Azalea Mountain Grades: a journey through childhood

Why are we inspired by Waldorf Education?

“The need for imagination, a sense of truth and a feeling of responsibility — these are the three forces which are the very nerve of education”
This is how Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the first Waldorf school in 1919, characterized what should be a human-centered approach to education.

Education in our Western society focuses on the intellectual aspect of the human being and has chosen largely to ignore the several other parts that are essential to our well-being. These include our life of feeling (emotions, aesthetics, and social sensitivity), our willpower (the ability to get things done), and our moral nature (being clear about right and wrong). Without having these developed, we are incomplete—a fact that may become obvious in our later years, when a feeling of emptiness begins to set in. That is why in a Waldorf school, the practical and artistic subjects play as important a role as the full spectrum of traditional academic subjects that the school offers. The practical and artistic are essential in achieving a preparation for life in the “real” world.

boy_spyglass_grassWith these goals in mind, the Waldorf teachers view each child as a person who has within themselves a unique “self” worthy of care and development. Teachers work with the conviction that each child has individual talents and gifts which are of value and will play a part in our future. Waldorf teachers strive to create the environment for those “seed” talents to blossom.

The Waldorf method, however, also understands and nurtures the changing needs and consciousness of the child as he or she grows from the young child to the mature high school student:

  • The Waldorf kindergarten cultivates and works in support of the pre-school child’s deep, inborn natural attitude, belief and trust in and basic reverence for the world as an interesting and good place to live in.
  • In the lower grades in elementary school, this leads over to more of a stress on using artistic elements in different forms (rhythm, movement, color, form, recitation, song, music), not primarily as a means of personal self expression, but as a means to learn to understand and relate to the world, building an understanding for different subjects out of what is beautiful in the world in the broadest sense of the word.
  • In the upper grades and high school, this leads in steps to an ever more conscious cultivation of an observing, reflecting and experimental scientific attitude to the world, focusing on building an understanding of what is true, based on personal experience, thinking and judgment.
teacher with children

Please see the links to the right that will take you on a journey through childhood, grade by grade, at the hand of an education inspired by the Waldorf method.