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Choosing Waldorf Steiner Education - I need the truth!!

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 

My son currently attends a home based Waldorf inspired kindergarten program and we are really happy. We are beginning to investigate schools and have been considering a Waldorf school. Have recently been reading literature on www.waldorfcritics.org  and feel uncertain now as it talks about anthrosophy as a cult, beliefs in the occult and reincarnation etc. It mentions how none of this is expressed in school information packs but that this is what is underlying the teaching methodology.

 

I am open minded however I'm not comfortable with teachers having these beliefs and sharing them with my young impressionable children (perhaps even subconsciously). I personally don't believe in reincarnation but have formulated this belief system as an adult and not been influenced for or against. We recently attended a beautiful Spiral walk evening which this website also says is part of their cult - now I'm thinking is it or isn't it??

 

We are so attracted to the community, gardening and arts focused learning but really need the TRUTH !!

post #2 of 69

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Edited by accountclosed3 - 7/25/12 at 1:12pm
post #3 of 69
Thread Starter 

A heartfelt thankyou,  Zoebird,  for your comprehensive reply, I really appreciate the time, thought and effort that has gone into your response. It was a pleasure to read!

 

Yes, I do need to read much more about Steiner and his philosophies but your response has been so helpful. To be honest, the thought of it being a cult (as a contemporary definition) never occurred to me until I read some of the information on that website. For example, I know a bit about the principles of biodynamics and it makes sense to me - I don't think it is weird as some do.

 

You mentioned Catholic schools - you know that religion will be taught from a Catholic perspective before you enrol - no surprises. For me, the fact that each individual Waldorf school may be different is what I am grappling with - how 'full on' will it be??? Until my children actually attend, I'm not sure how easily I could delve into the curriculum and community of the school. We attended the Spring Fair last year which again we enjoyed. I have the school prospectus and we are booked in to attend an 'open day' so I guess I'll follow my intuition! 

post #4 of 69

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Edited by accountclosed3 - 7/25/12 at 1:13pm
post #5 of 69

"You mentioned Catholic schools - you know that religion will be taught from a Catholic perspective before you enrol - no surprises." 
 

I think most Catholic educators would say that not only is religion taught from a Catholic perspective, but that the entire educational system is based on a Catholic perspective, that English, math, science, extra-curriculars, etc. are all coming from a Catholic-centered foundation.   The purpose of this is to raise adults that are coming at the world with a Catholic belief system and a Catholic approach (to problem-solving, interpretation, culture, frame of reference, etc.)

 

My feeling is that Waldorf is the same, that the art, pe, classroom discipline, not reading until 7, etc. are generally coming from a Steiner-centered foundation.  In other words, Waldorf is not just a particular way of teaching English (for example) but rather that what is taught about English and the manner in which it is taught has a specific "ulterior" purpose beyond merely the educational.

 

Only you can decide whether Steiner's beliefs are acceptable to you.

post #6 of 69

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Edited by accountclosed3 - 7/25/12 at 1:13pm
post #7 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane93 View Post

 

Only you can decide whether Steiner's beliefs are acceptable to you.


One of the things, though, about Waldorf, is that such is teaching so out of step with every other style of education in America, is that if school isn't a good fit *for your child,*  they end up very behind when you leave the school.

 

A child in a Catholic school who just isn't fitting in or the non-catholic parents decide the school is just too catholicy or whatever, can walk into any public school (or other private school) and be on target for reading, writing, and math.  With Waldorf, there's an extra risk.

 

post #8 of 69
Thread Starter 

I see where you're coming from - I think if Waldorf is chosen it should definitely be seen as a long term committment as the adjustment to mainstream may be quite challenging. Not too sure about the same teacher for 7 years either!

post #9 of 69
Thread Starter 

Zoebird you have presented so many ways of looking at Waldorf - I will read the thread you mentioned - if I can find it. 

 

There are so many issues to consider - I want my children to have a 'childhood' and not be influenced and defined by mass marketing, commercial tv etc.

It's hard when my childrens' cousins are readily and without any hesitation exposed to all this and come over to 'play'.

Asking them to put away their hand held computer games is another forum in itself!  In a sense, as I have these views, I feel somewhat isolated from my extended family.

 

Once again, many thanks!

post #10 of 69

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Edited by accountclosed3 - 7/25/12 at 1:14pm
post #11 of 69

FYI -- Life After Waldorf can be found in the TAO subforum -- it was moved there from this subforum when this subforum was more hardcore Waldorf and Waldorf questioning, etc. couldn't co-exist peacefully here.  I don't know how active that thread is anymore, but it was very active at one point and does give a pretty good idea of the range of issues some parents have experienced with the Waldorf system.

post #12 of 69

Actually -- I misremembered and its in Personal Growth -- Life After Waldorf -- A Support Group and was started by beansavi.

post #13 of 69

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Edited by accountclosed3 - 7/25/12 at 1:14pm
post #14 of 69

I would encourage you to listen to some of Eugene Schwartz's material, if it's available. He was a waldorf teacher, and I believe he ran into trouble because of his candid discussions. You most likely won't find a waldorf school or teacher to really explain the role of anthroposophy in the school, and with regard to the teaching of the children because it's generally not advertised or explained to novice parents.

 

The outward trappings really have little meaning without a solid understanding of your child and their learning needs and style.

 

 

post #15 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane93 View Post

Actually -- I misremembered and its in Personal Growth -- Life After Waldorf -- A Support Group and was started by beansavi.



here's a link and I bumped it up

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/683104/life-after-waldorf-a-support-group/1060#post_16498256

 

post #16 of 69

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Edited by accountclosed3 - 7/25/12 at 1:15pm
post #17 of 69

Zoebird -- I find your description of your son and choosing Waldorf to be a little counterintuitive.  Much of the Life After Waldorf thread points out that Waldorf tends to favor the "dreamy"/compliant child, and active children (particularly active, physical boys) are disfavored.  Also, Waldorf is most definitely teacher led, and your post seems to indicate a desire for child lead learning (where your child will not be "squelched" also your personal favoring of unschooling).

 

So, I find that a little confusing as to how you are making these different things work together?

 

   

post #18 of 69

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Edited by accountclosed3 - 7/25/12 at 1:15pm
post #19 of 69

I think zoebird has provided some wonderfully thoughtful and insightful responses.  Thank you!

 

I am still early on my journed of really understanding the pedagogy of Waldorf that we have embarked on for our children.  I have just started reading Rythms of Learning Selected Lectures by Rudolf Steiner - What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents and Teachers.

 

One of the statements in the introduction that really helped to contextualize all the different experiences people have with this education is this:  There is no governing body of Waldorf education which begins each school.  Each school (and I am assuming this is elementary and beyond, not necessarily Early Childhood programs) is born out of a collective of parents who come together because they desire a Waldorf education for their children, yet there is no Waldorf school in their community.  Wow!  Of course then there are going to be as vast a range of experiences as there are people!

 

With that in mind, yes, asking questions on a forum like this will give you some insight into what you could reasonably be able to expect and find in a Waldorf school.  Yes, the early childhood classroom can be expected to be set up in a certain way with a common set of surroundings and the days, weeks and months will follow a particular rhythm.  Yes, your child will have the same teacher in grades 1-8.  But, in my view, it is absolutely no substitute for fully exploring and investigating your local Waldorf school.  Does your school bring in assistants so that students who need additional help get that help?  Be it in reading, math, therapuetic eurythmy, etc?  Or so that a child who is excelling in a particular area has the opportunity to move at a faster pace - his or her pace?  With what I've read in these forums I was very taken aback to find that this was available in our local school.

 

Waldorf is not a strict pedagogy in that there are tenants as rigid as the 10 Commandments.  In reality, it is a set of principles.  But those principles are only going to be as evolved as the individuals manifesting them.  Which is why community involvement is so fundamental and basic to the education.

 

Since I'm still so early in my journey of understanding, I think I should stop here for now.

post #20 of 69

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Edited by accountclosed3 - 7/25/12 at 1:16pm
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