The curriculum of a Waldorf school is based on a certain view of the stages of human development, deriving from the insights of Rudolf Steiner. The consciousness of the child changes in its nature and qualities in very specific ways as the child grows older, changing in tandem with corresponding physiological development. The curriculum thus springs out of the nature of the child, seeking to bring the content which is right for each age, and in an appropriate form.
It is through the capacities of thought, of feeling, and of will that as human beings we bring our individuality to play in living and acting in the world. The main concern of this education is to try to bring balance and harmony to the interplay of these capacities so that students may better be able to live fruitfully and effectively as adults. The art of education lies in finding the ways to accomplish this.
In broad strokes, each of the four years in the high school curriculum embodies an underlying theme and method that helps guide students not just through their studies of the world, but through their inner growth as well. Obviously, these themes and methods are adapted to each specific group of students and take account of the fact that teenagers grow at their own pace. And yet, one can identify struggles common to most any teenager. Even though adolescents pass through developmental landscapes at varying speeds, they nonetheless have to cover similar terrain.
One can summarize the curriculum by grade in the following way:
- Grade 9 trains the student’s power of observation with the question: What?
- Grade 10 trains the student’s power of comparison with the question: How?
- Grade 11 trains the student’s power of analysis with the question: Why?
- Grade 12 trains the student’s power of synthesis with the question: Who?
Visit the Association of Waldorf School of North America, AWSNA, to learn more about Waldorf education.