Member Mumble #6 Baukje Harmsma
Waldorf education is based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of
anthroposophy. Anthroposophy believes in the existence of an objective, intellectually
comprehensible spiritual world that is accessible by direct experience through inner
development (Wikipedia’s words, not mine). Steiner wanted children to develop themselves
into grown, self-thinking adults who dare to question social developments.
The first Waldorf School, or Steiner School (German) or Vrije School (Dutch), was opened
in 1919 in Stuttgart, to serve children of factory employees. The school grew rapidly. Within
years Waldorf education became widely known. In 1923 ‘Vrije School Den Haag’ the first
Dutch Waldorf School was founded and opened. By the 1930’s numerous schools inspired by
the Waldorf education system had opened in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands,
Norway, Austria, Hungary, the USA and the UK.
In 1969 the Vrije School in Zutphen opened. Zutphen has three Waldorf primary schools
(Vrije School de Berkel, Vrije School de Zonnewende and Vrije School de IJssel) and one
secondary school (Vrijeschool Zutphen). Vrijeschool Zutphen is currently the biggest
Waldorf school (1200 students and still consistently growing).
This the secondary school I attended and loved. When I was 12 years old and had to decide
which secondary school I wanted to attend, I decided the Waldorf education system was
something that would suit me rather well (and I was right). I immediately felt this was a ‘safe
space’, somewhere where everyone would be accepted. I felt I had the space to grow, make
mistakes and simply be myself. This was very important to me and still is to this very day.
Something else I really enjoyed were the Main Lessons, in Dutch known as Ochtend Periode.
The Main Lessons are the first two periods at the beginning of the morning. The subject
changes every three weeks, sometimes it’s history or biology etc. Every three weeks you
make your own so-called book, filled with drawings and text about the subject. If you want to
know what those books look like, you can simply google ‘waldorf main lessen books’ and
you will find hundreds of pictures.
The last thing that I want to point out are the creative subject which were taught all six years.
Most ex-Waldorf- students are very creative, due to these creative subjects (and the drawings
in the Main Lesson Books). There were very ‘standard’ creative subject, such as painting,
drawing and wood processing. However, there were some not-so-standard creative subject as
well, such as forging and eurhythmy (a sort of weird yoga, which is in fact very calming).
These six years were an amazing experience and I can truly say that ‘ik ben geworden wie ik
ben’ (this is the Vrijeschool Zutphen slogan: ‘Worden wie je bent’).