Waldorf education is an approach to education which emphasizes on nurturing the whole child. It tries to humanize the process of academic learning among students and is considered an alternative approach to learning. Waldorf education was founded by Dr. Rudolf Steiner, a philosopher, educationist and social reformer in 1919. The Waldorf approach to education is based on anthroposophy which was a spiritual philosophy envisioned by Rudolf Steiner which takes into account the whole individual-mind, body and spirit. The main aim is to nurture free and morally responsible and balanced individuals working towards a holistic and sustainable society.
Waldorf education takes into account the various phases of a child’s growth and development. In the primary stage, there is more emphasis on encouraging the child’s artistic expressions and emotional and social aspects. All children love to play and are encouraged to be involved in creative play in the Waldorf approach. Rhythmic activities, poems and recitations may be included in the long main lesson of the day which may last up to two hours for the students to develop a deeper connection with the topic studied.
Topics are studied in such a dynamic way to help children experience the joy of learning. Waldorf education encourages children to thoroughly enjoy their childhood and experience the joy of each moment and of learning. At the same time, they learn basic concepts in a meaningful and joyful manner. This is unlike the pressurizing curriculum found in some traditional as well as modern schools. Students also note down and reflect on their learning. Rhythmic movement, eurhythmy, speech as well as thoughtful activities for the hands as well as exercise lay emphasis on the development of the whole child. Waldorf education evolves in an ascending spiral. Students thus are able to broaden their subject knowledge at higher grades and are also able to get an integrated understanding of subject matter. In the secondary level which is around the age of 14, lessons are introduced under separate subjects with emphasis on abstract knowledge as well as social responsibility.
Waldorf education encourages collaboration and building meaningful relationships based on mutual respect. A significant feature of Waldorf education is that unlike mainstream schools, creative play is encouraged in a non-competitive manner with no competitive sports or hint of competitiveness in any aspect of the education. All assessments are usually of a formative nature with no grades given and with no tests or exams except for the college entrance exams. The holistic and thoughtful approach in Waldorf education with no competitiveness or grading systems help the child grow into a morally sensitive and balanced individual.