are Children Taught to Read?
the first three classes, great care is taken in laying a thorough
foundation for writing and reading. Children learn to write before
they read. Letters of the alphabet are learned in the first class
in capitals, as they originated in the evolution of our culture. Man
perceived, then pictured, and out of the pictures he developed signs
and written symbols. The children, with their naturally pictorial
thinking, do likewise, In the shapes of natural objects, children
re-discover the shapes of the letters: M in a series of mountain peaks,
V in the valleys between, S in a sinuous snake. The experience is
deepened and widened through speech and movement. This method of approach
develops a sense for the qualifies of the letters and makes them come
alive so that they are remembered. Phonetics are treated thoroughly
and the first experiences in reading centre around that which the
children know well and have copied from the board. The first printed
reader is introduced during the second year.
is Number Work Introduced?
is generally recognised that the first experiences of arithmetic are
crucial, and here Steiner made some interesting recommendations. By
starting with "two plus two equals four" the child meets
(i) a completely abstract proposition, (ii) a reductionist view of
the universe in which wholes are made up of parts, and (iii) a problem
with only one answer. If he explores instead how to divide an apple
or a cake and share it round the class, he starts from real life,
from wholeness, and from a problem with several answers.
is taught to children not as a method for computing , but as a powerful
process which is inscribed into the world around them. They can
see oneness in the image of the sun, twoness in the contrasts of
day and night, fiveness in flower petals and sixness in the legs
of beetles. Always, there is a sense of the reality underpinning
are taught in movement, and through music before anything is committed
to paper. They can be modelled in plasticine, a clay or beeswax.,
together with the shapes in which they are found: the square, circle,
pentagon and so on. Arithmetic tables are recited with much clapping
and stamping, for unless the knowledge sinks deeper than the child's
conscious memory, very little has been achieved. As in so much else,
in their early years the children need to learn by heart before
they learn by head.
is Art so Important?
is recognised as an important aid to learning. It permeates the curriculum
as a medium of expression and enlivens all subjects. By teaching with
imagination, movement, sound and much artistic activity, the whole
nature of the child is aroused and involved, developing enthusiasm
for the learning experience. Learning is transformed into a stimulating
process with far-reaching results when enriched with art and movement,
enabling the whole person to unfold.
is the Main Lesson?
Main Lesson system has proved to be one of economy and efficiency.
One subject at a time is taught in depth for a period of 3 or 4
weeks in a way suited to the child's understanding and stage of
development. Every morning for the first two hours of the day, the
children are at their most receptive and greater concentration can
system allows for integration of a variety of activities and intellectual
and creative work based on the topic that is being taught at the
time. Language, mathematics, history, geography and the sciences
are taught during these periods and are all presented in a way that
stimulates in turn the emotions, the thinking and the physical activity
of the child. Thus the pupil experiences a deep involvement resulting
in enthusiasm for the work. As he works more intensively, his powers
of concentration are strengthened.
later morning lessons are devoted to other languages, the practice
of skills, music (each child learns to play the recorder), singing
and eurythmy. Handwork, craft lessons, painting, modelling, gymnastics
and games are scheduled at the end of the school day.
of the involvement and enthusiasm gained during the morning are
what should accompany the child into sleep. This is one of the reasons
why we do not recommend the viewing of television as it lessens
the effectiveness of the classroom experience.
the Main Lessons Continued in the High School?
indeed. The Main Lessons approach is a particularly helpful alternative
in the High School to the conventional way of splitting lessons into
35-40 minute segments. In the Main Lesson curriculum, pupils experience
a wide range of topics and creative opportunities not available in
ordinary schools. It is an ideal way of incorporating the balance
and wholeness inherent in Waldorf education.
Waldorf Pupils Adequately Prepared for the Real, Competitive Modern
indicated above, Waldorf pupils are exposed to an education which
balances social development and academic study. Their studies include
many aspects of the modern world in Science, Technology, History,
Literature, etc. The education is guided by the principle: the right
thing at the right time. There is thus most definitely a place for
computers, for instance, in a Waldorf School - but at the appropriate
moment. Pupils who have proceeded from Waldorf High Schools to university
have been found to be more than adequately prepared. In fact, the
degree of independence, originality and confidence of Waldorf pupils
has often been noted.
is Discipline Handled?
a Waldorf School, the approach to discipline is much more personally
based. There are no abstract authorities like the headmaster and prefects,
and respect must be won through personal contact. While a freer, more
open atmosphere (including no uniforms) is encouraged, Waldorf schools
are in no way neglectful of 'discipline'. Orderliness is inherent
in the classroom and is demanded in behaviour, dress and the presentation
of work. These qualities, as part of social development, are not imposed
in the form of external coercion, but are developed more as an inward
sense of duty. Generally it can be said that, when motivation and
interest is high, when personal concern for the pupil is central to
the teacher, the whole question of discipline eases.