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What Is Waldorf?

An in-depth look at the global philosophy.

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The Waldorf Principles

These principles articulate the most important values that inform the policies and practices of Waldorf schools in North America, and are held as a central tenet of our schools’ accreditation process.

 

1

Understanding the human being as a spiritual being informs every aspect of the school.

We recognize and acknowledge that our students are human beings, and so, comprised of body, soul, and spirit. Waldorf Education enlivens the physical, emotional, intellectual, social, artistic, and spiritual capacities of students as they move through the developmental the phases of this life.


2

Waldorf schools foster social renewal by cultivating human capacities in service to the individual and society.

Waldorf schools foster development so that, throughout life, individuals are motivated to serve humanity with strength of will, depth of feeling, clarity of thought, and the ability to work with others. The educational program is designed to strengthen these fundamental human capacities in our students.


3

Our educational program is tailored to meet the students in each phase of child development.

Waldorf schools work with the gradual development of students from childhood to adulthood. This development follows a sequence of three seven-year phases, as soul, spirit and body grow together. Each child’s development is a unique expression of the archetypal human journey, with characteristic physical, emotional, and intellectual dimensions and growth patterns.

The educational program is developed out of this understanding. Core components of the educational program include the student-teacher relationship; the artistic approach; working from experience to concept; working from whole to parts; use of rhythm and repetition; and observation as the foundation for assessment.


4

Waldorf schools support freedom in teaching within the context of the school’s shared mission and vision.

The educational program of each Waldorf school is founded on anthroposophical insights about the growing child, informed by the teachers’ ongoing study and professional development in Waldorf Education. Cedarwood’s faculty works collaboratively and cooperatively with the community to develop, refine, and periodically review the educational program. Individual teachers work with curricular, pedagogical, and assessment components of the program in a way that serves their individual students, the class as a whole, and the school community. This work reflects and respects the shared educational understandings and agreements of the community.


5

The conscious development of human relationships fosters individual and community health.

Enduring human relationships between students and their teachers, and among the children themselves, are at the heart of Waldorf education. The teacher’s task is to work with the developing individuality of each student and with each class as a whole within the context of the entire school. Teachers accompany the same class from grade level to grade level, throughout the duration of their K-8 education. As they are cultivated over multiple years, these relationships gain in depth and stability.

Healthy human relationships with and among parents and colleagues are essential to the well-being of the school. Members of the community are invited to join in developing meaningful, collaborative, and transparent forms for working together. Each individual’s self-development is encouraged and key to the well-being of the whole.


6

Inner development in support of professional growth is an ongoing activity for the faculty, staff, and board.

Members of the faculty, staff, and board work in an ongoing way to cultivate their spiritual development with the help of anthroposophical and other study methods. Waldorf schools create opportunities for shared educational study, artistic activity, mentoring, and research to further this growth and development in service to the students.


7

Collaboration and shared responsibility are the foundations of school leadership and governance.

Waldorf schools are self-administered. This work is strengthened by cultivating a shared anthroposophical understanding of social interaction. Faculty, staff, and the board share responsibility for guiding and leading the school in the following manner:

a) The educational program is developed by the faculty under the guidance of the pedagogical leadership of the school.

b) Administrative activities further the educational program.

c) The board works strategically to enable legal and financial health in order to realize the mission and vision of the school.

Governance of the school is structured and implemented in a manner that both cultivates collaboration and is effective.


What does all of this mean in practice?

A Waldorf education:

  • cultivates social and emotional intelligence and academic excellence, creating a strong foundation for the whole child

  • provides a detailed, richly artistic curriculum that is harmonious with the developmental stages of students, as they progress from early childhood to middle school

  • nurtures the inner life of each individual; rather than shaping or forming them, Waldorf pedagogy allows students to unfold in their own unique way

  • facilitates healthy and enduring human relationships between teacher, student, classmates, and community

  • connects students to nature while igniting a passion for lifelong learning

What is Anthroposophy?

Anthroposophy is a philosophy that denotes a method of inquiry and a path of research, rather than a fixed set of ideas. Founded by philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 20th century, Anthroposophy is most often applied in the context of formal education, therapeutic, and creative systems. Maintaining the principles central to Steiner’s early anthroposophical insights, specific Waldorf pedagogical methods continue to evolve to serve the modern age. Waldorf education and biodynamic farming are examples of applied anthroposophy—practices that bridge science, the arts, and ethics to nurture the physical, emotional, and social health of humanity while remaining connected to and in harmony with nature.