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ERIC Number: ED409988
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Pages: 20
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Mystery of Waldorf: A Turn-of-the-Century German Experiment on Today's American Soil.
Oberman, Ida
At its inception, Waldorf education was not to be a special, "boutique" reform. Nor was it to cater to children of a higher social standing. In fact, Waldorf broke out of the hierarchically tracked education system present in turn-of-the-century Germany. The founding father, Rudolf Steiner, called for a "Volks" pedagogy, a schooling of the people for the people that bridged separate castes that had been hardened by emerging industrialization. This paper attempts to answer why this educational reform has such staying power, but also why informed educators now associate Waldorf with a "special education for special children"-special because they were to enjoy a human or "holistic education of the body, mind, and soul." The paper provides a discussion of the movement's founding in a tobacco factory in 1919, describing its "social pedagogy" and the intimate connection made between imagination and social interaction. Good education, in Waldorf philosophy, restores the balance between thinking, willing, and feeling, thus healing the social fabric upset by too much emphasis on thinking alone. The paper argues that the secret of Waldorf's time-resistant identity can be found in its foundation as a "free" school--free from external government constraints and free for imaginative and innovative faculty interaction; the establishment of Waldorf as a faculty-run institution was sharply different from existing models of reform. The paper also touches on three liabilities of the Waldorf philosophy: first, the binding of the "free" pedagogy with time-bound preconceptions of early twentieth century Germany; second, the original German curricular canon, with its nineteenth century definitions of culture; and third--specific to the United States-the translation of "freedom from the Prussian state' into the voucher-based drive for "freedom from the community." Contains 54 references. (EV)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany