Waldorf Teachers - How Are They Trained?

Rudolf Steiner College

Q. What kind of training do Waldorf teachers receive? How well qualified are they?

A. Waldorf teachers typically get their training at Anthroposophical institutions — such as Rudolf Steiner College — that specialize in preparing teachers to work in the Waldorf system. Much of this preparation involves the study of instructional methods and techniques, but usually a core component is study of Rudolf Steiner's occult texts such as  AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE and HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS. A concerted effort is usually made to ensure that new Waldorf teachers will be well versed in, and committed to, Rudolf Steiner's mystical visions.

Waldorf teachers may receive additional, recurrent training during their careers, often at the same institutions. In addition, there are often seminars and discussions held at Waldorf schools themselves, generally focused on the doctrines of Anthroposophy and their application in the schools. These gatherings are generally confined to members of the faculty, but sometimes they are opened to parents and others.

A Waldorf teacher usually takes responsibility for a group of students over the course of several years, shepherding them from first grade through fifth grade, for instance, and teaching them most of the subjects studied in those years. Considerable training and retraining is required to undertake this task, and there is some doubt that it can be done well. Indeed, this arrangement may ensure that Waldorf students are taught badly in at least some subjects at some levels. Even with retraining, a teacher who was qualified to teach first-grade math is unlikely to be truly qualified to teach fifth-grade world history. This would be a serious drawback to the Waldorf approach, if Waldorf schools were primarily interested in providing a good education as this concept is usually understood. But in fact Waldorf schools generally have other priorities. [See "Waldorf Schools - What Is Their Purpose?"]

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