the specifically waldorf

Waldorf defenders regularly seem to want to chop the heads off of us critics when we say that what’s specific to waldorf is anthroposophy. When the waldorf training institutes say the same things themselves, it’s ok. Seemingly. Here’s what the London Waldorf Seminar has to say:

The course aims to provide a foundation in the fundamentals of Steiner Waldorf education that is essential for anyone who aims to teach in a Steiner Waldorf school.

They then list three ‘strands’ which are central to the course. All three of them are deeply related to anthroposophy and anthroposophical ideas, but it’s sufficient, I think, to quote the second of them:

Anthroposophical study – study of Steiner’s education and other lectures to support and deepen understanding of Anthroposophy as the basis of Steiner Waldorf education. Essential texts are The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy and The Study of Man (The Foundations of Human Experience) and these have been supplemented at various times by The Kingdom of Childhood, Waldorf Education for Adolescents, The Spirit of the Waldorf School, Practical Advice to Teachers and Discussions with Teachers, as well as individual lectures and passages from other books and lecture cycles, chosen by individual tutors. Study of lectures on festivals is also an important part of the study curriculum. While these are not studied directly on the course, students are encouraged to read Steiner’s basic books Knowledge of the Higher Worlds (How to Know Higher Worlds), Theosophy and Occult Science (Esoteric Science) to gain a good grounding in Anthroposophy.

Most of these books are available online:

The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy
The Study of Man (The Foundations of Human Experience)
Waldorf Education for Adolescents
The Spirit of the Waldorf School
The Kingdom of Childhood
Practical Advice to Teachers
Discussions with Teachers
As for festivals, see for example these collections
How to Know Higher Worlds
Theosophy
Occult Science (Esoteric Science)

This is, indeed, what is specifically waldorf. These books are specific to waldorf — they are unique for waldorf. No other teachers go through teacher training reading these books. It makes it all the more apparent why a regular teacher training is necessary as a foundation. The waldorf courses could serve as decoration, at most, but they surely cannot be the main attraction. I thought you all might be worried too, but then I realized that any concerns you might have developed by now will surely evaporate when I tell you that the seminar ‘is recognised by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship’. Knowing this, a state recognised teaching qualification seems like a secondary, almost irrelevant notion. (The Waldorf Seminar, as you may have guessed, is not offering such a thing.)

4 thoughts on “the specifically waldorf

  1. “This is, indeed, what is specifically waldorf. These books are specific to waldorf — they are unique for waldorf. No other teachers go through teacher training reading these books.”

    And no Waldorf teacher goes through training without reading them.

    Critics stress this over and over. This material is what makes Waldorf Waldorf. The rest is icing on the cake. Memorizing fairy tales to tell the children is nice, having a knitting teacher is nice, you could even do a little eurythmy without having a full Steiner training behind you – reading these foundational Steiner texts – but you aren’t really doing Waldorf if you don’t have properly trained Waldorf teachers, who went through the training and read these texts and did the assigned spiritual exercises, which come from these texts.

    Defenders split hairs over what percent of the faculty at a given school is Steiner-trained. The answer is all of it, 100%, if they could manage it, but in the real world, of course they can’t. Ain’t for lack of trying.

  2. ‘This material is what makes Waldorf Waldorf. The rest is icing on the cake.’

    Well put. The rest really is the icing on the cake, for those who like this particular variety of icing. But anthroposophy is the cake.

  3. “Ja till lärarlegitimation
    Onsdag 2 mars
    DEBATT OCH BESLUT. En legitimation för lärare och förskollärare införs. Dessutom införs lektor som ett nytt karriärsteg i skolan. Debatten i kammaren fortsätter. ”

    http://www.riksdagen.se

  4. Och möjligheten till undantag från legitimationskravet finns alltså inte för pedagogiska inriktningar som har outbildade lärare som paradgren? Och man har inte huxflux givit RS-högskolan möjlighet att utfärda legitimationer?

    Ja, vem fasen vet… ;-)

    (Jag förmodar att det är Högskoleverket som har den beslutanderätten vad gäller lärosätens och -institutioners examinationsbefogenheter — och lärarexamen får RS-högskolan ju inte utfärda. Men om de lyckas få den rätten, mot förmodan, betyder det också att de kommer att få utfärda lärarlegitimationer?)

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