sexta-feira, 4 de março de 2011

Does Waldorf Offer a Viable Form of Science Education?

JELINEK, David and SUN, Li-Ling. Does Waldorf Offer a Viable Form of Science Education?

This monograph reports the findings from a multifaceted study undertaken to address the strong need for empirical evaluation of Waldorf education. There is growing interest in the Waldorf method among many parents and educators because they believe it more successfully engages students and supports meaningful learning than do mainstream methods. Yet these parents and educators have little first-hand knowledge of Waldorf pedagogical principles or the founding father’s philosophy.

Increasingly, they find themselves caught between the extremes in a debate others have long-engaged over Waldorf education: a debate that can be summarized at one extreme as adamant opposition to the peculiar philosophical background of Rudolf Steiner, whose beliefs, critics claim, constitute “pseudoscience;” and at the other extreme as a firm conviction that any shortcomings in student achievement under Waldorf methods is the result of shortcomings in implementation of the Waldorf curriculum as intended –  and decidedly not because the curriculum is “pseudo-scientific.”

The purpose of this study was to use recognized and accepted methods of inquiry and investigation to uncover the nature of Waldorf science education and to evaluate its applicability to  mainstream science education. The study began with four primary questions: (1) How does the Waldorf science curriculum align itself with state and national science standards? (2) What are the perspectives of Waldorf students, teachers, and parents regarding science education in the Waldorf context?  (3) How do Waldorf students’ scientific reasoning and problem solving skills compare to those of their counterparts in mainstream educational settings? (4) Does Waldorf offer a viable form of science education?

The findings of the study are reported in four sections.  First, it provides a theoretical framework by analyzing Waldorf Theory relative to the theories of Experiential Learning, Developmentalism, ZPD (Vygotsky), Spiral Curriculum, Triarchic Intelligence, and Multiple Intelligences.  Second, it analyzes the Waldorf science curriculum through document analysis, external reviews, and field testing of Waldorf curriculum materials.

Third, it analyzes results of interviews and a national survey administered to Waldorf educators.  Fourth, it analyzes findings from various logical reasoning and scientific problemsolving tasks administered to Waldorf students, then the results of videotaped Waldorf science lessons.

A concluding discussion examines the research questions in light of the data, with a particularly strong focus on the question of whether or not Waldorf offers a viable form of science education, and if not, what could be done to make it so?

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