“The purpose of education is to enable the mind, to fire the imagination, to fortify the will, and to quicken the initiative for life.”
There are now over 1,000 Steiner Schools and 1,600 Kindergartens worldwide. Many schools continue through to secondary level. In Ireland, there are over 10 Steiner Waldorf Kindergartens, 7 primary schools (3 of which are supported by the Department of Education) and 1 secondary school. Schools are often called Steiner Waldorf because the first school was opened in 1919 in the Waldorf Astoria factory in Stuttgart, Germany.
Steiner Waldorf educators are dedicated to generating an inner enthusiasm for learning within every child. This eliminates the need for competitive testing, academic placement, and behaviouristic rewards to motivate learning and allows motivation to arise from within. Most of all, it helps to engender the capacity for joyful life-long learning.
In our daily practice we:
- Emphasise nature-based play and education, strengthening the child’s connection to nature
- Take account of the needs of the whole child – academic, physical, emotional and spiritual
- Deliver our academic curriculum, in a creative and integrated way
- Prioritise age-appropriate learning, adapting its teaching methods to suit the developmental stage of its pupils, as well as their experience of the world
- Honour and protect the wonder of childhood
- Encourage creativity and enquiry
- Create a genuine enjoyment of learning
“Preparing for Life” a short film will take you inside the Waldorf School of the Peninsula where the focus is on developing the capacities for creativity, resilience, innovative thinking, and social and emotional intelligence over rote learning.
At Dublin Steiner School, daily homework begins in earnest in Grade 6, but the build-up is gradual:
Class 1: No daily homework
Class 2: Read to parents, or, have parents read to you (Sometimes teachers will hold off on this until later in the year, or wait until Class 3)
Class 3: Read, practice spelling words (second half of the school year)
Class 4: Math, violin, and spelling practice, and reading
Class 5: Math, violin, and spelling practice, and reading, as well as finishing up Main Lesson Book (MLB) work
Class 6: Working on MLBs, researching material for papers and essays, studying for tests, math practice/worksheets
Although not given daily homework, students in the younger classes are introduced to the concept of it with occasional assignments such as drawing a picture, finding something in nature, or being read to by a parent. During the Class 3 block on natural fibres, for example, a homework assignment might be to find clothing articles made of 100% wool or linen at home and bring one to show the class. Or, when learning the quality of the letters in Class 1, the teacher will ask the students to “think of something that begins with the letter ‘B’ for homework tonight.