How Waldorf educational methods help special needs children
The teachers I remember and revered the most are those who were able to take a subject I might not have been interested in and connect it to my own experiences and make it interesting. This is the principle behind Waldorf Education.
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) had the philosophy that "man is a threefold being of spirit, soul, and body whose capacities unfold in three developmental stages on the path to adulthood: early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence" (Barnes). For these reasons he constructed a school open to all children on September 7, 1919.. Students would undergo a 12 year program under primary control of the school, meaning that state officials would have little say in what goes on there.
A Walford Education means that the student will leave the school more well-rounded. This is because the Walford method stimulates children in every way possible. They appeal to kinesthetic, verbal and visual learning styles. This means that they will have hands-on experience in learning, listen to a well thought out lesson plan, and see the many ways things can be achieved. This is especially important for special needs children because they lack the capacity to learn only through one method of teaching. Additionally, there is less pressure on the student. Overall, the teachers are more compassionate and patient.
Thanks to the success bestowed upon them, now there are over 800 Walford schools world wide, and 150 others affiliated with Waldorf. One such school is Camphill, a "worldwide movement dedicated to community living that supports and values the contributions of all community participants without regard to their financial assets, or their intellectual or physical capabilities" ("What is Camphill?").
Camphill only increases the amount of learning a disabled student can obtain by being even more in tuned to their special needs. They provide education, encouragement, therapeutic care and other services for disabled people, which is more than what any public school can say.
In public schools, children with disabilities are all thrown into a room with a teacher who probably doesn’t know much about special needs education. They are often given the same level of curriculum despite their level of learning with limited one on one time with the teacher. In my own area, occasionally these children were integrated into regular classrooms as well. While integration can be good, these kids did not learn a thing. The teachers went on with their lecture without bothering to make sure the special needs students understood.
As you can see, the Walford method, especially within the Camphill campus is one of the best programs for students with special needs. In fact, public schools should take notes on this education because despite their unfamiliarity with the standardized testing systems, their SAT scores are generally higher than the national average, particularly on the verbal portion. If that doesn’t prove how the Walford method works, I don’t know what will.
Barnes, Henry. http://www.awsna.org/index.htm l. AWSNA. originally appeared in the October, 1991 issue of Educational Leadership Magazine. 4/10/07.
"What is Camphill?". http://www.camphill.org/whatis .php 2007 Camphill Association of North America. 4/10/07.