What is indigenous Waldorf Education?

Waldorf Education, established by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, is a world-wide independent alternative educational movement. There are presently 1, 025 independent Waldorf schools, 2,000 Waldorf kindergartens and 530 centres for special education located in 60 countries.

image051As a non-mainstream education, Waldorf education is fully recognized and supported by UNESCO, which states that the Waldorf movement’s “ideals and ethical principles…correspond to those of UNESCO” and “Waldorf education places the development of the individual child in the focal point, convinced that the healthy individual is a prerequisite for a healthy society”.

Waldorf education is an international, global and universal education and not specific to any people, language or culture.

Waldorf Education is in Tune with How Indigenous Children Learn

The Waldorf concept of the complete human being entering life is in tune with the First Nations word for child which means “sacred being”.

Waldorf education places emphasis on developing a child’s creativity, imagination and awareness through story-telling, songs and physical interaction with the child’s surroundings.

Learning holistically with “head, heart and hands” engenders joy and curiosity in learning.

Parents and teachers form a non-hierarchical community to support the child’s development.

Children experience the rhythms of nature through song, storytelling, dramatic plays and community celebration.

Waldorf education puts emphasis on natural elements and emotional interaction and the very connection to nature. This is one big reason why this approach would work with Cree children, because this approach would be from the cultural and language elements or our people, creating a positive and empowering environment for kids to succeed in education. Raymond Soosay, Waldorf parent 

Learning in Indigenous Languages: the Key to Culture and Identity

Singing, storytelling and oral history by parents and elders to children in indigenous communities is aligned with the emphasis of Waldorf Education in the oral learning of language through imitation and rich imagery in the early years.

One of the strengths of the Waldorf curriculum is its balance and depth; the emphasis on the arts…the rich use of the spoken word through poetry and storytelling. Above all, the way the lessons integrate traditional subject matter is, to my knowledge, unparalleled.
Ernest Boyer, President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching 

I really believe this method will boost our children’s capabilities in school and their language. Not to mention esteem, self-worth and pride in whom they are….. I cannot even begin to say how my seven-year old child is advancing so quickly in her reading and math abilities.

Raymond Soosay, Waldorf parent

 

A Vision for the Future 

Two existing First Nations Waldorf pilot projects in North America help explain how Waldorf Education can help to preserve and cultivate First Nations language and culture.

The Lakota Waldorf School in South Dakota

“The Waldorf motto – receive the child in reverence, educate him in love, send him forth in freedom – reflects closely Lakota values and the respect for each child’s sacred mission on Earth.”

Skaronhese’ko:wa Tsyohterakentko:wa Tsi Yontaweya’tahkwa

The Everlasting Tree School near Brantford, Ontario

“Rotinonhsonni teachings are incorporated into the Waldorf Education curriculum which inspires life-long learning using the body, mind, and spirit.” 

The school’s goals at the end of Grade 8:

  • The students will be “advanced” Kanyen’keha speakers
  • The students will have fulfilled all the requirements of the Waldorf curriculum in order to advance to high school and university
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