ERIC Number: ED420418
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997-Dec
Reference Count: N/A
Waldorf Education: Theory of Child Development and Teaching Methods.
Ogletree, Earl J.
This paper examines the educational philosophy underlying Waldorf Education, focusing on Rudolf Steiner's concept of "vital" or etheric energy and comparing Piaget's and Steiner's stages of cognition. The paper begins with a discussion of school readiness and the trend toward lowering the school entry age, and maintains that this trend is supported by a selective and sometimes erroneous interpretation of child development research. This part of the paper discusses the negative impact of forced-formal learning on children before they are ready, such as reducing learning potential and increasing attention deficit disorders. The second part of the paper focuses on indicators of school readiness and maintains that the lack of a coherent theory of human and cognitive development contributes to problems in identifying readiness. The third part compares Steiner's cognitive theory to Piaget's, suggesting the former has a biological scientific basis but also encompasses the relationship between body and mind. Steiner's concept of etheric energy is explained as providing a psychosomatic linkage between physical and intellectual development, and as an explanation and cause for sequential stages of cognitive development. In this part, it is argued that as a result of inappropriate curricula, activities, and assignments, children's energy forces are displaced and atrophy prematurely, causing damage to their development. The fourth part explores relationships between physical maturation and cognitive development and presents the rationale for the criterion for first grade admission in the Waldorf School as physical changes corresponding with onset of concrete operational thinking, specifically, second dentition or permanent teeth. The fifth part of the paper applies etheric forces to the educational process and explains Steiner's stages of intelligence or consciousness. Contains 71 references. (KB)
Descriptors: Child Development, Cognitive Development, Developmental Stages, Educational Philosophy, Elementary Secondary Education, Individual Development, Intellectual Development, Learning Readiness, Learning Theories, Maturity (Individuals), Physical Development, Piagetian Theory, School Readiness, Waldorf Method
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Piaget (Jean); Steiner (Rudolf)