Linden Waldorf School of Nashville

Frequently Asked Questions

How can a Waldorf class teacher teach all the subjects through the eight years of elementary schooling?
The class teacher is not the only teacher the children experience. Each day, specialty subject teachers teach the children handwork, Spanish, music, woodworking, and movement.

Waldorf class teachers are life long learners.  Our class teachers have many professional development opportunities.  Each summer they do a grade specific study at a Waldorf teacher training center coming back engergized for the new academic year. In addition, every year, master Waldorf teachers come to observe and mentor our faculty.

A common misconception in our time is that education is merely the transfer of information. From the Waldorf point of view, true education also involves the awakening of capacities—the ability to think clearly and critically, to empathetically experience and understand phenomena in the world, to distinguish what is beautiful, good, and true. The class teacher walks a path of discovery with the children and guides them into an understanding of the world of meaning, rather than the world of cause and effect.

A Waldorf class teacher ideally stays with a group of children through the eight elementary school years. What if my child does not get along with the teacher?
A child’s relationship to his or her teacher is one of enormous importance and influence.  As the child, class, and teacher grow together over the years, they develop a trusting relationship, analogous to that of a healthy family.  Not only does this stability lead to the healthy well-being of the child, it encourages a depth of community and compassion rare among grade schoolers.  And of course, with such continuity, the teacher never has to spend weeks or months at the beginning of each school year assessing and getting acquainted with the students.  Traditional schools are finding that this practice, now popularly called “looping,” is advantageous for both teacher and students, and many districts are incorporating it into their programs.

Would a child be at a disadvantage if he were transferred from a public school into a Waldorf school, or out of a Waldorf school into a public school?
Children who transfer to a Waldorf school in the first four grades usually are up to grade in reading, math, and basic academic skills. However, they usually have much to learn in bodily coordination skills, posture, artistic and social activities, cursive handwriting, and listening skills. Listening well is particularly important since most of the curricular content is presented orally in the classroom by the teacher. The human relationship between the child and the teacher is the basis for healthy learning, for the acquiring of understanding and knowledge rather than just information. Children who are used to learning from computers and other electronic media will have to adjust.

Those children who enter a Waldorf school in the middle grades often bring much information about the world. This contribution should be recognized and received with interest by the class. However, these children often have to unlearn some social habits, such as the tendency to experience learning as a competitive activity. They have to learn to approach the arts in a more objective way, not simply as a means for personal expression. In contrast, in their study of nature, history, and the world, they need to relate what they learn to their own life and being. The popular ideal of "objectivity" in learning is misguided when applied to elementary school children. At their stage of development, the subjective element is essential for healthy learning. Involvement in what is learned about the world makes the world truly meaningful to them.

Children who transfer out of a Waldorf school into a public school during the earlier grades probably have to upgrade their reading ability and to approach the science lessons differently. Science in a Waldorf grade school emphasizes the observation of natural phenomena rather than the formulation of abstract concepts and laws. On the other hand, the Waldorf transferees are usually well prepared for social studies, practical and artistic activities, and mathematics. Children moving during the middle grades should experience no problems. In fact, in most cases, transferring students of this age group find themselves ahead of their classmates. The departing Waldorf student is likely to take along into the new school a distinguishing individual strength, personal confidence, and love of learning.

—From "Five Frequently Asked Questions" by Colin Price; originally printed in Renewal Magazine, Spring/Summer 2003

Why do Waldorf schools recommend the limiting of television, videos, and radio for young children?
A central aim of Waldorf Education is to stimulate the healthy development of the child's own imagination. Waldorf teachers are concerned that electronic media hampers the development of the child's imagination. They are concerned about the physical effects of the medium on the developing child as well as the content of much of the programming.

There is more and more research to substantiate these concerns. See:

  • Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don't Think by Jane Healy
  • Failure To Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children's Minds For Better and Worse by Jane Healy
  • Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander
  • The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn
  • Evolution's End: Claiming The Potential of Our Intelligence by Joseph Chilton Pearce

What about computers and Waldorf education?
Waldorf teachers feel the appropriate age for computer use in the classroom and by students is in high school. We feel it is more important for students to have the opportunity to interact with one another and with teachers in exploring the world of ideas, participating in the creative process, and developing their knowledge, skills, abilities, and inner qualities. Waldorf students have a love of learning, an ongoing curiosity, and interest in life. As older students, they quickly master computer technology, and graduates have successful careers in the computer industry.

For additional reading, please see Fools Gold, a special report from the Alliance For Childhood (

Is Waldorf similar to Montessori?
Barbara Shell, author of A Look at Waldorf and Montessori, has taught both approaches. She comments that the Montessori method sees the child as a sponge, eager to soak up knowledge and experience.  An educated child is therefore one who has absorbed to capacity and can readily produce and use what is learned. Waldorf views the child more like a flower, equipped with all that is vital for living and growing; teachers encourage the unfolding process by providing a richly creative environment that stimulates the imaginative and thinking powers. While in both methods there is great emphasis on the respect for the child, several important differences emerge when we compare the two philosophies.

Teaching methods: Waldorf emphasizes learning through play, imagination, storytelling, and artistic and physical engagement with the subject matter. Montessori, which is more reality-centered, teaches through task-oriented activity using specific materials that teach specific skills.  

Socialization: While Montessori students practice respect for others and individual discipline, Waldorf children will develop, in the early years, more group consciousness and ability to see oneself as a valuable part of a larger whole.  

Structure: Montessori emphasizes the child’s free choice of activities; the day is not structured into work, rest, or play periods.  Waldorf, on the other hand, understands order and rhythm to be central to a child’s wellbeing.  Activities for each part of the day are consistent and balanced between group time and independent play, between activity and restfulness.  The greater rhythms of night and day and the changing seasons are celebrated to help the children sense the greater rhythms that govern our lives together.

What about parental participation at Linden Waldorf School of Nashville?
Each parent is encouraged to volunteer as much as they can.  Parents’ help is needed in a variety of ways ranging from preparing for the annual Elves’ Faire and Spring Gala, to driving on field trips.  Most important is that parents participate in the school community, realizing that every single person is important to the life and spirit of Linden Waldorf School.

There is not a Waldorf high school in the area. How prepared are Linden Waldorf School  graduates for the transition and challenges to a traditional high school?  
As our 8th graders prepare to make the move to a traditional high school, our students will be on par with their peers in math, English, foreign language, history, science, and social studies.  They will have had much more experience in music, visual art, and applied arts.  Computer science is not part of the curriculum at Linden Waldorf School, and students usually pick this up quickly and easily.  Currently our alum attend Ensworth, Harpeth Hall, Hillsboro High School, Hume Fogg, Nashville School of the Arts, St. Cecilia, and University School of Nashville.

For more information about Waldorf students transferring to traditional high schools, click here.

Is this a religious school?
Waldorf philosophy holds that there is a spiritual dimension to all of life, and it honors that spirit in its curriculum. Linden Waldorf School of Nashville, like all other Waldorf schools, is non-sectarian and non-denominational.  Children from diverse cultures and religious and nonreligious backgrounds are present and welcome.  The Waldorf curriculum teaches understanding and respect for all world religions.

How does Linden Waldorf School accommodate children with learning differences?
While we expect and assist children in learning at their own pace and individualize instruction for our students as much as possible, we are not prepared to help children with pronounced learning difficulties.

What is anthroposophy?
Anthroposophy is a philosophy articulated by Rudolf Steiner.  In short, it posits three main claims:  the human being is essentially a spiritual being; we are engaged, individually and collectively, in an ongoing process of evolution and self-development; and each person must seek expression in respect for the divinity present in all creation.  While Waldorf schools are based on these ideas, anthroposophy is never taught to the students.

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