletics instruction; instruction in two foreign languages from the beginning of elementary school; and an experiential-phenomenological approach to science [] whereby students observe and depict scientific concepts in their own words and drawings [] rather than encountering the ideas first through a textbook. The Waldorf curriculum has always incorporated multiple intelligences. The scientific methodology of modern Waldorf schools utilizes a so-called "phenomenological approach" to science education employing an exemplary methodology of inquiry-based learning aiming to "strengthen the interest and ability to observe" in pupils.

Other experts have called into question the quality of this phenomenological approach if it fails to educate Waldorf students on basic tenets of scientific fact. These included the idea that animals evolved from humans, that human spirits are physically incarnated into "soul qualities that manifested themselves into various animal forms," that the current geological formations on Earth have evolved through so-called "Lemurian" and "Atlantiean" epochs, and that the four kingdoms of nature are "mineral, plant, animal, and man.

Contradictory notions found in Waldorf textbooks are distinct from factual inaccuracies occasionally found in modern public school textbooks, as the inaccuracies in the latter are of a specific and minute nature that results from the progress of science. The former those inaccuracies present in Waldorf textbooks , however, are the result of a mode of thinking that has no valid basis in reason or logic.

One study of the science curriculum compared a group of American Waldorf school students to American public school students on three different test variables.

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The researchers found that Waldorf school students scored higher than both the public school students and the national average on the TIMSS test while scoring the same as the public school students on the logical reasoning tests. In , Stockholm University terminated its Waldorf teacher training courses. In a statement the university said "the courses did not encompass sufficient subject theory and a large part of the subject theory that is included is not founded on any scientific base. Because they view human interaction as the essential basis for younger children's learning and growth, [76] : Waldorf schools view computer technology as being first useful to children in the early teen years, after they have mastered "fundamental, time-honoured ways of discovering information and learning, such as practical experiments and books.

Education researchers John Siraj-Blatchford and David Whitebread praised the [DfE] for making this exemption, highlighting Waldorf education's emphasis on simplicity of resources and the way the education cultivates the imagination. Waldorf schools have been very popular with parents working in the technology sector, including those from some of the most advanced technology firms. In one Silicon Valley school, "three-quarters of the students have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Waldorf education aims to educate children about a wide range of religious traditions without favoring any one of these.

Waldorf schools were historically "Christian based and theistically oriented," [72] as they expand into different cultural settings they are adapting to "a truly pluralistic spirituality. Religion classes are usually absent from United States Waldorf schools, [] are a mandatory offering in some German federal states, whereby in Waldorf schools each religious denomination provides its own teachers for the classes, and a non-denominational religion class is also offered.

In the United Kingdom, public Waldorf schools are not categorized as " Faith schools. Tom Stehlik places Waldorf education in a humanistic tradition, and contrasts its philosophically grounded approach to "value-neutral" secular state schooling systems. Waldorf teacher education programs offer courses in child development , the methodology of Waldorf teaching, academic subjects appropriate to the future teachers' chosen specialty, and the study of pedagogical texts and other works by Steiner.

One of Waldorf education's central premises is that all educational and cultural institutions should be self-governing and should grant teachers a high degree of creative autonomy within the school; [] : [72] this is based upon the conviction that a holistic approach to education aiming at the development of free individuals can only be successful when based on a school form that expresses these same principles.


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  6. Parents are encouraged to take an active part in non-curricular aspects of school life. There are coordinating bodies for Waldorf education at both the national e. These organizations certify the use of the registered names "Waldorf" and "Steiner school" and offer accreditations, often in conjunction with regional independent school associations. The Waldorf public school movement is currently expanding rapidly; while in , there were twelve Waldorf-inspired public schools in the United States, [] by there were 53 such schools.

    Most Waldorf-inspired schools in the United States are elementary schools established as either magnet or charter schools. The first Waldorf-inspired high school was launched in with assistance from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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    Studies of standardized test scores suggest that students at Waldorf-inspired schools tend to score below their peers in the earliest grades and catch up [] or surpass [] their peers by middle school. One study found that students at Waldorf-inspired schools watch less television and spend more time engaging in creative activities or spending time with friends. A legal challenge alleging that California school districts' Waldorf-inspired schools violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article IX of the California Constitution was dismissed on its merits in [] and on appeal in [] and Since then, Steiner academies have opened in Frome , Exeter and Bristol as part of the government-funded free schools programme.

    In December , Ofsted judged the Steiner Academy Exeter as inadequate and ordered it to be transferred to a multi-academy trust; it was temporarily closed in October because of concerns. The concerns included significant lapses in safeguarding, and mistreating children with special educational needs and disabilities, and misspending the funding designated for them.

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    In November , BBC News broadcast an item about accusations that the establishment of a state-funded Waldorf School in Frome was a misguided use of public money. Anthroposophy, upon which Waldorf education is founded, stands firmly against all forms of racism and nationalism. The British Humanist Association criticised a reference book used to train teachers in Steiner academies for suggesting that the heart is sensitive to emotions and promoting homeopathy, while claiming that Darwinism is "rooted in reductionist thinking and Victorian ethics.