Waldorf education was founded in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919 with the establishment of a school for the children of factory workers at the Waldorf Astoria Cigarette Factory. Not long after, Rudolf Steiner developed a new form of schooling, one that would help the children grow into adults capable of contributing to social renewal. Radical for its time, the new school was open to all children, educating girls alongside boys; integrating the arts and practical skills with academic subjects; and employing a curriculum and pedagogy carefully designed to support the full development of the child.

Today, Waldorf education is a worldwide school movement with schools in over eighty countries. The pedagogy that arose in that first school is founded upon a fully-articulated and detailed vision of human development. Perhaps more than in any other approach to education, an understanding of the developing child informs all aspects of the Waldorf curriculum and methodology.