Waldorf Education

What is Waldorf?

Waldorf is the world’s largest and fastest-growing educational movement, formed by thousands of Waldorf schools and educational organizations in over 60 countries, with a global reputation for confident graduates skilled in creative problem-solving and collaboration. 

Each Waldorf school is governed entirely independently and each is unique, but they share essential educational principles and methods. Waldorf education aims to:

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"What every parent would wish as the best for his or her children, Waldorf education provides. The fullest development of intelligent, imaginative, self-confident, and caring persons is the aim of Waldorf education. The aim is solidly grounded in a comprehensive view of human development, in an intellectually and culturally rich curriculum, and in the presence of knowledgeable, caring human beings at every stage of the child's education."
-- Douglas Sloan, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University

  • Integrate hands-on, creative collaboration into every aspect of the curriculum, working with “head, heart, and hands” at all ages.

  • Celebrate all the world's cultures and histories as the context for each individual life, and direct experience of the natural world as the foundation of scientific knowledge.

  • Support healthy human development as “a journey, not a race”—a natural process facilitated by a low-stress, unhurried approach.

  • Introduce concepts and technologies in a developmental progression, at age-appropriate times.

  • Place the non-sectarian spiritual qualities of “truth, beauty, and goodness” at the center of every young person's educational experience.

  • Learn together in socioeconomically and culturally diverse groups, with an explicit sense of responsibility for schools as agents of positive social change.

The word “Waldorf” comes from the first school founded by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919 for the workers at a Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory. Waldorf schools are also known as “Steiner schools” or “free-schools,” referencing the ideal that teachers remain free to determine the curriculum and teaching methods rather than using a government-mandated curriculum. This gives teachers and schools freedom and flexibility to adapt to changing times, local needs, and the individual students in their community.

Waldorf High School of Massachusetts Bay is a full accredited member of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). You can browse AWSNA's education overview to learn more about Waldorf education and its impact around the globe. 

After Waldorf

Known for their creativity and self-direction, Waldorf graduates are sought out by college admissions officers because they have "depth to their thinking" and "quiet confidence."  The experiential learning that is a hallmark of Waldorf education shapes our graduates' approach to new challenges. They know how to get involved, to think for themselves, and how to translate their ideals into practice.

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"Given a choice, I would love to educate a Waldorf student anytime."
-- Earlham College Professor

An integrated curriculum reveals the links between subjects, encourages the analysis of perceptions, and leads Waldorf graduates to think creatively about challenges and solutions. They know how to examine issues from many angles at once, seeing both the forest and the trees, from the ground and the sky, as a poet and a botanist.

Waldorf graduates value lasting human relationships, know how to collaborate, and seek out opportunities to be of help to other people. Accustomed to integrated study and the making of art throughout the curriculum, they find that creative expression--through art, music, and words--remains a constant companion throughout their lives.

Insights from Research on Waldorf Graduates

The "Survey of Waldorf Graduates" by David Mitchell and Douglas Gerwin published in 2007 provides detailed information on the lives of Waldorf graduates after finishing high school. The survey – the first of its kind in North America – was conducted by the Research Institute for Waldorf Education and includes 550 graduates from 26 Waldorf high schools in North America. It details the college life, job life, and personal life of Waldorf school graduates starting with the first Waldorf school senior class in 1943 and culminating with the class of 2005.

A synopsis of this study, "Standing Out Without Standing Alone", paints a picture of how Waldorf graduates bring their skills and values into the wider world. ​

At-a-glance highlights:

  • 94% of Waldorf graduates attend college

  • 47% major in the arts or humanities; 42% in the sciences

  • 89% are highly satisfied in their choice of occupation

  • 82% place ethical principles as their highest priority in the workplace

Waldorf Around the World

Browse this map from the Waldorf 100 initiative celebrating the 100th anniversary of Waldorf education to explore Waldorf institutions across the globe.

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