Digital tools and Waldorf schools

Waldorf schools are based on humanistic education, taking the developmental stages of child into account. Art, crafts and hands on learning are emphasized in every subject. I had the privilege to attend a small Waldorf School in Finland for the duration of high school from fall of 2000 to spring of 2004.

The classes – 70 minutes long each – consisted of the teacher providing a backbone of the lesson in lecture format. The students were expected to take notes and expand on the backbone on their own. Lack of traditional school books, made us use other resources found in libraries and on-line. It also allowed us to focus on topics we were truly interested in within the framework

provided by the teacher.


Language classes in Swedish, English, and German used original literature as high quality course material. We were tested on proper pronunciation and expected to hold 45 minute presentations for the whole class. The school play, a shortened version of “Hamlet”, was performed by students in old English as a requirement for the English language course.

In addition to regular classes, special hands on courses were offered from cartography to knitting. Every spring semester ended in two weeks of work experience on a farm, public sector, or industry. On the last year of high school studies students worked on their final projects outlined and designed by themselves and approved by the teachers. The large 6 to 12 month projects could vary from building a row boat to writing a novel.

I consider the time I spent in Waldorf school as the first truly challenging educational experience. I overcame stage fear and acted in a play, developed an excellent note taking routine, and sustained the joy of learning. The final project on inheritable diseases in my family tree combined biology, genealogy, and interviews into a printed booklet.

Interestingly there were no computers in the school.

While I used on-line material after school to fill out my notes, there was no integration of computers into our class rooms. When we begin to integrate technology to more classes, the novelty of it might distract students and teachers alike, especially in environments like my old Waldorf school in Finland. While technology has been shown as a way to integrate teaching of humanities and science together, this is not the only way to go. The strengths of Waldorf education to me lie in close student-teacher interaction and personalized study path supporting my interests in biology. The most promising aspect of integrating technology in teaching is reaching students of a large class on more personal level. The interaction with other people, be it face-to-face or via e-mail and chat, is what made the most impact on my development as a learner.



2 thoughts on “Digital tools and Waldorf schools

  1. vanessa

    thanks for the info. about Waldorf schools. the closest thing I’ve come across are specialized schools that typically focus on a certain subject. (i.e. Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Brooklyn Technical High School) these are high schools that require auditions or entrance examinations and limit the type of student that can attend. it would be interesting to see more k-12 schools adopt at least some of the Waldorf concepts and practices.

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