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Waldorf Criticism - Page 2

post #21 of 54
For the OP, I just wanted to give you a possible reading resource. I accidentally found and then stayed up way past my bedtime the other night reading this thread from a few years ago.

It seemed to me to be very fair, even, and most importantly it avoided some of the negativity that can sometimes crop up in a thread about Waldorf criticism. The thread was started by a new Mama who was herself educated in a Waldorf school. She was trying to get at the heart of why there seems to be so much angst in families that leave Waldorf. One question is if this phenomena is somehow inherent to Waldorf for some reason.

I enjoyed the thoughtful discussion (I didn't quite read to the end....I need to do that!). Hope it helps you.
post #22 of 54

"And the negativity and 'survivor' threads, etc. etc. I don't doubt that much of that is true...but poor schooling experiences happen everywhere. Shall we start a thread on our 'life after public school' experiences? I know I have a long list of doozies that affected me well beyond my youth."

Right! Or life after Catholic/religious school...

 

I think people people fall in love with Waldorf and when it doesnt work out, for whatever reason, they are heartbroken, mad, hurt, etc. There is such a strong community at most schools, you pay a lot of money, the fact that teachers stay with children so long - there are many reasons people leave...things can and do go wrong for individual children/families.

post #23 of 54

Well, all that may be true.  But you don't see support groups for ex-Montessori families.  Or ex-progressive school families, etc etc.  There is really something about Waldorf that makes people feel that it isn't all "up front" from the get-go.

post #24 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingmama View Post

Well, all that may be true.  But you don't see support groups for ex-Montessori families.  Or ex-progressive school families, etc etc.  There is really something about Waldorf that makes people feel that it isn't all "up front" from the get-go.


Maybe I should start one. The  Montessori experience can be a very painful one for some children and their families.

 

post #25 of 54

We have two children in a Waldorf school.  One is doing exceptionally well, the other is not.  What we have learned is when the teacher is the right fit for the child and the family, the experience can be amazing.  When that fit is not there, it can be a nightmare.  Do your research and know that every Waldorf school and every teacher is different.  Ask lots of questions and be sure you feel it is right.  If you join the school, I would suggest participating in a Steiner study group or read some of Steiner's writings about education and children.  It helps with the understanding of the philosophy and their approach. 

post #26 of 54

At this point, my only experience has been at the wonderful pre-school level.  We do intend to send our daughter to Grade 1 in 2012.  And for that reason, I have explored joining the board of our grade school.  The discussions I've had so far with board members have given me comfort.  At the end of the day, I agree with nlpmamma, and have said this for the past several years as we grow closer to Grade 1 - the only reason I can foresee us not continuing with Waldorf is because the fit with the teacher is not a good one.  In public school, you know there is an end to that bad fit at the end of the school year.  In Waldorf, that is not the case . . . but it's also the wonderful upside when the teacher/student fit is a good one.  Similarly, the school structure itself, and not the particular teacher, may not be one in which one of our children thrive and we are prepared for that possibility.

post #27 of 54

I am reading this thread because I am really considering our local Waldorf school for my 4 year old daughter.  I am very drawn to the teaching style and the value placed on nature and the arts over worksheets and memorization.  That said, the underlying "spiritual" aspects do scare me a bit and I'm trying to learn more about it before enrolling her.  Also, I do hear many negative comments in regards to Waldorf from non-waldorfer people around me.  But I have had to remind myself of all of the other decisions we've made that go against the norm that I could care less what society says about it because my gut knows it is right for us.  Things like raw milk and not vaccinating. 

post #28 of 54

Hi

We left our local Waldorf School at the end of last year after having been there for 6 years. It has been one of the most painful experiences in my life.  My children had both been there as toddlers and my daughter has never been to any other school.  We have lost our community and we are all hurting.

 

Although there are probably many fine Waldorf Schools out there and I still think that Steiner's philosophy presents one of the best education models out there, it took us 6 years to realise that it is very easy for a smoke and mirrors scenario to develop in a Waldorf school.

 

Because Waldorf sets itself up as this warm, nurturing environment where each child is view as a unique individual, when it then turns out that your child has been totally overlooked - well it is hard to deal with that kind of disillusionment.  We were always told that me son is doing absolutely fine, that there are no problems until the end of class 3.  The way that we were told that there was a problem, was a loose piece of paper included with his report at the end of that year - no meeting - no caring - no loving kindness. Just your child is reading at the level of a 6 year old and needs extra tuition - please organise it.

 

Well, it turned out that that my son's reading problem was just the tip of the ice-berg.  We a have a long holiday in December and I got involved teaching him that holiday. I soon realised that he could not even write his own second name and surname. In the end my son was diagnosed with severe learning disabilities and is now at a remedial school.

 

Although it is by no means the Waldorf school's fault that my son is LD, we had been there for so long and the fact that nobody noticed, nobody bothered to really pay attention to my child - that hurts.

 

Our story has a rather bizarre ending as well. With my son going off to remedial school, it became very difficult to keep my daughter, who is 2 years younger, at the Waldorf school. Moving her to another school at the end of class 2, proved to be nearly impossible - the remedial school would not take her because she is not LD and the mainstream schools would not take her as she is so far behind her peers.

 

We decided to home school her.

 

I just wanted to leave the school on amicable terms.  We had been there for a long time and I wanted our family to take the good away with us.  But my daughter's teacher had other intentions - she organised a very Waldorf style end-of-year ceremony for the class and then proceeded to publicly attack me and my daughter - so much for us to leave and take the good with us....

 

I realise that people, whether they are associated with a Waldorf school or not, at times, behave abysmally - but what I would like to achieve by telling our story is that if you are considering a Waldorf school for your kids - do so with your eyes wide open ( as you should do with any school). Just because people are "Waldorf teachers" and all nice and warm and fuzzy does not mean that they are not as full of crap as the rest of us ....

 

- If your kid's teacher can not tell you where your child is academically - it is time to leave the school.

 

- Do you intend staying with Waldorf for the whole of primary school and if there is a possibility of you having to move to another school.  What if things just go wrong the way it did for our family - what would be your back-up plan?  (Until the middle of last year we had never even looked at any other schools in the city that we live in.)

 

- Our biggest mistake was that we out sourced our children's education to the Waldorf school. Some of my friends at Waldorf have been told "the reading fairy will come"  - a child like my son would never lean to read and spell in a class of 30 noisy children. What we have learnt, and it has been a very hard lesson, is that at the end of the day, we as the parents are ultimately responsible for our children's' education. If you have any doubts, act on them especially in the Waldorf environment.

 

The following article on the parent teacher relationship in a Waldorf school could be helpful. Also Eugene Schwartz has quite a few good articles on his site www.millennialchild.com .

 

If I were able to find a Waldorf school that did Waldorf the proper way, I would go back tomorrow. Unfortunately, like Eve in the garden of Eden, I have now eaten from the tree of home school knowledge ... I don't think we will ever be able to go back, my standards for my children's education have just sky rocketed in the last few months. But that is a whole dissertation for another time ...

 

Hope this post is helpful.

Blessings to all

 

 

post #29 of 54

I have a 9th grader and a 7th grader both of whom started in Waldorf Kindergarten at age 4.  My ds is loving Waldorf HS.  It is so completely different than grades 1 - 8 or Kindergarten.  I have never had any of your concerns come up in our 10 plus years at Waldorf.  Usually if there is a problem, it is social problem or a teacher problem.  We have been fortunate to have not experienced either.  Friends of ours who have, have moved their kids to a different Waldorf school (we have 3 within 15 miles of each other) and found the new class/ new school to work for them.  Most have one kid at one school and the other at a different Waldorf school.

 

 

I should add though, that like any school, you need to know your child and trust your instincts and watch over your child.  I think sometimes people become so enamoured with Waldorf that they set themselves up for disappointment.  You are still dealing with human beings and all their faults.  Sometimes they don't live up to your expectations.

post #30 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn View Post

I have a 9th grader and a 7th grader both of whom started in Waldorf Kindergarten at age 4.  My ds is loving Waldorf HS.  It is so completely different than grades 1 - 8 or Kindergarten.  I have never had any of your concerns come up in our 10 plus years at Waldorf.  Usually if there is a problem, it is social problem or a teacher problem.  We have been fortunate to have not experienced either.  Friends of ours who have, have moved their kids to a different Waldorf school (we have 3 within 15 miles of each other) and found the new class/ new school to work for them.  Most have one kid at one school and the other at a different Waldorf school.

 

 

I should add though, that like any school, you need to know your child and trust your instincts and watch over your child.  I think sometimes people become so enamoured with Waldorf that they set themselves up for disappointment.  You are still dealing with human beings and all their faults.  Sometimes they don't live up to your expectations.



Where is the LIKE button

post #31 of 54

It's the little 'thumbs up' in the bottom right hand corner. :)

post #32 of 54

MamaDavid, I am sorry that ALL of the above posters following you could not offer the very simple grace of a kind or understanding word for your experience.  I'm editing my post to add that this really bugs me because there was a lot of sadness and loss in that post that seemed not to have moved the folks posting after.  I just don't get it.

 

To the poster considering waldorf, this is pretty much what you will find.  Everything is great, as long as you're on board.  Have some difficulty, express concerns, need to leave? It will be your fault, and as you see here, folks are ready to post and support how they never saw or heard of anything related to your experience, and the fault is with you...your expectations, your being enamored, not watching your child closely enough.  This is why you should go in with eyes wide open: the loving community you think you are a part of can quickly  turn on you and your kids.

 

None of MamaDavid's scenario is new by any stretch of the imagination.  Life After Waldorf is not terribly active right now, but it's worth reading.  


Edited by karne - 5/13/11 at 9:21am
post #33 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by lauren View Post

It's the little 'thumbs up' in the bottom right hand corner. :)


Thank you! I didn't see that- it's new, right? 

 

post #34 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post

MamaDavid, I am sorry that ALL of the above posters following you could not offer the very simple grace of a kind or understanding word for your experience.  I'm editing my post to add that this really bugs me because there was a lot of sadness and loss in that post that seemed not to have moved the folks posting after.  I just don't get it.

 

To the poster considering waldorf, this is pretty much what you will find.  Everything is great, as long as you're on board.  Have some difficulty, express concerns, need to leave? It will be your fault, and as you see here, folks are ready to post and support how they never saw or heard of anything related to your experience, and the fault is with you...your expectations, your being enamored, not watching your child closely enough.  This is why you should go in with eyes wide open: the loving community you think you are a part of can quickly  turn on you and your kids.

 

None of MamaDavid's scenario is new by any stretch of the imagination.  Life After Waldorf is not terribly active right now, but it's worth reading.  


I find this post offensive. What MamaD's experience can happen at any school. Kids fall through the cracks in every program. It's the parent's responsibility to step in, if there is not a good fit. There can be poor quality teachers in any program. I don't think our posts were unsympathetic to her. We just aren't on the Waldorf bashing trip you seem to be on. Just a reminder- you are in the Waldorf forum. 

 

post #35 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by E.V. Lowi View Post




I find this post offensive. What MamaD's experience can happen at any school. Kids fall through the cracks in every program. It's the parent's responsibility to step in, if there is not a good fit. There can be poor quality teachers in any program. I don't think our posts were unsympathetic to her. We just aren't on the Waldorf bashing trip you seem to be on. Just a reminder- you are in the Waldorf forum. 

 


 I know exactly where I am, thanks.  This is not a support only thread.  The poster I referenced had what seems to have been a painful experience, and in any other forum I think posters would have at least acknowledged this, even if they were unable to personally connect with the situation.  That's what caught my eye.  I must have missed the empathy in your posts. 

 

 

 

 

 

post #36 of 54

MamaDavid, your post was very helpful to me.  I have been considering Waldorf off and on for a few years - actually googling for information about Waldorf I found "Life After Waldorf" and that is what led me to mothering in the first place.  

I have friends who rave about Waldorf so I keep coming back to it.  But my worry is that it is what you described - a place full of like-minded people, with good intentions, that is aesthetically pleasing (love the dolls and the scarves!), and focuses on being artsy and natural, which is all appealing.  But what seems to get lost in the shuffle is actual learning and education.  Maybe some kids flourish in that kind of environment, but I think a lot of kids, even those who are not LD, need more actual instruction, and not "the reading fairy".  It just seems like a lot of wishful thinking.

 

 

post #37 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsFortune View Post

MamaDavid, your post was very helpful to me.  I have been considering Waldorf off and on for a few years - actually googling for information about Waldorf I found "Life After Waldorf" and that is what led me to mothering in the first place.  

I have friends who rave about Waldorf so I keep coming back to it.  But my worry is that it is what you described - a place full of like-minded people, with good intentions, that is aesthetically pleasing (love the dolls and the scarves!), and focuses on being artsy and natural, which is all appealing.  But what seems to get lost in the shuffle is actual learning and education.  Maybe some kids flourish in that kind of environment, but I think a lot of kids, even those who are not LD, need more actual instruction, and not "the reading fairy".  It just seems like a lot of wishful thinking.

 

 



That's such a shallow assessment of Waldorf education and not what it's about, at all. But all the more power to you in finding a good fit for your family.

post #38 of 54

A good Waldorf school will actual be very academic.  It starts slowly and builds until 8th grade.  I don't who this reading fairy you are talking about is.  Both of my kids didn't read in 1st grade except for very simple words.  By the end of 2nd grade, one was reading chapter books.  The other took until the end of 3rd grade.  Now neither of them had anything like dyslexia but both of their teachers were very aware of what was going on in the class and identified the kids who had issues.  The teachers worked with the parents and found the help the kids needed.  Some of the kids left to go to schools that focused on helping dyslexics and some of the kids had classes in the public schools to help them.

 

The best thing about Waldorf is the teacher for 8 grades and the worst thing about Waldorf is the teacher for 8 grades.  It all rests on the teacher.  You have to be there for your kid and ensure that the teacher your kid has is working for your kid.  I was extremely fortunate in that both of my kids have had wonderful main lesson teachers.

 

 

 

Dear MamaDavid,

 

I am so sorry your school relationship and community ended the way it did.  I hope that you and your children are able to find that community again in a healthy place for you and your children.  It sounds like this school is not in a good place right now.  I hope for the sake of the children remaining there that they can get things turned around.

post #39 of 54

To those who found my post helpful and those who offered support - thanks. To Stargirl and others who are questioning and searching - good luck. 

post #40 of 54
My son will enter 1st grade at our waldorf school, my dd is in kindergarten and our youngest is in nursery. I'm an assistant in one of the kindergartens as well. I have learned so much about myself and waldorf education and... The world... Since we came to the school two years ago. I have a masters in teaching ( high school English) and taught public school for 3 years before I had kids, so I had a unique background from which to analyze this.

Things I love: the concept of educating the head, heart and hands of a child. I love the emphasis on all different types of learning, from math to music to crochetting to memorization, to giving thanks to the earth, to performing a play, to may faire. It's so rich and varied and feels very right. I have become a more spiritual person being exposed to this. I wouldn't say I'm an anthroposophist by any stretch and I am skeptical of some things Steiner presents, but I find it interesting and read with an open mind. I also love the community of parents. It feels like a family. The children are very close. One of my friends says that going through a waldorf school is as much of an education for the parents as it is for the kids. It causes you to really come up against some issues that can be very hard and require some serious communicating with other adults on raw topics. And like a pp said, in public school, you are always changing teachers and classmates, so you know the problems may be gone in a year. Not so in waldorf school. You are required to work through things in a different way... I think it requires more patience (assuming you have the commitment and desire to work through it) and an intention to communicate early, often, and with directness and honesty. This is a hard thing for many people. But this year I've had to do that and I apprerciate that it makes me grow as a person.

Drawbacks: I don't think that waldorf teacher training does much training in classroom management, so I think frequently there can be issues with discipline. I know this has come up at our school. I think the ideal teacher would have experience in public school as well, because there is more emphasis on classroom manage,nt there. My ds's teacher has over 10 years public school experience plus 8 years waldorf experience, and I think it will be a great match. Another drawback is that parents can be expected to do a lot at waldorf schools. It can almost feel overwhelming or suffocating at times. And all your friends start to be only school friends.

Which makes me think that is one of the reasons people can be so hurt by waldorf going bad. It's like your family turning on you. People are so tight and often exclusively friends with only other waldorf families. I mean, gosh, we have families move from across the country just to attend our school. That is a lot of pressure and expectation on the school. It's good, but it also means your whole life is wrapped up in the school.

My advice would be to try it if you're interested. I've really loved it, and even if were to leave the school, the experience has changed my parenting, my outlook on life and education.
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