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Home: Freunde Waldorf

New ideas to meet new challenges.

An educational system which is merely focused on revitalising the past will, never come to address the challenges of the future. Waldorf education is a positive approach to these challenges. It began as a school for workers´ children in southern Germany and is today at home everywhere where parents and teachers are willing to work together to create schools in which children can grow to be healthy, independent and able to bear responsibility. It is an approach to education which knows neither social, religious nor national divisions. From the refugee camps on the Gaza Strip to Uptown Manhattan, from the favelas of São Paulo to Berlin, from the townships of South Africa to the young democracies of Eastern Europe, Waldorf educators are working to teach children the abilities they need in order to play their part actively in the world.

At the time of writing [1994] tens of thousands of children are being educated according to the insights and methods of Waldorf pedagogy. The number of Waldorf schools has risen to over six hundred; there are more than a thousand Waldorf kindergartens and hundreds of homes and schools for children in need of therapeutic education in more than fifty countries.

In South Africa in recent years, this pedagogical impulse has been taken up and transformed in townships and in traditional tribal cultures.

On the Indian sub-continent, about fourteen schools are working in a social and cultural field of multiple innovations with elements of Waldorf education in the Nanhi-Dunja movement. For several years, Waldorf teachers have been teaching children in Japan.

In Central and Southern America, schools and kindergartens have been at work for a number of years. In the melting pot of the populations of São Paolo, Santiago de Chile and Bogota, special projects have been initiated among the street children and in the slums.

The North American school movement comprises about a hundred schools and as many kindergartens in the US and in Canada. In South Dakota, an initiative is making efforts to find how Waldorf education can meet the needs of reservation life of the Lakota tribe.

In almost all states of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, recent years have seen Waldorf education being called upon to set to work. In Russia alone, about forty initiatives are involved in preparing the opening of schools and kindergartens. In Romania, about 2800 children are being taught. In Bishkek/Kirghizia, the integrative centre "Nadezhda" has opened its doors under the honorary chairmanship of the writer Tchingiz Aitmatov.

It should be clearly stated that the world-wide spread of Waldorf education has nothing to do with a European missionary impulse or with any kind of cultural imperialism. There is no way of simply transplanting the curriculum of a Waldorf school into a different cultural environment. It does not consist of a series of universality applicable recipes but requires integration into the social and cultural streams and into the needs of any region that calls for it. Waldorf education has one guide-line to go by: this is found in the actual children that are to be taught, in their developmental processes which necessarily differ in different areas.

Putting Waldorf education into practice in the many and varied conditions of life and the cultural settings of this earth is always a question of the training of teachers. That is why there are independent Waldorf seminars in many countries. Occasional international conferences have shown over the years that there are obviously an infinite number of ways of seeking to meet the needs of children in various areas by means of developing the scope of Waldorf education.

Bernd Ruf

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