I attended a Waldorf school from the age of 6 till 11; most people I know don’t have a clue what a Woldorf school is.
Waldorf schools have risen from the humanistic movement in education (HMiE) which has the following principles:
The objectives of humanistic education are to encourage students to:
A nice quote by Rogers (1959):
“(Students should) wish to learn, want to grow, seek to find out, hope to master, and desire to create.”
With these concepts in mind, the roots of the HMiE stem from A. S. Neill who founded Summerhill, a school in England based on humanistic principles, in 1921. Children who attended the school were given the freedom to study and attend lessons when they wanted. It was reported that the students were never bored and that they were energetic, responsible, and willing to take initiative in their studies.
Important contributors to the HMiE in the States were Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. The philosopher Rudolf Steiner was the founder of Waldorf education (i.e. Steiner education), another kind of HMiE. The first Waldorf school was founded 1919 in Germany, at the present there are around a thousand Waldorf schools worldwide. Some Waldorf-principles are:
Looking back at my time in a Waldorf school, I think it was a good and worthwhile experience. What the teachers in my following school noticed, in comparison to my fellow students, was my independence, confidence and creativity (right, this might just be who I am but it is possible that the time in the Waldorf school did boost these characteristics a little). I think a child should be given more time to be a child – look at all curriculums around the world, kids are already evaluated in primary school and in some countries they’re put in different schools according to their grades, even though they might have an IQ-boost or so just a little later.
I must say however that I started enjoying getting grades and working towards good ones soon after I changed to a ‘normal’ school at the age of 11. It’s probably different for every individual, for some it might be the right education throughout their life, for some only for a specific period of their lives and for others not at all. Though I think it’s worth some consideration…
my (ex-) Waldorf School (photos taken winter 2009/10)