Sacramento public schools include a Waldorf-inspired K-8 school and a high school. Both schools are popular with parents, but not with People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools, which has filed a lawsuit charging that the Waldorf system is based on founder Rudolf Steiner’s religious philosophy, anthroposophy, and therefore can’t receive tax dollars.
There are 43 Waldorf-inspired public schools in the U.S., including 24 in California, according to the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education. More are in the works.
John Morse Waldorf-Inspired K-8 School, a district-run school, is moving to a new campus with room for more students. The school integrates “activities of the heart, hands and head” throughout the curriculum, including “handwork, gardening, cooking, and woodworking.” Teachers stay with the same students throughout their education, if possible. Reading isn’t taught till students are considered ready, which may be as late as third grade. Here’s an Edutopia article on the school.
George Washington Carver School of Arts and Science, a charter high school, offers project-based and hands-on learning and stresses drama, art, gardening and poetry. However, all students take the A-G courses that will qualify them for state universities.
PLANS sees Waldorf as “a cult-like religious sect following the occult teachings of Rudolf Steiner.”
Waldorf educators say, simply put, Waldorf is a holistic approach that focuses on a child’s development and has art infused into the curriculum.
Waldorf-trained teachers learn Steiner’s philosophy but don’t teach it in the public schools, says Betty Staley, who trains teachers at Rudolf Steiner College near Sacramento.
Waldorf education is progressive education with delayed reading instruction and a lot of art and nature study. It may work well for some children. Despite some of Steiner’s beliefs about the spirit world, I don’t see Waldorf as new-age religion.
Of course, some see Apple as a religion.