Waldorf Education

Why Waldorf WorksThe Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School is one of over 1,000 Waldorf schools, a worldwide movement of independent schools founded in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner.

In accordance with Steiner’s insights into the nature of human beings and the developmental stages of childhood, the Waldorf curriculum fosters each child’s natural curiosity, presenting material to appeal to the imagination as well as to the intellect. Care is taken to balance intellectual growth with emotional growth and development of a capable will. Lessons are rooted in experience rather than presented as merely abstract concepts; a botany lesson, for example, begins not with a textbook, but with a close look at a living plant.

Although our school includes many elements of a classical independent school curriculum, art, drama, eurythmy, sports and handwork are fully integrated with the sciences, math, reading and writing, foreign languages, and the study of our cultural heritage – from its foundations in myth and legend to the study of modern history.

What every parent would wish as the best for his or her children, Waldorf education provides. The fullest development of intelligent, imaginative, self-confident and caring persons is the aim of Waldorf education. This aim is solidly grounded in a comprehensive view of human development, in an intellectually rich curriculum, and in the presence of knowledgeable, caring human beings at every stage of the child’s education.

Dr. Douglas Sloane
Professor of Education
Teachers College
Columbia University

What else is different about Waldorf education?

The class teacher remains with his or her class from first through eighth grades, and is thus able to guide the unfolding of each child’s capacities from a profound knowledge of that child’s gifts and challenges. The class teacher teaches the Main Lesson, a two-hour morning class in which one subject is studied in depth for a three to four- week period.

Waldorf teachers deliver their daily lessons orally in a lively and engaging manner, often accompanied by beautifully illustrated stories and texts drawn on the blackboard. From these lessons, students create their own illustrated textbooks. These colorful, very individualized books are made with great care by the children and are treasured by them into adulthood. (Some standard textbooks are used for math and foreign languages in the upper grades.)

There are no computers for students in our school. Although the use of computers is nearly universal among our graduates, for elementary school children it is the relationship between student and teacher that brings a deeper understanding to a history, geography or math lesson. Also, watching videos and playing computer games at home is not compatible with their daily classroom experience, especially for children in the younger grades.

Waldorf education respects and nourishes the liveliness, wonder, and interest in the world that are natural to the growing child. The blackboards glow with color, and classrooms are alive with music, poems and stories, drama and games.

Our graduates appear regularly on the honor rolls of both public and private high schools and go on to some of the finest colleges and universities in the country. Beyond the achievements of our individual graduates, we hope that all of our students share an enthusiasm for lifelong learning. We hope that they will bring their insights and imaginations to the world’s communities, its natural resources, its art and literature, its scientific achievements, its history and its future.

The true aim of education is to awaken real powers of perception and judgment in relation to life and living. For only such an awakening can lead to true freedom.

Rudolf Steiner