The Urban Review

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 119-140

First online:

Waldorf education in an inner-city public school

  • Ray McDermottAffiliated withTeacher Education Program, Stanford University
  • , Mary E. HenryAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology, Washington State University
  • , Cynthia DillardAffiliated withOhio State University
  • , Paul ByersAffiliated withTeachers College, Columbia University
  • , Freda eastonAffiliated withTeachers College, Columbia University
  • , Ida ObermanAffiliated withPew Forum on Education Reform, Stanford University
  • , Bruce UhrmacherAffiliated withUniversity of Denver

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In 1991, the first public Waldorf school was opened in the inner city of Milwaukee. Based on a week of observations by the authors, this article reports the significant achievements of the school. In classrooms, we observed mostly whole-class lessons well structured around the natural rhythms of body movement, language, and social interaction; most of the children were constantly engaged with the curriculum. Misbehavior was handled directly and lovingly. The children performed remarkably well on standardized tests. Faculty discussions on the nature of Waldorf education and its use in a racially charged and poor neighborhood were both heated and productive.