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Update post 111 : Waldorf pros and cons - Page 3

post #41 of 111
well with regard to race--

one reason we decided against waldorf was that it was almost all-white, even though our city is very diverse ethnically.

also, we were shown samples of older students' work, and one prospective parent asked why all the books the students' made were on aspects of European history. The admissions director pulled out a book entitled, "Africa" as proof that other histories were studied.

This is not just a Waldorf problem, it is present in many schools, but it did strike me that there were many, many books about the French revolution, the Italian renaissance, the Spanish civil war, etc, (a specific chapter on European history) and ONE on the entire continent of Africa spanning the entire history of the subcontinent.

that kind of thing leaves an impact on a student about whose history is worth studying.
post #42 of 111
i know very little about waldorf (& posting without reading). but i wanted to let people know it is mentioned in a book i read some years ago, by name. it is a book that is like a channeling, it is called Conversations with God. this is not a religious book, even though it has the name god in the title. it in fact talks a lot about religion and how it has changed how things are done (and not for the better). in this book a frustrated man asks god (no, not an old man in robes, the very notion of god is explored in these works) a lot of questions one night (neale donald walsch) and gets answers to write down. in this way, the author channels many books. they answer sooooooo many questions. anyway, they mention a lot about how children are raised, and schooled. waldorf is mentioned as a place where the things being taught are advantageous for our growth as humans. i cant remember exactly, but something about teaching responsibility, integrity, creativity, honesty... i have wanted to share this with the waldorf community on here since i came back, and this thread seems the perfect way. if i had money, and lived close enough, i would send my daughter there since she wants to attend a school. of course i would read more first and visitt to tour...
post #43 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
And do you think it would have been better for you if you had learned to read earlier? What would you have gained? This is an honest question, by the way. The reason I find all this early-reading business bizarre has nothing to do with being a Waldorf teacher and everything to do with coming from a country where no one learns to read before six. And there are a lot of these countries. It's just the English-speaking world that does this.
I agree, but then again I also live in one of these late-reading countries. The Swiss public school system begins with the alphabet and numbers 1-20 in 1st grade...like many other European countries. And surprise, surprise...all do better than the US on international educational rankings down the line. I also don't see the big deal. People leave their school systems here not only reading, but reading, writing and speaking in at least 2 languages other than their own. These delayed academics philosophies do not belong to Waldorf alone...

My DS taught himself to read when he was 5...at home, with his own books, purchased by me according to his interests and needs. Now he goes to a Waldorf kindergarten. Some can read, others not...either way they don't do reading at the kindergarten. If your particular child wants *desperately* to read...I don't see why the cultivating of this should be *entirely* left up to the school. Most schools are by definition more interested in the well-being of the GROUP rather than each INDIVIDUAL child. For meeting individual needs, one could surely argue that homeschooling could potentially do this best. I suspect most parents who choose school (Waldorf or otherwise) do so with the whole picture in mind...community, social life, etc...as well as what they can offer academically.

I used to teach at a Waldorf school. It's absolutely mind boggling how much pressure parents put on the school/teachers for every little thing concerning their children. School has always felt to me like an extension of what goes on at home. People seem to want less and less responsibility for their own kids, starting at younger and younger ages. It's too big a task for most schools, I think. I can relate to high teacher turnover VERY WELL!
post #44 of 111
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Originally Posted by calynde View Post
I agree, but then again I also live in one of these late-reading countries. The Swiss public school system begins with the alphabet and numbers 1-20 in 1st grade...like many other European countries. And surprise, surprise...all do better than the US on international educational rankings down the line. I also don't see the big deal. People leave their school systems here not only reading, but reading, writing and speaking in at least 2 languages other than their own. These delayed academics philosophies do not belong to Waldorf alone...
I am guessing that at the time of the first Waldorf school all children in Germany started school at age "six and a few months", as Steiner puts it in 'Study of Man'. I seriously think this "not reading until 7" is mostly an issue in English-speaking countries. And you do have to wonder why English-speaking countries are so obsessed with early reading -- when did this start? Where did it come from? What purpose does it serve?

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Most schools are by definition more interested in the well-being of the GROUP rather than each INDIVIDUAL child. For meeting individual needs, one could surely argue that homeschooling could potentially do this best.
I am not against homeschooling, quite the opposite, I've often thought I will homeschool any children I have, as they are bound to be trilingual and I'd want them to be educated in all three languages. But even so, I'd make a distinction between the interests of the child, and the needs of the child. I'm not saying a Waldorf school will meet the needs of any child, not by any stretch of the imagination. I just wonder what these individual needs I hear so much about actually are. Is there really such a thing as a need to read (in a young child)? And when is it actually a need to feel more at home in one's body instead? Or, to use something that has come up in our school recently, does a child really have the need to be kept busy constantly? Or does he need to learn to relax and be in the moment instead?


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I used to teach at a Waldorf school. It's absolutely mind boggling how much pressure parents put on the school/teachers for every little thing concerning their children.
Would you care to exchange stories some day?
post #45 of 111
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Originally Posted by Marylizah View Post
I see your point, and I think that it's a nice theory. Could you please point to some of the research that backs this up?
Unfortunately there's no website called www.steinersphilosophybackedbyscience.com yet so I can't quite give a short answer to that, but here are a few things:

a) There is this blog, which hasn't be update in a long time. It says it is about "reviews of modern scientific papers and explanations, in plain English, of what they mean and how they endorse Waldorf education."

b) I have been reading 'Sensory integration and the child' by Jean Ayres and I was struck by how many Waldorf ideas it echoes, from the importance of play in early childhood to the emergence of academic thinking after the seventh year of life.

c) And last but not by any means least, Enki Education has come up with the most wonderful explanations of Waldorf ideas -- but they are mostly in their 'homeschooling guides' books which cost a small fortune. (They are totally worth it, in my opinion.) You can however look around the website, you might find something worthwhile there.

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My guess is that each teacher interprets this differently, which means there is plenty of room for a "this is the norm, you must conform to it" attitude to develop.
There is plenty of room for anything that could go wrong in Waldorf. That's one big problem with it.

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I also agree with muse that cultural, religious and family difference may not be taken into account with this model.
I suppose you are right; for some reason though that doesn't strike me as strange or unusual. A Waldorf school is a school with a certain philosopophy behind it, not a school that is designed to cater to all kinds of different children which are (pretty much) randomly assigned to it. It doesn't set out to take into account cultural, religious and family differences. It is build on certain principles. If these work for you, that's great, and if they don't then that is not the right school for you or your child.

I am in no way trying to convince anybody that a Steiner/ Waldorf school is a good place for them or their child. All I ever set out to do is clarify some things that, I think, often get misunderstood.

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You asked me earlier what good it would have done me to learn to read at a younger age-- I can only say that it would have made me happy, and less frustrated. I've loved to read since I learned to do it, it is a great joy in my life. I don't see the point of depriving someone of that in the name of class unity.
Just to clarify, I would not be "depriving" someone in the name of class unity; I would be doing it in the name of age-appropriateness. Before six or even seven, children have not developed neurologically to the point where they have all the tools required for fluent and effortless reading. Of course I have no way of knowing that this applies to each and every single child in the world, and of course children do learn to read before that age, but I have heard people trained in sensory integration argue that this is done at the expense of something else. All this is explained brilliantly in the Enki manuals, and the book I mentioned above hints at it too. My understanding of it all is still less than perfect, and I don't have much time just now, so I'm afraid I can't explain in it in greater detail.

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FTR, I am still totally open to the Waldorf preschool. This discussion has been very useful to me in understanding some of the underlying beliefs and values, and forewarned is forearmed.
Good for you, I can only wish that all parents researched Waldorf before they came to our school!

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About the racism of Steiner's writings-- while it is undeniably wrong and racist, I think it needs to be placed in it's context of late 19th century European mystical thought. I can hardly imagine such a belief could possibly be taught or believed today.... While I am not trying to diminish it, I don't think it necessarily sheds much light on current Waldorf education.
This is what I think exactly.
post #46 of 111
Dimitra said: I suppose you are right; for some reason though that doesn't strike me as strange or unusual. A Waldorf school is a school with a certain philosopophy behind it, not a school that is designed to cater to all kinds of different children which are (pretty much) randomly assigned to it. It doesn't set out to take into account cultural, religious and family differences. It is build on certain principles. If these work for you, that's great, and if they don't then that is not the right school for you or your child.

I do think that it is unusual for a private school (in the U.S. where I live, mind you) to not aim to serve many kids of different children. Here we have come to think of diversity as having important value in itself and parents seek it out. Of course, it is hard to find ethnic diversity in private schools. Usually the ones that are diverse are so because that is a part of their mission. (Ema- your South African school sounds so amazing for that reason. I think the Waldorf movement would be able to shed the racism rumors if more schools like that existed.)

So my question is, what advise would you give to a family that was looking at Waldorf but didn't know much about it, and you didn't know anything about the family. From your point of view as a Waldorf educator, what should people know, and what qualities/practices should they possess to know they are a good fit for Waldorf?
post #47 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
I suppose you are right; for some reason though that doesn't strike me as strange or unusual. A Waldorf school is a school with a certain philosopophy behind it, not a school that is designed to cater to all kinds of different children which are (pretty much) randomly assigned to it. It doesn't set out to take into account cultural, religious and family differences. It is build on certain principles. If these work for you, that's great, and if they don't then that is not the right school for you or your child.
I might be misunderstanding you here - but I do not think that the philosophy behind Waldorf by necessity excludes differences in culture, religion etc. I understand the principles to be very broad, and the parent body being part of defining just how the school will look and feel. For instance in Israel the schools are Jewish in every sense with the Jewish festivals celebrated and the Jewish week being the weekly rhythm (Sunday is a school day). I am sure that the schools in Egypt or any other Muslim country look very Muslim etc etc. I find the principles to be very adaptable. As I am writing, I realise that often there is a dominant culture/religion that adapts Waldorf to suit it's needs. I am going to be curious to look at how Islam and Judaism happen in the same Waldorf school.

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Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
I do think that it is unusual for a private school (in the U.S. where I live, mind you) to not aim to serve many kids of different children. Here we have come to think of diversity as having important value in itself and parents seek it out. Of course, it is hard to find ethnic diversity in private schools. Usually the ones that are diverse are so because that is a part of their mission. (Ema- your South African school sounds so amazing for that reason. I think the Waldorf movement would be able to shed the racism rumors if more schools like that existed.)
Thinking about my old school, I realise that the parent body working together with the teachers made it possible for the December festival to be about light and each faith weaving a part of their story into the festival, or the spring festival to be about more than teh resurrection of Christ. This school has a very diverse study body - but it took time for the school festivals to reflect this.

I have no idea how they address Bible stories in grade 3 today... I'll try find out.
post #48 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
I do think that it is unusual for a private school (in the U.S. where I live, mind you) to not aim to serve many kids of different children. Here we have come to think of diversity as having important value in itself and parents seek it out. Of course, it is hard to find ethnic diversity in private schools. Usually the ones that are diverse are so because that is a part of their mission. (Ema- your South African school sounds so amazing for that reason. I think the Waldorf movement would be able to shed the racism rumors if more schools like that existed.)
Well it's not like diversity is not seen like a good thing in other parts of the world! And it is not like we do not seek it out in England, either. I know for a fact our school would be delighted to be more diverse than it is at the moment, and it has been in the past. The main problem is the fees though, not the attitude of teachers.

The part I don't get is 'aim to serve many kinds of different children'. As far as I am concerned we do aim to serve different kinds of children. What we, and I am talking about our particular school, do not aim to do is bend over backwards to accommodate parents' expectations when that goes against our general philosophy. I don't have time to expand on this now but I might do later.

If the point you are making is "why does every Class 2 teacher have to tell the King of Ireland's son?" (for example), I'm with you. They shouldn't. They sound look at Steiner's ideas about child development, then they should look around them, and make their own choices about what stories to tell.

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So my question is, what advise would you give to a family that was looking at Waldorf but didn't know much about it, and you didn't know anything about the family. From your point of view as a Waldorf educator, what should people know, and what qualities/practices should they possess to know they are a good fit for Waldorf?
That sounds like a trick question -- how can I say anything to them when I don't know anything about them? And how can I say something about Waldorf in general, when I have argued many times in the past that there is no such thing? Usually when I write here I either talk about Waldorf philosophy as I understand (and as it is opposed to Waldorf tradition, which I often detest), or about the particular school I am at. Occasionally I will refer some other schools where I have spent time or know people. I never claimed to talk about Waldorf at large.

And it seems to me that you and I have had very different Waldorf experiences, and are often talking about very different things.

I'm not saying I won't answer the question, I'll think about it some more... just that I'm not sure what you're asking and how I can give an adequate answer.
post #49 of 111
Thread Starter 
About the "individual needs" aspect-- I think many parents pull their children out of public school and put them into private schools feeling that in a smaller, private setting the faculty and staff will have the resources to work on a more one-on-one level with the students.

Smaller classes, more money for enrichment, etc, would logically mean that individual children would get more attention and have more of their needs met in a private setting. So I can certainly understand parents feeling frustrated with Waldorf schools who refuse to accommodate their children's specific needs, while still cashing their checks!

DmitraDaisy, thank you for the links. I will definitely be exploring them. I wasn't trying to put you on the spot, I am genuinely curious about educational research that says that most or all children benefit from the "group" aspect of Waldorf education.

About the reading thing-- depriving a child in the name of group unity or in the name of age-appropriateness is really just semantics and I still can't feel ok with it. I totally understand what you are saying about children age 7 and over having the neurological capabilities to learn-- my mom is an elementary school librarian and agrees 100 percent! But once again, that is what *most* kids need-- what if my child has different needs? And this feeds into the frustration of a parent paying tuition-- you expect more personal attention!

All of this conversation has been extremely interesting and insightful. We plan on enrolling DS in the public school (we have to, to make sure he has a spot) while continuing to pursue the Waldorf possibility. I think visiting the school and meeting the faculty will go a long way towards helping me make a decision.
post #50 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
c) And last but not by any means least, Enki Education has come up with the most wonderful explanations of Waldorf ideas -- but they are mostly in their 'homeschooling guides' books which cost a small fortune. (They are totally worth it, in my opinion.) You can however look around the website, you might find something worthwhile there.
Funny that you refer to enki here, because we chose that curriculum over waldorf specifically because it is NOT based on anthroposophy and is distinctly multicultural in a way that waldorf is not. There are also differences in the way academics are taught and it draws from montessori and other influences as much or more than from waldorf.
post #51 of 111
I'm afraid I'm taking over this thread, I'm sorry, but it's just too interesting!

Starting from the end...

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Originally Posted by muse View Post
Funny that you refer to enki here, because we chose that curriculum over waldorf specifically because it is NOT based on anthroposophy and is distinctly multicultural in a way that waldorf is not. There are also differences in the way academics are taught and it draws from montessori and other influences as much or more than from waldorf.
It is funny. I own the Enki curriculum (Grade One and Two) and I use a lot of it in my class. So I know what it's like. Beth is constantly saying that Enki is different from Waldorf, it is not Waldorf 'lite' etc etc and it's not that I disagree with her, but for me Enki is Waldorf -- Waldorf as it should be! That is, open to other ideas, up-to-date with modern science, with a personal touch, and yes, multicultural. [But I don't think there's anything inherent in Waldorf philosophy to make Euro-centric, it is the tradition that is doing that. Gosh, I wish I could shout this from the rooftops.]

The thing is, I don't think there's anything in Enki that is not compatible with Waldorf ideals, and very much that inspired by it. I think a school could do all these things and be a Steiner school, in fact I intend to do a lot of these things in a Steiner school. As I said, I don't think Beth herself feels that way. I have thought about this a lot and I think it comes down to the fact that there is a big difference between how she was taught about and experienced Waldorf and how I was taught about it and experienced it.

I mean, I once told my tutors that we shouldn't believe a single thing Steiner said before checking it against our own experience and current science and he said "exactly". I once told him about Enki and how it is not pure Steiner but it is worth studying and he said "but what is a Steiner school?" There are people who think that Waldorf should broaden its horizons, trust me. And I think if it did, it might end up looking kind of like Enki. In fact I think that 'Waldorf with broader horizons' is a pretty good description of Enki.
post #52 of 111
Dimitra,
I really wasn't asking those questions with a spirit of tricking you! You mentioned in a post that you wished that parents researched the philosophy more before enrolling. That is why I asked. In the U.S. Waldorf schools seem to show the schools in all their beauty and then let parents go with their own assumptions about how things work. I thought it was interesting to hear that you too think some parents need to do more research, and I just wanted to get your opinion on that. I really appreciate your presence here. I also don't think of Waldorf as bad. I think that the movement needs to figure out how to market itself without leaving out some crucial details. I don't think those details are bad, just in need of disclosure!
post #53 of 111
Dimitra: Well it's not like diversity is not seen like a good thing in other parts of the world! And it is not like we do not seek it out in England, either. I know for a fact our school would be delighted to be more diverse than it is at the moment, and it has been in the past.

I certainly didn't make that statement with that assumption! I was in fact surprised when you said that you didn't see anything unusual about not seeking out diversity. I wrote that merely to say that in the U.S., at the very least, it is unusual.
post #54 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by ema-adama View Post
I might be misunderstanding you here - but I do not think that the philosophy behind Waldorf by necessity excludes differences in culture, religion etc.
I think you must be misunderstanding because I agree with what you say completely, in fact it is pretty much what I was trying to say in my next post... I probably wasn't clear enough, though.

I think what I meant is that there is, for example, a reason behind the requirement that children are weaned when they go into Kindergarten. I don't see why the school should take into consideration the family's feelings about this, because the requirement is derived from the school's philosophy. I think it is the parents who should take the school's philosophy into consideration when they're making a decision.

Or, an example that I heard recently: there is a Kindergarten somewhere where a group of parents took issue with 'Apple crumble day'. They did not like the idea of their children eating apple crumble. Now, that is fair enough, but it is also fair enough that a school may decide to serve it. I know Steiner never said "thou shalt serve apple crumble", and you can have a perfectly good school without it. Of course you can. But at the same time a private school has the right to decide what it want or doesn't want to do, and stick to it.

There are a million different examples I can come up with. A lot of issues come up, mostly, I think, because Steiner schools seems to do every other thing different from the rest of the world these days, so these things look seriously strange. But it all boils down to the fact that a private school has the right to decide which principles to run itself by, and that if parents chose to send their child there, they are in for the whole deal. And I don't mean that school's should be inflexible -- and I know that they can be; but you can be flexible while sticking to your beliefs.
post #55 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marylizah View Post
About the "individual needs" aspect-- I think many parents pull their children out of public school and put them into private schools feeling that in a smaller, private setting the faculty and staff will have the resources to work on a more one-on-one level with the students. Smaller classes, more money for enrichment, etc, would logically mean that individual children would get more attention and have more of their needs met in a private setting.
I see what you are saying. A well-run Waldorf classroom is supposed to be meeting your individual child's needs; except not necessarily on a one-to-one basis. I often give the whole class what a particular child needs -- and it works like magic. It works homeopathically, I kid you not. A tiny amount of what a child needs given to the whole class is more potent than lots of it given to the particular child individually. But then that is just what I have discovered through my experience -- I can't argue it works in every case. It probably does work for other people too, though

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So I can certainly understand parents feeling frustrated with Waldorf schools who refuse to accommodate their children's specific needs, while still cashing their checks!
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And this feeds into the frustration of a parent paying tuition-- you expect more personal attention!
Again, I understand what you are saying, and I am not saying that what you are doing is bad, but I have seen this attitude go terribly bad. There is a difference between hiring someone to teach your child and sending your child to a school. In the later case you are subscribing to the school's philosophy, insofar as it pertains to your child's education, that is. You don't pay the school to do what you expect; you pay the school to do what it does. So it goes without saying that you should only pay it if you like what they do.

In fact I think we should put it in our admissions form somewhere, "by sending your child here you agree to our terms and conditions"

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DmitraDaisy, thank you for the links. I will definitely be exploring them. I wasn't trying to put you on the spot, I am genuinely curious about educational research that says that most or all children benefit from the "group" aspect of Waldorf education.
To be honest most of these things do not talk about children benefitting from large classes, they are more about the ideas behind Steiner education in general. Enki does talk about bigger classes, although I can't for the life of me remember where. I do remember they recommend classes of 18 to 24 children. They do give some reasons for it, and obviously they think children benefit from it. But really, I don't think this is something research can prove or disprove. I think it is a matter of educational philosophy, the small class vs big class, individual needs vs being part of a group thing.

Steiner talked about classes of 40 or 50 children, I believe; that was the norm then. Today this is unheard of -- and thank god for that I say! In my own school we had classes of 33 to 36 children. I have heard a lot of Steiner teachers saying that they like to have 25 or more children in a class. Personally I have six at the moment, and believe me, they get a lot of personal attention! Almost too much at times! I would like to have a class of 12 or 15 or perhaps 18, and I think they would still get lots of attention, but I can't imagine having 25. I do believe some would get lost at times. I think you teach in a different way when you have these many kids in a room. I can teach the whole class while knowing what each child is doing, and I like this. (But this could be accomplished in a bigger class with an assistant, and Enki works with partner teachers, which is a similar idea.)

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About the reading thing-- depriving a child in the name of group unity or in the name of age-appropriateness is really just semantics and I still can't feel ok with it. I totally understand what you are saying about children age 7 and over having the neurological capabilities to learn-- my mom is an elementary school librarian and agrees 100 percent! But once again, that is what *most* kids need-- what if my child has different needs?
Well, I do believe that is a child is wanting to read much earlier than 6 or 7, then they most likely have underlying sensory integration issues and they feel uncomfortable in their body, which is why they are leaning towards being 'in their head' more. And my experience does very much confirm this. Enki talks about this a lot, and quite well. You can join this group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EnkiExperience/ and look at their files section, you might find some interesting things there.

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All of this conversation has been extremely interesting and insightful. We plan on enrolling DS in the public school (we have to, to make sure he has a spot) while continuing to pursue the Waldorf possibility. I think visiting the school and meeting the faculty will go a long way towards helping me make a decision.
Really, all this theory means nothing until you meet the actual people there and see how they interpret it and, well, just what they're like!
post #56 of 111
[QUOTE=DimitraDaisy;1343191
Well, I do believe that is a child is wanting to read much earlier than 6 or 7, then they most likely have underlying sensory integration issues and they feel uncomfortable in their body, which is why they are leaning towards being 'in their head' more. And my experience does very much confirm this.
[/QUOTE]

Labeling a child with SPD, or using a term such as 'too in their heads" because they are reading is disrespectful to the child, disrespectful to those whose lives do encompass SPD, not to mention being quite uninformed. Yet this is not the first time I have heard this astonishing sentiment.
post #57 of 111
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Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
I certainly didn't make that statement with that assumption! I was in fact surprised when you said that you didn't see anything unusual about not seeking out diversity. I wrote that merely to say that in the U.S., at the very least, it is unusual.
I think we're all getting a little confused here, in any case I definitely am! I didn't assume you made that assumption by the way

When I said what I said, well, this:

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I suppose you are right; for some reason though that doesn't strike me as strange or unusual. A Waldorf school is a school with a certain philosopophy behind it, not a school that is designed to cater to all kinds of different children which are (pretty much) randomly assigned to it. It doesn't set out to take into account cultural, religious and family differences. It is build on certain principles. If these work for you, that's great, and if they don't then that is not the right school for you or your child.

I was essentially replying to this:

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I also agree with muse that cultural, religious and family difference may not be taken into account with this model.
And muse had said:

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Originally Posted by muse View Post
I'm glad I can now laugh at this instead of getting outraged. It is SO absurdly shocking for a school to give you their opinion about breast feeding, never mind try to enforce certain behaviors around that.
Personally I don't find it absurd that that the school gives its opinion about breastfeeding, or tries to "enforce" it. Which it doesn't -- how can you enforce it anyway? There is a difference between enforcing something and requiring it. I mean, no one forced anybody to send their child to a Steiner school. It makes sense to expect those people who chose to do so to share the school's principles to a certain extend, or at least have beliefs that are compatible with the school's.

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We've had a number of yrs in and out of waldorf and this just about sums up my problem with it. Waldorf holds a very specific view of what is right or wrong for any child and does not have respect or flexibility for individual, family, cultural and religious difference. Unfortunately that undoes any pros for us.
It does and it doesn't. It comes from a very specific philosophy, so yes, it has a very specific view of certain things, and I don't know why on earth it is expected not to. That really, truly puzzles me.

I don't think, however, that it is inherently inflexible. What I do think is that it happens to attract some truly inflexible people, and this where it all goes wrong. As ema-adama pointed out, Waldorf can and does adapt itself to different countries and cultures. It can do it. It just that usually people chose not to. It is the people though, not the philosophy.
post #58 of 111
We just pulled my dd out of Waldorf pre-K. This particular school is well endowed, owns it's own building and has a strong commitment from teachers (they even contribute to the annual fund every year), so we don't have many of the financial or mismanagement issues. But,

It just was not a good fit for our dd. We found it overly controlled/controlling. So, little things, like they only let the child use 3 crayons was very frustrating to her. Now, we understand that much thoughtfulness went into the decision to let her use only 3 crayons, but she doesn't understand it and frankly doesn't care. She says only the dominant color appears when trying to blend them. They also only allow her to color 2 sheets of small paper, front and back (so as to not waste). Again, my dd could color for hours, but they won't let her at school. Again, many reasons for this, but it frustrated her. The list here goes on. We felt like she was only allowed to have "controlled fun."

Also, no books in the classroom (which really bothered her) and when she would write her name or ask to finger knit (which I eventually taught her at home), she would be told, not yet or let's try something else. Major frustration. She would come home saying I really wanted to do XYZ, but wasn't allowed. We really felt like she was being held back from things she wanted to do or things she enjoyed or things she wanted to learn.

There is also a fair amount of chaos in the classroom play. It's loud and the boys can be fairly aggressive. She is very sensitive to noise and often likes to quietly play alone (which was discouraged).

After several months of tantruming, being mean to her brothers, having accidents, and even thumbsucking (which she never did before) we decided we gave it a good try, but it didn't work for her. As much as WE loved the school it wasn't a good fit for her personality.

We were taken by the schools commitment to preserving childhood, emphasis on the environment, healthy eating and starting in first grade, the academic program. If I could make the choice again, I'd pay more attention to her personality/learning style and not just assume that since it's such a fabulous place that it will work for us.

Good luck.
post #59 of 111
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
but for me Enki is Waldorf -- Waldorf as it should be! That is, open to other ideas, up-to-date with modern science, with a personal touch, and yes, multicultural. [But I don't think there's anything inherent in Waldorf philosophy to make Euro-centric, it is the tradition that is doing that. Gosh, I wish I could shout this from the rooftops.]
But waldorf does not exist without anthroposophy. Enki is NOT founded on anthroposophy. And yes there IS something inherent in waldorf philosophy that makes it euro-centric (ask Beth Sutton about that), from the curriculum itself to the belief system underlying it, which is why the schools do not attract a diverse community. Believe me there are plenty of private schools here, even ones MUCH more expensive than waldorf, which manage to have a diverse student population. And the mixed race and non white families I know who have tried waldorf have usually ended up leaving after very negative experiences. Same for kids with disabilities of any kind. And any kid that doesn't fit the model and go along with things as they are expected to.

Fine to have a philosophy underlying your school but waldorf imposes a strict set of views that is based on religious views that are very often not made clear to parents. This is NOT encompassing or welcoming of diversity.

Take as a small example the birthday story that gets told at all preschools/kindergartens. We are told each time to bring in our story of our child's life and then the next thing you know the teacher is telling our child how s/he was an angel in heaven and looked down and chose her parents and how we named them...and on and on...I find it very insulting and confusing for my children and it has NOTHING to do with our own beliefs.
post #60 of 111
Karne said: Labeling a child with SPD, or using a term such as 'too in their heads" because they are reading is disrespectful to the child, disrespectful to those whose lives do encompass SPD, not to mention being quite uninformed. Yet this is not the first time I have heard this astonishing sentiment.


Part of the problem I see with the comment that you are referring to is the use of a scientific term rather than a spiritual one. I think that in Waldorf terms an early reader is "astral." I would much prefer this language so that it is clear that this comes from a body of spiritual work, and not a body of scientific research or social scientific research that we assume with the term "sensory integration."

I think it is possible that early reading might have some ill effects on kids, but to make this claim in a scientifically relevent way, one would have to do field work. If one looks at individual kids anecdotally and attempts to draw conclusions about the effects of early reading, indeed if one starts with the assumption that early reading is a pathology, one will fall into the very human fallacy of confirming assumptions with supporting "data" and discarding without noticing unsupporting data. Human beings (and many other species too) look for causality all the time. It is a survival mechanism. The problem is that we find often causality even when there is none. (This is the very reason that superstition is a universal human phenomenon.)

That is what is so great about science and social science. They help us tease out real causality from false causality. (Steiner used the word "science" but it was really an appropriation of a word. He actually rejected the scientific method outright.)

So to approach understanding if early reading instruction has ill-effects (and I do believe it may) a researcher would have to set up a controlled study. But because the very idea of controlled studies is anathema to anthroposophy, I deeply doubt that such research will ever come from Waldorf.

I don't think that Waldorf educators (least of all Dimitra!) are intentionally misleading us when they use mainstream terms, but I think everyone would be better served if they spoke to parents, even prospective ones, using Steinerian terms to avoid the false conclusions that parents so often draw and Waldorf educators so often let them draw. This is also difficult because of the common belief that newbies aren't ready for anthroposophical ideas, but it would allow schools to have a great deal more integrity in dealing with parents, it would improve communication, and it would allow people to do exactly what Dimitra is saying: figure out if they can subscribe to (or at least accept) the spiritual system/religion that is at the heart of Waldorf.
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