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Emerson College is a centre of education for adults that addresses the need for human approaches to today’s urgent questions. It provides opportunities for learning and transformation through education, practical initiatives, research and community building. Emerson's aim is to develop, practice and share ways of working and living that encourage free thinking, imagination and responsibility in the world.

Emerson College offers accredited vocational courses, and non-accredited programmes for personal learning and development via a mix of full time, part time and short courses.

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Steiner education and childcare

The first Steiner School was opened in Stuttgart in 1919. Today there are over 1,000 schools and 2,600 kindergartens world-wide, and numbers are continually growing. In Britain and Ireland there are 36 schools.

In many countries Steiner schools are state funded. In England Steiner schools are part of the private sector but there is now a Steiner Academy in Hereford and two public funded schools. Others are planned. This is making Steiner education in the UK accessible to many more families, and as the profile of the education is raised in the UK, the demand for a Steiner-orientated education and care will increase substantially.

All Steiner schools in the UK have several kindergartens for children aged 3 up to Steiner formal school learning age of six to seven. There are also independent  Steiner kindergartens and early childhood centres. See www.steinerwaldorf.org 

Steiner parent and child groups for parents and their children under three are rapidly growing in number in the UK. These may be attached to schools and kindergartens, or run independently. They provide a calm nurturing setting where parents and their young children can experience many of the unique aspects of the Steiner approach to child care and family life. There is also now an emergence of parent and baby groups which incorporate the Pikler approach and outdoor groups. 

Finally there is a growing number of Steiner-inspired or Steiner influenced childminders who are providing “home from home” care for children of all ages.

 

Unique characteristics of Steiner education include:

  • Comprehensive all-through inclusive schools which include pre-school, primary and secondary school years
  • Education designed to reach the whole child, physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually 
  • An emphasis on the relationship between the pupil and teacher and the social life of the class group
  • A curriculum based on a profound understanding of child development reflecting what and how the child naturally learns at different ages
  • A schooling experience which is not dominated by continual testing and examinations
  • A starting age for formal schooling at age 6/7

 

Characteristics of Steiner care provision for children under seven – childminding, kindergartens and day care.

Here you will typically find:

  • A calm, home-like atmosphere where natural materials predominate, including simple open-ended materials and toys for play
  • A regular, predictable, unhurried rhythm that helps children feel secure
  • Carers providing high-quality conscious care 
  • Plenty of meaningful “home from home” and artistic activities undertaken by the adult carers which the children will freely imitate and take into their play
  • Time and space for child-initiated play indoors and outdoors
  • Plenty of singing, movement,puppetry, story telling, creativity and imagination
  • Seasonal and other special festivals 

 

Rudolf Steiner

Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was a scientist and a spiritual investigator who focused on bringing his insights into many practical areas of life. Apart from education, including special needs education, he brought new impulses to medicine, agriculture (bio-dynamics), architecture, social therapy, ethical finance, art, drama, movement and others. The system of thinking on which his ideas are based is known as anthroposophy.

 

For more information about Steiner Waldorf education in Britain, including schools and kindergartens, go to www.steinerwaldorf.org.uk This site also gives details of available training courses.

 

For more information about Steiner Waldorf early childhood education and care internationally, go to www.iaswece.org

Dr Emmi Pikler and the Pikler approach

Emmi Pikler (1902-1984) studied to become a doctor in the 1920’s in Vienna at a time when many new ideas about psychology were emerging. Particularly this was the time when the link between care in childhood and later mental health was realised. Emmi Pikler observed how parents and professionals routinely cared for young children – making them sit, stand and walk before they were ready, and carrying out care routines “to” rather then “with” the child. When her own daughter Anna was born, she and her husband gave Anna the freedom to develop her motor skills at her own pace. Emmi Pikler also applied the principles she had learnt on her medical training about giving careful consideration to all aspects of the care of her child, building an authentic respectful relationship. The results were so convincing that Emmi Pikler applied the principles as a family paediatrician in Budapest to families in her care. She became well known for her excellent practice.

After the Second World War Dr Pikler founded an orphanage in Budapest for young children. Over the years she proved that children in a home could thrive physically and psychologically by using the approach she had developed with regular families. Careful training of nurses, the development of the methodology and meticulous research was conducted over decades. The Pikler approach was very successful – the infants at the Institute were  secure, resilient, happy and active.

The Institute’s reputation grew internationally, and videos and publications began to be produced. Training programmes for overseas students were set up as the Institute’s influence became worldwide. 

Magda Gerber, originally a parent in Dr Pikler’s  family doctor’s practice and subsequently a work colleague took the approach to the USA and started her own movement – Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE). In Germany and now other European countries, and in the USA, the approach has won recognition among Steiner practitioners and has been integrated into nurseries and daycare

Emmi Pikler died in 1984. Since 1992 her daughter Anna Tardos has been director of the Institute. In 2012 the Institute ceased to offer residential care for infants. However, it still offers day care to children and parent and child groups, as well as the yearly training courses for international students.

The Pikler UK Association   www.pikler.co.uk     

 

For more information on the Pikler approach  www.thepiklercollection.weebly.com 

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Student resources

On this page you'll find useful information for students, from visa guidelines for prospective students coming from outside the EU to Emerson College's policies and procedures guide.

 

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