Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy.
Its pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of pupils in a holistic manner.
The early childhood curriculum therefore centers on experiential education, allowing children to learn by example, and opportunities for imaginative play.
Waldorf preschools employ a regular daily routine that includes free play, artistic work (e.g.
Secondary education is provided by specialist teachers for each subject.
Tensions may arise within the Waldorf community between the commitment to Steiner's original intentions, which has sometimes acted as a valuable anchor against following educational fads, and openness to new directions in education, such as the incorporation of new technologies or modern methods of accountability and assessment.
While class teachers serve a valuable role as personal mentors, establishing "lasting relationships with pupils", especially in the early years, Ullrich documented problems when the same class teacher continues into the middle school years.
Noting that there is a danger of any authority figure limiting students enthusiasm for inquiry and assertion of autonomy, he emphasized the need for teachers to encourage independent thought and explanatory discussion in these years, and cited approvingly a number of schools where the class teacher accompanies the class for six years, after which specialist teachers play a significantly greater role.
The affected schools were reopened after the Second World War, Where is the book in which the teacher can read about what teaching is? We should not learn to teach out of any book other than the one lying open before us and consisting of the children themselves.
Waldorf pedagogical theory considers that during the first years of life children learn best by being immersed in an environment they can learn from through un-selfconscious imitation of practical activities.