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post #41 of 74
I know there was a lot of singing in the pentatonic scale and the minor third (think of the "ding-dong" sound of a doorbell) when we were in a parent child class, but this mirrored what I learned as a music education major. Kodaly, a big player in the music education field called this "the interval of childhood," as it is universally found in all cultures when children make up songs for themselves (think of a child singing "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo- that's the musical phrase) So, when I heard this being done in a Waldorf classroom, it just reflected what I had already learned as a music major. I figured they were singing to the children in a way the child would sing. This also made sense for the high-pitched songs. As a Kindermusik teacher, we are taught to sing in the child's range, which is pitched high. I think it is good to have some songs be simple, but others be complex. Just giving my opinion with my music teacher hat on, not my Waldorf hat : )
PS_I wanted to share a really good "discipline" technique I learned in the Waldorf parent-child class. When a child asks for something rudely, rather than saying "What do you say?" or saying "Say please," you can sing to them, modeling what you want them to say. If my son says, "I want a drink" I sing "May I have a drink please" and he sings it right back. Then I sing "Yes, you may!" He even sings back "O----Kay!" It's very sweet, and really works for us.
post #42 of 74
oooh, annettemarie, i like your little discipline trick. and i love music. its just that this teacher doens't *talk* AT ALL. she sings absolutely everything and that, IMO, is a little creepy.

what is the pentatonic scale?
post #43 of 74
I can understand why constant singing would be a little unnerving. If you play just the black keys on the piano, you have a pentetonic scale.
post #44 of 74
I have been reading this thread and some other ones here with interest.

I attended a Waldorf school (The Rudolf Steiner School in NYC, which I think might even be the original one in the US) from Kindergarten through 8th grade, at which time I left to attend public school for various reasons.

I have actually been thinking quite a bit about my Waldorf education over the past 6 years as I have pondered how to educate my own children. I have a lot of very positive memories that I wouldn't trade for anything. I have some negative memories as well, which while I don't believe they traumatized me, they are certainly not what I want for my own children. And I have been reading. I find that the waldorf critics site is quite extreme' however it does explain a lot about some of my negative experiences and about why things were the way they were that I am not happy with.

My personal experience with Waldorf schools extends to the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf school (upstate NY), as Steiner was pretty involved with them (my class spent a week or more at the Hawthorne Valley Farm each year), then my little sister ended up going there for high school after being in NYC public schools her entire life, and now I live just ten minutes away from the school, shop at their health food store weekly, and visit the cows and their toy store regularly with my own children. I also know parents who happily send/sent their children there (including my own parents), those who did but removed them for various reasons, those who have been looking at the school for their own children, etc. I was even at their senior class play last week :-) So while I am not a teacher, student, alum or parent there, I still feel I know the school fairly well.

I understand that some Waldorf schools may be different, but the two I know well were very similar.

Some positives memories and feelings I have:

I was really lucky to have two wonderful class teachers, one who stayed through 4th grade and then left to get married and another who was with us through 8th grade. Neither of them was a anthroposophist. I'm not sure why they were hired. Maybe it was harder to find anthroposophists back then? I also became very close with the music teacher as I took private flute lessons with her from 3rd grade even into high school after I had left Steiner. I cared about these teachers and felt cared about by them and will always remember them with incredible fondness. Perhaps if I had had anthroposophist teachers during these years, things would have been different.

I loved the magical view of the world I was given and still maintain to a certain extent. I do not believe in God and I am not a pagan, but I can't quite call myself an aetheist either as I see too much magic and spirituality in the world we live in and our connectedness to it. I know I didn't get this from my parents!

I loved how the transition between learning ancient myths and learning actual history was a little vague. It was all a form of storytelling. Some might complain that it meant I saw history as myths, but the way I see it, I learned to really enjoy social studies. We were allowed a lot of creativity in these main lesson blocks beyond the usual Waldorf art stuff. For example, I remember writing a report on Paul Revere and turning it into a newspaper from the time, complete with articles, ads, logo, etc. My teacher loved it (would she have if she were an anthroposophist? I don't know). We also acted out a lot of what we learned, and I loved that.

While I have issues with the way art was taught, I do value the fact that everything was about arts and crafts. Going to the Hawthorne Valley school play the other night reminded me of that -- the acting, the singing, the instrumentals, the beautiful set, the lighting, etc. was all done by the students and done beautifully.

I am glad that I was taught to love nature and given many chances to experience it and glad that I was taught not to watch tv or to value commercial toys and glad that I was taught to distrust technology. These things have stuck with me, but they have been embodied into my own personal belief system.

Some negative memories and feelings I have:

I had two years of kindergarten at Steiner. All the kindergarten teachers were anthroposophists. I was bullied. When my mother spoke to my teacher about it, she just told my mother "ah, but your daughter is a victim." My mother was pretty angry, needless to say, but I guess she didn't do anything beyond that (should I be questioning my mother here?). Now I read that that was because of the whole karma thing. That for I was supposed to be bullied and didn't need to be protected because of something having to do with a past life. I was miserable and hated myself. That was the beginning of my social problems.

I loved to draw as a child, but my inclinations were pretty much stamped out during kindergarten. No black. No outlines. For a long time only one color at a time. Then two. Then finally three. Everything had to be done with block crayons. Yes, within those limits we could draw what we want, but I questioned my artistic impulses as they were obviously not approved of by my teachers. Only beautiful shading, according to the colors of the rainbow (once we had colors) was praised. And while I drew pretty well with a black marker, I couldn't get the hang of shading enough to please my teachers. Once we were in first grade, I don't remember any free drawing. Everything was copied from blackboards into main lesson books or dicated by art teachers. I loved crafts, but once again we didn't have a huge amount of freedom with what we wanted to make or our designs. The only truly valued music was old music of the western tradition, especially German and Austrian music. FWIW, my sister didn't experience this when she entered high school at Hawthorne Valley (as I mentioned before, from public school). She felt she had freedom to create. I didn't do high school at Steiner, so maybe there I would have, too, but by that time, IMO, it would have been too late. I had already lost my creative bug and my confidence. I was always been kind of easily influenced, so perhaps a child with more spunk would have made it through. I did continue with music though. When I left Steiner I went on to the High School of Music and Art for flute.

That brings me to another thing that bothered me. I was always really good at math. I would finish my assignments and my tests early, my only errors were at the end when they were out of boredom for being assigned over 100 too easy problems, and then I would have to sit there and wait for the rest of the class to finish. They never gave me any encouragement to go further. I was bored out of my mind. Science was barely taught and what little labwork we did was in ancient labs with ancient equipment. Once I decided I wanted to leave the school, I wanted to apply to the specialized high schools in NYC. I totally flunked the tests for the high schools that specialized in math and science and barely even made it into Music and Art based on my academic scores (all that music stood me well). I didn't even know what these tests were asking. My mother was furious because the counselor she had dealt with at Steiner assured her that their math and science was right up there with the public schools. It so wasn't!!! Once I was at Music and Art and caught up in math, I got straight As, and I did very well on the SATs and other standardized tests once they came up. If my Waldorf education had been prepared better, I might very well have gotten into the one of the other high schools which were actually my first choice and my life might be very different right now.

I left Steiner after 8th grade because I was bored by most of my classes and because I was miserable socially, and because noone, even my beloved teachers, made much of a move to help me. I felt like the school was too small for me. These things could happen anywhere though, and I'm sure the old-fashioned disciplinary measures (no hitting, just a lot of humiliation) used on other class members, but still giving me a lot of stress, and the encouraged competitiveness in sports, arts, etc. could happen elsewhere too, but I know that these are part of how education happens at a Waldorf school.

I also know that certain teachers who the entire class and their parents are unhappy with are never let go because their beliefs are consistent with anthroposophy while other teachers who are loved by students and their parents are treated badly and let go because they don't believe in anthroposophy. I just heard of one anthroposophist teacher at this school who has actually hit children and shaken them more than once over the years and still is class teacher to an elementary scdhool class. That really bothers me. I have heard similar stories from other schools.

I have other problems, like the fact that in the 10 years I attended the school in NYC, there were only two children of color in the class, each of whom left after a year or so. There was also a lot of classism going on. But I think these can be blamed on the fact that it was a private school.

There's more, but this is what I am thinking of now.

The negatives outway the positives for me with my own children. I believe I could find the positives at other schools without many of the negatives if I were to look. But then I have problems with school in general (one reason I don't love the waldorf critics site -- they seem to fully accept the status quo when it comes to education), and we have decided to homeschool or rather, radically unschool. Even if I have to go back to work it is doubtful my children will be attending a Waldorf school. There are other options around me.
post #45 of 74
You are lucky to have other options! Where I live we have a Waldorf school, catholic schools fundimentalist christian schools or the public schools. I'm Pagan Dh is Jewish and a christian school whatever the flavor is not a likely choice. We just found out that there is bussing to the Waldorf school...But I am beginning to doubt we will go that route...:

Dh will not consider homeschooling unless the publics fail miserably and since he would be heavily involved too...it just cannot be a unilateral decision.
post #46 of 74
good reading....
i grew up in wilton NH, of the famed pine hill and high mowing waldorf community (k-12 since the late 70's). i was a lowly public schooler however, and how i longed to be up at the waldorf school painting and modling my beeswax.... i was VERY creative and had little outlet for this at my small poor public school.

so when my first daughter was entering kindergarten, of course i wanted the fantasy of my life, to finally be part of a waldorf community! (that classic parental fuck up where you think your kid wants to have what you could not). only problem was, my daughter was not overly artistic at that point, and LOVED to read and write! she began reading "i can read" and "dr seuss" books on her own just before she turned 3, and craved much material to satisfy her hunger for language and stories. no, i did not push her into this, she did it on her own much to our amazement.

when i took her to interview at waldorf schools they were most unimpressed and emphasized that they would try to make her a "better rounded child", as if her early reading were a problem they needed to correct. i found this to be entirely hypocritical, as my daughter was clearly a "reader" type who loved letters and books naturally, and i had happily nourished her love with many good books and trips to the library. i was letting her be herself, though it pained me to see her using her little watercolor paints to write the alphabet (i wanted her to be a free spirit artist), this is who she was and is today at age 9. she is a voracious reader and writer (she averages 10 novels every 2 weeks) and was a late bloomer for the artistic stuff, which she now enjoys. she was the opposite of most waldorf kids who are artsy early on and read later. i am glad i put her in public school.
post #47 of 74
I don't know whether to love you or hate you guys for bursting my bubble about Waldorf. I just hate what I have learned! Here I thought the "perfect" school existed and was willing to fork out the bucks to send my dd there when she came of age. I have a Master's in education and consider myself quite progressive (in regard to educational theory), but the sticking point for me is the teacher training these folks get. Two years? One year is religious instruction?

It smacks of cult to me.

Why oh why cant a girl find a school that will not crush her child's spirit: one where myth is myth, fairies are fairies and history/science/English/Math/social studies are themselves??? I want my child to bake and knit in school. I want her to celebrate the mystical (knowing it's different from reality), I want her to form a close bond with her teacher. I want her to be safe from ridicule and free to develop at her own pace.

It doesn't sound like Waldorf really does that.
post #48 of 74
I wouldn't say Waldorf is perfect, but it sure beats any other private or public schools where we live. Unfortunately homeschooling is not an option for us and my dd craves people. Everyday she wants to know either, Where are we going or who is coming over??? She is only five. I have done a fair amount of investigating in our school, including substituting and haven't seen anything even mildly weird.

post #49 of 74
The "weirdness" is often very subtle, and some people don't mind it. My problem is more the way they mislead people. So many people assume Waldorf offers a progressive education, whereas in fact, their education is very classical, and they are quite strict.

For example, people talk about Waldorf schools' great arts education, whereas in fact, in the early years, their children will only be able to draw/paint with certain types of crayons/paint, in certain colors, and without lines. And throughout elementary school, the majority of the art consists of copying teachers' drawings, and where a child can do one's own thing, it's within certain constraints. In my opinion a great arts education will encourage children to be creative and experimental and to find their own style. None of this exists in the early years at Waldorf schools.

Music, too, is taught within certain constraints. All songs in the early years are in the pentatonic scale. And when one graduates from that, in my experience with three different Waldorf schools, they only teach distinctly western music, with a huge emphasis on classical. That is anecdotal, perhaps other schools are different. But in my opinion, I'd like children to be exposed to different musical traditions from around the world, to be given the chance to experiment and improvise, etc.

I have a friend who graduated from Bank Street College, a very progressive teaching school in NYC. She visited many private schools during her education, and she was really shocked by how NON-progressive Waldorf was. She couldn't believe that children still sit in assigned seats in straight rows facing the teacher. She was surprised how math is taught in such a rote way. She felt that they way reading was taught was nice for some kids, but saw a lot of frustrated children who could have been saved their frustration at a school with more flexibility. She was horrified by the discipline measures being used. One example being that in K and 1st grade, children are being sent to stand in the corner and humiliated in front of the whole class.

If what you want is a not-so-progressive, quite classical education in a beautiful setting, with lots of art and music even though it's not creative art and music, with very caring teachers and an emphasis on fairies and are okay with the fact that anthroposophy is subtly behind everything, it's a great school. There's a lot about my Waldorf education I love. I just hate seeing parents blindly sending their children to a school that they assume is progressive and a natural extension of attachment parenting.

The attachment parenting link with Waldorf really kind of makes me laugh. There may be many AP parents who send their kids there, and therefore there's a nice community of AP parents. And maybe they're all able to do their thing and do Waldorf too, which is great. However, the Waldorf philosophy says babies need to be weaned by 6 months -- anthro doctors still tell people this, and in my area that has a big Waldorf community, La Leche League has had to deal with a number of women who have been told to wean at 6 months and are struggling between being good Waldorf mothers and their instincts to continue nursing. Another anti-AP thing about Waldorf is that they believe the teacher should take over from the parent as being the most important being in the child's life.
post #50 of 74
I have said this before and will say it again to support hydrangea-I do not think Waldorf is the least bit support of AP.

Waldorf is based on a well documented philosophy that does not support extended nursing, family bed, homeschooling or long term attachment to the mother (meaning past 3 years!).

Yet, because Waldorf is "alternative" and so is AP, many people (I am sure even some who work at Waldorf schools) are not aware of how VERY different these philosophies are. Waldorf schools may find themselves populated with lots of AP families, but again, that is only due to the "alternative" association Waldorf has in this country. It does mean Waldorf supports AP. If you read the literature at all, it is very plain that it does not.

post #51 of 74

why not?

Why does the Waldorph-philosophy oppose extended breastfeeding?
I don't know too much about Waldorph except a friend of mine sends his kids to this type of school and it looked good becasue his kids don't watch all kinds of tv and seem really into nature...
well, when I was looking for a Dr. for my baby I found an M.D. who practices homeopathic, etc. and is supportive of "alternative" methods and open to not vaccinationg and or doing so selcetively...and he'll help you sign all approriate waivers and everything for schools, etc. So we took our DD at 2 months to see him and the apt. was 1.5 hours...he went over all this stuff about her spirit filling the room and developing from the head down...
Anyway, I had her in the sling most the time as we talked and he asked, "what would she do if you just put her down?" and "how often do you use the sling?" I felt like I was being judged for having her in the sling. He also asked me how BF was going and seemed supportive...but, he asked when we were leaving, "How long do you plan to BF for?" I said, "until she's done. I'll know when the time has come. Right now I'm just getting started." His response was, "Oh, yeah I know but on your next apt. I'd like to talk to you about why I don't think you should BF as long as some LLL groups would have you."
This really puts me off. I have no idea if I'll BF 2 years, 4 years or what?
What age does Steiner determine to be time to wean? Why?
What does Steiner have against me holdng my baby as much as I want? Even if that means all day long! I just don't understand? Or is this not at all reflective of Waldorph and just this M.D.'s personal beliefs?
I will go back to this M.D. because I haven't found any other M.D. in the area who will support my position on antibiotics, vaccinations, etc.
post #52 of 74
Mary-Beth, I hope someone who knows more about this than I do will answer you, but the age of weaning has to do with their first teeth coming in. So when teeth start coming in, according to Rudolf Steiner, you need to start weaning. Steiner relates all sorts of spiritual developmental issues to teeth. He also believed children shouldn't learn to read until their baby teeth fall out.

I don't know anything about Rudolf Steiner discouraging carrying, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that doctor's attitude was a Waldorf one as well.

Alot of what you mention sounds pretty anthro, but someone who has read some of Steiner's writings could better tell you.

As long as you continue to read and stay knowledgeable about breastfeeding and about children's illnesses and health and nutrition and are not afraid to disregard your doctor's advice or get a second opinion, you should be fine. You'll be doing exactly what most of us do with our more mainstream doctors
post #53 of 74


Hey, just wanted to say ho much I appreciate this thread being here. I am/was one of those mentioned in the first posts who are 'dead-set' on attending Waldorf...however...I'm quite impressed by the thoughtful depate going on here. (Admittedly, I've nearly run out of time on the computer as DS is about to wake so I've only barely made it through page 1!) I have not some new food for thought as DS and I enter our parent-toddler group at our local Waldorf School. Hmmm, separation of Mother and child issue, left-hand issue, *science* class (while I do believe spiritual/occult/new-age is a valuable subject I also strongly believe in *mainstream*LOL Sciences.) Also the potentiality of hostile attitudes toward those kids who may indeed be ready to read early.

I am very against pushing children to be *superkids* and rushing them out of childhood as well as I am strongly against tv and the media industry and how it is directed at children. These are just afew of my reasons for being so interested in Waldorf and against mainstream education. I am also very fond of the magical fairy and otherworldly aspect fo the education and environment. somehow I know I'll need to find a balance and perhaps Waldorf education will not be our *golden key* to what ails in education. I'm rambling a bit so I'll stop now.

Again, thanks so much for this thread and to all of you who have put yourselves out there with your points of view and personal experience.

In peace,
post #54 of 74

Lost post

I just spent the better part of an hour writing a response to the weaning question only to have the website throw it to the ether.

Teresa above provided the following link:

Waldorf & Weaning
From Waldorf Resources:


Read the questions and answers at that link. Waldorf is not stagnant. It is changing and opinions are different from people to people. You are your child's best advocate. You know what is best for your child. Waldorf may or may not fit for you. Check out your local community as they are not all the same. I am getting the feeling that many of the groups back east are stuffy and stagnant. I haven't found that to be true here in Seattle. Here, they worry too much about being dogmatic so they end up not really giving you any recommendations or guidelines unless you drag it out of them. Most mothers here nurse until 15 months or longer. Many families, including some of the Kindergarten teachers, practice the family bed lifestyle. Do what is best for your child and don't let someone pressure you into doing what you feel is wrong for your child.
post #55 of 74
I know virtually nothing about Waldorf. I read the waldorf resources site about weaning issues. It sounds to me like one gal trying to encourage the BF in a a sea of waldorf/steiner/anthro BF negativity. It seems to be a tenet, minor perhaps, of the movement, but this women is encouraging people that you can still be a good waldorf parent and be AP. So you have to *choose* to ignore this aspect. Which is reasonable. But it shouldn't even be there! I shouldn't *have* to ignore it. Someone should decide, that in this, Steiner is wrong. Can they do that? It sounds to me like I'd have to put up with a lot of BS during the school experience. Which is consistent with an earlier observation that they're trying to build Waldorf parents. Another vote here for the neo-waldorf movement. It's very interesting to see how some of the steiner/waldorf stuff is consistent with some bits and pieces of German educational styles from the 20's-40's I am familiar with. On a creepy note, some of that became the basis for the Hitler Youth, too. (really, I;m not making a direct comparison) but the family-substitute model was one they used too. As was creating an "ideal"...athlete, German, etc. Use of costumes, folk songs, misuse of pagan imagery, and maybe it sounds like eurthmy (sp) stuff...but I don't know enough about that.
post #56 of 74
Hi I wanted to address one issue and bring up a new one.

About the re-creation of home and intention to separate parent and child. This is certainly not what is written in "You are your childs first teacher" which is for children birth to seven and considered one of the two leading waldorf texts on this age. (along with Beyond the Rainbow Bridge) These books state that ideally the children should be home doing these things(cooking, crafts, rhymes etc.) , but that if it is not available at home the next best is Waldorf. In one of them it recommends that if home life is just baby and mom (no friends over the fence post) then school (waldorf of course- it is their book) is appropriate. I take what i like and throw out the rest - including throwing out schooling. If we do waldorf it will be waldorf inspired homeschooling.

So here is my new question: What about the alphabet stories? I'm not sure I want to use them. I'm worried that thinking that each letter has alot of meaning/symbolism beyond just the sound/sounds they represent will make reading more difficult unnecessarily. The stories are cute, but I'm leading toward ditching them (or maybe reading them after dd thoroughly knows her phonics.) Of course this would mean not using any of the available waldorf home curriculums for first grade. As she is only turning three I have alot of time to make up my mind on this.

Finally, is anyone here familiar with Enki? I found them on the web and they look really cool. Very Waldorf inspired but ditch alot of the anthroposophy stuff I don't like. They also have a grounding in Shambhalaism which I'm more comfortable with.

(my name is Rebekah - I thought we were supposed to use different names on the web... or at least no last names.)
post #57 of 74

Is this list moderated? Earlier this year, I spent lots of time writing about my Waldorf experience and consequent exhaustive research on the movement behind Waldorf. I am saddened to find that all of my posts have disappeared from this thread! Can anyone tell me what happened to them?


post #58 of 74
Private message Sierra, the moderator for this forum. There was a big crash last summer/fall and everything was lost. Perhaps those posts were from then? They do manually archive threads so some are discarded, but not on a post-by-post level...and posts are not generally deleted by the moderator without a replacement note to us, or a direct note to you. you might check your private messages, under the "User cp" button at the top of the page, in the rare event they were removed for violating the user agreement, which I doubt. I'm sure Sierra will discuss it with you.

Also, you have several posts in a thread called "Questions about a Waldorf Education". Maybe that's the posts you were referring to?
post #59 of 74
Mary-Beth -- I'm 95% certain I know the MD you're talking about, and he is INDEED an anthroposophic doctor. Every SINGLE person I know who has taken their child to him (and so many do for the vaccine support) has been told that their child was "too much in this world." He also bristles when babies would rather have their mothers hold them -- he sees this as a problem. So just know what you're dealing with when you see him, okay? You're right that he's the only game in town.

Indiegirl -- Wanna start our own school together?!?! I know exactly how you feel -- it looks like the more I learn the closer I get to the conclusion that homeschool will be our only option.

I'm so grateful for the stories above from Waldorf alumni. As part of a special project for my thesis, I was allowed to observe in a W. school, and I was appalled to see how ANGRY the children were . . . they were mimicking the teacher's sing-song voice, talking back to her under their breath ("Oh, yes, I'm sure you have something so SPECIAL to tell us"), and would frantically paint their own creation before covering it up with the approved color block of the day (these were 8 yr olds). I'm glad to hear that many of you felt you had positive experiences to balance the negative ones -- I've often worried about those children.

As disappointing as it is, for me it's a confirmation that all that's alternative is not necessarily best, and it reminds me that there are no short-cuts in parenting: I will have to research and research every step of the way.

Thanks so much for this thread -- I hope to share it w/some other AP families who have not yet done their Waldorf homework.
post #60 of 74
Sierra has been away for the last couple of weeks, so I have been watching her boards for her. She should be returning soon and you will have your wonderful moderator back. Be sure to wish her luck in her new life as a married woman.

Debra, the posts you are thinking of have not disappeared. This is a different thread than the ones you posted on before. No one removed anything. If you go to the top of the page and click on the search button, you will be able to do a search by your name and will find the threads that you previously responded on. I see from looking through one of the threads that it got pretty heated. The discussion here seems to be keeping a gentle tone and I hope it stays that way, thus I'm not including a link to the prior threads. If you would like to see them, feel free to perform a search and review your work.

~Beth -- your fill in mod who will never be able to fill Sierra's shoes.
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