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About Waldorf Education

The First Waldorf School

In April of 1919, Rudolf Steiner visited the Waldorf Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany. The German nation, defeated in war, was teetering on the brink of economic, social, and political chaos. Steiner spoke to the workers about the need for social renewal, for a new way of organizing society and its political and cultural life.

Emil Molt, the owner of the factory, asked Steiner if he would undertake to establish and lead a school for the children of the employees of the company. Steiner agreed but set four conditions, each of which went against common practice of the day: 1) that the school be open to all children; 2) that it be coeducational; 3) that it be a unified twelve-year school; 4) that the teachers, those individuals actually in contact with the children, have primary control of the school, with a minimum interference from the state or from economic sources. Steiner's conditions were radical for the day, but Molt gladly agreed to them. On September 7, 1919, the independent Waldorf School (Die Freie Waldorfschule) opened its doors.

Thus, when the "Independent Waldorf School" opened its doors, Rudolf Steiner stated, "It is not our intention to teach growing human beings our ideas or the contents of our world-view." Today, Waldorf schools continue to seek to develop the perceptions and capacities for creative thinking in young adults so that they can shape society for the advancement of humankind out of their own insights and experiences.

We love Waldorf kids. We reject some students with 1600s on their SATs and accept others based on other factors, like the creative ability Waldorf students demonstrate.
Donna Badrig, Associate Director
Undergraduate Admissions for Columbia University
The Waldorf approach is to a remarkable degree in harmony with recent developments in the cognitive sciences related to how children learn and understand.
Dr. Paul DeHart Hurd, Professor Emeritus
Science Education, Stanford University
Waldorf students are encouraged to live with self-assurance, a reverence for life and a sense of service.
Ernest Boyer, President
Carnegie Institute for the Advancement of Teaching
Former U.S. Commissioner of Education
If you've had the experience of binding a book, knitting a sock, playing a recorder, then you feel that you can build a rocket ship-or learn a software program you've never touched. It's not bravado, just a quiet confidence. There is nothing you can't do. Why couldn't you? Why couldn't anybody?
Peter Nitze, Waldorf and Harvard graduate
Executive Vice President of Martek Biosciences Corp
I think that it is not exaggerated to say that no other educational system in the world gives such a central role to the arts as the Waldorf School Movement. There is not a subject taught that does not have an artistic aspect. Even mathematics is presented in an artistic fashion and related via dance, movement or drawing to the child as a whole. Steiner's system of education is built on the premise that art is an integral part of human endeavors. He gives it back its true role. Anything that can be done to further his revolutionary educational ideals will be of the greatest importance.
Konrad Oberhuber Curator of Drawings
Fogg Art Museum - Professor of Fine Arts, Harvard University
American schools are having a crisis in values. Half the children fail according to standard measures and the other half wonder why they are learning what they do. As is appropriate to life in a democracy, there are a handful of alternatives. Among the alternatives, the Waldorf school represents a chance for every child to grow and learn according to the most natural rhythms of life. For the early school child, this means a non-competitive, non-combative environment in which the wonders of science and literature fill the day without causing anxiety and confusion. For the older child, it offers a curriculum that addresses the question of why they are learning. I have sent two of my children to Waldorf schools and they have been wonderfully well served.
Raymond McDermott, Ph.D., Professor
Education and Anthropology, Stanford University
Programs such as Montessori and the Waldorf Schools offer small classes, individualized instruction, and flexible, child-centered curricula which can accommodate the child and do not demand that the child do all of the accommodating . . . Rudolf Steiner was troubled by the overly academic emphasis of schools; he felt that the aesthetic side of children was being overlooked and that this should be developed along with the intellectual powers. Waldorf schools emphasize creativity in all aspects of children's work. The same teacher may stay with the same group of children for as many as eight grades. In so doing the teacher has to grow and learn with the children.
From Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk
David Elkind, Ph.D.
Professor of Child Study, Tufts University
Author, The Hurried Child, All Grown Up and No Place to Go; Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk
Being personally acquainted with a number of Waldorf students, I can say that they come closer to realizing their own potential than practically anyone I know.
Joseph Weizenbaum, German-born Professor Emeritus
Computer science, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Author of Computer Power and Human Reason
I used to think Waldorf Education the most undamaging education, but then the more I looked into it, I found it the most beneficial system we have. People ask, "What will happen to my child in the world if he doesn't learn to read and write very early?" The issue is that the child's greatest strength for survival in a world of madness is to be whole, sane and in touch with the heart. The beauty of the Waldorf School is that it keeps children intact until they are ready to move out into the world as whole individuals. Major studies have recently dealt with the "disappearance of childhood" in America. Among many things that the Waldorf system does, it nurtures, protects and develops the intelligence of the true child. What is it that Waldorf education aims to do? We are helping to bring out the best in each child, rather than molding children to a particular perspective of society.
Joseph Chilton Pearce, Author
Magical Child and The Crack in the Cosmic Egg Evolution's End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence
Waldorf education addresses the child as no other education does. Learning, whether in chemistry, mathematics, history or geography, is imbued with life and so with joy, which is the only true basis for later study. The textures and colors of nature, the accomplishments and struggles of humankind fill the Waldorf students' imaginations and the pages of their beautiful books. Education grows into a union with life that serves them for decades. By the time they reach us at the college and university level, these students are grounded broadly and deeply and have a remarkable enthusiasm for learning. Such students possess the eye of the discoverer, and the compassionate heart of the reformer which, when joined to a task, can change the planet.
Arthur Zajonc, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Physics, Amherst College
Steiner education affects the whole family positively. Just as a child is nurtured and supported in his development, so are his parents inspired into consciousness. It is a healing education for all.
Panjee Tapales
Former Manila Waldorf School parent