Practical Advice to Teachers (Foundations of Waldorf Education, 2)
Programs are offered from preschool through 12th grade. There are over Waldorf schools in the United States. Each school is individually owned and operated; most are non-profit organizations. A board of directors, often consisting of parents, typically governs the school.
Waldorf teachers commit to helping each student reach their highest potential. The school structure relies heavily on parental involvement and communication, with a curriculum deeply focused on music and art. As a Waldorf teacher, you guide children to investigate core subjects such as language, history, math, science and geography through creativity and imagination. Effective Waldorf teachers:. Working as a Waldorf teacher is much different from working as a traditional school teacher.
For example, Waldorf schools place much more emphasis on creativity and artistic expression. Subjects like music, art, drama and foreign language — often considered extras in mainstream education — take center stage in Waldorf schools. Waldorf educators also teach eurythmy, a movement art unique to Waldorf. The schedule of a Waldorf teacher typically means free weekends and summers off, but teachers must do extensive lesson planning outside regular classroom hours.
Waldorf Education teachers do not grade their students. As you think about becoming a Waldorf Education teacher, make sure to consider the pros and cons that come with the job. Waldorf teachers offer a new curriculum each year and can be proficient in development across all age groups. It can also be difficult if teachers, students and parents have personality conflicts or other issues.
Waldorf early childhood educators teach children ages enrolled in Waldorf-accredited pre-kindergarten programs. Continue reading to learn more about Waldorf early childhood educators. Waldorf early childhood educators guide children ages to learn through creative play. The Waldorf early childhood educator must foster an atmosphere of loving warmth and guidance that promotes joy, wonder and reverence.
Playing “Steiner Says”: Twenty-two Myths about Waldorf Education
The curriculum at a Waldorf preschool focuses on creativity and self-expression rather than academics. Waldorf early childhood educators lead children in activities that encourage enthusiastic learning, intellectual growth, self-esteem and social responsibility. These activities may include dress-up, play-acting, cooking, building, singing and painting.
Outdoor play in all seasons is a major part of a Waldorf early childhood education. Waldorf early childhood educators must structure each day around a natural ebb and flow of indoor and outdoor time. This gives young children exposure to nature and the larger world around them, as well as varied opportunities to be active and calm. Waldorf early childhood educators offer guidance only when necessary, modeling good behavior rather than forcing their students to undergo formal instruction. Waldorf early childhood educators must earn a Waldorf Teacher Early Childhood Certificate from an accredited Waldorf teacher-training program.
With a full-time class schedule, this training will take two years. Training can also be completed during summer intensives, which will probably take three to four years. At the end of this teacher training, candidates will be certified Waldorf early childhood educators. Generally, Waldorf early childhood educators earn less than those who teach in the higher grades.
Here are two specific estimates of average Waldorf teacher salaries:. If the trend continues, rising demand for qualified staff could translate into strong career prospects for Waldorf educators.
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The Foundations of Waldorf Education - Freunde Waldorf
The teacher training colleges are more like religious seminaries than teaching colleges. The full-time teacher training program is a two-year course. The first year, called the "Foundation Year," is a survey of Anthroposophy, and is also offered to anyone interested in learning more about Steiner's philosophy.
A reading list for Foundation Year students reveals the nature of the curriculum. Note that almost every book is by Steiner; those few that aren't by Steiner are by other Anthroposophical authors, with the exception of Parzival. The following books will be read and discussed during the year. The rest, and others the faculty will suggest, may be purchased or borrowed from the library. I can't help noticing the conventional designations of the courses. These course numbers would look like a real educational program on a transcript, as long as the actual course titles were omitted.
The second year of teacher training addresses education, but students are required to have taken the Foundation Year first, or to demonstrate that they have equivalent indoctrination in Anthroposophy.
Perhaps these requirements were considered to be sensitive, and the college did not want to publish them to strangers on the application form that is sent out "cold. For students who have not completed the Foundation Year program at Rudolf Steiner College or another comparable study center, in addition to the procedures listed on the Teacher Training application form, the following are also required:.
A statement from yourself concerning your relationship to Anthroposophy. This amounts to a religious test for entry to the teacher training year. A letter of recommendation from a senior person in the anthroposophical community who knows you well and could comment on you in the light of your relationship to Anthroposophy. Applicants aren't asked for a recommendation from, say, an employer or professor concerning their suitability for teacher training, but from an Anthroposophist.
One might expect this priority of Anthroposophy over educational values to be reflected in the Waldorf schools these teachers-to-be will be charged with creating. A paper giving an overview of the knowledge you have gained from a study of the following books by Rudolf Steiner:. Philosophy of Freedom Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. Evidence of some work in Eurythmy in the form of a letter describing the extent and quality of what you have done and with whom. Letters describing the extent and quality of your past work in painting, music or other artistic fields. It is of particular interest if this artistic work has been based on anthroposophical thought.
A statement outlining your experiences participating in celebration of seasonal festivals and your study of the spiritual foundation of those festivals. These questions are all about Anthroposophy. The reading list for the second year continues in the same vein. Again, almost all the books not written by Steiner are from Anthroposophic presses:. Teacher Education Program Book List Students should read for the first day of class:.
Required reading for the basic education courses include:. Rudolf Steiner, Study of Man. Rudolf Steiner, Practical Advice for Teachers. Rudolf Steiner, Discussions with Teachers. Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf Education for Adolescence. Rudolf Steiner, Balance in Teaching. Rudolf Steiner, The Education of the Child. Early Childhood Education students will also need:. Rudolf Steiner, Understanding Young Children. Karl K? Freya Jaffke, Toymaking with Children. It is assumed that anyone going into teaching work in the Waldorf schools will have a copy of each of the following and be familiar with the contents:.
Rudolf Steiner, Theosophy. Rudolf Steiner, Occult Science. Rudolf Steiner, Philosophy of Freedom. Rudolf Steiner, Christianity as Mystical Fact. Rudolf Steiner, The Younger Generation. Rudolf Steiner, Kingdom of Childhood. In addition, the following are strongly recommended as very useful references:. Grimm's Fairy Tales Pantheon Edition. Padraic Collum, Children of Odin. Harrer, Mathematics for Elementary Grades.
Niederhauser, Form Drawing. Kutzli, Creative Form Drawing, Vol. Roy Wilkinson, Man and Animal. Querido, Man's Responsibility for the Earth. Sterit, And There Was Light. Harrer, Chapters From Ancient History. Harrer, Roman Lives. Lindenberg, Teaching History. Zahlingen, Plays for Puppets and Marionettes. Nancy Foster, ed.
Waldorf promoters have argued that there are special summer courses for public Waldorf school teachers that don't include Anthroposophic content. A public school teacher who took one of those programs reported to me that there was a whole section of the Rudolf Steiner College library that was "off limits" to the trainees! That's rather strange behavior for a teacher training college. The argument is specious for two reasons.
First, a public Waldorf school "Waldorf Method" or "Waldorf-inspired" will be likely to hire teachers who have had the full Waldorf training program; certified Waldorf teachers are more desirable than partly-trained teachers; indeed, some public Waldorf schools advertise that their teachers have both Waldorf and State certifications. Second, the "sanitized" courses actually contain a lot of Anthroposophy, i.
One example will suffice for this presentation. Teachers who took the public school teachers program at Rudolf Steiner College in the summer of gave the author this handout:. The mood of the fairy tale, even in a quite superficial sense, is truly the means to prepare human souls, such as they are today, for the experience of what can shine into them from higher, supersensible worlds. The simple fairy tale, approaching modestly with no pretension of copying everyday reality but leaping grandly over all its laws, provides a preparation in human souls for once more accepting the divine, spiritual worlds.
Rudolf Steiner [sic]. Understanding this sheds quite a different light on what Waldorf teachers are up to when fairy tales are the primary literature recited by the teacher, not read in kindergarten and first grade. What's remarkable about the Waldorf teacher training is what's missing. Waldorf teachers don't study any of the other educational theorists in more than a cursory fashion. They aren't given any training in core academic subjects at all. They don't study classroom management.
In Waldorf, devotion to Anthroposophy is all. Everything else is supposed to take care of itself-somehow. Waldorf schools use various denials and subterfuges to conceal Anthroposophy. Here's a particularly interesting one from the parent handbook of a publicly-funded Waldorf school:. A prominent aspect of the Novato Charter School's educational community is a nature-based philosophy. As parents, educators, and administrators of this community, we believe that humans have a connection with all life forms on our planet, and with the universe that sustains us.
We believe that nature serves as a common ground for all cultures. Observation and acknowledgement of our natural environment allows us to more fully celebrate our likeness, appreciate our differences, and come together as one in learning about ourselves and the world around us. Blue Oak Charter School, , p. The high-sounding idealistic language covers the crucial issue, which is, just what is a "nature-based philosophy? The handbook states further:. In Waldorf schools, "the elements" are earth, air, fire and water. These ancient "elements" are illusions concealing the activity of "elemental spirits," respectively, gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, and undines.
We're not talking about ecological science here. The writer is trying to appeal to New Age spirituality, popular in Marin County where the school is located. I think it's good for a Waldorf school to appeal to New Agers, they are its obvious constituency, but Novato Charter School is a public school! A grace before meals is suggested:. Earth who gives to us this food, sun who makes it ripe and good, sun above, earth below, our loving thanks to you we show.
This prayer is by Christian Morgenstern, a friend of Rudolf Steiner, and is used in Waldorf schools worldwide. Thanks can only be given to a person or a deity. Here the earth and the sun are personified, as is done in a nature-worshipping religion. All the mentions of the sun should be seen with the understanding that in Anthroposophy, Christ is a "sun being. Who should kindergartners thank for their snack? It would be appropriate in a public school to thank the teacher who gave them the food, the grocer who made it available, the trucker who brought it to the market, the farm workers who picked it, and the farmer who grew it.
If they did that, they would be learning real gratitude, not a religious relationship to cosmic bodies. Waldorf students pray at the opening of every school day. This tradition continues in public Waldorf schools, despite the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Back in Steiner knew that praying would be problematic, even in private schools, and told his teachers to cover it up:. A teacher: Would it be a good thing to let the children speak a kind of morning prayer? Steiner: That is something that can be done.
I had also had it in mind. I will say something about it tomorrow.
We will also talk about a prayer. But there is just one thing I should like to ask you. You know, with these things the outer form is of the utmost importance. Never call the verse a "prayer" but a "school opening verse". Do see to it that people do not hear the expression "prayer" used by a teacher. This will go a long way towards overcoming the prejudice that this is an anthroposophical school.
The biggest mistakes we make are with words. People will not get out of the habit of using words that are detrimental to us. Steiner, , p. Below is an eyewitness report of a traditional opening ritual for the lower grades. The wording of the prayer will be slightly different in different schools because they are translations of Steiner's original in German:.
Clock time registers Miss Bronte [2nd grade teacher] sweeps to the back of the room to turn off the lights and then she says, "Let's have a golden tone this morning. Who has never done this? Miss Bronte chooses Ariana to ring the golden tone. With great enthusiasm and anticipation, acting as though she has never done this before, Miss Bronte holds the xylophone for Ariana, who with a flick of the wrist creates the golden tone.
The class listens quietly in the darkened room. Next, Miss Bronte strikes a match against the grey rock on the nature table. In unison the class says, "Candle, candle, burning bright, thank you for your loving light. Students recite the words clearly. Next, with accompanying hand movements, students sing another song. Then they snuff the candle with great attention and ritual. Uhrmacher, , pp. In the first public Waldorf school in Milwaukee the wording was changed to make it seem less religious:. The Sun with loving light. Makes bright for me each day.
The light within myself. Gives strength unto my limbs. In sunlight, shining clear.
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I reverence the strength and power of humankind. That lives in you and me,. That I with all my might,. May love to work and learn. To me comes strength and light,. From me rise love and thanks. McDermott, , p. This is still a prayer despite the removal of "God. In Anthroposophy, the "Christ Spirit" is a "sun being. In Northern California, a public school teacher who had taken Waldorf teacher training got permission from his school board to present "a simple, multi-cultural study of stories from six world religions. On the last day before vacation, I led the children in a Winter Solstice Celebration.
The room was cleared, except for a red covered table arranged with a wreath of evergreen branches and mistletoe. A few sprigs of holly, with its red berries, completed the circle which surrounded an angel holding a lighted candle. A few crystals and some winter animals complemented the arrangement. The children each had a candle and we spiraled into the center, each lighting our candle.
All the while we sang a simple solstice song that goes, "Down with Darkness, Up with Light. Winter Solstice, with its obvious astronomical importance, is the easiest aspect of the Christmas season to emphasize in a public school. So, for a brief moment, we all felt like ancient Druids worshipping the sun. This celebration ended what was for this public school teacher a very special month. Peterson, , p. Beyond the explicit content of prayers and rituals, Anthroposophy is present implicitly in many Waldorf lessons.
The curriculum is indeed, in a veiled way of course, Anthroposophy" Whitehead, , p. Anthroposophical influence is most obvious in Waldorf science teaching, which ranges from odd to bizarre. My son David was taught, in seventh-grade physics at the San Francisco Waldorf School, that Newton was wrong, and Goethe was right about color.
The following example is from the lesson book of a high school senior in the flagship school associated with the West Coast teachers college:. Newton continued to elaborate on his Theory of Colors. He determined that specific colors came about because all the other colors were absorbed. For example, a blue shirt, is determined as blue because the shirt has absorbed every other color, and has emitted reflected only that blue. Though his theory has been proven incorrect, it is essential to learn about many of Newton's theories in order for us to better understand the scientific frame of mind.
Just one of the many aspects of Newtonian physics that we have adopted is Newton's Particular particles Theory of Light. Charren, , npn. This is totally backwards, yet there are no corrections by the teacher. Newton's theory of why a blue shirt appears blue has not been proven incorrect; it is as valid today as it ever was. Newton's theory of light particles was rejected by later science, and it didn't have any influence on the development of today's quantum theory. It is quite incorrect to say that it "has been adopted.
Another place that Waldorf science differs radically from the rest of the world is in physiology. Anthroposophy has its own physiology. Steiner taught that the heart does not pump blood, blood moves itself. They never dreamed that the heart is only a sense organ that checks on the circulation of the fluids in its own way. They sincerely believed what their Waldorf mentors had told them, namely, that this was cutting-edge science and the subject of current university research.
To prevent parent revolts, this doctrine is usually skirted in Waldorf classes.
The lesson block on circulation will be taught in an ambiguous way without mentioning the pumping function of the heart. The following is from a seventh or eighth grade lesson book that was proudly put on display at the San Francisco Waldorf School. Describe the nature of sugar in relationship to the four elements of nature. Use examples from our experiments to illustrate. Sugar has a very strong relationship to fire as we saw in our experiment the nature of sugar.
We saw how when we placed some sugar into a crucible, it burst into flame highly combustible after advancing [to] its middle form a caramel -like substance. It also has an affinity to air as we saw from the smoke that arose and water because we saw that it was highly soluble. Not very strong relationship to earth. Parents might feel proud that their elementary school student had a class in organic chemistry. On the face of it, it sounds advanced. Who'd imagine the class would be about "the four elements? In the private Waldorf schools, it's always been necessary to appeal to mainstream parents.
There aren't enough Anthroposophists to support the schools, so the majority of the students will be from "outside" the group. From the beginning, the schools have taken care to conceal and deny the Anthroposophical content of the education. In a brochure given to parents in San Francisco, where my son attended, and also used by some other schools, there is only one mention of Anthroposophy. Board of Directors member John Bloom wrote:. Anthroposophy informs the education, the curriculum, and the teacher training.
It is the basis for the school's values, priorities, and organization. However, it is not taught in the school. Bloom, , p. Let's deconstruct this a bit. If A is "the basis for" B, then we can say that B is based on A. But when A "informs" B, what is that relationship? It's an intentionally vague statement. It must mean that at least some of the content of B comes from A. Expanding Bloom's statement, then:. At which point a loud clang of cognitive dissonance should sound.
Regarding the aspect of church-state separation, would a public school be acceptable if it stated:. Indeed, a "Catholic Method" or "Catholic-inspired" public district school or public charter school describing itself thus would simply not be believed. Anthroposophy is getting away with it because people don't know what it is. Madame Blavatsky, drawing from Hindu traditions about events of history being predestined to occur in cycles, defined an elaborate system of wheels within wheels. Anthroposophy adopts this scheme directly. Anthroposophy's Sub-Race periods are therefore "Platonic Months.
Why are the smaller time periods called "races? According to the plan, the races whose evolutionary tasks are done are supposed to die out. The actions of evil deities flawed the plan, however, and so "left behind" races still exist. Steiner taught:. We are within the great Root Race of humanity, which has peopled the earth, since the land on which we now live rose up out of the inundations of the ocean.
Ever since the Atlantean Race began slowly to disappear, the great Aryan Race has been the dominant one on earth. The first Sub-Race lived in the distant past in Ancient India. And the present-day Indians are descendants of that first Sub-Race, whose spiritual life is still extant in the ancient Indian Vedas. The Vedas are indeed only echoes of the ancient culture of the Rishis.
At that time there was of course no writing yet - there was only tradition. Then came the second, third and fourth Sub-Races. The fourth Sub-Race adopted Christianity. Then, halfway through the Middle Ages, we see that the fifth Sub-Race formed itself, to which we and the neighboring nations belong. Steiner, a, p. This mythology, of the Aryan race originating in Atlantis, migrating to Asia and then west to Europe, provided what was claimed as a scientific foundation for racism and anti-Semitism in Steiner's time.
The mythology can be traced from its origin in Blavatsky to Steiner and the Ariosophists, like List and Lanz in the next generation, and on to its tragic finale with Nazi theorist Rosenberg and the Holocaust Goodrick-Clarke, , Rosenberg, It's difficult to believe that there are still people studying and promulgating this pseudo-historical theory today; they'd have to be Neo-Nazis or wearing cult blinders.
There are neo-Nazis in Europe who follow Steiner Staudenmaier, date unknown , but the overwhelming majority of Anthroposophical publications reject Naziism while at the same time defending a racial theory that formed part of the philosophical foundation of Naziism e. Kerkvliet, The examples that follow are all from Anthroposophic presses. Jewry as such has long since outlived its time; it has no more justification within the modern life of peoples, and the fact that it continues to exist is a mistake of world history whose consequences are unavoidable.
We do not mean the forms of the Jewish religion alone, but above all the spirit of Jewry, the Jewish way of thinking. These blacks in Africa characteristically suck in, absorb, all light and all heat from the cosmos. And, humans being humans, this light and this heat from the cosmos cannot pass through the entire body. It does not flow through the entire body, but it stops at the skin. In this way, the complexion itself becomes black. Consequently, a black in Africa is a human who absorbs and assimilates as much light and heat from the cosmos as possible. As he does this, the forces of the cosmos work throughout that human.
Everywhere, he absorbs light and heat, really everywhere. He assimilates them within himself. There really must be something which helps him in this assimilation. That something is mainly the cerebellum.
This is why a Negro has an especially well developed cerebellum. This is linked to the spinal marrow; and they can assimilate all light and heat which a human contains. As a consequence, especially the aspects which pertain to the body and to metabolism are strongly developed in a Negro. He has a strong sexual urge as people call it, strong instincts. And as, with him, all which comes from the sun light and heat really is at the skin's surface, all of his metabolism works as if the sun itself is boiling in his inside.
This causes his passions. Within a Negro, cooking is going on all the time; and the cerebellum kindles the fire. And we, Europeans, we poor Europeans, we have the thinking life, which resides in the head. Therefore, Europe has always been the starting point of everything which develops the human entity in such a way that at the same time a relationship with the outside world arises.
When Negroes go to the west, they cannot absorb as much light and heat any more as they were used to in their Africa. That is why they turn copper red, they become Indians. That is because they are forced to reflect a part of the light and heat. They turn shiny copper red. They cannot keep up this copper red shining. That is why the Indians die out in the West, they die because of their own nature which does not get enough light and heat, they die because of the earthly factor.
Really, it is the whites who develop the human factor within themselves. Therefore they have to rely on themselves.