Waldorf education was developed by Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the 20th century.
Waldorf-inspired methods derive from an instructional model that recognizes the specific developmental stages of the child. The Waldorf philosophy views education as an art, so each subject, whether math, biology or English, is presented in a way that addresses the child’s developmental stage. Each subject is presented through direct experience and is often augmented with art, poetry, music, or drama.
“Where is the book in which the teacher can read about what teaching is? The children themselves are this book. We should not learn to teach out of any book other than the one lying open before us and consisting of the children themselves.”
In the early grades, the curriculum inspired by Waldorf provides an unhurried way of learning that minimizes modern stressors and protects childhood while encouraging children’s creative expression and fostering their imagination. As children mature, the learning process accelerates and provides a program that meets learners where they are developmentally.
The learning facilitator’s aim is to draw out the child’s inherent capacities by creating an atmosphere in the classroom that fills the children with interest, wonder, and enthusiasm.
Waldorf-inspired education strives to guide each child to develop their innate talents and abilities and to grow into a balanced adult capable of contributing to community life.
In the past decade, Waldorf-inspired education has spread around the world, with many schools, such as Bambujaya, finding their inspiration in the work of Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf curriculum.
The Waldorf-inspired method of education offers an academically rigorous curriculum presented in a developmentally appropriate and arts-integrated context. This holistic, balanced approach has been shown to produce better academic results.
In fact, Waldorf educated learners have been found to equal or surpass their peers on studied parameters such as math, science and reading achievement.
Equally imperative, are the observed but less easily documented cognitive capacities such as emotional intelligence, social interaction, flexibility and tenacity that these learners exhibit.
Bambujaya Bilingual School offers a rigorous and relevant curriculum that will allow learners to excel academically and transition gracefully into colleges and universities.
Music, art, and movement are greatly employed in the learning process. Those emphasized are dance, watercolours, flute/recorder and in later years ukulele, songs in the round, knitting and crocheting, wood carving and nature crafts.
Storytelling is used to awaken imagination, build vocabulary and oral language, retain attention and teach subjects such as math, history, geography, social studies, writing and reading.
Main lessons include all traditional subjects and are typically taught in 4-6 week cycles, thereby allowing children to gain a deep and personal relationship with the material and therefore retain it longer.
The Waldorf-inspired method emphasizes nature and environmental stewardship. Children spend time outside exploring the world around them gaining a deeper understanding of science and nature studies.
Bilingual immersion in both English and Khmer begins for children at Bambujaya in Kindergarten.
Children learn real-life tasks such as housekeeping, cooking, fibre arts and gardening.
Learning facilitators follow their children from first grade through middle school. This allows them to develop a stronger relationship with their learners and develop a curriculum based on their learners’ needs and strengths.
Technology is de-emphasized in the early years at school and at home. Families of enrolled children will be expected to greatly limit their children’s exposure to computers, TV, and video games.
Seasonal studies and festivals are taught and celebrated throughout the year.
Experts in child development are now confirming what Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf schools, understood a hundred years ago:
From early childhood through high school, Waldorf-inspired classes go far beyond the routine dispensing of academic information. Progressively, they also develop the nimble, humane, and discerning minds these young people will need in an unpredictable future. Our learning facilitators steadily build each child’s individual capacity for sensitive engagement, original thinking, clear reasoning, and — what many learners today lack — the initiative and ability to translate thoughts into action.
Rather than hurrying children prematurely into academic tasks beyond their intellectual and emotional development, our Waldorf-inspired learning environment protects childhood by introducing skills and concepts at a cognitively appropriate pace and developmental level. Over many years, Waldorf-inspired schools around the world have proved that such learning lasts.
The film “Learn to Change the World” shows people from around the world who work on the big pedagogical tasks of our time, based on Waldorf/Steiner pedagogy.
Bambujaya Bilingual School celebrated Waldorf education’s 100th anniversary during the 2019-2020 school year with centennial celebrations and initiatives. We joined 1000+ Waldorf schools engaging in social and environmental projects that demonstrate our regional and international interconnectedness and shared values of Waldorf-inspired education around the world.
Waldorf Education Resources:
Waldorf 100: waldorf-100.org
Part 2 of “Learn to Change the World” deals with encounter, engagement and inclusion.
“Becoming” is the third film in the series produced for the centenary of Waldorf Education.