The New York Times explores the essentials of Waldorf education in this recent article about Waldorf history, pedagogy and purpose.
Beverly Amico, the Waldorf Executive Director of Advancement in North America, says Waldorf education, at its heart, is about “developing reverence for the goodness, in the other and in the
world around us … which brings with it purpose and meaning to life.”
The article specifically explores, in depth, Waldorf’s approach to early childhood, technology, movement in learning and whole child development. In addition to speaking with AWSNA Executive
Director of Advancement ,Beverly Amico, The Times also spoke with current parents of Waldorf students.
One parent, Michael Shaun Conaway of Boulder, Colo., discussed why he loved Waldorf education for his children: “It’s not that the student needs to be filled up, but held in such a way that
they can gravitate towards themselves. What a gift.”
Waldorf education’s approach to reading and writing is different from traditional methods seen in public schools. This has led to a common misconception that Waldorf students are taught
reading “late,” but the truth is that Waldorf educators are instead building foundations for reading comprehension before decoding. This leads to a deeper understanding and appreciation of
content students read and ultimately enhances comprehension.
“Literacy development in Waldorf schools cultivates awareness, appreciation, and skill in both the spoken and written word, following a developmentally sound approach that helps to ensure
that students claim a love of literature, language and writing as part of their birthright.”
The creation of a Main Lesson book is an active, hands-on experience of learning that encourages both intention and creativity. Waldorf students record content of each subject of study,
presented during a student’s main lesson class, in a Main Lesson book.
These creative, curriculum-rich books become the culmination of all students have learned, in depth, for the year about a topic. These topics, such as History, Science and Mathematics to name
a few, are taught in blocks averaging 4 to 6 weeks, and the books serve as both learning tools and documentation of the work learned. Children are given freedom within the creation of their
books about both what they write and how they illustrate. This makes both the book and the content of the lesson their own.
Many research studies say this method absolutely boosts learning. The research is not about Waldorf Main Lesson books specifically, but it is about the effectiveness of drawing and hand note
taking in relation to retention, recall and depth of learning.