Teaching in a Steiner School
In a Steiner school what is taught and how it is taught is based on Steiner’s pedagogical philosophy. Steiner teacher training courses cover the method, curriculum and underlying philosophy, and this highlights the need for the teacher to take account of the spiritual essence of the child in the learning process.
The teaching of all stages of learning is based on this understanding of the child. The pedagogical philosophy also defines the sequential stages of the curriculum and its relationship to the physical, intellectual and cognitive development of the child. It also defines the emphasis that the teaching method gives to rhythm and continuity and the integrating and contextualising the subject matter.
Lessons are delivered artistically as means of fully engaging the imagination of pupils in the learning process, regardless of the subject, whether it be mechanics or the binary system; the life of Napoleon, or meteorology. To teach artistically, therefore, is about being professional and committed, just as much as it is about being imaginative, responsive and providing a moral presence.
The human relationship in learning is also seen as crucial to effective engagement and the teacher introduces the majority of the learning material through the narrative form – story, characterisation and concrete imagination. The narrative approach is a method that requires listening. Pupils recount the material the next day, which develops memory and speech. Only after this listening and recalling is the account then written down.
At all times the teacher expects to work with the curriculum, pedagogy, assessment activity and school organisation as interconnected in both a qualitative and practical sense.
Becoming a teacher in a Steiner school is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for a person who might be tempted by the prospect of an ordinary job, or an easy ride. On the other hand, if you are attracted by the idea and prospect of working in ways where individual initiative, creativity and commitment can be garnered into the working of a purposeful team dedicated to the care, learning and well being of the whole child, then this might be for you.
The National Steiner Waldorf Teacher Standards created in 2020 as part of a collabarative process set out the clear benchmarks required for all teachers in Steiner Schools.