Founded in the early 20th century, Waldorf Education is based on the insights, teachings and principles of education outlined by the world renowned anthroposophist, artist, and scientist, Rudolf Steiner. The principles of Waldorf Education evolve from a profound understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. These principles inspire and guide teachers, administrators, trustees and parents throughout the worldwide Waldorf movement.
The Waldorf curriculum is broad and comprehensive. Structured to respond to the three developmental phases of childhood--birth to 6 or 7 years, 7 to 14 years and 14 to 21 years--Steiner stressed to teachers that the best way to provide meaningful support for the child is to comprehend these phases fully and to bring "age appropriate" content that nourishes healthy growth. Music, dance and theater, writing, literature, legends and myths are not simply subjects to be read about and tested. They are experienced. Through these experiences, Waldorf students cultivate their intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual capacities to be individuals certain of their paths and to be of service to the world.
Teachers in Waldorf schools are dedicated to generating an inner enthusiasm for learning within every child. This eliminates the need for competitive testing, academic placement, and behavioral rewards to motivate learning, allowing motivation to arise from within. Waldorf Education is independent and inclusive. It upholds the principles of freedom in education and independent administration. Waldorf education truly offers inspired learning in hundreds of schools worldwide.
The first Waldorf school was created in 1919 in the aftermath of World War I. Anthrophosophist, scientist, artist and philosophical scholar Rudolf Steiner--a prolific lecturer of the time--had been asked if it was possible to create an educational model that could cultivate peace among humankind. He said, "Yes," and the first Waldorf school was created for the children of the employees of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany. Now, 100 years later, Waldorf education is a world-wide movement with over 1000 schools in 62 countries and 2000 Early Childhood programs on five continents. An education of "head, heart and hands," Waldorf education seeks to cultivate free individuals capable of deep and critical thought who are then empowered to participate in the world, creating better social forms than can benefit humanity as a whole.
There are many excellent resources and websites that offer more valuable information on Waldorf Education and related holistic and integral educational resources.
The Research Institute for Waldorf Education offers a plethora of information and resources for Waldorf study and research.
The list below offers a beginning to broader and deeper research:
Rudolf Steiner Archives
An online compendium of Steiner's lecture, books and related resources.
The premier Anthropophical press in the United States
Anthroposophical Society in America
The center of Anthroposophical study and spiritual resource in North America
The Waldorf Online Library
A listing by category of books, audio, video and articles, many of them available for free download.
Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN)
The official Waldorf website for pre-grade school age children.
The official website of AWSNA, The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America
The Child Today
The website of Kim John Payne, renowned educator of founder of the Simplicity Parenting movement
The website of notable Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz