Monday, November 16, 2009

Alternative Schools--Waldorf

First in an ongoing series

Rudolf Steiner (1861—1925) Austrian

Waldorf schools are fairly popular throughout the world. There are currently 994 schools in 60 countries currently in operation. Teachers stay with a class for their entire lower- or upper-grade education to develop a bond in which it is safe to explore and learn.

A very artistic school, children are taught to draw exceedingly well and to perform in choreographed movements called Eurythmy. First graders are taught to draw a perfect freehand circle, sixth graders are taught to create intricate geometrical patterns, and by high school, students are copying classical works of art and detailed architecture. They learn to draw well, I assume, by copying their teacher, who does detailed chalk drawings on the board. Kindergarteners are taught to make perfect letters by first learning lines: vertical, horizontal, and different types of curves. The teacher eventually directs the children to turning these lines into perfect letters. Writing thereafter is done artistically and without error.

Ways and methods at Waldorf schools seem peculiar. Toys in the classroom are all organic. Clothing worn during Eurythmy performances is a simple frock. Work done in the classroom is error free. The only reason I can determine for why this is, is because Waldorf teachers believe in Anthroposophy, a spiritual “philosophy” Steiner created in which one has an inner nature that is to be brought out. It is what must account for the nontraditional methods. Apart from creating what seem to be an idealistic attitude in the classroom, it does, however, create a new way of thinking about teaching the students. From what I've gathered, the students are allowed to focus their education on areas in which they excel or are very interested.

Waldorf Education wiki page
Why Waldorf
E. Schwartz youtube page