In 1919, the Waldorf school movement grew out of the post First World War situation in Germany at the initiative of Emil Molt, CEO of the Waldorf cigarette factory in Stuttgart.
It was born out of the context of a social initiative after the First World War to develop new forms for economy based on global solidarity, for the legal life of the state based on democratic equality, and for cultural life based on the spiritual freedom of the individual.
Molt asked Rudolf Steiner if it would be possible to found a school for the children of the blue- and white collar workers at the factory, based on an anthroposophical understanding of man, and Steiner agreed and fully supported his initiative, leading to the foundation and opening of the first Waldorf school in the Autumn of 1919.
The central focus in Waldorf education is the development of that in every person that is independent of external appearance in building an understanding of the pupils for their background and place in the world, not primarily as members of any specific nation or race, but as members of humanity and world citizens.
For an introduction to Waldorf education as it was born at the time, see an essay by Rudolf Steiner. For another short introduction, see a page on Waldorf Education from the Southern African Federation of Waldorf Schools . For a curriculum overview, see one from a Waldorf school in New Zealand and one in the U.S..
Today, the Waldorf school movement is a rapidly growing movement and there probably (end of 2003) existed in the order of some 870 Waldorf or Steiner schools around the world; about 600 in Europe (ECSWE), 150 in USA (AWSNA) and 100 in other parts of the world. In addition there exist in the order of probably some 1600 Waldorf Kindergartens around the world.
To some mostly fundamentalist parents of different (secular humanist and right wing) orientations, who did not realize the depth of the spiritual foundation on which Waldorf is founded when putting their children in a Waldorf school, this at times has been a problem.
In California, this in 1995 led to the formation of a small but vocal group, ("PLANS"), critizising, smearing and campaigning against Waldorf education from combinations of rationalist, secular humanist and left wing, and Christian fundamentalist right wing positions. (For some comments on "PLANS", see here.)
Hopefully the pages at this site and the links below can
throw a light on what Waldorf education is and what it isn't.
GENERAL LINKS ON WALDORF EDUCATION
Waldorf Answers - A new site on Waldorf education
Some pages answering Frequently Asked Questions about
Comments on Waldorf education
MORE LINKS ON WALDORF EDUCATION
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