Steiner Method Taught In Public School

What are Waldorf methods?

The methods of a Waldorf school derive from a pedagogical model that recognizes the specific developmental stages of the child. The Waldorf philosophy views education as an art, so each subject, be it arithmetic, biology or English, is presented in a living way that speaks to the child’s developmental stage. Each subject is presented through direct experience and is usually augmented with art, poetry, music, drama and movement. The teacher’s aim is to draw out the children’s inherent capacities by creating an atmosphere in the classroom that fills the children with interest, wonder and enthusiasm.

The morning Main Lesson immerses the students in a particular academic subject of the curriculum, over three or four weeks, and each child produces a beautifully written and illustrated Main Lesson book for each subject. The class teacher works with each child through an eight-year relationship, where the teacher is able to draw out the child’s strengths and focus more consistently and intensively on the weaker areas. The Waldorf-methods teacher will adjust the pedagogical approach year to year, to best address the way children learn at the different developmental stages.

Additional subjects augment the Main Lessons: a Waldorf-methods school will typically include handwork classes, woodworking and other “practical arts”, music classes, two foreign languages and eurythmy (movement) classes, in addition to physical education and on-going math and English classes.

Waldorf-methods teachers are Waldorf-trained or, if not, are sufficiently knowledgeable of Steiner’s model of child development that they can successfully work within the curriculum. There are courses offered by Rudolf Steiner College in California which are specifically oriented to public Waldorf-methods teachers, and in-depth courses in Waldorf education are also available at a number of Waldorf teacher education centers.

With the Waldorf method of instruction, the class teacher involves the children in the subject through presentation, story telling, writing, reading, recitation, dramatic acting, painting, drawing, and movement. The teacher follows a rhythm, day to day, which begins with a review of the previous day’s material, further development of the subject matter and then introduction of new material. Day by day throughout the block, the teacher builds up the subject matter and the students build up their Main Lesson books. The involvement of the students in the Main Lesson promotes and develops active listening, imagination, memory and verbal skills.

The Waldorf-methods curriculum follows the general outline of an independent Waldorf school. Writing is taught before reading and is experienced at first through stories and pictures. Nature stories are introduced in the early grades and develop in the later grades into more advanced investigations of zoology, geology, space science, botany, chemistry, physics, physiology, and anatomy. Math and English are taught in an imaginative way similar to independent Waldorf schools. The specific songs, stories, poems, and so on which the teacher brings to her class may differ somewhat in a Waldorf-methods school.

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