Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925), the Austrian philosopher and author of Philosophy of Freedom, is perhaps most widely recognized for his contribution to education, inspiring a philosophy of learning that came to be known was Waldorf.
So, what is Waldorf, and what is it all about?
Waldorf, as Rudolph Steiner envisioned it, emphasizes the growth of the whole child as a holistic approach to learning. Not just the intellectual prowess of the child, but also the cultivation of physical abilities and spiritual sensibilities.
This thinking is often characterized – in a particularly catchy and memorable phrase – as the development of the head, the hands, and the heart. Often, this symbolism is used to represent the schools that employ the Waldorf philosophy of education.
How did Waldorf start?
There’s a really great origin story to how Waldorf got its start. The director of a cigarette factory in Germany, actually the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory, invited Steiner to lecture the workers on his philosophy of learning. Impressed by the message and vision for education that was presented, the director offered Steiner the opportunity to open a school for his employees children.
That’s how the movement began…
What is the state of Waldorf today?
According to Wikipedia, there are over one thousand independent schools worldwide, and the educational philosophy continues to grow and flourish.
As a matter of fact, Waldorf was recently highlighted as one of the most highly sought after forms of education in Silicon Valley, primarily because of it’s focus, not on computers, but on “hands-on” tasks.
As the New York Times explains, “Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.”
What do you think about alternative approaches to education? Should they be more widely implemented, or is it something that only works on a small scale? Share in Chat!
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