Is Waldorf Education Still Relevant?

In preparing this article for the Gaia Rainbow, I pondered on the question of the relevance of Waldorf education in the new millennia. This is clearly a very relevant question – judging by the problems mainstream schools are facing with poor outcomes despite massive government investment in education. In researching this I came across an article written by Ida OBERMAN in the United States titled: “The relevance of Waldorf Education for Urban-Public school reform”. *This article represents the challenges faced by public schools – where, because of poor outcomes, there is a move to incorporate a Waldorf curriculum in public schools. Policy makers in the United States want education to not just be about high test scores, but an education that is valuable to all.*
To this extent the Gates Foundation, which is the largest funder of education other than the government, approved a grant in 2007 to public high schools in Sacramento* to incorporate a Waldorf curriculum. What was the outcome of this experiment? The key findings are summarized below as per the article by OBERMAN:
In the final year the students of the Waldorf methods public schools matched the top ten of the peers in normal public schools on testing and well outperform the average of their peers in the state. According to teacher, administrator and mentor reports, the students achieved the high test scores by focusing on those new three R’s, being Rigor, Relevance and Relationship as laid out in the Waldorf model, rather than rote learning and test preparation.’There is a keen focus on artistic learning. Art education is seen as a key resource to provide support to urban youth in high schools.*So judging by the experiences of the United States, it can be seen that Waldorf education has relevance and it certainly has the data to back up this claim.
I would like to end off this article with the words of the acclaimed Stanford researcher Elliot Eisner* that “Waldorf schools afford children a balanced educational diet focused on academic achievement and the development of imagination.”

*references are available on request.

Rafiq Abba