|EUGENE WALDORF SCHOOL HANDBOOK
Eugene Waldorf School
1350 McLean Blvd.
Eugene, OR 97405
Welcome to the Eugene Waldorf School’s new, expanded handbook!
This handbook is written to be both a useful, practical guide to school policies and structures, and also an invitation to each of us to become involved in the life of the school. Our school depends mightily on volunteer participation. So hopefully having this information at your fingertips will make it easier to understand how things work in the school and will welcome each of us into a deeper connection with our Eugene Waldorf School.
It is our endeavor to provide an excellent Waldorf education to students from early childhood through grade eight, based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner. The curriculum strives to develop the whole child, head, heart, and hands, so that our students become free thinking adults who are able to impart purpose and direction to their lives, and who can creatively bring forms into the changing events of the next millennium.
(This mission statement is still in draft form and has not been officially adopted by the school.)
Our highest endeavor must be
to develop free human beings,
who are able of themselves
to impart purpose and meaning to their lives.
The Eugene Waldorf School is a non-profit, non-denominational tax-exempt organization incorporated in the State of Oregon. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, sex, income, marital status or sexual orientation in the administration of our educational policies, admissions or Board membership policies, financial programs, or athletic and other school-administered programs.
This handbook was begun in the fall of 1995 by Molly Wilson as part of the Parent Education Workgroup. She gathered the handbooks of other Waldorf Schools and began collecting passages for our handbook from members of some of the organizational bodies and workgroups in our school.
In the spring of 1996, I took on the project in the hopes that it would be a positive contribution to the evolution of our school. It grew to become a much bigger project than I initially imagined, and it could not have been completed without the enduring support of my husband, Chris who took on the care of our children on many a Sunday afternoon and repeatedly agreed in the delaying of certain projects I was carrying at work in order to create the time for me to work on this handbook.
For me personally, it was exciting to have an opportunity to discover the clarity and beauty that exists in many areas of our school. We are amazingly fortunate to be a part of the coming together of so many dedicated, skilled adults who are committed to building ever stronger and more healthy foundations in our school organization, who are willing to put in the many volunteer hours and to dedicate the ongoing energy of their heads, their hearts and their hands through an unbelievable myriad of projects for the betterment of the whole.
I would like to express appreciation to the 22 people from all spheres of the community who agreed to read the first draft. Knowing you were holding a copy in your hands helped me feel confident that the information contained herein would be as accurate and clear as possible. Thank you especially to the nine people who took the time to thoroughly read the entire draft and give wonderful feedback on everything from content to spelling and punctuation: Kathleen Dugan, Jelena Jaehnig, Jay Janin, Ilse Kolbuszowski, Judi Lamb, Tricia O’Neill, Julie Rothan, Robert Santacroce, and Molly Wilson.
Thank you also to the many community members who willingly complied with my requests for information, especially Julie Rothan and Molly Wilson who received frequent phone calls near the end with “just one last question”; to Edith Koosnik of the Seattle Waldorf School who gave permission to use whatever we wanted of the words in their inspiring handbook and even sent me the text on a computer disk so I wouldn’t have to type it all in again; to the artists whose illustrations grace these pages: Ingeborg Schipull who was so dedicated to the school that she took this assignment with her on her vacation and drew some of the illustrations in her mother’s garden in Germany, and Tove Holmes a former student who touched me with her willingness to help amidst her busy schedule; thank you also to Kathleen Dugan who did some of the initial typing and to Jeri Spring whose generous support got me through the 11th hour overwhelmed feelings and allowed for the layout to be done professionally; to Connie Kudura from ProtoType who laid out the handbook at a discounted rate in support of the school; and to Tiger Grinnell,GRI of Bailey and Casey Real Estate who underwrote part of the production costs of the handbook.
Through the research and writing of this handbook, I was able to glimpse some of the richness and depth that exists in the Waldorf curriculum; I then took it upon myself to coax more of these glimpses out into the open so we could all have a greater appreciation for some of what lies below the surface in the classroom and even in the organizational structures of the school. I see our Eugene Waldorf School as a “work in progress” and thus this handbook is also a work in progress. As the forms and structures of the school evolve, so will the handbook. I warmly welcome conversation on the words and ideas contained herein, and ideas or inspirations for future handbooks. Please feel free to contact me in the hallways, by phone, or via my mailbox near the upstairs office. In the meantime, I offer this handbook to each of you in our community in appreciation of all that has come before, and with a vision of the Eugene Waldorf School continuing to thrive and to meet the needs of many thousands of children and families to come.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction to Waldorf Education
History of Waldorf Education and the Eugene Waldorf School
Basic Principles and Elements of Waldorf Education
The Elementary School Curriculum
Arts and Special Subjects
Movement Education and Games
Music Lessons and Orchestra
Tracking and Supporting Students’ Progress
Tutoring and Therapeutic Help
Reverence, Ritual and Rhythm
The role of Religion
Supporting Students at Home
Chapter 2: Organizational Structure
The Foundations of School Organization
Board of Trustees
Chapter 3: Communication
Chapter 4: Parent Resources
Morning For Parents
Eurythmy for Adults
Waldorf Resources on the Internet
Chapter 5: Enrollment and Financial Policies
Tuition Adjustment and the School’s Budget
Chapter 6: Student Policies, Guidelines and Procedures
Health and Safety
Drop Off and Parking
Lost and Found
Lunch and Snacks
Chapter 7: Discipline Policies and Procedures
General School Rules
Guidelines for Classroom and Playground Behavior
Guidelines for Field Trips
Guidelines for Suspension and Expulsion
Chapter 8: School Related Programs
After School Care
Summer Arts Program
Waldorf Preschools and Home Kindergartens
Teacher Training Program
Seventh Grade Homeschool Group
Association of Waldorf Schools Of North America
Rudolf Steiner Foundation
Chapter 9: Biographies
Quick Reference Page
Chapter 1: Introduction to Waldorf Education
History of Waldorf Education and the Eugene Waldorf School
The Eugene Waldorf School is one of approximately 650 Waldorf Schools throughout the world from Japan to Brazil and from Russia to New Zealand. The community of the Eugene Waldorf School joins a global community of children, parents, teachers, and friends who have made a commitment to work toward social renewal through Waldorf Education.
Waldorf schools grew out of the philosophy of Anthroposophy (anthropos - human and sophia - wisdom) which was developed by Rudolf Steiner. Born in 1861 to Austrian parents, he was an international figure in his day. Scientist, educator, and artist, Steiner’s interests spawned movements of renewal in education, medicine, science, agriculture, religion, arts, and human consciousness. The first Waldorf school was founded by Steiner in 1924 in Stuttgart, Germany, when Emil Molt, a wealthy industrialist and owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory, asked him to help create a school for the families of his workers.
Like most Waldorf Schools, the Eugene Waldorf School began as a grassroots initiative. In 1976 several parents wanting Waldorf education for their growing children began organizing lectures and workshops and eventually brought a trained teacher to town. This small school, then called the Cascade Valley School, opened its doors in 1980. As the school grew through the grades, a new building was found and the Dunn School on Willamette Street in southeast Eugene became our second home. In the summer of 1988 we moved to our present permanent location, the Stella Magladry School on McLean Blvd. Soon after that, in 1990, the teacher training program was started, initially at the request of parents and community members. In the summer of 1993 the high school building was built and the high school was in operation from September 1993 until August 1996.
Basic Principles and Elements of Waldorf Education
Through the curriculum and atmosphere at the Eugene Waldorf School, we strive to meet children at each developmental stage, helping them gain the strength to flower into free individuals. Children are recognized as having physical, emotional, and spiritual needs and capacities as well as intellectual ones. Artistic, cognitive, and practical lessons are all combined to nurture the strengths, potential, and uniqueness of each child.
At the heart of the Rudolf Steiner or Waldorf method is the conviction that education is an art. Whether the subject is arithmetic or history or physics, the presentation must live - it must speak to the child’s experience. To educate the whole child, the heart and will must be reached as well as the mind.
“The concept of education, which rightly means to bring forth, is rapidly being lost in all civilized countries and replaced by mere instruction. If we are convinced that each child brings something quite individual with him or her...then our efforts as teachers and parents will be directed so as to help to develop the child’s full capacities, and find her/his true destiny. A mere cramming with facts and knowledge has nothing to do with real education, (which endeavors) to develop faculties within the child according to her/his individual character.” - René Querido, Waldorf teacher and author
The foundation of Waldorf curriculum has been brought to life by dedicated teachers for over 75 years, providing an experience in the classroom that is unique in elementary and high school education. Several basic principles serve as the foundation for Waldorf education:
The human being is understood as spirit with both a social and physical manifestation.
From birth, each of us works with challenges that, if met, help us develop into free human beings.
The teacher strives, through anthroposophical study, meditation, and observation of each child, to bring each child what he or she needs to grow spiritually, socially, academically, and physically. We believe this is a balanced education.
The teacher's role requires that he or she balance thinking and deeds with the warmth of the heart. This is not sentimental or emotional feeling, but rather true understanding, brotherhood and love.
The teacher's role extends beyond the classroom, beyond helping to create positive relationships with and among the children. Since the work of Waldorf education includes nurturing the growth and development of all, teachers are also responsible for healthy relationships with colleagues and parents.
An important aspect of Waldorf education is the emphasis on the relationships among teachers, children, and parents through the years. We believe the growth of trust and understanding is nurtured by the stability of staying with the same teacher and classmates. For this reason, the kindergartens are composed of children from ages four to six and a child may be with the same teacher and group of children for two or three years before moving on to first grade. In the grade school, the teacher, if possible, continues with the class for the full eight years. A single year is just the time it takes a teacher to really get to know a class, and for the children to come to know and trust their teacher.
For children, the grade school years are an evolution of consciousness in much the same way that human consciousness has unfolded throughout the ages. The curriculum is designed to support this growth of consciousness. For teachers, moving through the eight years is a path of inner development as they experience the changing forces of the children; for the children are always calling the teacher to adjust inwardly to meet and understand them.
At the advent of puberty, the ego comes to a new experience of personal freedom - and education at this period must open and channel, not stop up, the new energies. In high school the class teacher is replaced by subject teachers who are able to meet each student’s need for competence, for authority vested in skill. High school teachers direct their teaching increasingly toward reasoned insight, intellectual understanding, and a philosophic conception of the whole world. What was experienced pictorially in the elementary years, in a more artistic way, now has to be reviewed, analyzed, and tested in the light of the newly emerging power of personal, logical understanding.
Main Lesson & Daily Rhythm
Waldorf schools are organized to make the relationship between student and teacher as fruitful as possible. In the elementary grades, this is accomplished by the unique Class Teacher/ Main Lesson system. Each morning the children spend the first period of the day - the two hour Main Lesson - with their Class Teacher. Every morning for 3 - 4 weeks, during the time when young minds are freshest, they will intensively study a block from one of the core subjects (english, math, history and science). In this way the rhythm of the day begins with the work which requires the most attention, and each academic subject can receive special focus during the course of the year. The teacher has time to enter each subject in depth and to approach it in a variety of ways; time to enliven each topic with poetry, painting, modeling, movement and drama. Thus, intellectual learning is always combined with artistic, rhythmical and practical work. After three to four weeks, when one topic has been fully explored, a new Main Lesson block is introduced.
Subjects which require regular repetition in shorter lessons (foreign languages, for example) occupy the later part of the morning. Afternoons are devoted to activities that are more social in nature: games and sports, painting, handwork and gardening. Boys and girls learn crocheting and knitting, simple sewing, woodwork and crafts. There is a wonderful coordination and harmony of subject material throughout the curriculum. What is being taken up in each Main Lesson block appears in subtle ways in the activities of the afternoon. The challenges of handwork and the fine arts are treated not as separate, unimportant “options” but as vital parts of a complete education.
The Elementary School Curriculum
The Waldorf curriculum is designed to work in rhythm with the natural stages of children’s development. Since these stages are reflective of the stages in the development of human civilization itself, the great stories of varied human cultures —from fairy tales and fables to Old Testament stories, from Nordic and African stories to Hawaiian and Greek myths— are the cornerstone of the curriculum. Not only the subject matter, but the way it is approached and the assignments and activities asked of the children are specifically suited to the development of certain faculties and capacities at particular ages.
“If a child has been able in his play to give up his whole being to the world around him, he will be able in the serious tasks of later life to devote himself with confidence and power to the service of the world.”
-- Rudolf Steiner
In the Pre-School and Kindergarten years great emphasis is placed on the development of a strong and deeply-rooted creative capacity. The overall environment, the unique play materials, and the chosen activities all contribute to fostering the child's natural powers of wonder and fantasy. For instance, the play materials are chosen so as to allow the greatest amount of the child's own imagination to come into play. The more possible uses for a toy, the better. When the child is required to really "clothe" his play materials with his own powers of imagination, the truly living forces within him become activated.
Another important aspect in the development of a strong imaginative life is the use of Fairy Tales. The art of storytelling is really alive in the Kindergarten as the Fairy Tales are told, rather than read, by the teacher. The child's imagination is active because the pictures need to be created inwardly as the story unfolds. The young child experiences the world more pictorially than the logical mind of the adult, and Fairy Tales provide an inner nourishment because they contain archetypal truths about the world in picture form.
Small children are beings of will and imitation, identifying themselves with each gesture, intonation, mood, and thought in their environment, and making these their own in the free activity of creative, imaginative play. It is the kindergarten teachers’ task to create an environment worthy of a small child’s unquestioning imitation and to educate the child’s unconscious through the warmth, clarity, rhythm, and harmony of the world s/he creates and with which the child so actively identifies.
Given the right environment and encouragement, the young child exhibits a fountain of creativity never again to be equaled in the course of his/her life. Deepening this capacity prepares the proper ground for a truly alive and mobile thinking to emerge.
“The true aim of education is to awaken real powers of perception and judgment in relation to life and living. For only such awakening can lead to true freedom.” --Rudolf Steiner
The grade school curriculum in the Waldorf schools is amazingly rich and intricately coordinated with a deep understanding of the developing child. What follows is a look at some of the main topics that are covered in each year as well as some detail about the insights underlying the curriculum. There are, of course, many more philosophical underpinnings of the curriculum than can be set forth in this handbook; this list is only meant as a taste of what goes on in the curriculum, not as a comprehensive outline. Attending Parent Evenings with your child’s class teacher is a wonderful opportunity to find out more about the specific curriculum that is being presented to your child. Also some of the books listed in the annotated bibliography in this Handbook contain more in-depth coverage of the curriculum.
The first grade year begins with the discovery that behind all forms lie two basic principles: the straight and curved line. The children find these shapes in their own bodies, in the classroom and in the world beyond. The straight and curved line are then practiced through walking, drawing in the air and the sand, on the blackboard and finally on paper. These form drawings train motor skills, awaken the children’s powers of observation and provide a foundation for the introduction of the alphabet.
Through fairy tales and stories, the children are introduced to each letter of the alphabet. Instead of abstract symbols, the letters become actual characters with whom the children have a real relationship. “S” may be a fairy tale snake sinuously slithering through the grass on some secret errand; the “W” may be hiding in the blackboard drawing of waves.
In a similar way, the children first experience the qualities of numbers before learning addition or subtraction. Counting is introduced through clapping, rhythmic movement and the use of stones, acorns and other natural objects. Only after considerable practical experience in adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing are the written symbols for these operations introduced.
Foreign languages, knitting and the playing of the recorder are also introduced in first grade.
In the second grade, children are told many fables, as well as Native American stories of animals, and the stories of saints, heroes and heroines including the story of the King of Ireland’s Son. They work on writing by copying these stories in their main lesson books. There is continued work in arithmetic including the memorization of the times tables from 1 - 12 and the lower case letters are introduced. Reading is taught through the process of writing. The children hear a story, copy it into their main lesson books and then practice reading what they have written. Grammar is introduced by acting out stories in which the children can experience the contrast between ‘doing’ words, ‘naming’ words, and ‘describing’ words. Towards the end of the second grade year, the children are given ‘easy reader’ books to read.
The third grade is often called a turning point of childhood. Nine year olds feel themselves growing apart from the world, becoming separated and independent and beginning to question all that was previously taken for granted. This questioning is accompanied by a serious stream of interest in everything practical such as ‘How is a house built?’ and ‘Where does my food come from?’. In the third grade, children study Old Testament stories to learn about people’s first struggles to live on the earth, to make shelters and to work the land. They study house building, naturally learning weights and measures, and learn about gardening, farming and cooking. These acquired skills are translated into their handwork as they make a “house for their heads” in creating knitted hats. There is much counting and measuring when adding patterns to their handwork.
Continuing the developmental changes that begin in third grade, the fourth grader may feel, in a basic way, at odds with the world. In the fourth grade, this inner experience is addressed through the hearing and reading of stories about heroes in Norse, African, Hawaiian and other mythologies. The hero emerges as someone to look up to, emulate, laugh at and respect. The human qualities, the emotions, the struggles, and the confrontations are emphasized.
In handwork, cross stitch is introduced, allowing the child to experience a beautiful wholeness that results from many little crossings. The theme of separateness is further reflected in the mathematics curriculum with the study of fractions. Fourth graders also begin to look at our local geography, studying our immediate surroundings and natural resources, and more broadly, Oregon State. Map making is introduced. Through these activities children experience the separation from nature that marks the developing intellect.
In the fifth grade, children are led into a wider world and encouraged to develop a broader perspective. They study both American geography and botany including a look at vegetation in other parts of the world, and in mathematics, continue with fractions and decimals. History has until now been only pictorial or personal in nature, with no attempt made to introduce exact temporal concepts or to proceed in strict sequences. Now however, history becomes a special main lesson subject, as does geography. Ancient history in the fifth grade starts with the childhood of civilized humanity in ancient India, where human beings were dreamers. The ancient Persian culture that followed the Indian felt the impulse to transform the earth, till the soil, domesticate animals while helping the sun-god conquer the spirit of darkness. The great cultures of Mesopotamia (the Chaldeans, the Hebrews, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians) reveal the origins of written language on clay tablets. The Egyptian civilization of pyramids and pharaohs precedes the civilization of the Greeks with whom ancient history ends. Every means is used to give the children a vivid impression of these five ancient cultures. They read translations of poetry, study hieroglyphic symbols of the Egyptians, and try their hands at the arts and crafts of the various ancient peoples. History is an education of the children’s feelings rather than of their memory for facts and figures. Through studies in art, science, government, and gymnastics, children have an opportunity to experience the balanced harmony and beauty of the Greeks. In the spring there is a Greek pentathlon where fifth grade students from several Waldorf schools in the region come together. Grace, beauty, form and sportsmanship are lauded along with individual achievements of speed and accuracy.
In the sixth grade, the study of the Roman Empire — its greatness, its vanity and its collapse — is a centerpoint of the curriculum. Children of this age can begin to empathize with this time of struggle and growth in human history and can begin to experience a kinship with people from other times. Thus, they can begin to feel that they are not alone in their inward struggles. Physics is introduced to study the natural world. As children approach 12, changes begin in their physical bodies. One of the most subtle is the hardening of the bones. Boys and girls are more aware of gravity and weight. With the increasing awareness of their physical bodies, the time is right for the study of the physical body of the earth. Geology turns to the structure of the earth, and proceeds from the study of the flora and fauna of the geological ages to minerals, metals, and finally gems and crystals, leading to the functions of the mineral and metallic substances in the human organism.
In the seventh grade, children are entering puberty. To help them cross this threshold, the curriculum presents a rich panorama designed to take them out to civilizations and people who share their mood of soul, as well as lead them to a closer look at each one’s own environment and inner being. Two subjects addressing these areas are English and History. The history block of the Renaissance and Reformation really begins modern times with a dauntless quest into the unknown that is also akin to the seventh graders’ soul mood. Allegiance to traditional authority no longer holds sway. Individualism overcomes feudalism, as personified by Joan of Arc. Human capacities are limitless as epitomized by Leonardo Da Vinci. The emphasis of both history and geography is on Europe, the lives of the early explorers, and the colonization of many parts of the world.
Mathematics introduces algebra, including negative numbers, venturing into mathematical thinking that has no relation to physical perceptions. This makes real demands on the child’s imaginative powers. Square and cube root and ratio are introduced. Geometry is also studied, as well as inorganic chemistry.
By eighth grade, students are ready to study modern history and have the ability to see the wholeness of the globe. During eighth grade, history is an intensive study of the industrial revolution to the modern day, focusing as well on the outstanding individuals such as Lincoln, Jefferson and Edison in American history and great figures such as Ghandi, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King and others from the 20th century. Geography takes up the same theme, showing the role played by every part of the earth in modern industrial civilization. Additional lessons are presented in physics as well as acoustics, thermodynamics, mechanics, climate, electricity, and magnetism, and the children are now introduced to hydraulics, aerodynamics, meteorology and ecology. Chemistry is also considered in relation to industry.
Mathematics also emphasizes the practical applications of arithmetic, algebra and geometry. Man is again the subject of nature study through physiology of the human organism. Literature focuses on the theme of human freedom in the short story, letters and Shakespearean drama. By the end of eighth grade, the children should have a well rounded general picture of human life and the universe.