How does Waldorf pedagogy works? What does it mean?
Have you heard of Waldorf pedagogy?
In recent years, pedagogical methods that have moved away from what we know as traditional education, have become a very popular giving way to new paradigms involved in the teaching-learning process known as alternative pedagogy.
Waldorf pedagogy is characterized by being an alternative to the traditional educational movement whose objective is to nurture capable individuals, who create the meaning of their lives, and who become individuals free of thought and action.
Waldorf Education seeks to educate the whole child in his “head, heart and hands.” With a rich imagination, you are flexible, creative and solution-oriented in life. Waldorf pedagogy wants to inspire students to learn throughout life and allow them to fully develop their own skills and personality. It is based on a contemporary interpretation of anthroposophy that we will talk about later.
The curriculum aims to be as broad as possible (covering the liberal arts, humanities, science, mathematics, art, music, manual work, languages, etc.) and addresses academic subjects through art lessons and practical activities.
Teaching does not consist so much in imparting information as in awakening the whole range of faculties of the child, such as the ability to feel, act and think at an appropriate pace for his age.
Waldorf, an educational pedagogy with more than 100 years
What does it mean?
Waldorf ‘has no special meaning, but it has a special history. Its name derives from the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart (Germany) where a school was founded in 1919 for the workers’ children. The education in the school was innovative and was designed according to the ideas of the philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1862-1925).
Almost 100 years after the foundation of the first Waldorf school, there are now about 1000 schools, 2000 Waldorf kindergartens, many teacher training institutions and hundreds of centers offering recovery education to thousands of children in more than 60 countries, it is also making its way in universities. Waldorf education is one of the fastest-growing alternative pedagogies in the world. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) asserts that the “ideals and ethical principles … of the Waldorf movement correspond to those of UNESCO”.
Critics of Waldorf pedagogy
Although Waldorf education values correspond to those of UNESCO, some people classify it as fruitless and even a little sectarian. The criticisms of Waldorf pedagogy are varied.
Many critics point out that Waldorf education has no input from anyone else, everything fits what Rudolf Steiner, creator of the anthroposophic and Waldorf pedagogy said. Anthroposophy according to its followers is a philosophical current, it is a path of self-knowledge that would like to lead the spiritual in man to the spiritual in the universe.
Although it is increasingly popular and accepted, it is true that for many people it is something contrary to the type of education they are accustomed to, and that still shocks many people.
Characteristics of Waldorf education
– The school strives to keep the same teacher-tutor for the child in for each educational stage. The objective is to strengthen the links for a good coexistence.
– Everything is organized to result in an extension of the home. The goal is to create an environment that moves away from the hostile environment that the disseminators of this current estimate are often found in the traditional school.
– An important point is that each child deploys their own individuality with the help of their talents and supporting them in their difficulties. This is combined with a daily structure with fixed elements in the weekly schedule and in the annual structure, with celebrations, trips, practices and performances.
– Cognitive themes alternate with art, craft and movement lessons. Try to allow the child to explore for himself, without greater limits than those imposed by his own age. This makes for the child to be something much more motivating and attractive than traditional teaching.
– Waldorf schools strive to offer a living education. An education that fits the concrete experience of the student. For them, learning is not something that only happens to the head, but an activity in which the whole human being is involved. In addition to the cognitive, students learn through images and stories, play, experiences and experiences.
– The contact with Nature and respect for the land are intertwined in education and in the annual rhythm of the school. The use of natural materials in the game and crafts cultivates a connection with Nature. In many Waldorf schools, horticulture is taught as a subject, so that students are actively introduced into the ecological relationship between man, plants and animals.
– Another of the principles of this method is that there are no exams, external teaching material, such as textbooks, or homework, but the material is designed by the center itself under the protection of an official curriculum but adapted to the Learning rhythms of each student. Since it is built around a transversal and holistic perspective, fostering creativity and critical spirit. It is based on the fact that the development of these ages advises avoiding the processes of stress and traumas in the self-esteem that exams can cause.
Educational stages in Waldorf Pedagogy
Waldorf pedagogy is taught from very early ages, specifically from 0 to 21 years and divided into three stages: Kindergarten, School-age, young and adult.
– First Stage, Kindergarten (0 to 7 years old)
It focuses on the development of fine and thick motor skills, visual and spatial ability and knowledge of the physical environment that surrounds them. To achieve this, Waldorf schools create environments that accommodate gamification, cooking and various workshops.
– Second Stage, school-age (from 7 to 14 years old)
This phase revolves around creativity and imagination. The teacher must teach the areas of mathematics, languages or knowledge of the environment through games or invention of stories that foster creativity.
– Third Stage, young and adult age (from 14 to 21 years old)
This is about building your personality and motivating the critical spirit. At this stage, educators should motivate students to make value judgments about the world around them.
All the information that we give you in this article is indicative since each child and each family are different and unique. For that reason, if you are thinking of taking your child to a Waldorf school, what I recommend is that you make an appointment at the school, know the facilities, talk with the teachers so they can explain you carefully about the methodology, see the environment and you can decide if this type of teaching can be positive for your child.
Carolina González Ramos
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