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What Is Waldorf Education?

With more than 900 Waldorf Schools internationally, Waldorf education is the fastest-growing educational movement in the world.

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Developed in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner, a renowned Austrian philosopher, educator, scientist, and artist, Waldorf education is based on Steiner’s profound insights into the human being and the nature of the developing child. Continuing research of eminent child specialists such as Jean Piaget, David Elkind, Joseph Chilton Pearce, and members of the Gesell Institute confirm the soundness of the Waldorf approach.

The Waldorf pedagogy is based on the understanding that traditional subjects such as writing, literature, music, and arts aren’t merely meant to be read about and tested, but experienced. Through that experience, the whole human being is educated, nurturing their intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual selves. 

“If you’ve had the experience of binding a book, knitting a sock, playing a recorder, then you feel that you can build a rocket ship-or learn a software program you’ve never touched. It’s not bravado, just a quiet confidence. There is nothing you can’t do. Why couldn’t you? Why couldn’t anybody?”

As educators, it’s our responsibility to develop individuals capable of clear, creative thought and expression, who possess the self-confidence to meet the challenges of our rapidly changing world. With this goal in mind, Waldorf schools strive to develop the child’s full human potential. By building on a child’s natural curiosity, sense of wonder, and love of learning, the whole child is educated—body, mind, and spirit. A comprehensive academic curriculum unfolds through the school years, integrating the cultural, scientific, and social life of humanity. In an atmosphere of care and respect, the teacher presents lessons in a lively, imaginative way, using artistic methods to expand and deepen the child’s experience of learning.

The breadth and depth of the academic program is a distinguishing feature of Waldorf Schools. Developed and refined over the past seven decades, the Waldorf curriculum is designed to introduce students to all the important branches of knowledge. The curriculum awakens in the child a respect for cultural origins and historical foundations, fostering a sense of world citizenship. At the same time, a spirit of scientific inquiry is cultivated which leads to a lifelong love of learning.