Basis for the curricula of Waldorf schools are the writings of Steiner. But I should like to point out that there is an obvious interest and acceptance of Waldorf education and its institutions — Zander remarks to this point that a dogmatic and authoritarian theory does not exclusively lead to a bad pedagogy p.
The question is just if that what is under the surface keeps what the image promises. Of course, the activities are obviously designed to be carried out in an atmosphere of piece and quiet that is claimed to be typical for Waldorf education. There is no doubt that a positive atmosphere in the group of learners can result in better learning results.
How is it made sure that the students who are listening are able to follow the talking student? What are the aims of such a project, what will students have learnt after the project? In other words, telling students to speak about a topic they want to choose can result in silence. To be completely honest, they seem to me all sunshine and lollipops in their triviality.
Finally: to praise the positive effects of relaxation through music and encouraging students to express their feelings Hugging as a warmer exercise is not really new. Anthroposophy is not a theory let alone science, but an esoteric movement that is opposed to modernism defined as application of critical rationalism. To legitimate itself it claims to be science, a common strategy in European esoteric traditions Hammer, Its scientific character is, however, generally not accepted in academic circles. It seems unrighteous not to point it out in an article about anthroposophy even if it is supported.
In fact Waldorf education has become a matter of controversy in the way that it is accused of preventing young learners from developing critical thinking skills through a refusal of intellectualism. These claims are not proved or exemplified. Action-oriented teaching is definitely not an anthroposophical invention. Even if we concede that they are only outlines of activities, they are prepared and presented so inadequately that it does not seem very convincing to think they might work in practice.
Humanising Language Teaching is a magazine that is open to new ideas away from the mainstream of ELT. This makes up the special charm of the magazine.
HLT is also a magazine that publishes articles with a restricted academic demand — and there is nothing wrong about it. A remark: I had to use German literature in this article for two reasons: 1. Important literature on anthroposophy is published in German. I am quite well informed about the situation in Waldorf schools in Germany but not in other countries; corresponding literature is mainly published in German.
Allow me to apologize for doing so in an English-speaking magazine. Waldorf theories and practices have been adapted by schools to the historical and cultural traditions of the surrounding communities, whereby there is wide variation to what extent educators detach from Waldorf education's traditionally European Christian orientation.
Current mainstream pedagogical methods in the U. According to the U. Department of Education, "School readiness is a goal around which the entire nation has enthusiastically rallied However, there is more that needs to be done. Many young children are still entering kindergarten without the prerequisite language, cognitive, and early reading and writing skills they need in order to benefit fully from early formal reading instruction. In contrast, the Waldorf curriculum typically does not include direct reading or writing instruction until age 7.
Whereas students at more-competitive schools are mastering texts in first grade, sometimes even in kindergarten, most Waldorf students aren't reading fully until the third grade. And if they're still struggling at that point, many Waldorf teachers don't worry. In combination with another Waldorf oddity -- sending children to first grade a year later than usual -- this means that students may not be reading until age nine or ten, several years after many of their peers.
It's no surprise, then, that Waldorf parents occasionally panic. Others may distrust Waldorf education because they have heard tales of parents who pulled their children out of a Waldorf school in the third grade when the kids still couldn't read. And that was the point. The technique seems to work, even in public schools.
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Barbara Warren, a teacher at John Morse, a public school near Sacramento, says that two years after Waldorf methods were introduced in her fourth-grade class of mostly minority children, the number of students who read at grade level doubled, rising from 45 to 85 percent. They became incredible listeners. Child psychologist David Elkind cites evidence that late readers ultimately fare better at reading and other subjects than early readers.
According to Lucy Calkins, a reading specialist at the Teachers College of Columbia University , in most public schools the students who start reading later tend to do worse. Calkins also says that Waldorf students might also benefit slightly if they started earlier, but stated that she "would not necessarily be worried in a Waldorf school. Oppenheimer also cautions "the system isn't fail-safe," noting that faith in the Waldorf system for reading instruction can lead teachers to overlook genuine learning disabilities including dyslexia , in some students.
Rudolf Steiner the founder of Waldorf education suggested that children's spirits benefited from being tempered in the fires of a good inflammation. In response, The European Council of Waldorf Schools, representing of the Waldorf schools world wide,  has stated unequivocally that opposition to immunisation per se — or resistance to national strategies for childhood immunisation in general — forms no part of the goals of Waldorf education. It also stated that a matter such as whether or not to inoculate a child against communicable disease should be a matter for parental choice, and that insofar as schools have any role to play in these matters, it is in making available a range of balanced information both from the appropriate national agencies and from qualified health professionals with expertise in the field.
In a lawsuit was filed in California by a small group, PLANS , against two government school districts which employed Waldorf methods in two of their schools. PLANS argued that publicly-financed Waldorf methods schools violated the principle of the separation of church and state in the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The group also protested at other government schools in California, claiming the Waldorf training and methods were rooted in a New Age , cult-like religion. The judgment followed 30 minutes of attorney questioning during which PLANS told the trial judge that it could present no witnesses qualified to testify in the case who met the requirements of prior evidence rulings. PLANS appealed the outcome in Publicly-funded Steiner schools in Victoria , Australia were challenged by parents and religious experts over concerns that the schools derive from a spiritual system, anthroposophy ; parents and administrators of the school, as well as Victorian Department of Education authorities, presented divergent views as to whether spiritual or religious dimensions influence pedagogical practice.
If present, these would contravene the secular basis of the public education system. A number of State-run schools in Victoria run "Steiner-influenced" programs in parallel with standard curricula. Possibly the first was at East Bentleigh Primary school, which commenced the program in Controversy has arisen at a school in Footscray that introduced a Steiner program in , despite concerns raised in by two curriculum officers from the Victorian Department of Education.
These officials judged several aspects of the Steiner approach, such as reading instruction and the ban on computers and multimedia in primary school, to be inconsistent with or contradictory to the government curriculum and educational policies. There are currently 10 Steiner programs operating in government-run schools in Australia. There were also aspects of mainstream practice which, the researchers recommended, could inform good practice in Waldorf schools:.
An Australian study comparing the academic performance of students at university level found that students who had been at Waldorf schools significantly outperformed their peers from non-Waldorf schools in both the humanities and the sciences.
A survey of U. Waldorf schools found that parents overall experienced the Waldorf schools as achieving their major aims for students and describe the education as one that "integrates the aesthetic, spiritual and interpersonal development of the child with rigorous intellectual development", preserving students enthusiasm for learning so that they develop a better sense of self-confidence and self-direction. Some parents described upper grades teachers as overextended, without sufficient time to relate to parental needs and input, and wished for more open and reciprocal parent-school support.
Both parents and students sometimes described colleges of teachers as being insular and unresponsive. The students overall were positive about the school and its differences; experienced the school as a "community of friends"; and spoke of the opportunity to grow and develop through the broad range of activities offered, to learn when they were ready to learn, to develop imagination, and to come to understand the world as well as oneself.
Many students spoke of the kindness of their peers and of learning to think things through clearly for themselves, not to jump to conclusions, and to remain positive in the face of problems and independent of pressure from others to think as they do. Improvements the students suggested included more after-school sports programs, more physical education classes, more preparation for standardized testing, a class in world politics and computer classes. Faculty, parents and students were united in expressing a desire to improve the diversity of the student body, especially by increasing representation of minority groups such as African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.
Richard R. Doornek, Educational Curriculum specialist with the Milwaukee Public Schools in Wisconsin , reported in that since switching to Waldorf methods their Urban Waldorf Elementary School has shown an increase in parental involvement, a reduction in suspensions, improvements in standardized test scores for both reading and writing counter to the district trend , while expenditures per pupil are below many regular district programs.
In a team of seven mainstream educational researchers conducted a study of the school. In a report published at the conclusion of the study, the school was cited as a positive learning environment, in which the students as well as their background seemed to be treated with respect, and where pupils are both encouraged and trusted to be responsible. The report quoted the school principal's evaluation of the Waldorf approach: "Practical and effective, not first and foremost in academics, but in allowing children to be children again Waldorf gives you connection to your environment, to nature, to school, to others.
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The article also discussed the challenge of meeting societal racism and unsuspected biases of teachers and students in modern-day America: . Many of the children seemed to have a distorted and negative picture of blackness, an internalized prejudice that runs deep Too often, we heard degrading terms The staff and faculty at Urban Waldorf represented a wide gamut of opinions on race and the possible presence of racism at the school.
Some were quick to point to what they thought were unquestionable cases of racism inherent in Waldorf philosophy and practice, and others were as quick to deny the possibility of racism at any level, in any practice. The research noted that teachers "have found a way to put respect for the children before other considerations", and that the school was attempting to combat racism:. They also understand that they must try.
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And so we found teacher study groups on African American culture particularly on storytelling and folklore , and various individual projects on urban life A further study commented on Waldorf's adaptable and individualized curriculum as being a factor in the school's success in addressing children of poverty and children of color, while criticizing the split between private and public Waldorf schools and the lack of greater efforts to implement Waldorf methods in public education. Note: all of Steiner's lectures on Waldorf education are available in PDF form at this research site.
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See the online version of article.