Book Review: The Seven Core Principles of Waldorf Education ~ New Release June 24 2017
The Pedagogical Section Council of North America has produced for us another beautiful book to help in understanding the esoteric basis of Waldorf Education,
The Seven Core Principles of Waldorf Education (Waldorf Publications, 2017, 124 pages, $24).
The Pedagogical Section Council developed the seven, essential elements that make a school truly a Waldorf school. Pedagogical Section Council members then took up elaborating on each of these principles, the essays written were published in the Research Bulletin over a couple of years, and then the essays were gathered with a few additional treatises on the principles and made into this fine book explaining what makes a Waldorf school a Waldorf school.
The book is one of courage. When Rudolf Steiner collaborated back in 1919 with Emil Molt to begin the seminal Waldorf school, it was clear that the view of the human being was to be central to everything in the school. That view, one of the human being, the child, as comprising body, soul, and spirit, remains controversial to this day. It takes courage as a Waldorf teacher to remain faithful to this vision of being human. The common culture does not view spirit as real, let alone a vital and distinguishing element of being human. Once one mentions anything spiritual, the immediate assumption is one of religion. The practical aspects of spiritual components of our human beingness are dismissed as not practical. Rudolf Steiner identified this very truth of the highest in each person being not physical prowess but the aspiration behind any prowess as the distinguishing element that lifts the human being to a higher level. The contributions in this book describe the necessity of this threefold view of the developing child as the well spring from which everything else flows in Waldorf education.
The reader will find, as the Core Principles are elaborated from there, a genuine profile of Waldorf education in its essence. Every aspect of this very point of the spiritual being the most practical idea that can now save humanity from a dry, dead-ended, materialistic vision of life on earth. The seven-year phases of child development, the curriculum that is designed to perfectly meet those phases, the urgent need for teachers to be acting out of freedom from dictates beyond the classroom, the importance of the teacher-student relationship for life, and the unique methodology that proceeds from these other principles, all point to these ineffable facets of Waldorf education.
This book would warrant careful study by parents and teachers to determine what it is that each community surrounding a school really wants, and whether that is truly what is wanted — a Waldorf school.
For one principle, woven throughout all seven principles, is that of wholeness. It is not possible to take bits and pieces of the ideas that are apparent in a Waldorf school and still to claim that the entity is one. The interconnectedness of all that occurs at a school like this is paramount and must be recognized. It cannot survive discarding this or that principle, or taking the ones that we like the best and discarding the others. The first Waldorf school, and all Waldorf schools, work to sustain wholeness to reflect each child who comes to it: whole, complex, and shining.