Waldorf Education - Why it works
Waldorf education is the fastest-growing non-denominational educational movement in the world. There are Waldorf schools on every continent. Waldorf education works in the suburbs of Stockholm; the thriving cities of Brazil; the townships of South Africa; and in the ancient cities of Japan. It works here in Ann Arbor, too.
Waldorf education works because it is based on profound insight into the needs and capacities of young children, elementary pupils, and high school students. Founded in Central Europe in 1919, Waldorf schools today seem more contemporary than ever. Theme-based education, block scheduling, teaching to different learning styles, moral education, and ‘looping’ have all been part of the Waldorf curriculum since the first school was founded by Rudolf Steiner.
Professors who have taught Waldorf students across many academic disciplines and across a wide range of campuses—from State Universities to Ivy League—note that Waldorf graduates have the ability to integrate thinking; to assimilate information as opposed to memorizing isolated facts; to be flexible, creative and willing to take intellectual risks; and are leaders with high ethical and moral standards who take initiative and are passionate to reach their goals. Waldorf graduates are highly sought after in higher education.
High school students need academic rigor, opportunities for self-expression, and a community. Every student studies nearly every subject, all of which are taught by specialists. Students discover new capacities and talents within themselves; their self-confidence allows them to relate to their teachers and to each other in an open, tolerant environment.
Grades teachers move with their classes through at least Grade 5. They come to know their students intimately, and they are able to unify the entire academic curriculum. Special subject teachers introduce the children to a wide array of disciplines: Spanish, German, orchestra, woodworking, handwork, eurythmy, singing, physical education, and the arts. Academic concepts are presented through stories, drama, music, and movement. This kind of artistic presentation reaches children with many different learning styles.
Our kindergartens give young children the opportunity to work joyfully and play imaginatively within a secure and beautiful environment. Our loving, experienced teachers know the importance of rich sensory experiences, walks in nature, hard work, and joyful festivals.
At Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor computers are not part of the early grades curriculum, although mechanical technology and the practical arts are incorporated at all levels. During the middle school years students are introduced to appropriate technology, including computers and the internet, and an after-school robotics club is offered. In high school, computers are used in the classroom as teaching tools across disciplines and computer-specific courses, including coding, are taught. All high school students utilize computers at home for research, to aid in their schoolwork and for in-class or school-wide presentations.
"Stanford found significantly higher positive student achievement outcomes on standardized state assessments by Waldorf students, greater engagement and significantly lower disciplinary action and truancy." Stanford University Reviews Waldorf Education, (Jun 28, 2017, Waldorf Moraine) (Referenced Study: "Growing a Waldorf-Inspired Approach in a Public School District" Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education)
Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix”. A Silicon Valley School that Doesn’t Compute, by Matt Richtel (October 2011, New York Times)
"While technology is a train that will continually move forward, knowledge regarding its detrimental effects, and action taken toward balancing the use of technology with critical factors for development, will work toward sustaining our children”. The Impact of Technology on the Developing Child by Chris Rowan (May 2013, The Huffington Post)
www.awsna.org – The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
www.wism.org – The Waldorf Institute of Southeastern Michigan
Waldorf Education: A Family Guide edited by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen Rivers
Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing Our Children from Birth to Seven by Barbara J. Patterson and Pamela Bradley
Endangered Minds by Jane Healy
The Hurried Child by David Elkind
The Millennial Child by Eugene Schwartz
Understanding Waldorf Education by Jack Petrash