Originally Posted by RomanCarmelMom
I thought this might be the best thread to ask this question. I hope you don't mind...
What exactly is Waldorf? I've followed a few links before, but haven't really found anything that explains the basic principles of it, and why those principles are followed. I'm just curious, and most likely won't practice it, so I don't want to invest in it by buying any books.
I don't mind. I'll give it a shot and I encourage others to chime in and give their own answer to this question.
Waldorf is an educational system developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1900s. It gets its name from the fact that the first actual school utilizing these principles was created in a cigar factory (I think I'm remembering that correctly) in Waldorf, Germany.
Steiner also fathered anthroposophy which he called spiritual science.
As far as the educational practices, there are waldorf schools around the world...I think I read that there are more waldorf schools than any other specific type. And each one is somewhat different because it is created by the community that uses it...the parents and teachers collectively.
Steiner's work centered much around the idea that all humans first are spiritual beings and second go through stages that last roughly 7 years each. The educational philosophy of what to teach when is based on what is both developmentally appropriate for the stage the child is in and what will most/best speak to that child at that level in the *language* he/she will best understand at a soul level. There is much emphasis in not bringing children 'into their head' prematurely but encouraging them to be in their bodies first before becoming academically or critical-thought oriented.
Within the waldorf schools teachers are constantly working on themselves so as to be worthy of this great task. Imitation/emulation is seen as most important in the under 7 group...so the teachers must be ready for that. This has really, really impressed me.
As I have been reading and going through some of what the teachers must do to prepare for work in a waldorf school I've really come to respect what goes into it. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with the philosophy, I think anyone could see that alot of intent and conscious thought goes into the preparation.
When I was beginning my search I didn't necessarily look at the waldorf schools or the 100-year-old writings for my answers, though. I looked at homeschooling contemporaries. How are they using these materials? What are their goals? What feeling do I get, within my heart, when I speak to them, read their emails, read their blogs?
And I was deeply touched by the heart and spirit that these (mostly) homeschooling mamas had to share. This is what made this path attractive to me...the people who are using these thoughts and this philosophy to sculpt a worthwhile life in the here and now for their families/children.
Anyway, there's my (not) short answer.
I look forward to hearing others'...