What is Waldorf curriculum and why is it important?
First of all, as Waldorf homeschoolers, many of us think like this:
- I want to homeschool (either because the local schools aren’t an option or the private Waldorf school isn’t within reach).
- I love the Waldorf approach and want that for my children and family. (Oh, Waldorf! It’s so beautiful and looks so nourishing on so many levels. I wish I’d been taught like that!)
- Which curriculum should I buy?
And once we decide, then we think we’re done! A perfectly valid and logical sequence of thoughts.
But here’s the thing:
Curriculum is not just something you buy!
What is Waldorf curriculum?
Let’s start with curriculum. Here’s a little bit of background information. (This is the teacher in me!) When I was taking a graduate school course on curriculum design about five years back, I was surprised to encounter multiple definitions of curriculum.
The dictionary definition of curriculum is simple: a fixed course of study, or all of the courses collectively offered in a school or in a particular subject.
But the truth is, there are many variations on this one word.
- There is the planned or intended curriculum (what the teacher plans to do).
- There is the taught curriculum (what the teacher actually does).
- There is the learned curriculum (what the student learns from the lesson or experience).
And in between each of these variations on curriculum, there are gaps.
I may prepare one thing, then carry out a different version of that all together, and the student takes in yet another version of that which is taught!
What does all this mean for us as homeschoolers?
Be aware of the gaps. We can work to minimize the gaps, but there is no way to eliminate them. And really, the gaps are OK! In fact, that’s where some of the learning happens! Learners need to struggle some with the material, maybe even feel a little uncomfortable not knowing or not understanding. This is the “creative tension” of learning something new.
So wherever you are in your homeschool year, I invite you to reflect on these ideas of curriculum. And whether you plan to purchase a packaged curriculum or not, know that the curriculum or the plan is only the first step.
First we have to pick out the pieces and parts that we’ll present to our children. Then we offer up activities and lessons. Then they do with that what they will. That is teaching!
With the Waldorf curriculum, we teach through the arts. That’s what holds the curriculum together. Check out my article on The Seven Lively Arts for details and examples of how this is done.
What are your thoughts about curriculum?