Waldorf Academy Call #3

Waldorf Academy Call #3

WALDORF ACADEMY Lesson 3: Philosophy Behind the Curriculum


Celebrate and acknowledge yourself for 3 things you have…

  • Done
  • Been
  • Learned


  • A clear outline of the principles underlying the education
  • An understanding of how they apply to the curriculum
  • A greater understanding of the bigger picture and how the different pieces of the puzzle work together.

So That You Will Have…

  • More confidence in making choices of what to teach, how to teach and when to teach the material
  • The courage to use your own creativity and intuitions in planning and teaching
  • More conviction when explaining to others about Waldorf Ed
  • More faith in your choice of educating your child using the principles of Waldorf Education.


Waldorf is not a…

  • Method
  • Fixed program with a set curriculum
  • Theory

Waldorf is a…

  • Living breathing education based principles that meet the needs of the individual child
  • Way of teaching that supports the development of consciousness of humanity by educating the whole child and balancing out the intellectual forces with attention to the development of the will and the feeling life.

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) wanted to…

  • Provide an antidote to materialistic thinking that had developed during the Industrial Revolution.
  • Create an education that approached the child in a holistic manner so that the thinking could be transformed into a creative force not limited by how things seem, but is inspired by possibility and a developed imagination.
  • His ideas are maybe even more relevant today that when he originally formed this education


Understanding (Thinking)

  • Understands the development of human being educates the seen and unseen aspects of growth,

Artistic Development (Feeling)

  • Growing one’s individual capacities.

Teaching (Willing)

  • Planting seeds that will dawn later in life
  • Meets the needs through observation, meditation an intuition
  • Recognizes the growing, ever changing of the children
  • Creates a structure appropriate to the developmental stage

The Teacher As An Artist

  • An artist is always working between form and freedom
  • An artist goes through a training of some sort with a teacher or mentor
  • At a certain point the teacher is ready to improvise

Form--Principles of the education

  • Rhythm Replaces Strength
  • Homeopathic Dose
  • Head Heart and Hands
  • Education of the Whole Child
  • Antidote for Modern Culture
  • Education for the Future
  • Never do for the child what they can do for themselves

Medium--Curriculum presented in creative and descriptive images

Community surrounding--Family, HS families, Waldorf School


2-fold Aspect of the Child

  • Child as having both a spiritual nature and an earthly nature that needs to be educated
  • The education of the child is helping them to incarnate into the physical body
  • Childhood is an incarnating process of the spiritual into the physical; the teacher is then serving this higher spiritual nature.

3-Fold Aspect of the Soul

  • Three soul activities: thinking, feeling and willing (Head, Heart and Hands)
  • Three states of consciousness: sleeping, feeling and willing

4-Fold Aspect of the Human Being: Physical, Etheric, Astral, Ego

  • Every 7years forces are freed for the development of new capacities
  • These phases mirror the development of human kind
  • Each phase is a continuum with one leading into the next
  • Adjustments can be made based on the observations of these more subtle changes.
  • Within each of the developmental stages there are nodes that need special attention as well


  • Three—the birth of the “I” and the beginning of memory
  • Nine—the nine-year change and the beginning of a feeling of separation form others and environment
  • Twelve—the twelve year change—moving from the heart of childhood towards the intellect


Honoring of Childhood

  • There is an honoring of childhood.
  • Childhood helps to shape the instrument for the life of the adult.

Honoring and Respecting the Rhythms of Nature

  • Waldorf education emphasizes putting trust in natural development of the child
  • Paying special attention to the different phases of childhood so that the curriculum and the manner of teaching match each developmental phase.

Education of the Whole Child

  • Helps the child to discover and nurture gifts and talents and move through any hindrances
  • Avoiding early specialization—the children do everything

Honoring the Individuality

  • Providing supportive conditions helps each individual become more truly himself or herself.
  • Waldorf education strives for the full unfolding of the individual human sprit.

Education of the Soul


  • Planning of the day, week, month and year
  • Celebrations, traditions, nature table, songs, games, activities, crafts

Balance of Inbreathing and Out-breathing Activities

  • Some activities cause them to be more lively and talkative: singing, playing instruments, drama, speech, listening to a story, handwork
  • Other activities promote quiet, focus and create more of a meditative mood: drawing, form drawing, painting, writing, rhythm and listening in music, calligraphy and handwriting

Polarities and temperaments addressed in the lessons

Relaxed Atmosphere

  • Focus not on testing, but on individual striving

Arts and Story Telling

  • All the arts help to harmonize the soul and create breathing
  • The stories with strong images speak directly to the soul

Education Toward Possibility and Problem Solving

  • Asking open-ended questions in the review, even with the younger children
  • Imaginative responses to questions, especially when they are young
  • Math—How many ways can you make 24?
  • Science—They come to their own conclusions through observation


  • Artistic Activity—expression of the soul
  • Environment: Spaciousness, beauty, “Lazure” if possible
  • Attention to the way you move through the space and speak

Meaning in the Curriculum

  • There is purposefulness to everything that is done
  • Things can be fun, but there is a relationship to real life with everything presented

Education of the Will

  • Rhythm to the day, week, the months and the year—there are things to wait for and anticipate
  • Preparation, activities and clean-up on both the small scale and more involved events
  • Direct experience of the effort needed to create
  • Experience the struggle that sometimes accompanies any type of learning
  • Have the space to fail and find their way back again

Education of the social and moral forces

  • The heart forces unite us while the intellectual forces tend to divide us
  • Community can be achieved through a striving to understand one-another



  • Born helpless and dependent.
  • The child needs protection from modern life, as it is injurious to the health on all levels
  • Tear and smile are the beginnings of human language


Walking: (0-1)

  • Great achievement is to gain control over the movements happens from an inner impulse.
  • Lifting of the head is the first task, sitting upright, crawling
  • Walking without assistance, is the first overcoming of the weight of the earth
  • This is a spiritual force transcending matter

Speech: (1-2)

  • Great achievement is to enter into speech
  • How we speak to a child is of great importance.
  • The child learns the mother tongue and the larynx vibrates with every sound

Birth of the “I” (3)

  • An experience of one as an individual is born, beginning of personal memory


  • Fantasy life of the kindergarten is natural and necessary
  • Play Is the world itself, it is not just a way to pass the time
  • Painting, modeling, cooking, sewing, building, rhymes, songs and verses, doing little plays
  • Important that there isn’t any formal reading, writing, and arithmetic.
  • The child should be left in this world of play until the change of teeth indicates it is time to move onto the beginnings of the world of thought and imagination which is distinct from the fantasy life of the little child.
  • Before 5 the child is wrapped up in themselves, time is in the present
  • After 5 the children are more wakeful and want to try new things alone and together
  • Time begins to count…there begins the sense of the rhythm of the day and the week
  • The story becomes very important; they want to know what happens.

Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales

  • Have wonderful pictures that are carried by rhythm and song
  • The children are nourished by the images and don’t try to figure it out.
  • A more intellectually oriented child will want to know if they are true


Acquiring his or her own body

  • 20 milk teeth are general in shape and not so deeply rooted
  • 32 permanent teeth are deeply rooted and differentiated; general to the particular

Forces of building the physical body have a new function

  • The formative forces that were used to shape the teeth continue to function
  • Now they function in the shaping of the mind in the life of images and pictures
  • These are then later on translated into thought

Brings about a change in consciousness

  • New quality of awareness of themselves, adults and one another
  • It is a signal that they are ready to enter into the second phase of life
  • It is the time for the development of the imagination as separate from the fantasy

What happens if a child begins the change of teeth earlier?

  • This child needs protection from early intellectual tendencies
  • Don’t want to dissuade a child from early reading
  • Instead present alternatives and help them to enter into the world of playa and the arts.
  • He or she will imitate you so if you engage yourself in these activities and encourage them to join in.

What happens if a child reads later than usual?

  • As a rule it is important to let that child come to the more intellectual activities in a more gradual manner.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS (7-14): The Bridge from Infancy to Adolescence

The years from 7-14 span a great transition from the young child to the adolescent

  • The transition from the pure fantasy of the little child to the abstract thought of later years should be a gentle process.
  • The wakeful or over-wakeful child needs to be quieted and harmonized by engaging him in artistic and practical activity,
  • The slumbering child also needs careful watching. Here the method is not to push the intellectual activities, but to train the will through action and repetition. Let him or her learn a little, to begin with, but learn it thoroughly, from the crown of his head to the toes of his feet.

The thinking from 7-14

  • Understand the difference between imagination and fanciful tales as nourishment for the soul
  • Their thinking is an art of feeling and thinking that comes from the heart and is fed by images
  • Electronic images get in the way of this faculty.

A young child has a deep sense of truth that has been passed down in folk tales and fairy tales as well as in mythology and the great epics stories.

  • Cinderella is an imagination and is full of truths and nourishing: imagination
  • With these imaginative pictures that convey the truth of the world the child can breathe.
  • What is nourished through these pictures will then grow into healthy, living thinking.
  • Pictures today are so often created simply to amuse or to deliver rational information.
  • The child wants an authority that they can trust with heart and soul
  • The teacher is a representative of the human being and this is where the child learns to trust


Nursery: education through doing

Grades: education of the feeling

The question for the teacher is what do the child need and what will best meet those needs for his or her development?

  • It’s important at this time for the teacher steeps everything in pictures and images
  • Pictures reach into the feeling life, the life of the soul where the focus is on the polarities of joy and sorrow and other contrasting experiences.
  • Everything is important that can further the life of the rhythm in body and soul

First Grade, Second & Third Grade: Carry over of imitation: In imitation

  • Slow process of learning the letters follows the development of writing in history from movement, to painting, drawing, and writing and then in the end of second grade to reading
  • The child has been led gradually from the story and a picture of a wave to the symbol, “W.”
  • This method of teaching helps the children to feel a part of the whole as they have been led to a place where they find themselves connected to the stories
  • This transition into the letters is at the perfect time when the forces are released for this imagination different from the fantasy of the earlier years.

2nd Grade: Grammar—doing and describing words and the duality of the world

  • Saint stores and fables

3rd Grade: 9-year change (deeper sense of the self in the feeling life)

  • Human Being as Human Being in the stories of the Old Testament
  • The first realization of being ‘alone’ and separate in the world.
  • Old testament: decent of human being into earthly existence, sense of mission, sense of self
  • Farming; relating to the cycles of nature, and all that goes into the making of food, community
  • House building: An extension of human beings and a symbol of all the daily and social needs.
  • Grammar: structure of a sentence, unlimited possibilities in the creating of sentences with a subject and a predicate. There is so much a person can do!

4th Grade & Fifth Grade: The heart of childhood

  • Human Being and Animal
  • Experience the God and Goddesses of Norse Mythology with all their strengths and weaknesses

5th Grade:

  • Human Being and Plants (Botany)
  • They grow into perfect proportions, and are generally very agile and still are light on their feet.
  • Study of ancient civilizations and transition from mythology to history

Sixth Grade, (Anticipating the birth of adolescence)

Human Being and Stones

  • Children tend to grow a little out of rhythm and feel the weight of gravity
  • Their movements tend to become a little heavier and demand more thought than before
  • They study the bones of the earth in “Mineralogy.”

They study “Physics”

  • Eye: color, light and dark, shadows and elementary perspective
  • Ear: sound; noise and tone, intervals and mathematics
  • Whole Body: warmth and cold, the body as a sense organ, expansion and contraction, soul and nature
  • Earth: magnetism and electricity


  • As they become more awkward in their limbs the woodcarving requires strength, use of specialized tools, how to overcome resistance of hard materials,


  • Gives them a connection to the earth and to nutrition, the use of tools
  • History, they created civil law and citizen rights and made room for the individual in society.
  • Middle Ages: Begin the study of Algebra and abstract thought
  • History: Meaning and Destiny
  • Geography: Demonstrate the interdependence of the human being and how the economic life is the basis for our mutual service to each other

7th Grade

  • They have moved into a time of discovery: Age of Exploration and the Renaissance.
  • Continued study of physics, with the addition of chemistry and physiology

8th Grade

  • The study of the revolutions meets their need to question everything
  • Continued study of physics, physiology, and chemistry