The overall goal of a Waldorf education is for children to be:
- well-grounded in their cultural and social environment;
- curious and inquisitive human beings;
- reverent of the artistic and creative self;
- conscientious and compassionate world citizens.
How is this achieved?
Emphasis on Whole Person Learning
- Waldorf educators recognize the Incredible cognitive development that takes place in childhood. As such, Waldorf teachers are taught to identify how a child’s inner and outer world unfolds at each stage in a child’s life, and to support learning that will trigger the steady growth of the intellectual, physical, emotional, and moral self. At Waldorf, there is no pressure for a child to fit a particular mold, or to conform to one-dimensional standards. A Waldorf-educated child learns in their own time and is never overwhelmed, yet is always stretched to be the best they can be.
Emphasis on the Beauty of the Inner and Outer World
- In order to develop greater harmony of the self, Waldorf schools create a beautiful, home-like learning environment in the classroom that reflects the beauty of the natural world. Teachers consciously choose learning materials that reflect the natural environment, and children are encouraged to bring their own definitions of beauty and insight to their learning. The Waldorf approach to learning is artistic and creative, but rigorous.
Real Work for a Real Purpose
- To a Waldorf student, a Waldorf teacher is a representation for what greater humanity is about. Waldorf teachers thus model real, purposeful work in the classroom by engaging students in activities such as handwork, knitting, sewing, baking, and art. Outside, teachers and students take care of the environment by gardening, raking, filling bird feeders, shoveling, weeding, and composting. The emphasis on real work for a real purpose provides students with the balance between academic and practical living, and teaches students the value of community and the satisfaction of a job well done. In this way, Waldorf prepares students for the real world and to be great contributors to their culture and broader society.
Imagination and Play
- The hallmark of a Waldorf education is the link between children and their imaginative play. Waldorf educators believe the imagination is the key to creative thinking in later life.
- Each day, time is allowed in the classroom for unstructured, imaginative play without adult interference. In the younger grades this may look like dress-up, kitchen tea parties, wooden playstands draped in silks, and wooden block creations. In the upper grades this is seen in the creation of one’s own textbooks, complete with shaded borders, detailed drawings, and handwritten text; writing and illustrating original stories; composing unique plays; and creating intersections between math, science, social science, art, and language.
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