A recent study by the Austrian government found that Waldorf graduates have a greater aptitude and affinity for the natural sciences than their peers. Why is that? What makes the Waldorf approach to science education so special, and so effective?
Early childhood and grades students begin their scientific exploration by observing and experiencing the whole — watching seeds grow into food, raising salmon eggs while learning about their life cycle, creating a comprehensive animal report that includes both ecological and cultural research. In these early years, the tools for this scientific study come from nature, and encourage curiosity and interest in the world around them.
By middle school, students begin to break down the phenomena they experience into questions. How do basic machines work? Why can’t I see the colors of light except through a prism? What are the chemical elements of the foods I eat every day? As they begin to explore the invisible and intangible forces at work in the world, their scientific tools become more refined.
High school students deepen their study of the individual parts and processes at work in the world, breaking them down into cells, atoms, and elements. Sophisticated learning requires sophisticated tools, so the microscope replaces the naked eye, test tubes replace bowls, and bunsen burners replace candle flames. Equipped with these tools, students are empowered to reimagine the world around them with new understanding. Infinite possibilities open up. They no longer simply accept the world the way it has been, but question the ways it could be. They learn to ask the question that has inspired the greatest human discoveries and inventions: “What if?”