Practices of Teacher Learning in Waldorf Schools: Some Recommendations Based on Qualitative Inquiry

Martyn Rawson

Abstract


This study uses the theoretical lens of Kelly’s (2006) socio-cultural notion of teacher learning to explore and interrogate such practices in the lived experiences of teachers in Waldorf schools. Data was gathered using questionnaires and interviews from some 160 teachers working with Steiner educational principles in Waldorf schools in 14 countries. Wherever possible, Waldorf schools practice educational autonomy, using forms of collegial and distributed school leadership. Drawing on the core principles of Steiner education and a curriculum based on a normative view of learning development, they seek to adapt their educational approach to the learning needs of their pupils in the local context. Collegial autonomy presumes teachers’s ability to generate knowledge about their pupils’s development and learning needs. The data highlights some strengths and weaknesses within teacher learning practices in Waldorf schools and outlines some implications for Waldorf teacher education. The socio-cultural perspective on teacher learning suggests developing a more coherent understanding of the importance of knowing-in-practice, identity work, reflection and practitioner research may strengthen the quality of the education; ensuring Steiner education continues to be a valuable form of educational counter practice.


Keywords


Educational alternatives; progressive education; alternative education; Steiner; Waldorf; Waldorf Steiner; Teacher education

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References


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