We understand that parents have many questions about why Waldorf education works. Below we have compiled some frequently asked questions, as well as an article Five Frequently Asked Questions, by Colin Price.
WHAT IS WALDORF EDUCATION?
Developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, Waldorf Education is based on a developmental approach that addresses the needs of the growing child and maturing adolescent. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education in to an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head.
IS WALDORF SIMILAR TO MONTESSORI?
These two educational approaches began with a similar goal: to design a curriculum that was developmentally appropriate to the child and that addressed the child's need to learn in a tactile as well as an intellectual way. The philosophies are otherwise very different. For more information, please read: A Look at Waldorf and Montessori Education in the Early Childhood Programs by Barbara Shell.
WHAT IS EURYTHMY?
Eurythmy is the art of movement that attempts to make visible the tone and feeling of music and speech. Eurythmy helps to develop concentration, self-discipline, and a sense of beauty. This training of moving artistically with a group stimulates sensitivity to the other as well as individual mastery. Eurythmy lessons follow the themes of the curriculum, exploring rhyme, meter, story, and geometric forms.
HOW DO WALDORF GRADUATES DO AFTER GRADUATION?
Waldorf students have been accepted in and graduated from a broad spectrum of colleges and universities including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Brown. Waldorf graduates reflect a wide diversity of professions and occupations including medicine, law, science, engineering, computer technology, the arts, social science, government, and teaching at all levels.
According to a recent study of Waldorf graduates:
• 94% attended college or university
• 47% chose humanities or arts as a major
• 42% chose sciences or math as a major
• 89% are highly satisfied in choice of occupation
• 91% are active in lifelong education
• 92% placed a high value on critical thinking
• 90% highly values tolerance of other viewpoints
WHAT ABOUT COMPUTERS AND WALDORF EDUCATION?
Waldorf teachers feel the appropriate age for computer use in the classroom and by students is in high school. We feel it is more important for students to have the opportunity to interact with one another and with teachers in exploring the world of ideas, participating in the creative process, and developing their knowledge, skills, abilities, and inner qualities. Waldorf students have a love of learning, an ongoing curiosity, and interest in life. As older students, they quickly master computer technology, and graduates have successful careers in the computer industry.
For additional reading, please see Fools Gold, a special report from the Alliance For Childhood.
WHY DO WALDORF SCHOOLS RECOMMEND THE LIMITING OF TELEVISION, VIDEOS, AND RADIO FOR YOUNG CHILDREN?
A central aim of Waldorf Education is to stimulate the healthy development of the child's own imagination. Waldorf teachers are concerned that electronic media hampers the development of the child's imagination. They are concerned about the physical effects of the medium on the developing child as well as the content of much of the programming.
There is more and more research to substantiate these concerns. Please see these books:
• Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don't Think by Jane Healy
• Failure To Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds For Better and Worse by Jane Healy
• Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander
• The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn
• Evolution's End: Claiming The Potential of Our Intelligence by Joseph Chilton Pearce
ARE WALDORF SCHOOLS RELIGIOUS?
Waldorf schools are non-sectarian and non-denominational. They educate all children, regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds. The pedagogical method is comprehensive, and, as part of its task, seeks to bring about recognition and understanding of all the world cultures and religions. Waldorf schools are not part of any church. They espouse no particular religious doctrine but are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to the human being and to all of life. Waldorf families come from a broad spectrum of religious traditions and interest.