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A Critical Review of Waldorf Resources - Page 8

post #141 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yinsum
I wanted to add that in trying to understand the main criticism of waldorf (lack of disclosure about Anthroposophy) I don't find that as an issue for my particular school.
I agree, this isn't an issue at my school either. I've had direct experience with so many different non-Waldorf schools, and the Waldorf school has done more by far to educate parents than any I've ever seen.

Waldorf is very different in some ways, although I personally think of it as pretty traditional in comparison with other innovative educational systems I've seen out there.

I've been trying too to understand why it is sometimes, when someone's personal experience with Waldorf doesn't turn out well, whatever the reason, 'anthroposophy' somehow gets put on trial. I just don't see the logical connection. When something goes wrong, which happens in any school system, it's only in Waldorf, it seems like, where the founder's writings are scoured for some quirky bit, it's seized on and snap judgements drawn in light of this "conspiracy theory".

For example, it becomes a sport almost to look for "answers" by scouring 100 year old written passages to find things like: "The concept of incarnation can thus be taken as a guide for interpreting deviant traits: psychic energy must be incarnated in movement so that it can unify the personality...If this unity is not attained, either because of adult domination or lack of motivation for the child...psychic energy and movement develop separately and 'the man is divided'". Then all sorts of wild theories get tossed out like maybe this is evidence of the 'deception' in Waldorf's philosophy regarding karma, Eurythmy, child development, whatever, and how that supposedly explains why bullying can occur in a Waldorf school or something nutty like that. I really don't "get it" why something like this would be obsessed over--Waldorf is often a victim of a kind of tunnel-visioned criticism, receiving a hyper-sensitive level of scrutiny in things like this that I don't see launched against others.

It really gets kooky sometimes.


Quote:
So I don't see the big cover up happening here So is it fair to assume that all waldorf school operate out of deceit?
Obviously, I do not think it is at all fair to assume this.

Linda
post #142 of 165
wow, this is quite a thread! here's where i'm coming from: ds is 4 and i have recently begun researching schools for him. i started with the two philosophies that were the most familiar to me by name - montessori and waldorf. my knowledge of them until recently has consisted primarily of conversations with a close friend who has enrolled her daughter in both schools in the past. her dd is currently attending a waldorf charter school and my friend is THRILLED with it. i actually assumed from her descriptions of the school that the philosophical ideals of waldorf were more pagan leaning!
my ds attended a montessori preschool for about 6 months, and that was a good experience for him/us. we recently moved and i looked into our local waldorf school, since what i have understood about waldorf philosophy up until now has sounded right in line with my spiritual beliefs. their website is beautiful and informative in many ways, however, i didn't see any mention of anthroposophy on the site. i never heard of the term until this thread.
so i would have to agree with the view that it seems a bit shady or manipulative to not clearly identify and inform prospective waldorf parents of this fundamental component of their educational philosophy.
all that being said, i'm not turned away from waldorf, but i'm glad i'm doing my homework! i appreciate all the debate/opinion/information being provided here.

jen
post #143 of 165
Pete, I've been meaning to come and thank you. We had always planned to homeschool, but then had an offer to pay for private school and were very seriously considering Waldorf. We had been to several open houses, puppet shows, a May festival.

I came here and saw your posts and realized that while I was impressed with some things, I had this niggling feeling that something was wrong with the particular Waldorf school I was visiting. Based on what you have been saying here, I began asking different questions and talking to Waldorf parents and was able to determine that this Waldorf school is not right for us. They were hiding their religious philosophy from us, among other things.

My Dh is very relieved because he has always wanted to homeschool, but I had some doubts.

One more thing, after talking to one Waldorf parent - who happened to be an acquaintance of mine from more than 20 years ago - this parent began having her own doubts and has since put her Dd into Montessori.

So, Pete, you are having and impact.
post #144 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommajubilee
waldorf school, since what i have understood about waldorf philosophy up until now has sounded right in line with my spiritual beliefs. their website is beautiful and informative in many ways, however, i didn't see any mention of anthroposophy on the site. i never heard of the term until this thread.
so i would have to agree with the view that it seems a bit shady or manipulative to not clearly identify and inform prospective waldorf parents of this fundamental component of their educational philosophy.
all that being said, i'm not turned away from waldorf, but i'm glad i'm doing my homework! i appreciate all the debate/opinion/information being provided here.

jen
Jen if you check your school's website click on Waldorf Info and then click Rudolf Steiner then under the first paragraph comes the heading Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy. Just thought I'd double check the site you mentioned
post #145 of 165
The SC Waldorf website contains a very good introduction into the anthroposophical roots of Waldorf ed in its discussion of Rudolf Steiner. The links page points to tons of information about it, including the Rudolf Steiner Archive which is a fantastic online library.

A word of caution, however. Waldorf methods charter schools aren't exactly the same as Waldorf schools, so a direct comparison might be misleading. Waldorf schools are not sectarian, but they may have more religious features than might be allowed in public school, such as blessings before meals.

Linda
post #146 of 165
Perhaps this is what is happening to a lot of folks who do not know about anthroposophy. They are not seeing the links on the websites, not hearing the words in the open houses, not asking the questions, and not reading the books about steiner and waldorf. Therefore, anthroposophy is coming as a surprise. And, waldorf parents in the know and teachers take it for granted that people interested in waldorf will be in the know.


Not trying to be snarky, just a thought.
post #147 of 165
thanks for pointing out that section of the site. i had only checked under the "philosophy" heading, figuring that is where i would see mention of anthroposophy.

i'll have to check out one of their open houses and see what kind of info they give.
post #148 of 165
Dd slept late this am and it is pretty rainy so I've been surfing the internet.

I checked out the PLANS site. PLANS is referenced in a few threads in this forum. PLANS = people for the legal and nonsectarian schools. Very interesting. This site is primarily intended to stop waldorf charter schools in California. Their mission is to expose the views of Steiner and Waldorf as a cult and stop illegal public funding of waldorf schools. They also have a lot of personal stories from those who do not like waldorf. They are primarily funded out of the board members pockets but they have had one grant, from the Pacific Justice Institute.

I then spent some time at the PJI website. They define themselves as " a legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties." Further digging found that they support legalizing christian evangelizing in public schools and offer support to pastors and other christian leaders as to how they can affect policy in public schools. They also support efforts to ban abortion.

So, this all brings me to some more questions for those who are critical of waldorf. Let me first say that I am asking respectfully.

1. How has your own christian or other religious views affected your opinions of Waldorf?
2. Is your negative experience with Waldorf related to your religion?
3. Do you believe that Waldorf is a cult or that anthroposophy is an occult religion?

Just curious because religious beliefs could explain a lot about why some have strong negative opinions of Waldorf and some do not.

References:

PLANS

Pacific Justice Institute
post #149 of 165
Wow, Boongirl, good detective work! I've wondered about a Christian/Waldorf critic connection myself. When we first enrolled in a Waldorf parent-tot class I and my husband did a little internet searching. My husband spent some time perusing the Waldorf Critics website and came away with the impression that most of the members were disgruntled Christians who became enraged with Waldorf when they found out about it's non-Christian spirituality (anthroposophy).
I know Pete doesn't post here anymore, but hopefully some other Waldorf critic will answer your questions because now I'm pretty curious.
Janine
post #150 of 165
boongirl and ratlover this is very interesting and makes quite a bit of sense. I keep trying to figure out why things seem so intensely directed at Waldorf. I would like to get some perspective on this
post #151 of 165
There are actually two main "streams" involved in criticism of waldorf. One is Christian and the other is secular humanist. It may seem odd for them to work together (it does to me), but the same alignment of forces has joined together to attack alternative medicine. The first public critique of waldorf in the U.S. was published in a secular humanist publication.

Nana
post #152 of 165
Aha! Actually I had no idea what secular humanism was so I went to secularhumanism.org and found this.


It is:
Quote:
A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.

there is more. the def also talks about a constant search for truth and using critical reasoning rather than faith to seek answers to human questions.

So, waldorf critics, where are your comments? Eagerly awaiting being informed.
post #153 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yinsum
Jen if you check your school's website click on Waldorf Info and then click Rudolf Steiner then under the first paragraph comes the heading Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy. Just thought I'd double check the site you mentioned
That is barely a mention at all! It is there, though...

Quote:
Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a respected and well-published scientist and thinker, with particular fame for his work with Goethe's scientific writings. The roots of Waldorf Education come from the spiritual-scientific research of Steiner. According to Steiner's "Anthroposophy", a human is a threefold being of body, soul, and spirit, whose capacities unfold in developmental stages on the path to adulthood
In my opinion, that would not be enough to let me know that the entire education at a Waldorf school is Anthroposophy-based. I mean, if the founder of another school happened to be Catholic and the school's website mentioned it once (seemingly as a side note), I certainly wouldn't expect the education at this school to be based on Catholicism.
post #154 of 165
Boongirl you may find fewer agenda-focused critics on the subforum these days. We are focusing on healthy sharing of information and discussion without calling forward people who just want to debate. I hope that makes sense to you. There are plenty of old threads to review various points of view.
post #155 of 165
Hmmm... I don't know if I qualify as a Waldorf critic, I'm simply someone who was interested in Waldorf and amazed and shocked at what I found. I figured I'd answer these questions for myself and make some comments about my own beliefs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
I then spent some time at the PJI website. They define themselves as " a legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties." Further digging found that they support legalizing christian evangelizing in public schools and offer support to pastors and other christian leaders as to how they can affect policy in public schools. They also support efforts to ban abortion.
I've never been to the PJI website but I will mention that I do NOT "support legalizing christian evangelizing in public schools", au contraire, I am strongly, completely against it. Can't even stand the idea of ten commandments in the classroom. I am also pro-choice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
So, this all brings me to some more questions for those who are critical of waldorf. Let me first say that I am asking respectfully.

1. How has your own christian or other religious views affected your opinions of Waldorf?
I am not Christian. I am not affiliated with any religious group and I do not fall under any religious category. I am not atheist, either. I suppose the fact that I specifically and adamantly do not subscribe to any particular religious doctrine definitely influences my opinions of Waldorf...the parts of Waldorf that I like have nothing to do with religious beliefs...the fact that so much of it seems to be based on what I see to be a religion, Anthroposophy, is a HUGE reason why I would never send my children to a Waldorf school.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
2. Is your negative experience with Waldorf related to your religion?
My main experience with Waldorf is having friends & family involved or interested in Waldorf, which led me to be interested in it further, which led me to this board.

The negativity that I have found with Waldorf is mostly due to Steiner quotes...I won't buy Mitsubishi because in the 80s they had horrible environmental policies and I don't forgive them for that...I don't buy VW because they once supported the Nazi Party and I suspect it's possible that they still have those sympathies, I don't buy Mobil/Exxon gas because of their extremely poor reactions after the Valdez oil spill, and I won't support Waldorf because of Steiner's horrible quotes regarding race...his suggestions that teachers are karmically destined to be more important to the students than their parents, his suggestions to teachers that they not call the morning verses 'prayers' but verses so as to not have parents up in arms, thinking they were pushing anthroposophy on the children (which they were).

I also hate the idea of eurythmy, seems absolutely creepy to me and it seems unethical that it is the main physical education taught throughout the years and indeed, every year, etc.

Has nothing to do with my religion...though perhaps a little with the fact that I am not an anthroposophist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
3. Do you believe that Waldorf is a cult or that anthroposophy is an occult religion?
Anthroposophy seems possibly cult-like but I'm not convinced that it's a cult. Now...Scientology seems particularly cult-like to me, Moonies are cult members, Mormons seem iffy to me...even Landmark Forum seems extremely cult-like to me... I'm not convinced that Anthroposophy is a cult... not yet anyway. From what I have read, some Waldorf schools seem sort of cult-like, "my way or the highway" and don't question, just do. Constant sing songy voices from teachers...that seems a little over the top, too. Hey, I'm a cheery friendly person with little kids and I definitely use cutesy voices speaking to little ones at times, but I'm always 100% sincere about it...I just know that I couldn't keep that up constantly though...so it seems to me, to be a very insincere quality in a teacher.

As for occult, yes, Anthroposophy is definitely occult-based...is there really any debate or question about that? I'm fairly certain that Anthroposophy does not debate that and Steiner admitted clearly to being an occultist, correct? Some Waldorfians seem to say that Waldorf is not pushing Anthroposophy on its students, that they are teaching about all types of religions to the students, and some Waldorfians readily admit to Waldorf being Anthroposophy. I know both types of Waldorfians, personally. This contradiction seems...I don't know...wacky, for lack of a better term, to me. And these are people I know in real life...without even getting into the disparities apparent on this board.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
Just curious because religious beliefs could explain a lot about why some have strong negative opinions of Waldorf and some do not.
I can't speak for any others that I have seen post "critiques" of Waldorf or their Waldorf experiences, but I haven't seen anything that would suggest to me that they are speaking from the point of views of their religions. I have read many specifics criticisms of experiences in their relative schools though...with varying stories. It always amazed me, actually, when some pro-Waldorf posters seem to yell and scream at these people, trying to invalidate their experiences. I think each poster has the absolute right to the validity of their experiences and the right to tell them to others.

Life is a learning experience...since we can't all do anything, hopefully we can learn from reading and hearing about others experiences. Actually, I just took my children to a Waldorf playgroup yesterday and they had a marvelous time with a bunch of other wonderful preschool aged children. Yet I would never enroll them in a Waldorf preschool or elementary. That's my own personal choice.
post #156 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by lauren
Boongirl you may find fewer agenda-focused critics on the subforum these days. We are focusing on healthy sharing of information and discussion without calling forward people who just want to debate. I hope that makes sense to you. There are plenty of old threads to review various points of view.
Ah, I just posted then saw this.

Then again, I have no agenda. Just an interest in Waldorf.
post #157 of 165
Quote:
In my opinion, that would not be enough to let me know that the entire education at a Waldorf school is Anthroposophy-based. I mean, if the founder of another school happened to be Catholic and the school's website mentioned it once (seemingly as a side note), I certainly wouldn't expect the education at this school to be based on Catholicism.
I don't know, Riversky, I think that the school website you were referring to earlier made it very clear that Waldorf schools are "rooted" in Anthroposophy:

Quote:
The roots of Waldorf Education come from the spiritual-scientific research of Steiner. According to Steiner's "Anthroposophy", a human is a threefold being of body, soul, and spirit, whose capacities unfold in developmental stages on the path to adulthood
I think I'm a bit like you in that I don't want any religion in public schools at all (or in courthouses!), but at the same time, the thought of Anthroposophy in private Waldorf schools doesn't bother me much. I realize that it's a trade-off between the things I love about Waldorf education and their wackiness. I still think the good outweighs the bad compared to public schools. And being a cynical atheist I have no fear of my dd becoming an anthroposophist. That is one thing I wonder about, though: do the kids buy into the weird beliefs when the parents don't? I suppose that's another topic...
Janine
post #158 of 165
Let me clarify my comment made earlier. MDC members that are at MDC to be part of the whole community are more than welcome to discuss the pros and cons of Waldorf, respectfully and in accordance with the UA. Healthy discussion is an important part of the whole community. What we are steering away from is when members join just for the purpose of debating Waldorf-- pro or con-- and don't even seem aware that they are within a larger community. Peggy has decided not to host that here at MDC.

Parents who are struggling with educational decisions have always been able to critically discuss those options, and this will continue.

I hope I am coming across clearly. I want to make sure people know they can analyze Waldorf education for its strengths and faults, just like any other type of educational option.
post #159 of 165
Personally I don't look at what Waldorf does as religious but more in a mythical light such as Jungian philosphy. Waldorf for me, speaks to the mythical archetypes found in all of our subconciousness.

It begins with Fairy Tales which are ancient folk tales, progresses to Aesop's fables and saint stories, to the Old Testement and Norse Tales, to Greek myths, to Roman myths and on up through history, taking a more historical and less mythical view of things as the children become older. Major European holidays are celebrated because the schools started in Europe: Michelmas, Martinmas (lantern walk), Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, Twelth Night, Easter, May Day, etc. All of this is goes on while also holidays from the Jewish calender are celebrated in 3rd grade.

In our school, the children learn Spanish and Japanese so many Mexican and Japanese holidays are celebrated also - The Day of the Dead, Doll Festival, Children's Day, etc. Many of the blatantly Christian holidays have been changed at our school to what I think they hope is more ecumenical holidays: Advent - Soltice, Easter parade - Spring Parade, etc. Also, a lot of these festivals drop off as the children get older (Easter Parade/ Spring Parade is solely the Kindergartens, Advent/Winter/Soltice Spiral is K - 3, Lantern Walk is K -2). We get complaints from Christian parents when festivals are changed in name from Christian to what they see as Pagan. Also, many of teachers celebrate Kwanzaa as a way to bring African American and African culture into the classroom. Along with telling African folk tales and Persian folk tales in 1st and 2nd grade.

I know that in other countries and in other schools where other languages are taught, other holidays are celebrated. In Israeli Waldorf schools, Jewish Holidays are emphasized. The festival schedule adjusts to address the archetypes within the children. This I think, is more of a challenge in the US, because we are a nation of immigrants from all over the world.
post #160 of 165
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverSky
I can't speak for any others that I have seen post "critiques" of Waldorf or their Waldorf experiences, but I haven't seen anything that would suggest to me that they are speaking from the point of views of their religions. I have read many specifics criticisms of experiences in their relative schools though...with varying stories. It always amazed me, actually, when some pro-Waldorf posters seem to yell and scream at these people, trying to invalidate their experiences. I think each poster has the absolute right to the validity of their experiences and the right to tell them to others.
Thank you for clafifying your beliefs. Definitely has given me ideas to look for in researching more about waldorf schools.


And, thank you too, to Lauren and Rhonwyn for your thoughts.

This is a great discussion. Has really opened my mind.
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