If you haven’t yet heard of Waldorf schools, here is a complete summary on what it really is.
Rudolf Steiner established the first ever Waldorf School in 1919.
For starters, Rudolf was a Austrian philosopher, economist, social reformer and architect during the 19th and 20th century.
So, he first opened Waldorf school in Germany after the first world war had ended.
The school was established to educated the children of factory workers at Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Company.
Rudolf opened the school along with the then managing director of Waldorf-Astoria.
Now by 2019, there are over 1200 similar schools worldwide.
This education system is different from the standard schooling around the world.
Undoubtedly, this free-form style education ensures a holistic development of the children.
The History of Waldorf Education System
Rudolf opened the first ever Waldorf school after a speech at the Waldorf-Astoria. He also proposed a new kind of comprehensive school.
They had designed this school to comply to four different conditions.
Firstly, the school would be open to all the children. Secondly, the school would be co-educational.
Thirdly, it would be a unified twelve year schooling.
Lastly, the teachers would have a complete control over the pedagogy with a minimum interference by the government.
The first school was established at Stuttgart Germany on September with 256 student.
It grew quickly and had added grades 9-14 in secondary education.By 1926 there were more than 1000 students.
Slowly, after the second world war countries like United States, the Netherlands, Austria, Norway had either established such schools or used their principles.
At present, there are about 200 Waldorf school in the United states, 70 in Australia and New Zealand.
More than one third schools are located in the Europe. There are Waldorf schools even in China, Russia, South Africa and Canada.
The Difference Between other Schooling and Waldorf Schools
The curriculum of these schools are completely different.
They divide the child learning into 3 different stages.
The first stage is from 0-7 years, the moon stage. The second one is 7-14 years, the mercury stage.
The last one is 14-21 years, the venus stage.
There are different teaching approaches in these different stages.
The first stage involves learning through imitation and the experiences.
The main goal is to instill in the child the belief that the world is good.
In the mercury stage, they focus on developing the emotional life and imagination of the child.
And lastly after 14 years of age, the children are provided education on various subjects and prepared for college education.
The assessment of students through standardized tests are rare under Waldorf schooling.
These schools focus on the individual academic progress of the students.
Rather than focusing on the academic growth the importance is placed on holistic development.
The teachers in Waldorf schools are very different from other schools.
Waldorf education system also has some courses for the teachers in child development.
Waldorf education teaches the students wide range of religions and traditions.
However, they do not favor any of those in particular. It is a way of connecting the human to the spiritual.
What makes Waldorf Schools better?
The overall development of a child is the best part of this education system.
They do not focus on the academic development of the child until the secondary education.
So, the children are free to learn whatever they want without the pressure of any tests.
This system empowers the students and instills emotional intelligence.
Due to this, the students will be able to cope better with the environment and understand the society better.
They focus equally on arts, science and humanities. This ensures that the children are happily learning the thing that they really want to.
Criticisms of the Waldorf Education System
Although the Waldorf schooling seems complete and holistic there are certain things that are controversial. For instance:
- Vaccine Exemption
There have been a continuous backlash over the vaccine exemption policy of the Waldorf schools.
Since, they believe that immunization leads to hampering of the growth of the child, there are people who are reluctant to enroll their children in such schools.
However, the Waldorf school association has issued various public comments that they have no restrictions towards the vaccination policy.
The parents have complete authority over the child’s health.
- Religious Education
Similarly, due to the religious education in the early years of schooling some parents are hesitant to send their kids in this school.
In United States such education are are absent from the curriculum.
- Hierarchy of Races
It is reported that Steiner believed in the hierarchy of races. He associated white races with intelligence.
However, at present there are organizations that ensure that these beliefs are not practiced.