An overwhelming task for many parents is selecting a school for their child. Parents nowadays are given the choice of enrolling their child into mainstream education or alternatives such as Steiner education, Montessori or Dalton. With this wide range of curriculums schools have to offer, parents need to weigh the pros and cons of each and determine what is best for their child.One alternative method of educating was introduced by Rudolf Steiner. Steiner education was first introduced in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany and has grown to 1.092 Steiner schools in over 64 countries (Waldorf, 2017).
Steiner’s education system focuses on the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the child through the acquisition of knowledge instead of solely teaching academic knowledge to meet the needs of an exam-oriented education. The Steiner system encourages creative thinking through the use of the arts, music and physical activity. One of the aims set out by the Steiner philosophy is to create a learning environment where children find joy of learning and experience the bounty of a fulfilled childhood rather than early specialisation (About, 2018). Although the objectives of Steiner education inspire a lot of parents to choose in favor of Steiner education, it has received a backlash on controversy regarding the philosophy on which the education was created. Founder Rudolf Steiner, was a philosopher, who based his foundation of education on his spiritual philosophy, where he engages religious ideas from the Far East with aspects taken from multiple forms of religious practice (Williams, 2016).
It was through this idea, that the controversy about the so-called reincarnation through the races, emerged. Steiner believed that the souls of humans evolve through reincarnation with white people ranking at the top and that people of colour could only hope to be reincarnated if they have good karma. Many parents with children enrolled at a Steiner school have experienced odd and racist altercations.
However, despite the controversy, Steiner education is an innovative way of teaching and is an educational curriculum that encourages both academic knowledge and creative development. To be able to survive in a professional working environment, children should have to learn and get used to the fact that results are achieved through practice and acquisition of knowledge. Despite varying in execution of the curriculum from mainstream schools, both provide creativeness in academic learning. When looking at the educational structure of Steiner schools in Australia, for example, the curriculum consist of two phases of which the first focuses on subjects such as Maths, History and Science and the second of Civil Economics, the Arts and Health Physical Education (Day, n.d.). A variety of topics are then integrated across many subjects to provide the students with a multitude of perspectives.
As aspiring teachers, the group chose to analyse a growing trend within the field of education because of the importance of the awareness of developments and trends within one’s field. Although the Steiner education system received some negativity, it is still a growing trend and also happens to be the largest group of independent schools in the world (R., 2015). Throughout the years, the field of English teaching has changed in content and curriculum design where more cross-curricular programmes are being adopted so that beginning teachers develop cultural awareness. The emphasis is not only on teaching language skills, but also on critical thinking and integration of technology (Sun, 2014). The group finds that the changes have a positive impact on the way of educating at the University of Applied Science Utrecht because the group supports these changes in the educational field of English teaching. Steiner education has proven itself to bring new ideas into the field of education and offer an alternative unlike the majority of philosophies seen at the time.
Despite other trends such as the flipped-classroom being evident in classrooms, Steiner education is a trend that coordinates with many of the educational goals of the 21st century with a focus on creativity, flexibility and the capabilities of individual students (Bak, 2017). The group recognizes Steiner education as valid alternative form of education that embraces the originality in the identity of its’ students and encourages learning.