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Questions About a Waldorf Education

post #1 of 163
Thread Starter 
I am researching a Waldorf education for my son. I have only come up with positive information. I am not looking for an institution to take over the responsibility to teach him, but one that works as a cooperation between home and school. Does anybody have an experiences or information to share, either to encourage or discourage this type of education?
post #2 of 163
My daughter attended a Waldorf school for K-3rd grade and we really loved it. However, you ask about parent involvement. At the school we attended parent participation was limited to fund raising. The teachers (faculty) run the school and some are better than others at allowing parental participation.
Sometimes I flet that I was the child.

We left because of a bad mix of children and an ineffective teacher. We loved her as a person, but she didn't understand our child's learning disablity - mixed dominate (right brain with a left eye dominate and right handed).

The 8 years with thesame teacher can either be a blessing or a curse. It depends on the teacher. In our case because we trusted the teacher we believed her when she said it was okay that our child wasn't reading like the other children at the end of 2nd grade.

But we loved Waldorf and that is the method that we have predominately used when we began to home school. I am still an avid reader of Steiner and especailly all things Waldorf.

Most of all you can't beat the Waldorf kindergarten!

I would suggest that you ask all the hard qurstions of the school and the teacher in regard to working in cooperation. It is very indvidual teacher based. Every teacher is encouraged to find his/her own path and some are more open to parents than others.
post #3 of 163
Rev Mother,

What is the theory behind a Waldorf education?
post #4 of 163
How much time do you have????

There is no way I can explain Waldorf education in the confines of this post. Nor am I the person to do so. But there are many great books out there (I can recomend some) that will explain it better than I.

Waldorf education is based upon the work of Ruddoff Steiner and grounded in Anthroposophical thought.

That said, here is a quote: "There is a relation between the hours of our life and the centuries of time. The hours should be instructed by the ages and the ages explained by the hours."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

That is in harmony with Waldorf education.
I would say that it is providing an education appropriate to the natural stages of human devlopment -- rather than imposing development. From my religious perspective I always say...God created children to grow, learn and develop in a certian way and rate. God doesn't care that we have become more high tech, children still grow, and are intened to grow the same way as at the beginning of time. Or "teach 'em like God made 'em"

One of the things we loved about Waldorf was the fact that they were not swayed by educational fads.

Let me know if you'd like some titles.
post #5 of 163
Are there any good web sites that you know of that give info about it? I am curious about things such as classroom set up, scheduling, etc. In my past life as an education major we learned many different types of ed theories, but Waldorf doesn't ring a bell. Of there is a lot that my brain has forgotten from my life BC (before children.)
post #6 of 163
Try www.bobnancy.com. That will probably be a good start!
post #7 of 163

Part of my double major (undergrad) was education and at a "teachers college" no less. Waldorf education was never mentioned. Of cource that was back in the dark ages...

The bobandnancy website is great or you can try Antroposomorphic Press.

boband nancy have some weblinks that can help too.

Personally, I \'d stay away from reading Steiner, at least at first.
What age level are you interested in?
post #8 of 163

My oldest son will be four in May and will start Parochial preschool this fall. I'm curious about how Waldorf would educate the pre to el ed ages.
post #9 of 163

Questions About a Waldorf Education

I keep hearing that a good Waldorf education depends on the teacher, what happens if the teacher is not particularly good, for one reason or another?

With appreciaiton,
post #10 of 163
I just finished reading Rahima Baldwin Dancy's book, You are Your Child's First Teacher. I truly enjoyed her insights. I'm not sure that I want my son to attend a Waldorf school - I'm fairly certain that we can't afford that. But I'm looking forward to using Waldorf ideas in raising my son.

Looking back at my upbringing, I think that my Mom followed many of the principals of Waldorf philosophies. I remember the creative play that we engaged in as children, and I want my son to have those same experiences. There was a lot of joy in my childhood with my brothers.

I think that our biggest challenge at this point will be turning off the TV. I know that I don't want Nathan to grow up glued to the TV, and that means less TV for dh and myself!

I hear a hungry baby!

post #11 of 163

AHHHH, there's the rub. Unless the school had more than one class in the same grade level and I don't know of any schools that do (I'm sure there are some).

I do think, hoever, that most teachers are good ones. You need to ask around and once the child is in the school develop a personal; relationship (as much as possible) with the teacher.
post #12 of 163

our experiences with Waldorf

Hi, Olivia, and everyone else who happens to be here!

I spent almost six years as a Waldorf school parent, and I strongly encourage anyone considering enrolling a child in a Waldorf school to thoroughly research both Waldorf education and Anthroposophy before doing so.
Waldorf schools promote themselves as being "arts-based," "progressive," "non-sectarian" schools that take into account "the whole child." Unfortunately, in my family's experience (and that of many others with whom I am in regular communication via the 'net), Waldorf is none of these things. It is especially NOT "non-sectarian," as Anthroposophy determines almost everything about Waldorf, from the sing-songy voices the teachers use to what snacks are served on what day to the color of the classroom walls to what stories are told in what grade, and even how teachers react when children quarrel, or have difficulty getting along. (A belief in karma and reincarnation is a basic tenet of Anthroposophy. Former Waldorf parents have told me that this belief in karma -- that a person's past lives determine situations in the present -- caused difficulties for their child at Waldorf, because teachers hesitated or even refused to intervene in bullying situations. The teachers feared that there was "karma at work" between the fighting children, and that by interfering, they would alter the "life lessons" the children had to learn.)
Anthroposophy determines the smallest details of classroom life at Waldorf schools. Most people are unaware -- at least, I was! -- that children in many Waldorf nursery, kindergarten and early elementary grade classes are not allowed to draw or color using black crayons. The reason? In Anthroposophy, the color black is considered spiritually unfit (harmful) for young children who are still in the process of "coming into" their bodies from beyond. Some Waldorf teachers I spoke with called black an "Ahrimanic" color, meaning it is associated with/even imbued with the spirit of the Anthroposophic god called "Ahriman." (This is a very complicated subject. Anthroposophers believe in two forces that are polar opposites: Lucifer, the light bearer, and Ahriman, the dark, earthly force. A very well known former Waldorf teacher trainer and Waldorf teacher named Eugene Schwartz credits Lucifer with being a big inspiration for Waldorf teachers.) Some parents (including me!) feel that this negativity about black carries racist overtones.
Needless to say, this is a complex subject. If you are considering Waldorf, learn about Anthroposophy. They are inextricably intertwined.
post #13 of 163
My siblings and I are the products of Waldorf education pre-K through 12th grade.

For anyone considering Wladorf, I think the main, most important thing to consider is that NOT ALL SCHOOLS ARE ALIKE. Sure, they may be grounded in the same philosophy, but it gets played out differently in different schools. Read all you want about anthroposophy and Steiner, but what it comes down to is how you feel about your local school. Visit, talk to teachers, parents, and kids, and make your decision from there.

Although there is a lot in the philosophy that kids aren't made directly aware of, I must say that in all my years as a student (Green Meadow in NY), I NEVER came across the "karma" idea. Maybe it was a factor in the way teachers treated kids, but it was certainly never presented to us.

Which just goes to show that different stuff goes at different schools. I'd be happy to share my thoughts on the advantages/disadvantages of a Waldorf education with anyone interested in the perspective from age 36. Just email...
post #14 of 163

more about Waldorf questions!

Hi, everyone! <g>

I read with interest the post by the gal from toddlerland (!! I fondly remember that place myself, tho it's been a few years!) saying she and her sibs attended Greenmeadow Waldorf school, and pointing out that though the philosophy behind Waldorf (Anthroposophy) is the same everywhere, how various schools interpret it may be different.
I think that is an excellent point. I do think, however, that ALL Waldorf schools are obligated to tell ALL parents about Anthroposophy -- and its basic tenets -- because those tenets and beliefs in fact DO impact on everything in a Waldorf school, from the way teachers talk to children to the colors in classrooms to what is taught (and not taught) each year, and so on. I am very glad that the magazine mom felt her education was a good one, but I am sorry to report that my own daughters did NOT get a good education (in most any sense) at their Waldorf school, and I would wager that the school's dedication to Anthroposophy and its principles was to blame. (Example: Waldorf schools say they won't "force" children to learn to read early. What they don't publicize are all the things they do to try to stop children who naturally do read at what they consider an early age! They say they don't "force" children into intellectualism at an early age, but neglect to mention that those children who are intellectually inclined are discouraged from being so.) This all happens because of teachers' dedication to anthroposophy, which views Waldorf as a way of preparing children's souls for the next incarnation, rather than as a way of educating children for this world. That is why I urge anyone interested in W. to read about anthroposophy.
post #15 of 163

a Web resource about Waldorf

One more thing: anyone interested in Waldorf should check out the information on the People for Legal and Non Sectarian Schools (PLANS) Web site, and read what is there with an open mind.

The addy is: www.waldorfcritics.org.

I also moderate a list called Waldorf-survivors-only which is administered through Yahoogroups. We have about 60 members from all over the world; folks who either attended Waldorf themselves, or whose children attended and had extremely negative experiences. (Commonalities include children who get so behind academically that they have great difficulty catching up; children with learning differences whose problems were not detected by teachers or parents and struggle for many years as a result; children who were bullied and abused physically while at Waldorf; and more.) The stories are truly heartbreaking.

post #16 of 163
I'll say up front that I know very little about Waldorf. That said. A few years ago I babysat for a child, who was almost 8. He had been attending a Waldorf school, but it ended at 2nd grade and he had to find a new school. He could not read, and was diagnosed with a learning disability after leaving the school. He had a very hard time getting into another school because he was so far behind academically. He had to attend private tutoring ans complete all sorts of homework, all summer that I kept him, which was no fun for him, and a major hassle for his parents, in order to attend a private school the next year...

- Chelsea
post #17 of 163

Questions about Waldorf

Unfortunately, the situation that Chelsea described is one I hear about quite frequently. And while I recognize that there are many happy and satisfied Waldorf graduates, I personally am acquainted with a large number who have not had that outcome ... ie) children who attend Waldorf schools and then, when they must transfer to other, non-Waldorf schools, find they are disturbingly behind their peers. Waldorf schools generally *do* warn parents that Waldorf children generally do not reach "parity" with non-Waldorf peers until third grade. What parents do not realize, however, is just how far behind their children might be! Many times while at our former Waldorf school I heard parents reassuring themselves by saying "Well, our children may seem to be behind academically until 3rd or 4th grade, but after that, Waldorf children soar ahead." Unfortunately, there seems to be previous little "soaring ahead" in reality, and I hear weekly from parents who are upset and sick at heart at how hard their child must struggle just to catch up when leaving Waldorf for a more mainstream approach. Again, I put the blame for this squarely on anthroposophy and Waldorf teachers' devotion to it and unwillingness to deviate from the "anthro party line" set up by Steiner (who had no children and little experience with them!) 80 years ago and does not take into account modern understanding of human development. Fundamental Waldorfism is very Medieval.
post #18 of 163
As someone who spent years in Waldorf education, I can definitely list the negatives as well as the positives. However, I must say that I think the tone of waldorfcritics.com is rather extreme. Undoubtedly some people have had bad experiences with Waldorf education, but from what I've heard, Dan Dugan has turned his negative experience in the San Francisco school into quite the little industry. The whole thing has such a gleeful tone to it, (Oh my god, kids paint only on wet paper until third grade! Let us tell you the horrifying secret reason!) and I find it pretty creepy.

I just want to say, in response to the reading thing, that I was a very early reader; I remember asking my father to teach me, which he did. It was always acknowledged in my class that I was ahead of everyone in reading, and no big deal was made of it in the slightest. Not to invalidate anyone else's experience at other schools!

One of my main problems with the education I received is that there was no help available for someone who had real problems with certain areas, academically, like math. I was made to feel a total dunce, and simple solutions like extra tutoring were never mentioned. I can't say if this was a function of Waldorf education, or just me falling through the cracks. As I said before, I am reluctant to generalize, just because I DO know how different the schools can be. But I am also wary of blanket condemnations of Waldorf education, when I know there's much about them that's quite wonderful.
post #19 of 163
Also, I want to add that though my siblings attended Waldorf through 12th grade, I left after 9th (for complicated reasons unrelated to Waldorf education). I had no problems making the transition academically to a new school. Not to say that others did/will not.
post #20 of 163
Thank you, zinemama, for being brave enough to stand up to those Waldorf critics! I read their stuff also, and always leave it feeling dirty. The “discussion” is so mean-spirited that it reminds me of an angry mob. I think they should share the responsibility for their disappointment with their children’s education. It is obvious from a lot of their grievances that they did not do their homework before sending their children to a Waldorf school.
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