Steiner (or Waldorf) Education was developed by Dr. Rudolf Steiner in the 19-teens in response to calls for new model of education. (The first school opened in Stuttgart in 1919.) Based on Steiner’s pioneering scientific and spiritual understanding of the human being, the school model he developed quickly spread across Germany, wider Europe and the UK and has now become the most prominent alternative school movement across the world (with schools in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australasia). Currently there are over 1050 schools in 60 countries across the world. Over the decades the curriculum has evolved and schools have adapted their practice to their unique environments. But fundamentally the original principles of Steiner education remain as relevant and practical today as they were when Rudolf Steiner first elaborated them.
The need for imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of responsibility – these are the three forces which are the very nerve of education. -Rudolf Steiner
Steiner education aims to educate the whole child. Sometimes we call this educating the head, the heart and the hands. We also call it educating the intellect, the emotions and the will. Our pedagogical picture of the developing student is significantly different to the dominant conception that informs mainstream school practice, where the intellect is routinely prioritised as the central focus of education. We value intellectual education of course, but not at the expense of emotional, physical and spiritual development. We hold that it is in a balanced individual that the intellect develops most successfully. So as educators we consciously engage students not just in their thinking, but in their feeling and their willing.
Fundamental to Steiner education is its age-appropriate developmental pedagogy. The way we teach, the lessons we design and the curriculum we use are all are all developed specifically for the particular stage of a child’s development. We do not generally subscribe to the view that “the earlier the better”. Children are taught in a way that respects their gradual development and allows for their healthy growth: physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. The following gives an outline of the developmental picture we use.
Our highest endeavour must be to develop individuals who are able, out of their own initiative, to impart purpose and direction to their lives. – Rudolf Steiner
For more information on Rudolf Steiner see the links section.