The Steiner Difference - Philosophy

 

At Milkwood Steiner School every child is encouraged to strive to excel within a rich social and intellectual environment that aims to promote attributes such as self-confidence, resilience, resourcefulness, initiative and social consciousness. 

Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy is known as Anthroposophy or 'the wisdom of the human being'. From the Greek: Anthros = human being & Sophia = wisdom.

Through his writing and lectures, Steiner conveyed a vast body of knowledge. He deepened the understanding of nature and existence, which in evolution had been carried by religions and scientists. He brought ways to practically identify the spiritual dimension of the human being and life as a whole. An introduction to Anthroposophy is the foundation of teacher training. The principles of the delivery of the curriculum seek to bring about recognition and understanding of all the world’s cultures and religions.

Milkwood Steiner School is not part of any church or following. Our school’s interest in spiritual matters is aimed at awakening the child’s natural reverence for the wonder and beauty of life. We recognise and honor the diverse faiths of all our families. Particular phrases and words are used among adults familiar with the philosophical base of Steiner Education. You may ask your teacher to clarify anything that you may not understand. Further information can be found in library books, at workshops and information evenings. Through this education, Steiner hoped to cultivate in young people capacities of heart and mind, and the strength of will that would enable them to meet the challenges of their own time and in the future. He laid the foundation for an art of education in which the teacher, ever aware of the inherent dignity and individuality of each child, would strive to awaken and draw out the child's individual gifts.

This is in keeping with the true meaning of "to educate" – from "educere," to "draw out" rather than to put in. Instead of becoming a passive receptor for information, the child is led to participate actively in all that is presented, in hope that he or she will become a seeker of truth and knowledge and a doer who may one day find the strength and capacity to make positive transformation in the world. Many elements are involved in Steiner education, among which are the following: Physical exercises which develop spatial orientation, balance, coordination, and the sense of rhythm. Exercise of the will through the completion of age appropriate physical, artistic, and academic tasks. Deepening of the feelings through story, drama, and practice of the arts. Step-by-step development of thinking from simple, concrete sequencing to abstract reasoning. Gradual exposure to the wonders of the natural world and to the cultural history of humankind. Affirmation of the child's innate goodness and creativity. Affirmation of basic human values including mutual respect, courtesy, cooperation with and service to others, and the proper use of our language. Acquisition of a fund of knowledge requisite for participation in one's time and context.

The curriculum is designed to unfold according to the stages of development of the growing child. Education proceeds in three major steps as the child develops. During this process, the child's consciousness develops. Up to age 12, it is largely a pictorial and imaginative consciousness; from then on it adds the element of reason. Until age 12, the curriculum works with the child's imagination, proceeding from fairy tales, legends and fables through the Bible stories and ancient mythology. In fifth and sixth class, the transition is made to actual history and science.

From then on, without losing its imaginative and artistic elements, the curriculum is presented in a more scientific manner, increasingly relying on direct observation, objective description, and reflection in all subjects. Steiner schools have a unique and distinctive approach to educating children, aiming to enable each stage of growth to be fully and vividly enjoyed and experienced. The academic, artistic and social aspects, or ‘head, heart and hands’, are treated as complementary facets of a single program of learning, allowing each to throw light on the others. Through the life of feeling, art is used as to develop language. Children are nourished with a rich heritage of wise folk tales, histories, fairy stories, music, poems and games that are part of our world civilisation. This creates the cultural atmosphere in which the children are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, nature study, geography, science, languages, music and other subjects. A unique quality of human beings is our capacity for conscious thought. Steiner education strives to support the development of well-rounded human beings who are able to feel deeply and broadly, to think penetratingly and clearly, and then to act rightly out of conscious and free choice.

The best overall statement on what is unique about Steiner education is to be found in the stated goals of the schooling:

"Our highest endeavour must be to develop individuals who are able out of their own initiative to impart purpose and direction to their lives." ~ Rudolf Steiner