Waldorf (Steiner) education is a humanistic approach to pedagogy based on the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. The pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils.
Steiner’s division of child development into three major stages is reflected in the schools’ approach to early childhood education, which focuses on practical, hands-on activities and creative play; to elementary education, which focuses on developing artistic expression and social capacities; and to secondary education, which focuses on developing critical reasoning and empathic understanding. The overarching goal is to develop free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social competence. Individual teachers and schools have a great deal of autonomy in determining curriculum content, teaching methodology and governance. Qualitative assessments of student work are integrated into the daily life of the classroom, with quantitative testing playing a minimal role in primary education and standardized testing usually limited to that required for university entry.
The first Waldorf school opened in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany. At present there are over a thousand independent Waldorf schools,
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