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Steiner schools in England

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... Ashley quotes a 14-year-old boy saying: "I don't want to hear anything more about the environment because I learned everything I need to know at primary school " (2005b; p. 190). In his work with the evaluation of Waldorf schools in Britain (Woods, Ashley, & Woods, 2005; see further below), Ashley got the impression that this tendency was not as strong among Waldorf students. In the higher grades, Waldorf students were often very interested and eager to know more. ...
... A relatively large study of British Waldorf schools was carried out at the University of West of England by Woods, Ashley, & Woods (2005). It was based on 23 British Waldorf schools and the main purpose was to 3ind possible "good practices" established in these schools; practices that could be usefully transferred to mainstream schools. ...
... On the other hand, it is obvious that Waldorf education is based on a spiritual view of humanity and the world, and Waldorf schools are therefore -as Woods, Ashley, & Woods (2005) put it -"not non-faith schools". Are they therefore religious? ...
Chapter
There are some difficulties in doing empirical research on Waldorf education: the underlying concepts and ideas are complex and hard to get into; and some of the expected results such as ‘individuality’ and ‘freedom’ are hard to measure in a reliable way. Some studies comparing Waldorf and mainstream students and graduates have nevertheless been done. Short summaries of such studies in Sweden, Germany, the USA and Australia are presented. One overriding result is that Waldorf students seem more interested to learn and more socially engaged than mainstream students, but somewhat less knowledgeable when it comes to facts and scientific explanations. This raises the question whether we want to foster knowledgeable but uninterested, or interested but less knowledgeable students. The empirical evidence also shows that only a few percent of former Waldorf students become engaged in anthroposophy.
... Empirical studies by Henry (1992), Woods et al. (1997Woods et al. ( , 2005 and Woods and Woods (2008) have shown in general that spirituality is an important, intentional and integrated part of Waldorf pedagogy, both in terms of the general ethos of care and nurture of individuals but also in a number of specific aspects such as ritual, celebration of season festivals, regular verses spoken in class of a general spiritual orientation, as well as the expectations and assumptions of teachers that the spiritual dimension is important. Oberski (2006Oberski ( , 2011 has shown how the developing of thinking based on Steiner's theory of knowledge cultivates spiritual activity through processual and relational thinking. ...
... A study by Pearce (2019) explored how spirituality is cultivated in Waldorf schools in the UK. Woods et al. (2005) had already established that these schools are not faith schools that seeks to nurture pupils to becoming adherents of anthroposophy but rather try to connect children and young people to wider religious traditions of humankind. Pearce concluded that Waldorf schools offer weak confessional education, by which she means, not directed to any particular set of beliefs but rather that there is an intentional aim to cultivate spirituality. ...
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This article explores meanings of spirituality in education within the current discourse and in particular postmodern spirituality and postformal education. It discusses understandings of spirituality in Waldorf education and outlines how Waldorf teachers work with spirituality in their pedagogy. Finally, there is a review of studies published in English on aspects of spirituality in Waldorf schools.
... Empirical studies by Henry (1992), Woods et al. (1997Woods et al. ( , 2005 and Woods and Woods (2008) have shown in general that spirituality is an important, intentional and integrated part of Waldorf pedagogy, both in terms of the general ethos of care and nurture of individuals but also in a number of specific aspects such as ritual, celebration of season festivals, regular verses spoken in class of a general spiritual orientation, as well as the expectations and assumptions of teachers that the spiritual dimension is importnat. Oberski (2006Oberski ( , 2011 shown how the developing of thinking based on Steiner's theory of knowledge cultivates spiritual activity through processual and relational thinking. ...
... A study by Pearce (2019) explored how spirituality is cultivated in Waldorf schools in the UK. Woods et al. (2005) had already established that these schools are not faith schools that seeks to nurture pupils to becoming adherents of anthroposophy but rather try to connect children and young people to wider religious traditions of humankind. Pearce concluded that Waldorf schools offer weak confessional education, by which she means, not directed to any particular set of beliefs but rather that there is an intentional aim to cultivate spirituality. ...
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This article explores meanings of spirituality in education within the current discourse and in particular postmodern spirituality and postformal education. It discusses understandings of spirituality in Waldorf education and outlines how Waldorf teachers work with spirituality in their pedagogy. Finally, there is a review of studies published in English on aspects of spirituality in Waldorf schools.
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In this dissertation, the focus is on the interface of music education in Finnish basic education and Waldorf education. The study explores the possible benefits ofWaldorf education, and its methods and premises to comprehensive education. Particular emphasis is placed on teachers’ and students’ experiences of the creative and collaborative working methods that are characteristic to Waldorf education. The dissertation consists of three sub-studies, which have been conducted in the context of the Waldorf School curriculum and the comprehensive school curriculum, supplemented by data with adult students in a Waldorf School teacher training institution. Data were collected through interviews, observations, and questionnaires and analyzed with primarily qualitative approaches. The triangulation of the studies offers the possibilitytodraw conclusions on how students and teachers perceive and appreciate various working methods. The results emphasize the relevance of the functional activity of music-creating and indicate a relativelystrong increase in the interest in social collaboration among the participating students. Results and findings of the current dissertation serve as a premise for developing practice and further research in music education. In recent years, both scientific and social development have taken steps into multifaceted directions. Learning is not solelydefinedas a simple cognitive process. The concept oflearning is widening and providing new perspectives for holistic and experiential education. Waldorf education presents an educational system that is based on the holistic, comprehensive understanding of the development, and growth of students. The social working methods in Waldorf education have developed through the years based on ongoing research. This dissertation suggests revising the structure and methods ofthe curriculum in Finnish comprehensive education further in a holistic and comprehensive direction that Waldorf education exemplifies. Finally, this dissertation emphasizes the importance of promoting a collective experience and discourse culture between diverse education systems to develop music education towards learner-centered approach. Keywords: Waldorf education, basic education, learner-centered approach, curricula, workshop, improvisation, social working methods, holistic education.
Chapter
This chapter explores the theories and histories of the holistic educational paradigm. Beginning with a description of the theoretical structures that underpin the holistic educational viewpoint, it lays the groundwork to understand how pedagogies as diverse as Waldorf, Montessori, Democratic Free Schooling, and homeschooling are connected by a common set of paradigmatic assumptions. Following brief summaries of the origins of these traditions, key aspects of practice and highlights from research carried out in each pedagogy are discussed. Concluding remarks draw connections between the fundamental convictions that gave rise to these pedagogies and the needs of educators in diverse contexts today.
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The process of drawing is a creative endeavor, often beginning with ideas of what to draw. This exploratory study aimed to explore these creative intentions of pupils from mainstream schools (tending to focus on observational, imaginative, and expressive drawing), and from Steiner schools (tending to focus on imagination and expression). Fifty‐seven children (age 6–16 years) drew a single drawing at the request of the researcher. Before and after drawing, children completed a semi‐structured interview about the content of their drawing. This interview was first analyzed qualitatively using thematic analysis to describe where children got the ideas for their drawings from. Four key themes were identified: (a) content from immediate surroundings, (b) content from memory, (c) representational content with element of imagination added, and (d) intention to express a mood or message. Content analysis was then used to quantify the interview responses and compare them between the school types. This indicated no difference in the frequency that mainstream and Steiner pupils referred to ideas based on real‐world referents or imagination. However, Steiner pupils talked more about expressive ideas. The results suggest that children use a wide range of sources when generating ideas of what to draw, including their educational experiences.
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It has been suggested common schools might have something to learn from spiritual education in Steiner schools. This arguably assumes practice in Steiner schools to be compatible with the aims of spiritual education in common schools. I question this by considering whether the former is confessional, as the latter should not be. I begin by highlighting how my concern about the potentially confessional nature of Steiner spiritual education arose. I argue for a nuanced understanding of confessional education, which distinguishes between ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ confessional education, as well as between confessional education as intentional and as defined by outcome. I then argue that spiritual education in common schools should prepare pupils for spirituality, without being confessional. I consider whether Steiner schools are confessional by drawing upon findings from research conducted at six Steiner schools. I conclude that spiritual education in Steiner schools is weakly confessional in an intentional sense. I further conclude that practices which might contribute to preparation for spirituality and which can be implemented in a non-confessional manner are worthy of consideration for transfer to common schools. Common schools committed to preparation for spirituality as an educational aim could learn from spiritual education in Steiner schools.
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Founded in 2013, the Heutagogy Community of Practice aims to promote awareness of and to enact the learning principles that are its topical focus: heutagogy, or self-determined learning. Similar to Communities of Practice, heutagogy shares common theoretical underpinnings in the ideas of emergence, self-organizing systems, human agency, and constructivism. The Heutagogy Community of Practice was founded for the purpose of bringing together those interested in the theory and practice of heutagogy. The Heutagogy Community of Practice has since expanded to become a springboard for the development of international conferences, publications, and numerous formal and informal collaborations among its members. This chapter presents a description of the evolution of the Heutagogy Community of Practice, while demonstrating the ways in which the Community has maximized the benefits of social media tools (such as WordPress, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) to connect its members and promote open knowledge-building and sharing.
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Although different approaches to teaching children to draw have been advocated and practiced, little is known about how these may influence children’s developing drawing abilities. In this study the drawings of pupils receiving an art education that attempts to concurrently teach representational and expressive skills (Mainstream schools in England) are compared to those of pupils who experience an alternative art education that emphasizes imaginative, creative, and expressive drawings before introducing representational drawing skills (Waldorf Steiner schools). One hundred and sixty 7- to 16-year-old pupils from the 2 school types completed 3 expressive (happy, sad, and angry) drawings, 2 representational drawings (an observational drawing of a mannequin and a drawing of a house from memory), and 1 free drawing. Two artists rated all of the drawings for quality on 7-point scales, and stylistic features (scene-based, size, and color) of the free drawings were assessed. No consistent between-school differences were found in the expressive drawings, but Waldorf pupils produced superior representational drawings. With respect to stylistic differences Waldorf pupils produced larger and more scene-based free drawings. Waldorf pupils also combined colors more frequently, and the 7 and 10 year olds tended to use more colors than their Mainstream school counterparts. These results appear inconsistent with the difference in emphasis on expression and representation in the 2 school types. However, observational research investigating actual classroom practices within the 2 school types is required because maybe practices differ to what is outlined in the curricula.
Article
In a study I conducted on Waldorf education, I found that teachers practiced a number of activities that were seemingly important but nameless. While some may consider the kinds of activities I explore in this paper as time-off-task or as incidental, I suggest that activities like shaking hands with students each morning and afternoon, or singing attendance, have important educational ramifications. I call exercises such as these and others focal activities or conditions, and I suggest that they are used specifically to create occasions where teachers can establish, confirm, or discontinue contact between themselves and students. The implications of focal conditions are several. In this paper I argue that focal conditions provide routine contact between teacher and students, can be used as a diagnostic tool, personalize teacher-student relations, create classroom feelings or moods, and, at times, prepare students for the next activity by capturing in an expressive form its essential character. The term focal condition is foreign to Waldorf education, but I believe the concept captures Waldorf teacher practice. I end this article by encouraging researchers, administrators, and teachers to take these activities seriously and not relegate them to a subordinate educational category.
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He has gradually vanquished the demon of wine And he does not get wildly drunk; But the karma of words remains. Po chiu-i (ninth century) In the Spring of 1994, we gathered a team of classroom experts to visit the Urban Waldorf School in Milwaukee where Waldorf pedagogy was being used to teach the children of the inner city. Some of us had extensive experience with Waldorf schooling, others not, but we were all eager to observe the effects of a gentle and well structured learning environment on children from difficult circumstances. Along with our interest in Waldorf, we all had some doubts about its limited experience with the education of children in the inner city (R.P. McDermott, 1992). We went to the school wanting to learn how it worked and, if it worked well, to tell others about it. We were all delighted with the school, and we wrote a long report and a research paper in praise of it (Byers et al., 1996; McDermott et al., 1996). This brief note addresses a specific issue that developed in the course of our study of the school, namely, the reality of racism in Waldorf education as well as, apparently, in the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. One of our team members, on the basis of her time at the Urban Waldorf School, has written glowingly about the promise of Waldorf education for African American children (Dillard, 1996). If that promise is to be realized, all members of the Waldorf community will have to appraise critically whatever racism might be inherent in their world view. In an early version of the large report, we included an account of a racially charged discussion brought to the school by visiting representatives of the international Waldorf community. In a conversation in an office at the school (for which no one from the school was present), Steiner's racist speculations about Africans as close to the body and new to the rational and spiritual heights achieved by whites on the evolutionary ladder were cited as possibly relevant to the education of African American children in Milwaukee. There, in a school using Steiner's ideas in the best possible way, we were treated to a full display of what we would have to worry about if we were to invoke Waldorf without reservation as a model for American education.
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Throughout the 70 years that Waldorf schools around the world have been educating children, the teachers and parents in these schools have been excited by their observations. They observe their children becoming confident, conscious, thought-provoking individuals. Through a curriculum of “academics permeated with the arts” (J. Huchingson, 1990), the teacher stands as an evocateur and midwife assisting as the gifts within the individual human being are brought forth.
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During the lesson block in a Waldorf sixth-grade classroom studying mediaeval history, the teacher presented content in a variety of ways, such as oral story-telling, creative writing, drawing, music, singing, and group-recitation. The teacher based her selection of forms of representation on the children's stage of development. According to the philosophical foundation of Waldorf education, anthroposophy, students in the sixth-grade are in the stage of middle-childhood, when feeling, imagination, and experience are the strongest factors in learning. The variety of forms of representation the teacher selected to present content to this group of students created multiple layers of experience intended to reflect these developmental and philosophical beliefs.
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The work presented here follows up the authors’ paper, in the previous issue of this journal, which (i) explored modernizing leadership in a public‐private partnership, principally from the perspective of the senior managers of a private company contracted to run school support services by a local education authority (LEA), and (ii) suggested that their leadership approach resembled what was termed an adaptive public service (APS) model. This second, companion paper analyses data from secondary school head teachers to see if their perceptions and experience confirm or challenge the APS model as an interpretation of the leadership approach of the private company’s senior managers. It was concluded that the model, with its basic commitment to a public service ethos, is largely affirmed as a way of reflecting the latter’s leadership, particularly in its early stages. However, by the end of the period of study, a change in strategy and leadership approach was creating a more target‐driven culture. With regard to the impact of outsourcing, although some improvements in services were identified by head teachers, it was also evident that other core support services for schools had continuing deficiencies. This is consistent with experience of private participation in public sector education which has generally not lived up to the expectations placed on it. Tensions were found between the practical power relationships within this public‐private partnership, and the idea of partnership that is built into the policy discourse that labels it as a partnership.
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This article discusses a case study from an ongoing research project focusing on the effect of school ethos upon levels of bullying behaviour. Whereas it may be said that all schools have an ethos, in the case of this study the term refers to a particular educational philosophy which underpins the teaching of academic subjects. This article dis cusses the Steiner or Waldorf education system as an example of a system with a strong ethos. It looks at three classes of 30 pupils in one school in the South of England, and finds a very low level of bullying despite the fact that many pupils came to the school because they had been victimized elsewhere. In this study, it is suggested that bullying is a situational problem rather than one due to the fact that some young people are so-called 'natural' victims.