Teacher Education

Waldorf education teaching programs are in operation throughout the world, either in specialized colleges and training centers or as courses in established universities. The course of study normally includes methodologies of teaching, academic training in specialized disciplines, artistic development, and familiarity with child development (especially as researched by Steiner and later Waldorf educators). It also generally aims to develop an understanding of the inner, or spiritual, basis of teaching; of the human being as composed of spirit, soul and body; and that an individual human being reincarnates in a series of lives. The latter implies that children bring certain gifts and challenges with them from previous Earth experiences, and have chosen a future destiny to develop in this life — a destiny which can be supported through the environment of family and school. This spiritual background is intended to enhance teachers' professional, personal and inner development. It is not intended to flow into the actual content taught to children.

Rudolf Steiner's "spiritual science" or Anthroposophy and developmental psychology are normally central courses at any Waldorf teaching college or training. Further specialized courses may draw on the huge body of research since Steiner's day, possibly including work by (in alphabetical order, and without any pretense at comprehensiveness): George Adams, Hermann von Baravalle, Lawrence Edwards, Erich Gabert, Michaela Glöckler, Freya Jaffke, Dennis Klocek, Henning Köhler, Ernst Kranich, Georg Kuhlewind, Audrey McAllen, Martin Rawson, Wolfgang Schad, Ernst Schubert, Jörgen Smit and Olive Whicher. For elementary educators, artistic work will include painting, blackboard drawing, sculpture, singing, recorder playing, speech and drama work and movement (eurythmy and/or gymnastics). Practica in schools vary in length and will include opportunities for observation and for trial teaching.

Much of the education of any Waldorf teacher happens after graduation from the teaching program, however, including through further seminars (such as those run by the national associations of Waldorf teachers) as well as the extensive publications on the subject, and, of course, on-the-job training in the classroom. The monthly magazine Erziehungskunst publishes the latest Waldorf research from Germany; to give an idea of the extensiveness of the source material now available — at least in German —, a collection of the best articles on elementary education from this magazine's 66-year history included more than one hundred authors and ran to more than a thousand pages. The English language source material is also extensive, and there are English language research journals for Waldorf education in several countries.