History of Waldorf - The 1st Waldorf School
The 1st Waldorf school was an initiative by Dr Emil Molt, the managing director of the Waldorf Astoria cigarette factory. It opened on the 7th September 1919 with about 250 pupils in Stuttgart, Germany.
It was born out of a social impulse, when Dr Molt became aware of a child of one of his factory workers being unable to proceed to higher education because of limited financial means. He decided to start a school for the children of his workers.
He approached Dr Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian Scientist and Philosopher, who started the Anthroposophical Society (anthropos = humankind; sophia = wisdom) of which Dr Molt was a member. Molt asked Steiner to plan, organize and supervise this new initiative. A Waldorf School Association was found in May 1920.
The school grew till it had over a 1000 pupils and Waldorf Schools appeared throughout Germany, Switzerland, Holland, England and Norway. It is now the largest independent school movement in the world, based upon common pedagogical principles. Waldorf schools are fully or partly state funded in places e.g. Finland, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Germany and Norway.
The movement is now international and inter-cultural and adapts and recreates itself depending on its surroundings. At the beginning of the millennium there were 1500 early childhood centres, 780 schools, 60 teacher training centres and many curative initiatives in over 30 countries.
To call oneself a Waldorf School one has to demonstrate one's commitment to the ideals and philosophy of the Waldorf movement. In South Africa it means gaining approval from the Federation of Waldorf Education. We have applied as a new initiative and are using their requirements as our guide.