THE CURRICULUM OF THE FIRST WALDORF SCHOOL
CAROLINE VON HEYDEBRAND
Edited and Translated by Daniel Hindes
This volume is an extremely useful historical resource for people looking to understand the Waldorf curriculum more deeply. Caroline von Heydebrand was one of the first Waldorf teachers. Present from the inception of the first school, she attended the teacher preparation run by Rudolf Steiner himself, was a class teacher from the day the school opened, and was active on the core faculty—what we in the English-speaking world know as the college of teachers—for over a decade. In later years, she became an active mentor and teacher trainer.
Overview & Preview
Grades 1-12 in the First Waldorf School
The original curriculum of the first Waldorf school as it existed in 1925 is laid out in this book. Newly translated with annotations, this edition is presented as a historical artifact for teachers and others looking to understand where the current approaches have evolved from. While not always directly applicable to 21st century schools, it provides clear insight into the initial forms. Caroline von Heydebrand was one of the original class teachers at the first school, and a leading figure in the early days of the Waldorf movement. She published this summary of the Waldorf approach in 1925, in the sixth year of the school. It also guides teachers back to the intentions behind what the Waldorf school was attempting to do – prepare young people to participate in an evolving world. Von Heydebrand can bring modern teachers back to the roots of Waldorf through an appreciation of the curriculum and it purpose.
On the Origin and Application of the Curriculum
The Waldorf School, founded in 1919 by Dr. H. C. Emil Molt in Stuttgart, received its spiritual foundation from its educational director, Dr. Rudolf Steiner. He gave the school and its teachers a wealth of explanations about human development from out of his Anthroposophy. He derived the details of Waldorf methods and instruction, of the art of teaching and education, from this knowledge of the human being derived from spiritual science. What the child should learn at each age can be determined only by the developing human nature and its laws. From the nature of the growing human being alone he derived what is appropriate for the child’s development at each age.
What Steiner indicated about the way in which the curriculum and coursework should be distributed among the individual classes of the Waldorf School was always the culmination of considerations which had as their object the nature of the individual stages of child development. To these considerations, his statements about the curriculum were given as individual examples. The child was to learn these or those areas according to child development at this or that grade level. The teachers were then able to elaborate on such examples in their practical work at the school, supplementing and expanding them from their own insights. In this way, a curriculum has developed which, above all, is free of all programmatic and dogmatic elements.
What follows about the distribution of the subject matter among the individual classes should therefore not be taken dogmatically. It should not be seen as a rigid law.
The ideal curriculum must reflect the changing image of the developing human nature at its various ages, but like every ideal it must face and fit in with the full reality of life. This reality includes many things: It includes the individuality of the teacher facing a class. It includes the class itself with all the peculiarities of each pupil. It includes the world-historical timeline and the particular place on Earth with its valid school laws and school authorities. It encompasses where the school stands in the world. All these circumstances demand changes and adjustments, reshaping the ideal curriculum. The educational task is given to us by the nature of the growing human being. This can only be solved if the curriculum is constructed with mobility and malleability. In every school that works with Anthroposophical pedagogy, the eternal image of the true human being prevails—effective as an archetype but varying in the details.
What Steiner indicated about the way in which the curriculum and coursework should be distributed among the individual classes of the Waldorf School was always the culmination of considerations which had as their object the nature of the individual stages of child development.
Caroline von Heydebrand
The ideal curriculum must reflect the changing image of the developing human nature at its various ages, but like every ideal it must face and fit in with the full reality of life.
Caroline von Heydebrand
The presentation attempted here of the curriculum of the Waldorf School can only be fully understood when the study of the human being (as it is presented in Steiner’s writings) is considered.
Caroline von Heydebrand