In 1919, in Germany, the children of workers who worked in the Waldorf Astoria tobacco factory (Stuttgart, Germany) first tried Waldorf training on themselves – a methodology based on the philosophy of the Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner. The name, as it becomes clear, comes from the name of the enterprise where it was first tested.
Perhaps the most important difference of this school from all the others at that time was its tolerance: in the Waldorf school, students were not allowed to be divided by social classes, religion, or even IQ. In it, everyone was equal.
A little later, at the same factory, through Steiner’s efforts, a Waldorf kindergarten was organized. Decades later, the new approach caused continuous disputes and disagreements, the subject of rave reviews by thousands of parents, teachers and children, as well as the basis for a huge number of kindergartens and schools around the world (today their total number exceeds three thousand institutions).
Education Waldorf system involves, above all, sensitivity and attentiveness to the basic needs of the child. Steiner believed that in the first months of life, the baby needs peace and security, and not an abundance of impressions. Waldorf School believes that the crumb comes to the outside world with what he brought with him from the “pre-earth” life.
After birth, he must adapt to the new conditions of life outside the womb, to a new way of breathing and feeding. So, you need to ensure your child a reliable “house” and protection from the outside world, the hustle and bustle.
As such a “shell”, Waldorf pedagogy recommends a cradle covered on one side with transparent pink fabric or tulle. The swinging cradle suspended in the air symbolizes a smooth transition from the mother’s womb to the physical world. Every new step forward – knowing your body, meeting your loved ones, sitting and crawling – is a serious achievement for a child.
According to Steiner, there is no need to artificially accelerate development: it takes time for a kid to master new skills. However, this does not mean that you need to do nothing! The task of the parents is to give the child what he needs right now, at the present moment, and not in the future.
This is the main principle that guides Waldorf pedagogy.
What is Waldorf education? “To be in the atmosphere of love and imitate healthy examples is the normal state of a child,” said Rudolf Steiner. Teaching and raising young children is built on imitation: the baby tries to repeat the expression on the face of her mother, and a two-year-old baby flirts in front of a mirror, putting lipstick on her lips.
As a basis for learning and building the model “adult-child”, the Waldorf people took this very “absorbing” feature of the child’s personality. That is why in the Steiner system in the children’s world a special place is occupied by an adult (this can be not only a parent, but also an educator, a teacher). He is an absolute authority for the child and an absolute example.
Education by Waldorf system assumes that the whole atmosphere at home or in kindergarten depends on the behavior of an adult. An emotional childish personality is distinguished by a high sensitivity not only to the actions of other people, but also to their experiences and thoughts.
Children imitate their elders, including when they observe how they dress, clean, cook, etc. Imagine a Waldorf kindergarten: a caregiver behaves in it the same way as a mother doing housework. He dusts, cooks compote or bakes pies, occasionally going to the children to play with them or tell a fairy tale.
Older guys help him set the table, work in the garden, clean the group. A lot of time is devoted to creative activities: drawing, modeling, application (and in the older groups even felting and knitting), playing puppet theater, learning songs and poems.
And yet, in some aspects, the Waldorf kindergarten is in solidarity with the usual garden – full four meals a day and a nap in it are obligatory!
Waldorf education does not just promise to teach preschoolers to read, write and count. On the contrary, it completely denies learning to read and write to the age of 7 (the age when it is time to go to school).
Waldorf do not rush the intellectual development of the child! They believe that the main property of the intellect is the ability to create. The development of imagination, vocabulary and applied skills – this will be a fertile ground for cultivating intellectual and abstract thinking in the future.
Thus, learning with the Waldorf system implies not mechanical learning, but memorization of information in the course of emotional “living”. It promotes effective learning without harm to psychological health.
After all, the intellect can fully develop only when there is a qualitative foundation for this – the emotional world is formed. This happens when “all milk teeth are replaced by permanent” (that is, at about 12 years).
That is why Waldorf educators urge not to make an adult out of a child, but rather to help him stay small as long as possible so that he can eat all the lovely fruits of childhood and, of course, reveal all his talents. Waldorf education imposes strict taboos on early learning to read and write. “There are horses that have been forced from childhood to carry heavy loads, and there are those who are waiting for their bones to grow and their muscles develop.
Which of the horses will be stronger afterwards? ”- this parable perfectly reflects the principle that the Waldorf school is guided by.
Waldorf pedagogy focuses on the development of intuition and imagination, on the ability to dream and create. The childhood of a preschooler is fully dedicated to the game.
The free play of the child is one of the foundations of development, in it the will is “set in motion”, I am flourishing a creative imagination. The emotional side is actually much more important than the possession of logic and analysis.
Waldorf Kindergarten – a place where a lot of time is devoted to games in the fresh air (with sand, water), garden work, bringing children closer to nature. Waldorf pedagogy proclaims one of its main goals – “communication” with life, i.e. establishing the relationship between scientific knowledge and experience. The life surrounding a modern child is so automated and far from nature that children have no idea about the elementary skills of human activity: how they grow flowers, how they bake bread, how they build a house, how they weave baskets.
Education by Waldorf system assumes that both boys and girls from the earliest childhood embroider, cut out wood, make toys themselves, work on a potter’s wheel, draw with paints and crayons, mold from clay and wax without samples and suggested patterns, without a given theme and certain rules. Waldorf Kindergarten offers children three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. The rest of the colors kids create themselves, mixing and diluting the paint.
Waldorf pedagogy also includes elements of traditional folk culture: songs, games, pies, tales, round dances.
Of course, like any other developing educational system, Waldorf pedagogy cannot do without toys. Toys for “Waldorf” children are simple and original.
Waldorf kindergarten will not offer ready-made toys to pupils: children and teachers make them themselves. The basis is natural materials (raw wood, wool, paper, natural fabrics, straw). Dyes are also only natural: water paints, plant juices, spices, coffee, etc.
The categorical “no” says the Waldorf school of plastics, mechanics and electronics – in short, everything that the shelves of children’s stores are filled with today. But not only environmental friendliness and handicraft are distinctive features of Waldorf toys.
All of them are distinguished from the rest of the “soft” form: even wooden cubes do not have sharp sharp corners and seem to be slightly imperfect in shape. This is the main principle of the Waldorf toy – a hint at the shape and way of playing with it.
This is done in order to get an impetus for the development of children’s imagination. When fantasy takes off, any bar can become a ship, and a leaflet that has fallen from a tree can be a sail, three pieces replace a doll, and a stick a horse.
The smallest guys play with unpainted clay, patchwork or wooden dolls, whose face is not even drawn – in the game the baby decides whether the doll laughs or cries. However, it cannot be said that the Waldorf school impoverishes the toy world of children with such a principle.
There are a lot of options: musical toys (flutes, xylophones, rattles), animal and plant figures, wooden cubes and constructors (including from natural materials – twigs, sticks, chestnuts, acorns, cones and nuts), toys for learning crafts (pottery wheel , a box with wooden tools, balls of thread, etc.), mosaic puzzles, Waldorf dolls.
Despite the fact that the popular Waldorf method of education in Russia is gaining momentum, and the number of Waldorf kindergartens is steadily growing, we still have few Waldorf schools. This is not surprising: Waldorf pedagogy is very different from the traditional.
As the main differences, it is possible to note the rejection of the grades not only in the primary, but also in the middle – up to the 8th grade – school (at the end of the year the parents of the student receive a report card describing his achievements), and the lack of textbooks as such work in special notebooks, which are teaching books). Education is designed for 12-13 years (no “jumping over” through the class!), And the children go to school only after reaching the age of 7.
Keep in mind that if your child goes to a Waldorf school and then suddenly for some reason you decide to leave it, in a regular educational institution, he will be able to join only the children in two classes “below” (i.e., instead of 7 class will be accepted in the 5th). From which it is clear that the compulsory educational program of the Waldorf school still lags behind that generally accepted in our country.
And, as it logically follows from the principles of Waldorf pedagogy, subjects that are secondary to an ordinary school (music, drawing, natural history, etc.) in a Waldorf educational institution become basic for the first eight years of study. However, Waldorf schools have a plus, which modern parents will undoubtedly appreciate – close attention is paid to the study of foreign languages.
From the first class, children study them two, and the immersion into the language environment occurs as organically as possible – through folklore (folk songs, tops, poems, etc.).
It is not for nothing that the Waldorf school is often called the “school of life”: you can be sure that here the child will learn how to bake pies, plant flowers and knit on knitting needles faster than anywhere else. The main principle of learning is the accumulation of life experience through experiences, and not just cramming theories. The lack of confidence that the Waldorf school does not give the child real knowledge for continuing education, for example, at an institute or university, forces many parents to be skeptical of this pedagogy.
But the fact that children in the Waldorf school study without fear and doubt (there are no marks — why be afraid?), With pleasure and joyful surprise, certainly, makes you sympathize. And if you are psychologically prepared for the fact that your child will begin to study geometry in the first grade through driving round dances and outdoor games, you can try to get acquainted with the Waldorf system of learning more closely.