Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to have attended a great lecture that was given high regards by my anthroposophical doctor. To me, that is saying alot!
Stephen Keith Sagarin, Ph.D., is Editor of the Research Bulletin, Director of the M.S.Ed. Program in Teacher Education at Sunbridge College, NY, and founder and faculty chair of Great Barrington Waldorf Highschool, MA. He is a graduate and former teacher at the Waldorf School of Garden City. He is also Editor of the Publication Research Bulletin a publication by the Research Institute for Waldorf Education.
This gentlemen met with several mothers whom homeschool with a Waldorf slant in the Ithaca, NY area to discuss with us his views regarding Waldorf Education. A lot was discussed and really too much for me to absorb all in one sitting but the major points of his discussion were based off of the article he wrote called “Playing Stiener Says; 20 Myths of About Waldorf Education”. Posted Below is the link.
I won’t go into all these points that he made regarding Stiener’s work and the charateristics that many Waldorf Schools have attributed to themselves here, but I will try to recall the last point that Steve S. gave us to think upon.
If all this is not what Waldorf Education is, then What is Steiners vision of Waldorf Education?
Steve attributes five essential qualities to Waldorf Education, which may or may to be unique to waldorf. First quality or gifts that Waldorf Education brings into education was noted to be IDEALS. The Ideals focused upon through Steiner’s work are the involvment of our Spiritual world. The ability to be persent in the moment of the here and right now. That is a loaded statement to be sure and I really couldn’t comment on it as I am not as well educated in Stieners work. Though through my experience of working with children using tempermental understaning with each individual child and seeing the changes in which my children progress through the changing levels of conscienciousness as they age gives me great comfort in seeing a pre-woven path that I can tread upon for guidance.
Second gift, Child developmental approach. If you know anything about Steiner’s work you will see that this focus is vital to understanding the tender way in which we must be there for our children and oursleves as we develop into “like new” beings every seven years. Rudolf Steiners expectations for teachers is inseperatable from his understanding of the way our souls, hearts and bodies develop. A teachers duty to the children in her class is to be aware of those developments and to work with them as they happen. To be that thoughtful and present for each individual.
Thirdly, “Knowing”. This aspect regards to the “Multiple Intellegence” of each person. Steiner’s understanding regarding Te Tmperments, guides us from the ancient greeks knowledge of the human into the present beings of today. These relationships that we have with each other are based off of these principles. As teachers it is our goal to guide our children by using all these aspects of self. Thinking, then Willing, the Action. Through these steps we develop whole beings, giving our children emotional security.
The Fourth Gift of Steiner’s work revealed a great emphasis on Social Health. This particular aspect of Waldorf Education aligns very well with my personal values for Social Justice. We have the rare opportunity to bring our children to an understanding that the world is their responsibility as it was for all before them. With this gift they will know they can really make changes for the better. There is quite a bit to this quality that I currently don’t see much of in the Waldorf Schools of today, but we can change that. 🙂
Lastly, but certainly the most valued quality of Steiner Education was his strong emphasis of the Reverence of Nature. Being aware of the Environment around. Being in Nature and living with its multitude.
All these culminated into what Steiner referred to as “Freedom”; being a HUMAN.
This was a lot to chew on and I know from my own perspectives of these qualities that I know I need to study Rudolf Steiner’s original works much more so that I can grasp these qualities and make them live within my life. My notes alone show my ignorance of these qualities, but what I have written is what I understand or grasp so far of each quality. I am sure those whom read this will be able to decifer these qualities better aware of how Steiner viewed these qualities in education and I hope you share them with me.
So we talked about alot of things that day but these were the two major points: What is and What isn’t Waldorf Education.
Enjoy! Please ignore the spelling!