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Waldorf Education: A Teacher's Perspective

Updated: Apr 9, 2022

According to Waldorf education's founder, Rudolf Steiner the fundamental purpose of the educational endeavour is to 'develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction in their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of responsibility'. These tenets have the cornerstones of my teaching endeavours over thirty- five years in four different Steiner schools. They aren't necessarily measurable but they are palpable when you meet a majority of ex-Steiner school students. They carry themselves with an assurance about the world they live in and more often than not seek to be positive agents of change in their communities.

Of course, parenting has a significant influence in developing these traits and one of the strengths of Waldorf education, especially in the primary years is the ongoing nurturing relationship between parent(s) and teacher that develops with the primary teacher ideally staying with the same class for seven years. Education is seen as a mutual undertaking between home and school so the child feels safely held by this relationship and the strong sense of community developed between people involved in a mutual enterprise over a long period of time. The child has the security of belongingness. From here we try to develop the traits and aspirations expressed in my first sentence.

This blog is intended to briefly explain our approach to enabling individuals 'of themselves to impart purpose and direction in their lives.

By Class Three the warm nurturing embrace is being loosened and replaced by the sense that ' I have a place on this earth and a destiny awaits me'. The curriculum and general pedagogy develop this embryonic sense of purpose and feeling of direction in one's life through practical activities (my classes have built a weatherboard chicken house with form-worked rock footings, a single room hut that sleeps 15 and landscaped a wilderness area for frogs and chickens) and biographical stories often gleaned from the Old Testament. Fear not, Atheists and non-Christians our curriculum accesses an enormous variety of cultural, metaphysical and mythological sources. In high school, the Work Experience programs allow students to work in primary, manufacturing and service industries. Some classes that I know and have been involved with have participated in Aid Programs in India, Cambodia and China. The curriculum is metaphorically and literally based on biographical development and be experienced by each student as relating to them specifically albeit in a variety of ways and with different levels of consciousness.

When I next write it will be towards the notion of developing 'free' human beings. A lofty ideal to say the least.

Beautifully written by Mark Molloy

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