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Feedback on Waldorf - "Cult-like???" - Page 2

post #21 of 30
Most people already said the things I would have said back to this thread, except for the photos on flickr. I just want to say that I really enjoy looking at the set-ups that other people have and how their family runs. I love the way the wooden toys look and how the moms take the pictures of them. I find them very magical.
post #22 of 30
My family hasn't been involved in Waldorf, we have only done homeschooling. I do know 4 families who had their child(ren) in Waldorf and decided to HS with a Waldorf/Enki emphasis instead.
One common comment I've heard from those families is that Waldorf schools can be very consuming of your time and energy even outside of school hours. There's so many school events/festivals/fundraising that they were expected to participate in and they had little time to socialize with other people in their lives. I imagine this would differ from school to school, but I've heard this complaint about 2 of the Waldorf schools in my area.
post #23 of 30
I have to say, having been a teacher in a Waldorf school for going on eleven years now, that what has been outlined above is pretty accurate -- there is no zealot like the new convert, and parents, who are often fearful and insecure about their own parenting choices, are usually far more judgmental than the teachers.

In addition, it has been my experience that nothing makes me question my parenting choices (am I "Waldorf" enough?) as much as the homeschooling Waldorf blogs I have been reading over the past few weeks. So much value attached to the material trappings of the education -- dolls, beeswax, perfect toy shelves, hand-felted hats -- and so little time spent on the development of the young or school-age child.

I read so much about the early childhood years in these blogs -- the pretty pretty pink and wooly kindergarten world -- and so little about the challenges of meeting the child as she turns seven, nine, twelve...

Is Waldorf a cult? I would have to say no. As a teacher, I can make recommendations based on my own research, on my experience as a teacher and a parent, and on the work of other teachers, as well as on Rudolf Steiner's indications and insights. Steiner himself begged teachers to do their own research, implored those who read his works and attended his lectures to DO THEIR OWN WORK, not to take it all on faith or face value. That, in my mind, directly contraindicates cultishness, in the popular sense of the word.

You may encounter some in the movement who are really gung-ho, who are able to embrace a huge number of recommendations and make them work in their families. Really, though, it's up to you to make your own choices. Do your own research on media and nutrition and play. Observe, really observe, your children -- do you see a difference when they watch tv? Do you notice a change in how you feel, how they behave, based on what you're consuming? How do the toys your children play with feed their senses and imaginations?

You are free, as an individual, to make choices. That is at the heart of Rudolf Steiner's philosophy. The first Waldorf schools were forcibly closed by the Nazi party because their aim of educating children to be free individuals undermined everything the Nazis were trying to do. That says a lot to me.
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tigermiep View Post
I have to say, having been a teacher in a Waldorf school for going on eleven years now, that what has been outlined above is pretty accurate -- there is no zealot like the new convert, and parents, who are often fearful and insecure about their own parenting choices, are usually far more judgmental than the teachers.

In addition, it has been my experience that nothing makes me question my parenting choices (am I "Waldorf" enough?) as much as the homeschooling Waldorf blogs I have been reading over the past few weeks. So much value attached to the material trappings of the education -- dolls, beeswax, perfect toy shelves, hand-felted hats -- and so little time spent on the development of the young or school-age child.

I read so much about the early childhood years in these blogs -- the pretty pretty pink and wooly kindergarten world -- and so little about the challenges of meeting the child as she turns seven, nine, twelve...

Is Waldorf a cult? I would have to say no. As a teacher, I can make recommendations based on my own research, on my experience as a teacher and a parent, and on the work of other teachers, as well as on Rudolf Steiner's indications and insights. Steiner himself begged teachers to do their own research, implored those who read his works and attended his lectures to DO THEIR OWN WORK, not to take it all on faith or face value. That, in my mind, directly contraindicates cultishness, in the popular sense of the word.

You may encounter some in the movement who are really gung-ho, who are able to embrace a huge number of recommendations and make them work in their families. Really, though, it's up to you to make your own choices. Do your own research on media and nutrition and play. Observe, really observe, your children -- do you see a difference when they watch tv? Do you notice a change in how you feel, how they behave, based on what you're consuming? How do the toys your children play with feed their senses and imaginations?

You are free, as an individual, to make choices. That is at the heart of Rudolf Steiner's philosophy. The first Waldorf schools were forcibly closed by the Nazi party because their aim of educating children to be free individuals undermined everything the Nazis were trying to do. That says a lot to me.
Really good points!
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by tigermiep View Post
I have to say, having been a teacher in a Waldorf school for going on eleven years now, that what has been outlined above is pretty accurate -- there is no zealot like the new convert, and parents, who are often fearful and insecure about their own parenting choices, are usually far more judgmental than the teachers.

In addition, it has been my experience that nothing makes me question my parenting choices (am I "Waldorf" enough?) as much as the homeschooling Waldorf blogs I have been reading over the past few weeks. So much value attached to the material trappings of the education -- dolls, beeswax, perfect toy shelves, hand-felted hats -- and so little time spent on the development of the young or school-age child.

I read so much about the early childhood years in these blogs -- the pretty pretty pink and wooly kindergarten world -- and so little about the challenges of meeting the child as she turns seven, nine, twelve...

Is Waldorf a cult? I would have to say no. As a teacher, I can make recommendations based on my own research, on my experience as a teacher and a parent, and on the work of other teachers, as well as on Rudolf Steiner's indications and insights. Steiner himself begged teachers to do their own research, implored those who read his works and attended his lectures to DO THEIR OWN WORK, not to take it all on faith or face value. That, in my mind, directly contraindicates cultishness, in the popular sense of the word.

You may encounter some in the movement who are really gung-ho, who are able to embrace a huge number of recommendations and make them work in their families. Really, though, it's up to you to make your own choices. Do your own research on media and nutrition and play. Observe, really observe, your children -- do you see a difference when they watch tv? Do you notice a change in how you feel, how they behave, based on what you're consuming? How do the toys your children play with feed their senses and imaginations?

You are free, as an individual, to make choices. That is at the heart of Rudolf Steiner's philosophy. The first Waldorf schools were forcibly closed by the Nazi party because their aim of educating children to be free individuals undermined everything the Nazis were trying to do. That says a lot to me.
I love reading all these waldorf blogs, but I do have to admit that they make me feel WAY inadequate. There is NO way I can afford to send my daughter to a waldorf school and no way I can afford to stay at home full time and homeschool her in the waldorf way either. So she has to go to public school. But what really makes me feel so left out is that the sheer amount of money that is placed into waldorf homes. We don't earn nearly a quarter of what a lot of families in those blogs make and man, it just makes you feel like "this is waldorf" when I am pretty sure there is SO much more to it. My daughter is almost 5 and I am coming in so late and I feel so lost within all of this. I made her a doll for Solstice, but I can't afford a 150 dollar doll, no matter if it lasts a lifetime. I can't afford a 70 dollar rainbow stacker, a 300 toy kitchen (she has a 99 dollar wooden one from toys r us), a 50 dollar set of play silks, play stands. It's just all so expensive. I look at these gorgeous play rooms and think wow, look at what my kid is missing!

I have had introductions to waldorf, so I am familiar. But it's all so overwhelming and I feel like I can't do it on a shoe string budget.
post #26 of 30
I discovered Waldorf this December and so am no way an expert but have immersed myself in both Waldorf and in anthroposophy.

I think that some Waldorf people get caught up in Waldorf too much. The homeschooling blogs really are terrible as prior posters said. But I see that in mothering/parenting in many other groups of people as well. It's about being more Waldorf than the next just like with my "green" friends it's about being more green than the next. The consumerism that goes into it is amazing. I'm pretty sure Steiner would not have backed the plain outright consumerism that exists in Waldorf right now. It is a big turn off to me. Plus, when prominent Waldorf teachers make guilt wrenching blanket statements such as turning your tv on once will suck your childs soul out or there is no greater sin than using a plastic recorder than I really see how people think it is a cult.

We are all just humans here on this earth struggling to do our best. Why add guilt and make people feel like everything they do is not enough. It IS enough. Period.

I agree with living an outright Waldorf lifestyle takes money and lots of it. I don't have the money either. But I have found just taking the aspects of Waldorf that you like and incorporating it into your life in your own individual way is best.

- Can't afford all the pretty nature table things? My thought is a nature table is about celebrating the seasons. Why not get outside and celebrate? I personally have a nature basket. It's a goodwill basket that gets filled with things we find outside. I can't afford wool so there is no pretty little felted things. Just nature. Although we did make the "flower fairies" from the Spring Seasons of Joy. For those short on money and who wish to support an MDC WAHM I stongly suggest Seasons of Joy.

- We have wood and plastic toys. I can't afford all the beautiful wood toys either. Plus, my kids just love the big lego blocks. I'm not going to take them away just because they are plastic. They do much for inspiring imagination. Again, just do your best. I limit the toys they have and avoid the horrid electronic toys for the most part (although DS's favorite toy is a plastic fire engine that makes noise - I can't separate him from it).

- Homeschooling Waldorf doesn't have to be expensive either. There is so much free stuff on the internet. Just because everyone else is using such and such curriculum doesn't mean you have it - it is expensive!!! I had to talk myself out one curriculum because I realized I just wanted it because it's on all the blogs.

The moral of my writing is you don't have to be a purist. If you are here in this conversation than at least something of Waldorf has interested you. Do your best. Do what you can. Ignore everything that doesn't resonate with your spirit and don't let the high and mighty purists with lots of money get you down!!
post #27 of 30
I agree with the PP's about the tendency to get carried away with all the Waldorf trappings. They are beautiful works of art, those toys and as such, they are pricey.

If I may indulge in a personal anecdote here: I came to find the Waldorf philosophy when I noticed a dramatic difference in my baby "on media" and "off media." Just the TV on in our house set my little baby over the edge. We got rid of it, I began doing some research and shortly after found Waldorf. It resonated with me and was soooooooo right for my LO. Cult? I don't think so. A group of self-selecting like-minded families, you bet! Like a parenting group, or church, or even a group of friends at work. I chose a Waldorf school for many reasons, but one of which is that I am glad he won't be made fun of (or bullied) because he doesn't know who Darth Vader is at age 5. Or Sponge Bob or Elmo for that matter. No TV is what he needs at this time. I am glad there is a school where I can send him where that is the norm. Not that we have to be "normal" (obviously we aren't ) but it just makes life simpler and happier at this time. The more reading I did, the more I came to find resonance with Waldorf - and I questioned it very carefully reading all the awful critiques so readily available online. What sold me was the fundamental force behind it: learning how to think and find your own way. So while we may all look hippy-dippy, tree-hugging cultish similar on the outside, the inner workings are so individualized.

As for the recent consumerist Waldorf push. Well, I admit to falling into the trappings at first. And it was frustrating to feel I couldn't afford to be Waldorf. But I have come to realize and learn that the consumer approach still doesn't fulfill and it actually goes against the very heart of the Waldorf philosophy. Yes, my child's wooden stove is beautiful, and my few Ostheimer pieces that I lovingly collect for my Nativity are special to me. But the little wooly caterpillar my son felted for the Easter grass he grew, that has a beauty that far exceeds those artisan toys. Even I have begun needle felting and have created many animals to round out my nativity since I could not afford the ones I "wanted." You know what? I don't even want them anymore, my little animals are sooooo charming and everyone who sees them asks about them. Now I am working on a cute little bunny and chipmunk to frolic in the Easter grass, too. . And let me tell you, if I can needle felt, you can needle felt. No joke. And you can make these beauties for pennies on the Etsy dollar. The art of creating has fulfilled my family in ways I cannot express.

Also, my Waldorf school has a Available to All tuition policy, so we can afford to go.

Thanks for reading my little hijack.
post #28 of 30
Love so many of the comments in this thread.

I found Waldorf a couple years ago, about the time my first child was turning 2. I was smitten. I found as many books as I could read and read and read. Our family became affiliated with a Waldorf school and its early childhood program. I too found the homeschooling Waldorf blogs and began to feel as if I didn't measure up. Frankly, I am not a very crafty person, I try to be but I am just not going to be needle felting play food for my kids or making homemade baby doll quilts for them - not my speed and I refuse to feel guilty about it! And I realized that the commercialization of Waldorf is much different from the philosophy of Waldorf. I decided to take what I liked about the educational philosophy and leave the rest. If my child can recognize Dora the Explorer and knows what the golden arches are from the highway, well so be it. The occasional dip into the commercial world is not a terrible thing, in my parental opinion.

I suppose what I found off-putting about some of the parents at the Waldorf school was the idea that your child's fantasy driven childhood could become tainted so quickly and easily by one slip as a parent. Let your child do Disney movie night when you are staying with relatives with children during a holiday? Oh no! Let your child use regular old Crayola crayons and don't bother with wet on wet watercolor painting?! Oh no! It was the idea that children are so fragile that any exposure to "mainstream" parenting would corrupt their brief and magical childhood. And well, I think that is crazy. As if listening to Mozart in the car is damaging for their development! When the strictures of Waldorf as they are portrayed via parents in many Waldorf schools are followed too rigidly I cannot think that is good for children and I do think it borders on cult-like behavior.

We employ a lot of positive aspects of Waldorf in our home life and family interactions. I learned from Waldorf philosophy that it is better for my children if they do not see me as their plaything but as a person in our family who fulfills a valuable role and who does important work, even if that is sweeping, dishes and making healthy foods. I learned that rhythm is so, so necessary for little people and that they thrive on it. I also learned to respect the natural progression of my children's learning capabilities and to avoid "hot housing" them. Preserving early childhood as a time of dreaming, fantasy and free play is much more important than being "prepared" for Kindergarten.

I learned that nature and being able to explore freely - even in cruddy weather - is really important to early childhood development. Messes, mud and surprises found in clothing pockets are not only to be tolerated but to be encouraged! Our nature table doesn't exist because it is the Waldorf thing to do, it exists because we find things outside and dump them on the table for looking at and learning about. We have a few things that anchor the table for the season but I no longer bother with making it a very orchestrated and planned thing - it is organic and changes as the seasons change. We had a lot of plain old gravel on the table this winter because that is what my kids were able to fish out of all the snow. So what if it wasn't fancy quartz or something prettier - it was a treasure they found outside and wanted to collect!

As for the expensive toys, the point of "natural" toys is to allow children to play with every day items that they can find themselves that can play a part in their fantasies. I don't really see the difference in having loads of carved wooden princesses from fairy tales and Disney plastic princesses if they are doing the same job for the child in play - the idea that if you take a plastic cash register and transfer it into wood makes it a more acceptable toy is sort of silly to me. Natural fibers and materials are more pleasurable and gentle on the senses BUT that doesn't mean that a plastic version is poison!

We ended up deciding that for our family, incorporating Waldorf into our home is enough. We are not pursuing a Waldorf school education at this time. Like other educational philosophies, Waldorf can be a perfect fit for many families and children, but it has a hard time dealing with outliers - children who are very gifted or have special needs, children who have slight learning disabilities. My oldest child has always been very intense, very self-directed and very energetic and I feel that she would not fare well in a typical Waldorf classroom. And I'm not sure I'd fare well as an off-beat Waldorf parent in a Waldorf school. The philosophy is really beautiful and I am so, so glad I discovered it and was able to learn about it and alter my parenting style a bit to accommodate some of the more integral parts. For us, that is enough.
post #29 of 30
Charbeau, I couldn't have said it better. There is so much in your post that I want to comment on with "YES! YES! YES!", but what especially resonated with me was..

Quote:
When the strictures of Waldorf as they are portrayed via parents in many Waldorf schools are followed too rigidly I cannot think that is good for children and I do think it borders on cult-like behavior.
This has been exactly my experience. You phrased it perfectly.

Quote:
Our nature table doesn't exist because it is the Waldorf thing to do, it exists because we find things outside and dump them on the table for looking at and learning about.
YES.

Quote:
the idea that if you take a plastic cash register and transfer it into wood makes it a more acceptable toy is sort of silly to me.
This!

I'm looking forward to reading more comments. This thread has shared a lot of insight so far!
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama2honu View Post
I agree with the PP's about the tendency to get carried away with all the Waldorf trappings. They are beautiful works of art, those toys and as such, they are pricey.

If I may indulge in a personal anecdote here: I came to find the Waldorf philosophy when I noticed a dramatic difference in my baby "on media" and "off media." Just the TV on in our house set my little baby over the edge. We got rid of it, I began doing some research and shortly after found Waldorf. It resonated with me and was soooooooo right for my LO. Cult? I don't think so. A group of self-selecting like-minded families, you bet! Like a parenting group, or church, or even a group of friends at work. I chose a Waldorf school for many reasons, but one of which is that I am glad he won't be made fun of (or bullied) because he doesn't know who Darth Vader is at age 5. Or Sponge Bob or Elmo for that matter. No TV is what he needs at this time. I am glad there is a school where I can send him where that is the norm. Not that we have to be "normal" (obviously we aren't ) but it just makes life simpler and happier at this time. The more reading I did, the more I came to find resonance with Waldorf - and I questioned it very carefully reading all the awful critiques so readily available online. What sold me was the fundamental force behind it: learning how to think and find your own way. So while we may all look hippy-dippy, tree-hugging cultish similar on the outside, the inner workings are so individualized.

As for the recent consumerist Waldorf push. Well, I admit to falling into the trappings at first. And it was frustrating to feel I couldn't afford to be Waldorf. But I have come to realize and learn that the consumer approach still doesn't fulfill and it actually goes against the very heart of the Waldorf philosophy. Yes, my child's wooden stove is beautiful, and my few Ostheimer pieces that I lovingly collect for my Nativity are special to me. But the little wooly caterpillar my son felted for the Easter grass he grew, that has a beauty that far exceeds those artisan toys. Even I have begun needle felting and have created many animals to round out my nativity since I could not afford the ones I "wanted." You know what? I don't even want them anymore, my little animals are sooooo charming and everyone who sees them asks about them. Now I am working on a cute little bunny and chipmunk to frolic in the Easter grass, too. . And let me tell you, if I can needle felt, you can needle felt. No joke. And you can make these beauties for pennies on the Etsy dollar. The art of creating has fulfilled my family in ways I cannot express.

Also, my Waldorf school has a Available to All tuition policy, so we can afford to go.

Thanks for reading my little hijack.
I love your post! You make some very good points!
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