Education and “El Trigal” of Argentina
Asociación Comunidad Educativa El Trigal
Juanita - pupil at El Trigal
5885 Villa de las Rosas, Provincia de Córdoba, Argentina
The first Waldorf School was founded in
1919 in Stuttgart, Germany, as a school for the workers of the “Waldorf
Astoria” cigarette factory. The company’s director asked Rudolf Steiner
(1861-1925) to act as Educational Director and provide the didactical
methodology for the school. Dr. Steiner personally selected all the teachers
and gave intensive courses over a period of weeks concerning the educational
principles to be applied. The school began with 12 grades and was thus the
first “complete school”, with no essential difference between primary and
secondary levels. The Waldorf movement spread throughout Germany and other
countries, but was banned in Germany when the Nazis came to power.
After the Second World War, already in
1945, the Free Waldorf School re-opened and there was soon a proliferation of
such schools worldwide. There are six such schools in Argentina. The obstacles
for founding more schools were the lack of money and of teachers trained in the
method. A Teacher Training Institute exists since 1989 in Buenos Aires to
alleviate the latter deficiency.
II ORGANIZATIONAL PRINCIPLES
Waldorf schools are non-profit-making
institutions. The College of Teachers and a School Board administer the school
– the pedagogical part being an exclusive function of the College of Teachers.
The teacher elected Principal (Headmaster) occupies this function pro forma
in order to satisfy legal requirements. The College of Teachers meets weekly to
deal with pedagogical and administrative subjects. This implies an additional
work burden, which the teachers, being highly motivated, willingly accept. In
the countries where there are no state subsidies (the majority), the schools
are financed exclusively by parents’ contributions and other donations.
III. SOME PEDAGOGICAL PRINCIPLES
The most important factor in education is
the relationship teacher-pupil. In Waldorf schools the teachers remain with
their group of pupils from the first grade through the end of primary school.
In this way an intimate relationship develops between the teacher and the
pupils and the teacher comes to know each child as though it were a member of
her own family. She accompanies the children in their development and also has
the opportunity to develop herself. The teacher, by being less specialized, is
The school day starts with the “main
class”, from 8 to 10 in the morning, during with the intellectual formation
subjects are taught (mathematics, history, geography, literature, etc.). The
rest of the day is dedicated to other artistic activities: painting, modeling,
gardening, physical education, foreign languages, music, etc., taught by more
The main subjects are taught in “blocks”,
that is, periods of 3 to 5 weeks for each subject. Instead of teaching math
from 8 to 9, history from 9 to 10, and so on, the main class is dedicated to
one subject for those three to five weeks, then another subject for a similar
period. In this way, the pupils are able to obtain a deeper understanding of
each subject instead of jumping from one to the other in a process of
During the early years, the concentration
is on psycho-spiritual development instead of informational cramming. For
example, the children are taught to read in the second grade, in the first
grade they learn to write artistically. In Spanish speaking countries, a
beautiful drawing of the sun (sol) is later transformed into the letter
“O”, a wave (ola) into “L” and so on, accompanied by stories that illustrate
these elements. Afterwards the step to reading is easy because the children can
already write. Furthermore, they are more mature. The concept behind not
pushing early development is that children can be compared to young plants,
delicate in their infancy and needful of loving care against the world’s
harsher elements. This early care gives them the strength they need to meet the
“real” world when they are older. Experience has shown this idea to be correct.
The children rapidly acquire knowledge and they do so with joy.
One or two foreign languages are taught
from the first grade on, taking advantage of the child’s natural aptitude for
imitation. The main objective is to provide an instrument to amplify the
child’s vision of the world while allowing him to understand other cultures.
Art is not merely included as another
subject. Rather it constitutes the teacher’s main tool for all her or his
teaching method. After all, education is – or should be – an art.
It is not possible in this limited space to
enter into more detail on all the aspects of Waldorf didactic methodology, but
from what has been mentioned above, it can be seen that the objective is true
education and not mere instruction
IV. THE SCHOOL IN SOCIETY
An important principle of Waldorf education
is that educational institutions should be free of political state
intervention. The state’s legitimate function is to guarantee the rights of
citizens, which includes the right to an education, but this doesn’t mean that
the state should educate or control schools. Nowadays, when we recognized that
the state is inept at controlling industry, we continue thinking that it should
retain responsibility for education, which is more important, for without
education there would be no industry or economic enterprise of any kind.