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Waldorf and religion.... - Page 2

post #21 of 50
I know much less about Montessori. I have friends with kids in it, and I have toured a couple of schools and I've read, but I don't have much experience. There was a thread on this recently where Matt Bronsil talked about this. If you scroll down, you'll find it. It was a couple of weeks ago, and it was a spin-off from another thread, so you'll find that in the title. In Waldorf, imaginary play is actively encouraged, and story telling (fictional and non-fictional) is central.
post #22 of 50
It sounds like there are two critisisms on science and waldorf.

The content is not scientific, ie man and animal.

The scientific method is not taught.

In my experience we started with scientific method in grade 7 in a very basic way - pretty much the way Dimitra described it. I remember being very excited to see a bunson burner in the classroom.

Yes, in grades 8-13 we did have a laboratory for physics and chemistry and we did dissection in biology (although I abstained from the dissection for so called moral reasons when I was 16 - not knowing that I would end up dissecting cadavers at university). I was however given that option and given some other project to do for that time.

I am OK with my child not being taught expressly in the the scientific method before they are 11 - 12. I know that they will learn about it, and if my DS is a lover of science, I will meet his needs at home if I am not happy with the school (whether it is waldorf or not)

Eurythmy - in my mind it is not pure anthroposophy. Yes, it's rooted in anthroposophy and there are no other terms other than anthroposophical ones to describe what the person is doing - if you ask a Eurythmist. I do see something that could be beneficial in terms of co-ordination and developing an awareness of the space around you as well as listening skills. Often the teachers are highly problematic - but that does not negate the possibility that there could be some worth to the movement itself. Nope, no scientific studies on this one - not today anyway
post #23 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by burke-a-bee View Post
So..in general...if my son were to say " I don't believe in god. Science had proven there is not a god." Would this be acceptable at Waldorf or would it go against it completely? (in general of course.)


I'm laughing because I am absolutely positive my child has said stuff like this in class at about middle school age and now in high school. I really can't say how this would have been handled in early grades-probably depends on a lot of things. But in later grades a lot of the students talk about stuff like this in class a lot, philosophizing I guess you could say and debating. This is viewed as a good thing by their teachers--the students are thinking and starting to wrestle with life's big questions and trying to come to their own understanding, not somebody else's....hallelujah!
post #24 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post


I'm laughing because I am absolutely positive my child has said stuff like this in class at about middle school age and now in high school. I really can't say how this would have been handled in early grades-probably depends on a lot of things. But in later grades a lot of the students talk about stuff like this in class a lot, philosophizing I guess you could say and debating. This is viewed as a good thing by their teachers--the students are thinking and starting to wrestle with life's big questions and trying to come to their own understanding, not somebody else's....hallelujah!
He's 9!
post #25 of 50
About science. To understand how it's designed you have to look at Steiner's concept of development the child at different ages. The man and animal block isn't about genetics-it's about introducing some of the key attributes about people. It's not different from how social science is taught-children first learn about the family, then about their own community, their own state or what-have you, country, then the wider world. A couple of reasons-it's thought that starting with big, abstract strange ideas and then slowly working your way down to "and here's where we fit in the big-wide scheme of things" is backwards. They think it's important to do it the other way round. So the man animal block is like a very childlike introduction to what science calls the phenotype-legs, eyes, hands, etc and function -speed, sight, grasp -stuff like that. The animals are chosen to illustrate those functions, such as a horse or cheetah might be used to illustrate a superior skill with running, eagles with sight, etc. And mankind, scientists will agree, have a special quality of not being very specialized--we don't have the best eyes, the best speed, etc., but are able to adapt to all kinds of circumstances with the more general purpose bodies. We have eyes but they aren't eagle eyes, we have legs but not cheetah's legs, etc. It might seem babyish but it's seen to connect the ideas to students, and they are not worried so much about giving them a bunch of facts and data yet. In Waldorf - building this connection of the student to subjects is the priority, and in early years much more important than learning facts. As the students go through the grades, the approach taken with students in the sciences changes.
post #26 of 50
Some of the interesting ideas about anthroposophy/religion can be found in audio lectures given by Eugene Schwartz, author of Millenial Child, and former waldorf school teacher. The lectures really help illuminate the pseudo religious/spiritual nature of anthroposophy and waldorf and Steiner's belief system. They were made available to all parents to listen when we were in waldorf. Unless you can comprehend anthroposophy discussion of religion is difficult.

Eurythmy is a fully spiritual exercise with spiritual aims. That it, like any other form of movement, dance, exercise, may have benefits in terms of coordination, is of secondary importance in the context of waldorf education. I can't imagine a eurythmy teacher presenting otherwise.
post #27 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by burke-a-bee View Post
He's 9!
I really don't know what then-here pretty much every thing is taught as a story and whether or not it's "true" or "false" isn't really the focus. It would be like arguing if Harry Potter could "really" fly--which children will do, but it's not in the class plan to analyze or deconstruct the stories in our every-day-context. It's like in Shakespeare class the question might be "Is Iago Evil?" - we don't usually think to answer it, "Iago isn't real".
post #28 of 50
Burke-a-bee,
I apologize for not remembering that you already are a Montessori parent. I have to say that in all my time around the Waldorf community I have never heard a cross word about Montessori. I'm sorry you have had that experience! Has Montessori been a good fit? Since he's 9, you might ask your Waldorf school if he can sit in a few days. He will be able to get a good feel for what Waldorf is as well as the students and the teachers.
post #29 of 50
Karne, I love Shwartz. I love his spirit of honesty from within the movement. He is such a breath of fresh air. I agree with what you are saying about eurythmy 100%. To say that it is pure anthroposophy is not to say that it has no real world benefits!
post #30 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post
About science. To understand how it's designed you have to look at Steiner's concept of development the child at different ages. The man and animal block isn't about genetics-it's about introducing some of the key attributes about people. It's not different from how social science is taught-children first learn about the family, then about their own community, their own state or what-have you, country, then the wider world. A couple of reasons-it's thought that starting with big, abstract strange ideas and then slowly working your way down to "and here's where we fit in the big-wide scheme of things" is backwards. They think it's important to do it the other way round. So the man animal block is like a very childlike introduction to what science calls the phenotype-legs, eyes, hands, etc and function -speed, sight, grasp -stuff like that. The animals are chosen to illustrate those functions, such as a horse or cheetah might be used to illustrate a superior skill with running, eagles with sight, etc. And mankind, scientists will agree, have a special quality of not being very specialized--we don't have the best eyes, the best speed, etc., but are able to adapt to all kinds of circumstances with the more general purpose bodies. We have eyes but they aren't eagle eyes, we have legs but not cheetah's legs, etc. It might seem babyish but it's seen to connect the ideas to students, and they are not worried so much about giving them a bunch of facts and data yet. In Waldorf - building this connection of the student to subjects is the priority, and in early years much more important than learning facts. As the students go through the grades, the approach taken with students in the sciences changes.
Linda, what is unfortunate in my mind is that Waldorf teachers who are uncomfortable with this unit (and I personally know two who fit the description) are not free to teach something else. It is the perfect example anthroposophy taking priority over the freedom that Waldorf teachers are supposed to have. While what you are saying makes sense, it makes more sense when one examines what Steiner had to say about the distinction between humans and animals, which scientifically speaking, is bunk. I think that humans can be examined as a species with a sense of wonder and excitement. It is amazing to watch the gorilla tribe at the zoo and see how similar we are. I don't think the anthroposophical approach is "wrong" but it is a good thing for a prospective parent inquiring about science to understand.
post #31 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by ema-adama View Post
In my experience we started with scientific method in grade 7 in a very basic way - pretty much the way Dimitra described it. I remember being very excited to see a bunson burner in the classroom.
What Demetra described is a phenomenological approach to science, not the scientific method (hypothesis, experiment, results, analysis.) I don't mean this as a criticism. I think it's pretty cool, and I love seeing what the kids do in their lesson books. It is just a fitting thing to explain to a parent specifically asking about science in the Waldorf grade school.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ema-adama View Post
I am OK with my child not being taught expressly in the the scientific method before they are 11 - 12. I know that they will learn about it, and if my DS is a lover of science, I will meet his needs at home if I am not happy with the school (whether it is waldorf or not)
I am too! But it is something to carefully explain to prospective parents, not something to gloss over. This is something that has been a BIG problem for some families when 5th and 6th grade roll around. Parents should understand how it is done differently in Waldorf so that they can make an informed choice. This will help avoid some of that deep embitterment that some people inside Waldorf don't understand.
post #32 of 50
This is turning into another one of those threads where we disagree about stuff ... BUT...

Quote:
Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
Karne, I love Shwartz. I love his spirit of honesty from within the movement. He is such a breath of fresh air.
I have to say that I find him scary. He does have some good ideas but goodness, does he embody some of the things I dislike about Waldorf! The dogmatism! The aphorisms! The not-knowing-what-you-re-talking-about-isms! It makes my blood boil! This is not the way I was taught at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
Linda, what is unfortunate in my mind is that Waldorf teachers who are uncomfortable with this unit (and I personally know two who fit the description) are not free to teach something else. It is the perfect example anthroposophy taking priority over the freedom that Waldorf teachers are supposed to have.
Huh? HUH? In what school did this happen? How did it happen? How are they not free? Who forbade them to teach something else instead? I don't get it.

Our anthroposophy tutor repeated to us time and time again: there is no such thing as the curriculum. You are the curriculum. You can teach anything you like, as long as you can know why it is the best thing for your class.
post #33 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
Karne, I love Shwartz. I love his spirit of honesty from within the movement. He is such a breath of fresh air. I agree with what you are saying about eurythmy 100%. To say that it is pure anthroposophy is not to say that it has no real world benefits!

I think I recall that his candid approach to talking about anthroposophy and waldorf ed actually got him into some trouble, but I don't recall the specifics. My dd had a teacher who used to say that the waldorf movement would be a lot better off if as a whole it would adopt the honesty of Schwartz and say what it's really about. I think having access to something like the Schwartz tapes/cd's is really important.
post #34 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy;13719384
Huh? HUH? In what school did this happen? How did it happen? How are they not free? Who forbade them to teach something else instead? I don't get it.

Our [I
anthroposophy tutor[/I] repeated to us time and time again: there is no such thing as the curriculum. You are the curriculum. You can teach anything you like, as long as you can know why it is the best thing for your class.
I don't know if European or UK schools are just different from Us schools, but I have to say that here waldorf teachers do not teach anything they like just because they feel it might be best for their class, or at least not in my experience. I'll qualify that because I'm sure someone will come along with an example to contradict, but whatever. Perhaps within the confines of the curriculum material might be added as an adjunct, but I don't believe there is much straying off the reservation, so to speak. The way in which material is covered can also be subjective, but that can be found anywhere.
post #35 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
I am too! But it is something to carefully explain to prospective parents, not something to gloss over. This is something that has been a BIG problem for some families when 5th and 6th grade roll around. Parents should understand how it is done differently in Waldorf so that they can make an informed choice. This will help avoid some of that deep embitterment that some people inside Waldorf don't understand.
Like anything else, most of our understanding is based on our own experiences. Makes sense that we all answer questions from our own experiences-as it should be.

I agree families need informed choice. But with me and the experience at this school, there is so much information pushed under the noses of parents they have a real advantage to being informed. For example real Main Lesson books made by the students are put on display during orientations, school visits, open houses, festivals, etc, and many other venues where the school interfaces with inquiring parents. The Man and Animal block is in the lesson books. Some of these orientations are mandatory for entering parents here-I would go so far as to say this school is definitely not a good choice for parents who aren't looking for so much involvement.
post #36 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
I have to say that I find him scary. He does have some good ideas but goodness, does he embody some of the things I dislike about Waldorf! The dogmatism! The aphorisms! The not-knowing-what-you-re-talking-about-isms! It makes my blood boil! This is not the way I was taught at all.
Can you tell me what sort of (specific) things he says that turn you off? For me, listening and reading him feels like finally I have found someone to bridge the gap. He doesn't seem dogmatic to me, just really honest, even with the uninitiated. Are there any leaders in the Waldorf movement that you can recommend I read?

Karne, I would love to know if/how he got in trouble! That seems very sad to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
Huh? HUH? In what school did this happen? How did it happen? How are they not free? Who forbade them to teach something else instead? I don't get it.
Well, my friend who teaches in a California school (Rudolph Steiner College grad) had a real crisis of conscience about Man and Animal. (what is up with saying "man" anyway?) But it never even occured to him that he could just skip it. He wasn't open with his colleagues about it because he simply didn't view it as an option. To him the question was whether to continue teaching Waldorf or not. It seems like the mentor-mentee relationship is powerful (and really involved) as is the general spiritual basis of the education.

So, if you find that you take exception to Man and Animal or any other block of study, will you simply not teach it and will that be no problem? ETA: if you wanted to teach Man as Primate instead, would that be o.k.? When you select the blocks that you are teaching for you class, what serves as your guide? Do you literally map it out starting from scratch? Do you have a mentor who guides you in what to teach?
post #37 of 50
All I can really add to this discussion is that two of my children (three waldorf grads, grade 1-8) thought they didn't know much about science when they left waldorf school, UNTIL they went to science class at their (nonwaldorf) high school and found that they knew quite a lot. Things that drove other kids crazy, like making lab reports that look decent, illustrating their procedures, and following instructions, were easy for them, they knew how to observe and make measurements, and they found they had had much of the material before in some block or another.

David
post #38 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by canndw View Post
All I can really add to this discussion is that two of my children (three waldorf grads, grade 1-8) thought they didn't know much about science when they left waldorf school, UNTIL they went to science class at their (nonwaldorf) high school and found that they knew quite a lot.
They're doing okay here too because the 7th and 8th graders take standardized tests on topics, including science. The classes my children were in tested somewhere between the 70th or 80th percentile, and that's against the standardized averages from private schools I believe. Mine went to Waldorf high after 8th grade. I have no complaints about the curriculum or science facilities, and most of the science classes are taught by teachers with post grad degrees in science which is great. There are some teachers I like better than others, though, simply over their style of teaching or the way they deliver the lessons. The more rigorous and focused the teaching style, the better. The teachers focus on either physics, biology or chemistry, and one of these areas is weaker than the others because of the teacher's personal teaching style, in my opinion. So while the material is spot on-I see this in the materials the teacher gives them, and the assignments, but some times the students just aren't "getting it" as well as they could.
post #39 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
Can you tell me what sort of (specific) things he says that turn you off? For me, listening and reading him feels like finally I have found someone to bridge the gap. He doesn't seem dogmatic to me, just really honest, even with the uninitiated. Are there any leaders in the Waldorf movement that you can recommend I read?

Karne, I would love to know if/how he got in trouble! That seems very sad to me.
I don't remember the specifics, but I imagine someone out there might. I think it was related at least in part to his frankness. When we were first involved in waldorf he was pretty highly regarded. I know that he was part of a movement of more openness, but I gather that wasn't well received.

He does seem honest in his presentation of the material, but it isn't easy going, at least as i remember it. It's not Beyond the Rainbow Bridge (Am I remembering that title correctly?), for sure, but in many ways I think he should be required reading/listening 101. He does address the religion piece head on, which is important.

ETA: A quick Google tells me that he was apparently fired as dir. of the teacher training program at Sunbridge College.
post #40 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post
Like anything else, most of our understanding is based on our own experiences. Makes sense that we all answer questions from our own experiences-as it should be.

I agree families need informed choice. But with me and the experience at this school, there is so much information pushed under the noses of parents they have a real advantage to being informed. For example real Main Lesson books made by the students are put on display during orientations, school visits, open houses, festivals, etc, and many other venues where the school interfaces with inquiring parents. The Man and Animal block is in the lesson books. Some of these orientations are mandatory for entering parents here-I would go so far as to say this school is definitely not a good choice for parents who aren't looking for so much involvement.
I understand what you are saying, but I can't imagine closely examining lesson books in the context of public meeting. I think that would be socially inappropriate. I think lesson books would be very useful if copies could be taken home, but I've never seen this possibility nor have I ever seen a complete one on-line. What I really don't understand in your response to me is the "but". To what do you take exception in what I'm saying? I think our posts could be seen as complementary. I see them that way.
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