What is this school's approach to spirituality?

Steiner’s spiritual philosophy is called “anthroposophy”. All Waldorf-trained teachers are educated in anthroposophy as a pedagogical approach, and make a commitment to applying the tenets of anthroposophy. The majority of Waldorf teachers consider themselves to be anthroposophists. Waldorf teachers have a deep respect for Steiner’s perspective and for the effectiveness of his curriculum and methods.

However, anthroposophy is not taught in the classroom. In fact, it is a tenet of anthroposophy that it’s best for parents to guide the spiritual/religious education of their children, and that as children grow they will reach a level of maturity from which they can choose their own spiritual path.

The main result of the spiritual background to Waldorf education is that one senses a deep caring for the children and for life, when one spends time on a Waldorf campus. The teachers are working with each child from a deep sense of caring for the children, and desire to help each child manifest his or her potential.

In addition to the caring, there is also some more overt spirituality evident in the classroom. Children are exposed to spiritual ideas and stories from various religious traditions, and are taught to respect various religious viewpoints. The youngest children will hear terms like “Mother Earth” and “Father Sun”. Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated. Older children (starting perhaps in second grade) will be exposed to monotheism, including Christian stories and others.

In addition, Waldorf teaches moral reasoning and helps children develop an ethical compass. As a parent, it isn’t enough for my child to become a smart person; I also want him to become someone who values life and the well-being of himself, others, and our world.

Since Waldorf has a spiritual orientation, many parents want some assurance that their children will not be indoctrinated in the school’s spiritual ideas. A survey of Waldorf graduates indicates that the vast majority did not feel that they were.

I can say from my experience that I have not ever felt any hint of indoctrination, but rather lots and lots of caring. The spiritual orientation is evident, and I appreciate the way in which it is incorporated into the rhythm of school life. I am also happy for my child to be with families who have a variety of religious and spiritual beliefs in the school, as well as those having no particular spiritual beliefs.

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1 comment to What is this school’s approach to spirituality?

  • Ellen

    If you sit in on a class in a Waldorf school, you don’t get the impression of a religious school—what you experience is an environment of caring, respect, creativity. It’s difficult to convey the depth and richness of the unique Waldorf environment. I suggest you visit a classroom if you haven’t already done so. When I first walked into a Waldorf classroom, I immediately felt a kind of peaceful feeling. There was beautiful artwork on the large chalkboard at the front of the room, drawn the night before by the class teacher. I listened to a main lesson beginning with an engaging story that pulled me right into it. I listened as the children sang songs and said verses together. Clearly something captivating was going on here that was beyond the usual educational approach. The more I learned, the more I wished I had experienced this as a child myself. At least I could offer this to my child.

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