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Can somebody educate me about Waldorf?

post #1 of 86
Thread Starter 
I have been considering sending my DD to their school next fall but read some very disturbing things about it on the internet. Does anyone have any experiences good/bad that they can share?

Thanks,
LoveBeads
post #2 of 86
Thread Starter 
Whoops, never mind. I just found a whole bunch of info in the archives. Sorry to have wasted your time!

LoveBeads
post #3 of 86
What disturbing things have you read about waldorf? I do not plan on sending my DD to a Waldof school, but I plan on basing our homeschooling on the Waldorf method.
post #4 of 86
Hi:

I'm not sure what Lovebeads is referring too but there are sites on the Internet that suggest that Rudolph Steiner, the creator of Waldorf schools, had Nazi sentiments (he died in 193? I think). I learned about this while one of my children was in a Waldorf school and checked into it concluding it was untrue back then when Steiner was alive and completely irrelevent in the present.
post #5 of 86
Thread Starter 
Hi! Sorry, should have made myself a little clearer so that it didn't sound like I found things that are "scary". I never heard that Nazi rumor and am very relieved that it is unfounded.

I guess what I found to be "disturbing" is that their is some criticism that the school is based on a type of philosophy ("antro something or other") that the administrators don't necessarily tell you about when you inquire about the school. Not judging this philosophy, just didn't know it was part of the philosophy of the school and felt a little misled when I questioned the admins and they told me what it was and how it fits in to the curriculum. That felt less than honest to me, almost like they were trying to hide something, and now I feel like I can't really give it a fair chance since I am so upset that I was misled. I would have been much more open to learning about it if I had been told up front about it instead of having to read about it on the internet.

But there is a lot of info in the archives on this subject so I don't want to beat a dead horse.

LoveBeads
Maddy Moo - 2.5
post #6 of 86
I had been researching Waldorf also, and I think the website she is talking about might have been www.waldorfcritics.com.
A very interesting site.
post #7 of 86
Waldorf is also not as attachment parenting-friendly as it may appear. See the latest issue of Lilipoh, an anthroposophical health magazine, urging early weaning. Steiner felt the baby needed to become independent of the mother's forces after about 6 months. Some Waldorf teachers disagree, but many of Steiner's parenting recommendations were very 19th century and some Waldorf teachers still adhere to Steiner very slavishly.

http://lilipoh.com

Diana
post #8 of 86
We went to a Parent-Child program at the Waldorf school here and liked a lot of aspects of it. However, it was quite expensive for essentially supervised play time (and the regular school is way out of our league). We were given a parenting book, and we believed that the parents would read and discuss it, that we might have a sort of parents' discussion group with the teachers offering additional information about Waldorf. That never ended up happening. I don't know if they were waiting for us to take the initiative? The teachers led a few songs and told one story during the play time, which was nice. I guess I expected a bit more for the parents.

We investigated sending our daughter to the school as well. I am not entirely comfortable with the esoteric aspects of Steiner's philosophy, like child development stages being equated with when their teeth come in and the children being described in terms of the four humours (this is what the newsletter from the school explained, anyway). I am all for waiting until age 7 to teach reading for those children who need the time, but what about kids like my sister and me who started reading at 4? Do they just sit around for 3 years? I was told that children who read early aren't encouraged to bring books to school. At 3, my daughter loves books, and I guess I can't see her in an atmosphere where that is not encouraged for that long.

I also had the ovewhelming impression of "sameness" in the two schools I saw - I can't quite put my finger on why this bothered me, but I assumed that if two schools were interpreting the same philosophy, there would be unique aspects to each, not two essentially identical schools. I guess this is what someone was getting at when they mentioned the slavish adherence to Steiner's philosophy.

The concerns I have heard from other people were about teaching religion (I guess some Christian holidays are observed? I personally didn't see this as much of a problem) and the way science is taught. I never could get to the bottom of the science issue - if anyone knows what that is about, I'd love some more information. A family friend in another country took her child out of Waldorf because she was bullied, but that happens every day in public schools. Doesn't seem like the philosophy would be permissive about that; maybe it was a fluke.

As I said, there are many aspects of Waldorf that I like - the emphasis on the arts, the calm atmosphere, etc. , but one I don't is the expense. This school is very expensive because they have no other source of support. The toys they encourage are, too - a lady tried to sell us a $70 felt ball at the holiday fair we went to.

I have many misgivings about the public schools around here, so this is really a dilemma. I would love to hear more from others about the pros and cons of Waldorf.
post #9 of 86
try this for a compilation of a few of Steiner's racist pasages:

http://topica.com/lists/waldorf-crit...=d&start=16925
post #10 of 86
Ragana said:

>I am all for waiting until age 7 to teach reading for those >children who need the time, but what about kids like my sister >and me who started reading at 4? Do they just sit around for 3 >years? I was told that children who read early aren't >encouraged to bring books to school.

No, in fact the teacher will probably confiscate them if she brings books to school. Steiner believed children should not even be exposed to print or learn the alphabet until the change of teeth. And this is a rigid timetable, it is not about following an individual child's pace or not "pressuring" children (which I agree with). It is an actual belief that the print will harm them. Steiner believed that the child who is "intellectually" stimulated - and by this he means, yes, simply learning the alphabet - will suffer ill health in later life. Abstract thoughts are said to cause damage to internal organs in children under age 7.


>At 3, my daughter loves books, and I guess I can't see her in an >atmosphere where that is not encouraged for that long.

There are no books in a Waldorf kindergarten (and the k'garten often includes 6 year olds; parents are encouraged to hold them back as long as possible in the name of "preserving their childhood." I think this is fine if the 6 year old is just not interested yet, but many of them are, and you're right, it is rough on some of them.


>The concerns I have heard from other people were about >teaching religion (I guess some Christian holidays are >observed? I personally didn't see this as much of a problem)

You'd need to read some anthroposophy first - it is an esoteric form of Christianity, and if you're comfortable with it, you wouldn't mind your child celebrating their festivals, probably. Some of them are very lovely. The problem comes in that parents are told *not* to worry, not to learn more, that anthroposophy is not in the school, and in fact anthroposophy is in virtually every detail of classroom practices and rituals. The school day is very ritualistic; the simplest activity must be performed in a ritualistic way, and many of the teachers are very rigid about their rituals, and freak out if someone isn't doing it the anthroposophically "correct" way. So the least they could do is make sure you know what anthroposophy is first.

>A family friend in another country took her child out of Waldorf >because she was bullied, but that happens every day in public >schools. Doesn't seem like the philosophy would be permissive >about that; maybe it was a fluke.


Yes, bullying happens lots of places. In Waldorf the twist is the karma angle - some of the teachers hesitate to intervene in bullying or difficult interpersonal things going on with the kids because karma is central to anthroposophy. The entire class, with the teacher, is believed to be a karmic group which has been together through many previous incarnations, with "tasks" to perform together as a group. Interpersonal conflicts between two kids, or with the teacher, may be seen as coming from a past life, and to intervene might mean interfering with karma.

>As I said, there are many aspects of Waldorf that I like - the >emphasis on the arts, the calm atmosphere, etc. ,

Well, sorry to burst one more bubble, but most of the Waldorf classrooms I have seen were far from "calm." Out of control, chaotic and unsafe were more the norm. It isn't every class, of course; but I have observed in a number of Waldorf schools and chaotic classrooms seem to often follow from applying rigid dogma to children.

>I have many misgivings about the public schools around here, >so this is really a dilemma. I would love to hear more from >others about the pros and cons of Waldorf.

I don't blame you for having misgivings about the public system - we got the heck out of public schools after a couple of years too. The thing to understand about Waldorf is that it is a package deal; the anthroposophy is an unpleasant surprise to many parents. They do some great things in Waldorf schools, and there are talented teachers. However there's a lot of skeletons in their closet. Ask to observe the classrooms very closely - ask to see an entire morning's lesson, for instance - and don't take no for an answer.
Diana

__________________
post #11 of 86
Thanks, Diana, those quotes are a real eye-opener!
post #12 of 86
Any philosophy taken to dogmatic extreme can be detrimental.

My experience in a "waldorf-inspired" homeschooling cooperative has been extremely positive.
post #13 of 86
Hi:

In Waldorf grade school classes the teachers move each year with the children. That is, if a child started with a certain teacher for 1st grade, they'd have that same teacher each year until middle school. "The teacher is everything." said a famous Waldorf teacher and I think that's true. The teachers try to model eveything - including perfect penmanship. My reading of Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder, a book about an author's experience of observing a 5th grade public school class for an entire year, lead me to feel that school philosophy is one thing but it's the teacher who's the main thing. Mrs Zajak, the teacher, is told to do all kinds of things by the principal, the district, you name it, but every morning the class door shuts and she's in the room with the children and it is who she is and who the class is that mostly affect what happens in there. Peers, many say, have strong effects on the child. I'd suggest meeting with the teacher and the class and observing them for a while.
post #14 of 86
Hello
My daughter is in a Waldorf kindergarten and it is not chaotic or unsafe. I have spent quite a bit of time in the classroom and in others, substituting also. The children have a free playtime, but there are rules that must be observed during that time, about safety and respect to others.
Our school does not hide Anthroposophy, in fact they offer a class to teach more about it. Besides that, there are many parents getting together to read more about all aspects of Waldorf education.
My daughter's teacher put together a reading list of favorite books from information gathered from all the parents. True there are no books in the classroom, but they hear a story everyday and use their imaginations to see the pictures, instead of the teacher showing a picture to them.
My daugher loves it and thrives there.
It's not for everyone, nothing is, but I would definitely check out the school for yourself before making a decision.

Tracey
post #15 of 86
Quote:
Originally posted by Diana W
Steiner felt the baby needed to become independent of the mother's forces after about 6 months.
Diana
I actually read somewhere that Steiner said that a child should be weaned at seven months. However, weaning at that time meant to introduce solids. It did not mean to refuse breastmilk.

Every school is different. I have heard that "The Incarnating Child" is very anti-AP. I know in the parent-toddler class we took everyone was still nursing : D

There are good things and bad things about Waldorf. When I go to a school I look at the kids first and think about if I want them to be around Annabelle or if I want her to act like them. Most of the time I don't and that ends that school.

I hope this helps!
(off to edit my sig now)
post #16 of 86
One thing I find interesting about the alleged racist comments is that they are quoted from lectures that *no one* else has copies of. When asked to produce even a Xerox of the alleged comments the "critics" have refused.

I take the Waldorf Critics site with a grain of salt. Their tone is hysterical, their "proof" is shaky at best and too much of their information is based on anon testimony.

I have read it all, though and they do have the one good point that Anthro. can be very hidden at certain schools.
post #17 of 86
Elizabeth wrote:

>One thing I find interesting about the alleged racist comments is >that they are quoted from lectures that *no one* else has >copies of. When asked to produce even a Xerox of the alleged >comments the "critics" have refused.

That is an outrageous, completely absurd charge. Did you ask someone to send you a xerox of a Steiner text, and they didn't? Otherwise what in the world are you talking about?

I am a busy mother like the rest of you, but I will come back as I have time during the next couple of days and provide you with the full citations for each of the quotes that were cited above (in the link I posted from the critics list). You'd need to find the books in a bookstore or library, I guess, to verify that the information is accurate, and granted that is not always easy because Steiner is an obscure, occult writer studied by only a few people interested in esoterica (not a serious philosopher as Waldorf proponents would have you believe). It may not be a simple matter for someone who is interested to track down all this material - it is not likely at your Barnes and Noble. However, a lot of it is also on the web now, and I'll find what links I can for you.

To suggest we are lying - actually making up Steiner quotes?! - suggests, well I don't know what, it is so offensive I can only give you the benefit of the doubt that you simply want to keep your head in the sand where Rudolf Steiner is concerned so as to keep thinking Waldorf is all angels and light.

However, a quick comment - it does become increasingly difficult to find the offensive passages, because they are being EDITED OUT of the latest editions and new translations. In a set of lectures originally entitled Health and Illness, lectures Steiner gave in 1923, Steiner suggests that intelligence is linked to blond hair, and rues the fact that blond hair is supposedly becoming rarer, and "dark people" who have stronger forces will last longer. However, a new translation of this was published in 2000, with these passages *completely left out*. Just not there anymore, no note explaining that any text is missing. These quotes have caused too much trouble for anthroposophy, so they are re-writing Steiner.

Again it is 7 a.m. and I will not get back to this board till late tonight if at all, but I will as I have time give you the correct bibliographic information for the material I referenced earlier in writing to Ragana. The charge that the material is made up is false. There are a lot of people who have put a lot of good time and energy into activism to right these wrongs. Steiner, like many of his day, was a racist, and to defend this stuff today, and prop up this right wing ideology, even unknowingly because you refuse to research for yourself, is simply wrong.
Diana
post #18 of 86
Here is a start -

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active...m_general.html

There is a link there to a references page - the citations are not on the same page, but you can find them if you want by clicking "References." I admit this is not well organized. I'm going to type it up properly later. However, for quick reference, the abbreviations that refer to Steiner's works are as follows:

CM = Cosmic Memory
KHW = Knowledge of Higher Worlds
GSJ = Gospel of St. John
DIN = Destinies of Individuals and of Nations
CRLA = Christ in Relation to Lucifer and Ahriman
EEM = Evolution of the Earth and Man
CT = Challenge of the Times
SSFSF = Spiritual Science as a Foundation for Social Forms
T = Theosophy
KU - Karma of Untruthfulness
UH = Universal Human
CML = Course of My Life

As I said, you are not likely to find any of these at your local bookstore except possibly KHW and Theosophy, which are two of Steiner's major works. If there is a serious challenge that the quotes cannot be found, I will indeed track down paper copies and mail xeroxes, if desired, to anyone who doubts; I take very seriously this slanderous charge that critics of Waldorf have fabricated anything.
Diana
post #19 of 86
It is difficult to find Waldorf proponants who buy into every word Steiner had to say. They are out there, sure, but the majority of the Waldorf enthusiasts, even teachers, take his message and distill it for all the positive things he did say.
post #20 of 86
Quote:
Originally posted by Diana W
To suggest we are lying[/B]
Oh, so you're a member of the Waldorf Critics organization. Well, at least I know where you are coming from now.

Quote:
Originally posted by Diana W
even unknowingly because you refuse to research for yourself, is simply wrong.[/B]
Well, if I hadn't just edited down my sig file you would know that I am conducting a Steiner Book Study right now. I'm reading "Theosophy" right now. It's boring as heck, and not my cup of tea but I am reading it.

From the actions of *many* members of the Waldorf Critics group I do not have a high regard for the organization as a whole. What first brought me to the Mothering.Com forums is that a post was taken off a mailing list and posted to the critics list WITHOUT THE AUTHORS PERMISSION. After her post was laughed at it was posted HERE, again without the author's knowing about it or her permission. She found out because a friend of hers is here and saw it and emailed her about the issue.

Events like this have happened on several mailing lists. I have seen members of the Waldorf Critics join groups, and boards, just to cause strife. One member will pretend to be a newbie and other members of WC will respond. That everyone joins within hours of each other is very telling.

I found this page http://hem.passagen.se/thebee/comments/plans1.html
to be very informative.
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