“Viking Mom, we are so frustrated with the state of the states schools. We need something different. But, what is the difference between this Waldorfy thing you do and Montessori that my neighbor kids go to?”
“Viking Mom, we need a private school to send our children too but don’t want anything religious.”
Viking Dad and I are asked this question a lot and we hear these comments as well. My heart goes out to these families because I’ve been in their shoes. When exploring alternative programs Viking Dad and I looked at many. While we do have a spiritual path of our own schools with a religious foundation didn’t appeal to us.
|Waldorf Kindergarten classroom.|
What is Waldorf?
Waldorf education was established in 1919, by Rudolf Steiner. Emil Molt, the owner of the Waldorf Astoria Cigarette factory in
, asked Steiner if he would
undertake to establish and lead a school for the children of the employees of
the company. Emil Molt had been inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on how to
build a better society. The Waldorf Astoria Cigarette factory was the first
sustainable school using Steiner’s philosophies. To read more about what inspired Emil Molt
check out this link…. Stuttgart, Germany
Waldorf Education is based on a profound understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head. Waldorf teachers educate to the soul of a child and not to the outer shell.
Teachers in Waldorf schools are dedicated to generating an inner enthusiasm for learning within every child. They achieve this in a variety of ways. Even seemingly dry and academic subjects are presented in a pictorial and dynamic manner. This eliminates the need for competitive testing, academic placement, and behavioristic rewards to motivate learning. It allows motivation to arise from within and helps engender the capacity for joyful lifelong learning. It takes a lot of energy for the teacher to create this kind of atmosphere. Rudolf Steiner encouraged teachers to take time to rest and breathe so that they can be authentic and true teachers.
An element that is unique to Waldorf schools and this model is found throughout the world in every Waldorf school, is that the grades teacher stays with a class from 1st grade all the way to their 8th grade year. This consistency is amazing! This time allows the teacher to really know a child.
To learn more about the history of Waldorf Education start here.
One of my favorites quotes from one of my mentor teachers, “We teach children with reverence.
Rudolf Steiner’s Archives. http://wn.rsarchive.org
Threefold Social Order (This is NOT about Socialism!!) Check it out here
|A mural being painted at the Waldorf School of Hawaii.|
What is Montessori?
Montessori is an educational approach that was developed by the Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori opened her first school in 1907, called Casa de Bambini. Montessori education is described as having an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development, as well as the need for understanding and learning the technological advancement in society. (This is in direct conflict with Waldorf since they theorize that modern technology is the leading cause for ADDHD, ADD, emotional disturbance, and other related health impairments in children. Technology is introduced in the last semester of the 8th grade year in the Waldorf schools.)
The Montessori classroom and pedagogical approach is structured differently then a traditional classroom.
v Students are in mixed age classrooms. The most common is a combination of 2 ½ or 3 to 6 year olds.
v Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options. (There is a myth that children are allowed to focus on just one topic and never allowed to progress beyond that topic. This myth isn’t true!)
v Uninterrupted blocks of work time! (Awesomeness)
v A “Constructivism” or discovery model, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instructions. (Student wants to learn how a volcano works; they build one and watch it blow.)
v Specialized educational materials developed by Montessori and her collaborators.
Teachers in a Montessori school design their programs using Montessori’s model of human development, use of pedagogy, lessons and materials introduced in Montessori teacher training programs.
Maria Montessori’s first school, Casa de Bambini, was established in a “slum” area of
to her biographers, “Dr. Montessori filled her first school of 3-6 years olds
with dolls and other traditional make believe toys but found that when children
were given the opportunity to do real work such as cleaning, cooking, and
caring for themselves, each other and the environment, they completely lost
interest in make believe and preferred real work. She later, at the request of
the parents who were impressed with the new cleanliness, happiness and good
manners of these slum children, invented manipulative language, math, and other
academically oriented materials and studied the children’s responses to these
new stimuli.” Based on these observations academics are offered but never
|Children's artwork from a Montessori school|
To learn more about Maria Montessori and her methods go here.
|Rudolf Stiener The Father of Waldorf Education|
|Children's artwork from a Waldorf School|
I belong to several Mommy Blogs and Homeschooler blogs who’s Mommies, and some Daddies, share their experiences about homeschooling. There are a few who home school using religious curriculum but many use either Waldorf curriculum or Montessori. Our Viking Son’s Pre-School teacher is Montessori trained and had home schooled her four boys using Montessori’s methods. I was intrigued and fascinated at how much the children learned from her methods and creativity. Personally, I think she is a Waldorf teacher at heart.
I do know that many Montessori parents send their children to Waldorf schools because for some reason many Montessori schools in
do not go beyond 2nd grade. What I have heard about transitioning is
in regards to technology. Waldorf is very technologically light. While the
Waldorf schools recognize that technology is part of the 21st
century they do encourage parents to limit the amount of time on technology. In
contrast Maria Montessori did recognize the need to be technologically
savvy. Many Montessori schools have
computers for students to access and use as part of their learning. America
While researching about the difference between the two schools I found Michael Olaf’s page. He’s a very pro-Montessori supporter so his page is a bit bias in that direction. But, I am kinda of bias toward Waldorf. Check out his site here.
A huge similarity between the two that is so radically different from public school is the focus on a holistic and therapeutic approach towards teaching children. The hurry up and race to the finish line of standardized testing is not present in either philosophy.
We chose Waldorf education because it aligned more to our values, ethics and lifestyle then the other schools.
|Typical Waldorf grades classroom|