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Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out

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Written by a teacher with more than 25 years of experience, this book offers a jargon-free view of Waldorf education and its philosophy of the importance of a three-dimensional education. Through learning experiences that involve all of the senses, children use a variety of intelligences to develop thought, feeling, and intentional, purposeful activity. Whether you're Waldorf parent or teacher, or you just want to learn more about these innovative educational concepts, this book contains important ideas on learning that you can apply today.

192 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2002

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Jack Petrash

5 books3 followers

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5 stars
130 (22%)
4 stars
217 (37%)
3 stars
192 (33%)
2 stars
32 (5%)
1 star
6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 61 reviews
Profile Image for Katie.
113 reviews38 followers
December 30, 2010
A good introduction to Waldorf method for the skeptical but curious newcomer. If you have already read a lot of other books on the topic I'm sure that the material in this work is nothing new to you. But if you're like me and are interested in Waldorf but spooked by some of the weird anthroposophist stuff, this book is a great distillation of strictly the educational principles associated with Steiner. The author does a good job tying the advantages of Waldorf into contemporary mainstream educational research and psychosocial development, but not in a formal, journal-type way that would satisfy the harshest skeptics. In short, this is a good book to read if you're wondering just what kids might do in a Waldorf school, but don't want to get into all the stuff about rainbow bridges and gnomes.
Profile Image for Amy.
246 reviews4 followers
March 18, 2011
I wanted a basic primer of Waldorf theory/practice, and in hindsight, I suppose that's what I got, but the style and organization of this book felt scattered to the point of distraction to me. The content began suddenly and ended suddenly, without any helpful direction from the author. I felt tossed into pretty theories about truth and beauty and heart-warming examples of clever teaching methods without first being given an overview of basics or any history or any reference to things I was already familiar with. Not sure if that was intended or not, but I found it frustrating. In the end, I feel I have a better understanding of Waldorf education, but the delivery was flawed.
Profile Image for Angie Libert.
342 reviews19 followers
March 25, 2016
This book is more of an appeal for parents to send their kids to a Waldorf school, than a book about the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner. The author actually only quoted Steiner twice throughout the whole book. Most of his quotes came from Jane Healy and Howard Gardner. I like Jane Healy and Howard Gardner, but you would think it would be more appropriate to quote the founder of the Waldorf schools, than modern professionals.

I guess if I want to hear the philosophical thoughts of a Waldorf education I am going to have to read Steiner. Then, I can actually apply this principles in my own life and homeschool. However, I am now left with the question, which Steiner book is best?
66 reviews40 followers
May 10, 2013
Came across more like a prospectus for a Waldorf school. Did not really address the issue of the actual mechanics of Waldorf education or the philosophy behind it. All very woolly and vague, lots of talk of well rounded and treating the child as a whole but no nitty gritty. The title of the book was Understanding Waldorf Education and this book did very little to help me understand.
Profile Image for Mohorea Alina.
36 reviews76 followers
November 1, 2020
O surpriză foarte plăcută. Nu credeam că mă mai poate impresiona o carte despre pedagogia Waldorf. Dar m-a surprins şi m-a impresionat simplitatea cu care explică anumite particularități ale acestei pedagogii, fără a rata însă aspectele sale profunde. O recomand tuturor părinților care şi-au înscris deja copiii la o şcoală Waldorf, dar şi celor care resping această pedagogie sau nu o înțeleg.
Profile Image for Melissa.
Author 3 books21 followers
April 17, 2009
So I wanted to learn more about Waldorf, and so I got this book from the library and read it. As usual with a book like this, the tone really bothered me: all is so rosy, life so simple, here is the answer. Sometimes I wish I thought like that, but really. I don't. However, all that aside, this book made me think about teaching differently, especially with my high school students, and Waldorf-style education does sound pretty awesome (if I was interested in private school), especially for elementary age. What I am searching for is a book about teaching, learning, creating, and parenting. Where can I find that book?
Profile Image for Adrienne.
291 reviews19 followers
November 24, 2009
I read this as part of my quest to learn about various educational philosophies in preparation for homeschooling. I thought it was a very helpful overview of the method and I found a lot of things I like and will try. I only gave it 3 stars because,after reading the book, I learned that there is a whole spiritual side of the Waldorf philosophy (anthroposophism) that this author did not address, most likely because it can be rather controversial. So I thought it was grossly incomplete in that sense.
81 reviews2 followers
July 25, 2010
This was a decent overview of Waldorf education, but it didn't provide me with an understanding of the "why's" and "how's" of the Waldorf approach. I think it would best serve as a handbook for parents of children attending Waldorf schools, not parents homeschooling or looking to introduce Waldorf concepts in the home.
5 reviews
June 21, 2017
Found this dull, but this is a good takeaway: if you give a child a reward (sticker, prize) for completing an activity, they will lose interest much sooner than if they do it without reward, just for the pleasure of it.
Profile Image for Hannah Noel.
3 reviews2 followers
February 15, 2008
A good place to start learning about Waldorf education. Decent overviews of education during each stage of childhood: Preschool, grade school and high school. Now I want to know more.
Profile Image for Laurie.
241 reviews
November 12, 2008
This was an excellent book!! I'm definitely going to implement some of the characteristics of a Waldorf education into our home!
Profile Image for Jenn Raley.
129 reviews
November 27, 2020
As a Waldorf parent, I think this book is a solid introduction to Waldorf education. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone interested in an overview of the Waldorf approach.

Where this book disappoints, however, is in the surprising lack of voices of Waldorf educators. Granted that Jack Petrash taught Waldorf for many years, his external references are almost entirely non-Waldorf (and almost all white men, I note).

Given the 100 years of history of Waldorf education, and the increasing diversity of its remarkable faculty nationwide, I think the movement could speak for itself more directly than this book allows.
Profile Image for Sarah Casady.
39 reviews
April 14, 2023
Appreciated the overview of Waldorf education. In general the education principles (play-based preschool, multiple types of learning, multi-sensory education) were proven in the 21st century despite trying the opposite for some time. I didn’t appreciate how the negatives of Waldorf philosophy are not addressed whatsoever, though. Skipping these negatives (roots in racism, anthroposophy) made me more suspicious of the intents than coming clean with them - and ideally explaining the modern Waldorf philosophy has diverted from its roots (though I’m now even more concerned that perhaps it hasn’t…?)
Profile Image for Kasey Dietrich.
236 reviews2 followers
December 16, 2021
This book is great!!! It's straight to the point, and well-organized by Waldorf preschool, Waldorf grade school and Waldorf high school. It rarely goes on tangents except to briefly cite a quote or two which were actually pleasant to read, and it made me feel like I'm capable of making positive changes to a preschool curriculum, and got some great examples to implement too. I want to buy this book so I can use it as a guide for every age group.
14 reviews
September 6, 2019
This is a good overview for someone who has not read anything about Waldorf. I chose this book as an introduction to the topic, and it served that purpose well. If you already know a lot about the method, then this would likely be a waste of your time.
Profile Image for Shelley Rose.
46 reviews3 followers
December 19, 2019
This gives a very general overview of Waldorf education. I was hoping that this would be more of an in-depth guide into Waldorf methodologies, but it was mostly a lot of fluff and the tone was a bit much.
Profile Image for Juan Gómez.
16 reviews
February 16, 2021
Good read to understand the Waldorf Methodology

Good enough book to learn on the foundational principles of Waldorf education. Definitely worth reading if you are interested in a Waldorf school for your children and are looking into a more in depth understanding of the system.
Profile Image for Wonkybadonk.
73 reviews8 followers
December 27, 2021
I found this one much more compelling and easier to digest than Steiner's source material. The concept of three dimensional learning makes a lot of sense. The abundance of references are also very helpful.
Profile Image for Marina Furmanov.
129 reviews1 follower
April 12, 2023
Great book. Love the examples. I truly understood and felt what a Waldorf education is. Compelling read for any new parent exploring, alternative education or honestly anyone interested in alternative education.
3 reviews6 followers
August 1, 2018
As a waldorf education parent and soon to be homeschooler, I found this book refreshing, insightful, and full of anecdotes and verses to use with my children.
905 reviews6 followers
August 1, 2018
An explanation of Steiner education. Pretty thorough in an easy going way, mostly for parents. Interesting read.
Profile Image for Amy.
67 reviews2 followers
February 7, 2021
Helpful overview of the Waldorf system, as well as what to expect from prek-high school.
Profile Image for Alaina Robinson.
34 reviews
July 27, 2021
A great beginners guide to Waldorf Education. A quick read but filled with some of the deep, core values, and some real life examples, of the beautiful complexity that is Waldorf.
680 reviews
September 3, 2021
Helpful in understanding the idea behind Montessori schools, with some good tips for teaching as a parent and helping children learn.
Profile Image for Amber.
85 reviews4 followers
November 17, 2021
Great primer on Waldorf education. Recommended for anyone interested in Waldorf/Steiner schools
Profile Image for Ambar Cordova.
284 reviews5 followers
July 31, 2022
This took me a while to finish because NON FICTION but it was very informative on the method in the different stages.
August 5, 2017
I appreciated the way Petrash assimilated the principles of Waldorf education as put forth by Steiner and then showed an example of a Waldorf lesson that applied that principle. It was easily organized into grade levels so you can decide how much depth you want to go into for each age. I thought it was an good introduction. I personally would have liked to have more of everything more understanding of Steiner's philosophies, more examples of lessons and the application of those ideas.
Profile Image for Xaka.
135 reviews11 followers
March 15, 2017
I wish I'd read this book years ago, when I first learned of the Waldorf approach. It's the first time I've felt like Waldorf at home is truly manageable. This is an informative AND inspirational read. I want to hand it to every homeschooler I know. Reading this helped revitalize my journey as a homeschooling parent.
Profile Image for Stacey.
14 reviews6 followers
September 18, 2012

Written by a Waldorf educator, this is a good introduction to the basic philosophies of a Waldorf school system.

Some of Petrash's main points that stuck with me are:

Waldorf curriculum exposes students to a wide range of subjects and encourages them to develop in a well-balanced way... it helps children overcome gender stereotypes.

It prepares students for life, not just for university or a future job. Waldorf schools emphasize that it's important to help children think for themselves and problem solve on their own.

Children need to be engaged in three ways: "head, heart and hands" A student's emotions and imagination are just as important as their minds.

Children learn by DOING. And what young children love to do most is PLAY...so Waldorf schools emphasize the importance of play.

They foster an appreciation for the natural world and try to bring the outdoors to the indoors through natural toys (leaves, seashells, tree bark, etc), which create a stronger imagination and connection to the Earth.

They develop a strong connection with the real world by focusing on the importance of work and appreciating the things that are given to us. (nature, food, clothes, etc.)

A lot of learning happens through storytelling and music.

Displaying 1 - 30 of 61 reviews

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