What is Steiner Waldorf education?

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Discover a learning method with valuable ideas.

What is Steiner education?

Waldorf education is a pedagogical structure for children and adolescents.

It was developed by Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the 20th century.

The principles of this educational system are as follows

  • Trust in the abilities of each individual.
  • Adaptation to each pupil.
  • Physical, artistic, manual, intellectual and emotional education.
  • Learning based on play, imagination, creativity and a complete overview of each topic.
  • Stimulating the desire to learn rather than educating.
  • Active participation of pupils in learning.
  • No textbooks.
  • Avoidance of comparison.
  • Pace appropriate to the age of the child.
  • Respect for all forms of life.
  • Development of individuality.
  • Specific training for teachers.
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The main lines of teaching

The Steiner model is rich in ideas that make sense.

Art

Steiner wanted art to be at the center of his method.

As a tool of imitation for the youngest, it then as a tool of creation.

Music, songs, painting and drawing allow children to develop.

Artistic activities are an essential complement to the assimilation of knowledge.

Celebrations

The celebration of festivals during the year (religious or not) allows the child to set the pace for the year.

The idea is to celebrate together, with the aim of harmony and conviviality.

In this way, the children connect with cultural traditions and integrate the social link.

Nature

Respect for and communion with nature is one of the pillars of Waldorf education.

During walks, the child learns to connect with the different forms of life.

The understanding of natural cycles helps to develop an understanding of the Earth.

Stories

Steiner understood that children need stories, tales, legends.

In this way, they can build a value system that structures them.

A story that develops the imagination will always be better integrated than a lesson learned by heart.

For this reason, books are replaced by puppets or role plays.

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Playing

Playing is also an excellent way for children to discover themselves and to connect with others.

Rudolf Steiner advocated free play to encourage initiative.

Rather than being given expensive and sophisticated toys, children are encouraged to build them themselves from natural materials.

The young boy or girl creates. The idea is to get them to experience that they are the creators of their lives.

Rythm

To thrive, a young child needs :

  • A fixed environment.
  • Movement.

Each day in a Steiner school is a succession of defined activities, which adapt to natural rhythms (such as the seasons) and human rhythms (such as festivals).

Adapting to each child

A child is unique: he or she is encouraged to identify and develop their own talents.

Furthermore, each child :

  • Has his or her own needs.
  • Progresses at his/her own pace.
  • Learns differently.

Standardized group learning based on comparison is replaced by coaching to bring out each individual’s abilities.

Global approach

A human being is not just a physical body with a brain, but much more than that.

In addition to intellectual and physical activities, Steiner also focuses on the following fields :

  • Social.
  • Emotional.
  • Psychic.
  • Spiritual.

In this way, the child is prepared to express his/her full potential through life.

Updating the Steiner-Waldorf teaching

This pedagogy was created more than 100 years ago, in a specific socio-cultural environment.

The main principles can be retained, but some adaptation would be welcome.

Fortunately, Steiner schools all over the world are already adapting the programmes to their time.

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Conclusion

What is Steiner-Waldorf education?

It is about guiding children towards the development and expression of their unique potential.

Education is essential: for example, if children are graded and compared, adult society will be based on competition.

Through some simple principles, Steiner offers a feasible alternative to current public education.

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