Waldorf Education: A Response to Change
Waldorf education is a schooling system that aims to prepare the student for life. At the same time, it prepares the students to meet the exit examinations with confidence and has a record of very good results. It is also a form of education that finds an harmonious accord with the people of South Africa and Africa. Our experience, when we present Waldorf education to parents and teachers from other cultures is to encounter a typical response:
"This is the education we need for our people. It brings us back to our own traditional ways."
In November 2006 Kofi Anan stated:
"In the 21st century we remain hostage to our sense of grievance and to our feelings of entitlement…. Any strategy to build bridges must depend heavily on education, not just about Islam or Christianity but about all religions, traditions and cultures, so that myths and distortions can be seen for what they are."*
*Ref. Speech of Kofi Anan in Istanbul on the occasion of the release of a report by a high-level research group under the title the Alliance of Civilizations referred to in Living Education, quoted Clouder. Christopher, A Journal for Steiner Waldorf Schools, Issue 2 Spring 2007
Central to the Waldorf curriculum is the presentation of stories and legends from the cultures of the world, which cultivate acceptance and understanding, such as Bible stories, myths of the ancient Norsemen, legends and stories about the way of life and beliefs in ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt Greece and Rome. This is a broad spectrum from which the child draws own images that can develop into an inner approach of trust, cooperation and tolerance in adult life.
Since 1994, the dawning of a full democratic, apartheid-free South Africa, the National Department of Education has spent much effort outlining the needs of young people in South Africa and how to meet these needs in education. They have produced a very enlightened policy that has two major aims:
- The need to facilitate the transition of learners from school to the workplace and provide access to higher education
- The need to equip learners with the knowledge, skills and values necessary for self-fulfilment and meaningful participation in society
In light of the above it is interesting to consider some key principles that underpin this curriculum and methodology, which show that Waldorf Education is perfectly positioned to address the needs identified by the National Department of Education: