core principles

Summer Blog Series: Principles of Waldorf Education

Last week, we talked Waldorf teachers having freedom in the way they bring the Waldorf curriculum to their student. In this fifth installment in our Summer blog series, we want to tell you about the core principle that outlines the methodology of teaching in a Waldorf school.

There are a few key methodological guidelines for Lower School and High School teachers. Early Childhood teachers work with these principles appropriate to the way in which the child before the age of seven learns, out of imitation rather than direct instruction:

~Artistic metamorphosis: the teacher should understand, internalize, and then present the topic in an artistic form.

~From experience to concept: the direction of the learning process should proceed from the students’ soul activities of willing, through feeling, to thinking. In the high school, the context of the experience is provided at the outset. (This is also sometimes referred to as phenomenological learning or experiential learning.)

~Holistic process: proceeding from the whole to the parts and back again, and addressing the whole human being.

~Use of rhythm and repetition.

Teaching in this way has several benefits:

  • Students develop a strong aesthetic sense and a deep appreciation for beauty and artistry. 
  • Students are engaged and connected to their learning.
  • Students learn to see complex situations and problems as a whole (systems thinking) and become expert and creative problem-solvers.
  • Students feel secure, use their bodies and brains in coordination, and are able to achieve mastery in many subjects.

Summer Blog Series: Principles of Waldorf Education

Last week, we talked about the way the Waldorf curriculum meets children where they are in their development. In this fourth post in our Summer blog series, we want to tell you about the core principle that calls for freedom in teaching.

Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education, said, "Out of the understanding of child development and Waldorf pedagogy, the Waldorf teacher is expected to meet the needs of the children in the class out of his/her insights and the circumstances of the school."

While the curriculum is mapped out across all three of the child's three developmental stages and schools have administrative oversight to ensure consistency in teaching, there is flexibility about how the curriculum is delivered by each individual teacher in any given year, based on where s/he is located in the world, who the students are, and other variables.  

At Green Meadow, teachers bring the curriculum to students creatively, with their own insights and experiences guiding them, while the school ensures the delivery of a high-quality Waldorf education in the following ways:

  • supporting professional development through courses and conferences;
  • offering support, evaluation, and mentoring by a Teacher Development Committee;
  • using performance-based student assessment; and
  • measuring scope (what is taught) and sequence (when it is taught) on an ongoing basis.

Summer Blog Series: Principles of Waldorf Education

Today we want to talk about a core principle of Waldorf Education: the phases of child development. We know that children grow according to a sequence of approximately seven-year phases, and each child’s development is an individual expression of this archetype. Each phase has unique and characteristic physical, emotional, and cognitive dimensions. Here are some of the hallmarks of each stage:

Birth to 7: Early Childhood

Body, Physicality

Focus on Metabolic/Limb System

Stage: Willing

Attribute: Goodness

Creative Play, Story Time and Puppetry, Movement, Artistic and Practical Experiences, and Time in Nature help the child grow and learn at this stage.

7 to 14: Lower School and Middle School

Soul

Focus on Heart/Lung System

Stage: Feeling

Attribute: Beauty

Lower School children thrive under the loving guidance and authority of their teacher. In Middle School, students enter a developmental stage filled with rapid growth and transformation. Their inner lives become tumultuous, and they question everything. Throughout these years, stories are offered that appeal to the child's vivid imagination and emotional life.

14 to 21: High School and Beyond

Spirit

Focus on nerve/sense system

Stage: Thinking

Attribute: Truth

At this age, in the High School, rigorous academics are brought to life through exploration, inquiry, and experience in order to promote critical, independent thinking. Students become part of a cohort of dynamic peers, supported by an engaged and accessible faculty, to create a strong community that values integrity, honesty, and empathy for and understanding of others. 

Next week: learn more about how our developmentally appropriate curriculum meets the child at each stage described above.