Waldorf curriculum literature discussion

Chapter 11 serializing of Growing Sustainable Children; and, Schools Worthy of Our Affection.
My best guess how, in the next 100 years, whole-child K-12 schooling can evolve worldwide.

Bruce Dickson
9 min readJan 14, 2022
  • Online Classic Waldorf bibliography
  • Classic Waldorf literature? Two good lists online:
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_on_Waldorf_education
  • and
  • GoodReads list of 106 Popular Waldorf Education Books https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/waldorf-education?page=2
  • Please add to this list: You Are Your Child’s First Teacher 2nd ed, by Rahima Baldwin. It’s for parents. It’s comprehensive but well organized and you can pick thru the table of contents. This is available at almost all libraries.
  • Charter Waldorf study to add
  • Growing a Waldorf-Inspired Approach in a Public School District. Stanford, CA: Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. (2015) 129 pages. Authors: Friedlaender, D., Beckham, K., Zheng, X., & Darling-Hammond, L.
  • https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/scope-report-waldorf-inspired-school.pdf
  • We make our start here on the following:
  • - A start on making the case why Classic Waldorf is the best Foundation Stone for a Waldorf 2.0 or Team Human K-12 efforts,
  • - Acknowledging existing Classic Waldorf literature; to note: no need to rehash what’s in those books,
  • - Begin a conversation about how Classic Waldorf sufficed for the first 100 years but remains sorely challenged as a vehicle for the second 100 years of its biography.
  • Q: What’s the best basic orientation to Waldorf?
  • A: Talking to teachers and Waldorf graduates.
  • Secondarily, attending in person or by video, live public talks and lectures; so you can ask your self, “Is this group process robust enuf, balanced adequately and sufficiently between Thinking and Feeling, to attract younger generations of parents and teacher trainees?
  • Make your own choices accordingly.
  • For me, I believe Classic Waldorf suffices for about 80% of what is needed for a second 100 years.
  • Outside of Maypole dances and Festivals, a great deal is known about Best Practices in Group Process. Classic Waldorf’s knowledge-base for healthy group process has evolved too little (not at all?) since the 1950s.
  • Q: Isn’t group process activity equally backwards in USA publicly funded schools?
  • A: True too. William Glasser and Spencer Kagan made dents in this. Much more sophistication is called for in K-12 group practice among, teachers, parents especially. Why? Without more lively, more sophisticated live, face to face, group process, younger Cultural Creatives won’t be attracted and won’t engage.
  • Q: Are you proposing a big change in group process activity for younger grades, K-5?
  • A: No. Classic Waldorf is way ahead in its conceptions and observance of natural, lawful patterns in the young child, way ahead of everyone else.
  • The main changes need to be made among teachers, then teachers and parents, so the kids can begin to absorb more equitable, more whole-brained group process behaviors and take them seriously as “what adults do.”
  • Attention paid to Classic Waldorf theory-method has to be balanced with attention paid to Emotional Intelligence and interpersonal competency. This will support Waldorf in its second 100 years to be more balanced between left and right brain, between Thinking and Feeling.
  • Back to books — Steiner is great in his own way, but not as an intro for new people. Too easy to depress newbies with all the looking backwards. Get to Waldorf as a Story of Restoration for your local community TODAY.
  • The short book, Teaching As a Lively Art by Marjorie Spock $11 from Anthroposophic Press or AllBookStores.com, is the best overall intro for a dozen reasons. Other intros paint either too rosy a picture or too dark a picture, Waldorf as some intellectual thicket you have to hack your way thru.
  • Waldorf outsider perspective
  • The only significant Waldorf scholar I know of to address and speculate constructively on the next 100 years of Waldorf, is Eugene Schwartz. His Waldorf 20–20 videos at MillennialChild.com speak to this. Eugene figures prominently in this work. If I’m able, I hope to support Eugene’s impulses by taking them further in these volumes.
  • If written out, my own resume as a Waldorf student and outsider would be long and boring. One piece of biography may serve here. Before Foundations of Human Experience (1996) existed, around 1989, on my own volunteer time, I made my own re-typing and grammatical corrections of the whole of 1967 English edition of Study of Man (1967 edition). I did this to deepen my own understanding of R.Steiner’s insights; also, to get beyond the obnoxious and limiting amateur translation. I never attempted to publish this; it was for internal use only.
  • Q: Where did you find the time for this?
  • A: I worked part time for the office temp agencies and part time as a night watchman weekends. For me my second-third shift weekend guard job Sunday 8pm — 8am, I was stationed in a tiny guard booth, with an electric heater and walky-talky. The isolation was ideally suited to bringing my XT laptop and transcribing SOM into more clear, more modern English. I look back on how I used this opportunity to my advancement with gratitude.

If you meet the Buddha on your path…

  • As much as I honor RS, it’s always good to avoid the trap of worshipping him or anyone. Projecting your own greatness onto someone else, so you can see it reflected back to you and feel good about yourself, is a game which come to an end.
  • I subscribe to the famous teaching story about the Buddha. You can Google this: If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him and eat him (learn all you can, get stronger, keep moving forward in your own unique expression of self-mastery).
  • In other words, while positive role models are crucial; and, even tho you can se farther standing on the shoulders of your teacher; eventually, you still have to manifest what comes from your own expeience not what they manifested from their experience.
  • More of the genius behind Classic Waldorf came forward for me when I learned how much of Waldorf tracked back to Goethe’s method of experiment and innovation. I lived with this for a number of years. Then Goethe helped me go further and see what he and Steiner were pointing at, the naturalness of lawful Unconscious Patterns.
  • The most commonly heard term for these is “archetypes.” Carl Jung popularized the word. See his Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Carolyn Myss uses the word. Wm. Glasser called them “quality images.” “Unconscious Patterns” seems more descriptive and practical to me. Archetypes and Angels are real to me; however, in practical human affairs perceiving and cooperating with lawful, natural “Unconscious Patterns” in Nature and in human behavior seems more practical.
  • Thru the conceptual lens of Unconscious Patterns, its clear the best parts of psychology of the 1900s was acknowledgement, uncovery and application of Unconscious Patterns.
  • Need an example? Child-human development conceived as cycles of seven years is a big Unconscious Pattern. It feeds into and helps explain why humans learn differently at different stages of life, especially up to age 21.
  • Q: Are you claiming Classic Waldorf is based on invisible things, things unseen with five-sensory eyes?
  • A: Yes. Each human being, in his or totality, is more invisible than visible. The visible part of you, is what’s left over when your friends view your body before they bury it. The rest of you they miss, IS ALL INVISIBLE.
  • One of my favorite Steiner paraphrases is, “the human being is primarily invisible.” That means you too. What makes you truly human is utterly and unarguably invisible. Your physical body only makes you visible here and able to carry rocks and reach out to support and serve others.
  • The madness of publicly-funded Enlightenment K-12 education in the 1900s was it was based on maturing-up the physical body and the intellect as if these were the only aspects of being human which mattered.
  • Conversely the genius of the first 100 years of Classic Waldorf was it was based on natural, lawful, invisible Unconscious Patterns. These prove easier to cooperate and collaborate with than to ignore and disobey.
  • In that behind Classic Waldorf stands natural, lawful Unconscious Patterns, easier to cooperate and collaborate with than to ignore and disobey, Classic Waldorf is protected from the cleverness of Sherlock-Holmes Thinking and over-cleverness trying to improve what is already natural and lawful.
  • Q: If Classic Waldorf is primarily invisible, how do I learn about it so I can support children?
  • A: (1) Talk to students and graduates. (2) Learn the metaphors of Classic Waldorf. UNESCO says Waldorf is best-characterized by its metaphors. I agree.

Needed more Waldorf cookbooks — not textbooks

What working Team Human teachers want is recipe books for each block, in each grade.

After 100 years, this effort is perhaps only 50% complete, a huge accomplishment.

Many of these are by Roy Wilkinson and are visible here http://www.waldorfbooks.com/curriculum-guides/roy-wilkinson-curriculum-guides

More of these can be written. I encourage this. A website of teacher-created Classic Waldorf materials is also a good idea. Check with Tim Allen at Summerfield School if you want to take over his early effort on this.

By “recipe book” I mean an overview and bibliography of what to teach, advice on approach, tips and tricks; along with, serendipitous things which worked and delighted children.

Here’s what we do NOT want: A 12 volume teacher “encyclopedia” set. Volume One is a lesson plan for every day of the school year of Grade One. Volume Two is a lesson plan for every day of the school year of Grade Two. Etc. For these same reasons, a Waldorf Curriculum Encyclopedia for teachers would not be of much use.

In public school, if you ever had to Teach Open Court or similar curriculum, you know how deadening this can be to your creativity and inspiration as a teacher.

On the other hand, if you only show up in your classroom to receive a pay check and health benefits, maybe Open Court lessons for each day of the school year is your cup of tea. I’ve seen happy classrooms both ways (demographics and level of parent education are big factors). Open Court can work — until teachers get bored with wearing a straight jacket in the classroom.

In my experience, what’s worth knowing for teachers and school admins about curriculum is the same. What’s valuable is not technical knowledge, book-learning chopped up into twelve volumes.

More valuable for teachers is a sense for age-appropriateness each new day, what is and is not age-appropriate by age and/or grade. We learn this from parenting and from classroom experience We all can learn more.

For my first five years of substituting, I wrote down my lesson plan the day before, taught to the class, then journaled again, what actually happened, so I could compare the two. When a teacher does this, what works and what doesn’t jumps out at you. This is how I reality-tested my age-appropriate knowledge.

WHAT ~ Waldorf Recipe books, organized by main lesson block subjects.

Can be online for free, by subscription, by eBook, by paper, whatever is profitable to sell for the sponsoring org.

The Roy Wilkinson booklets for teachers are the still-useful old-school examples of Waldorf Recipe books for writing lesson plans. I envision more of this, with images.

Waldorf Kindergarten already have their own “recipe books” in the Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall booklets and similar publications.

To make more Waldorf teaching “recipe books:”

What I wanted and liked as a teacher was recipe books, ideally by block subject.

HOW ~ crowdsource, edit and publish lesson plans on block topics. Material can appear first online for peer review. Eventually publish and sell them to support your efforts. Many good lesson plans already scattered online.

WHY ~ To make teachers’ lives easier. Inspire creativity and sharing. To spread use of Waldorf-methods more widely.

WHO ~ Anyone can contribute lessons to a central editor.

WHEN ~ A Recipe Books project can start anytime. It could proceed for decades under various hands. Eventually you end up with a volunteer Board to review submissions for inclusion in the next edition of Recipe book X. Probably Asia would have their own distinct set of booklets, perhaps other cultures.

COST ~ Zero. This is an ideal project to be 100% volunteer. Nothing has to be perfect; lessons simply have to inspire clear, creative thinking in the minds of working teaches and homeshoolers. It’s also prime for inviting Patreon crowdfunding.

WHERE ~ Can can be done in homes.

Hidden Agendas ~ Ideally materials are also accessible to homeshoolers and Charter Waldorf teachers.