or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Waldorf › A Safe, Healthy Haven: Waldorf Questioners/Concerns Thread
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

A Safe, Healthy Haven: Waldorf Questioners/Concerns Thread - Page 2

post #21 of 801
Thread Starter 
The "boys need to chill" attitude I have seen in many Waldorf environments. In my teacher-training, schools, and I generally felt upset that my son felt he was inherently "bad" for being active and occasionally silly. He saw the response in his teacher's eyes, that she was not affectionate to him after he was "silly". He verbalized this and said she would no longer greet him in the morning. I understand this is just our one experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by muse
That's encouraging to hear. And I agree with sweetlife that that particular situation of beansavi's should have been investigated properly.

I think things are run quite differently here in the UK (Steiner schools are independent of one another for a start and all work differently), but I think some similar issues come up. One of my concerns has been around this particular issue and wondering what kind of training the teachers get. It seems to me that some of the things that bother me stem from Waldorf philosophy itself, but others stem from being a private institution. In many ways they seem to function in heir own little sphere, unaccountable to anyone but themselves.

Something we're struggling with a bit right now is the "labelling" of children that goes on; is this universal in waldorf? When ds started in kindergarten the teacher referred to some children as "melancholy" and some as "sparky". We said, hmm, are there any other types of children besides that and she said no. She wouldn't let on what category she put our son in, but I'm guessing sparky, and that that had all sorts of negative connotations; cheeky, mischevious, 'too much energy'. Now he has a new teacher and she says at the end of the day, when he is bubbling and excited and talkative, that he had "not good energy today", and then one day when he was sick, exhausted, had black circles under his eyes, said, "he had a very good energy level today". As in, boys (in particular) are supposed to be quiet, subdued, passive little things. Not at all what we signed up for.
: Is this typical?
post #22 of 801
Thread Starter 

Keeping on Track

Now that this thread has fully opened up and gotten "down to it", please remember that:

If you are not someone who needs help and support with a negative Waldorf experience, please do not post here unless you are directly supporting someone else who has spoken out, with bravery, about how they or their family feels hurt.

Also, please do not post here simply for the purpose of defending Waldorf Ed. or your particular school/good experience-- there are plenty of other threads for that.

Please review the guidelines in the original post, #1.

To quote Lauren, our moderator:

"Members posting simply to pick apart the question or put down the questioner will not be tolerated."

Peace,
post #23 of 801
Thread Starter 

The Lounge is Open, and the Coffee's Hot

Okay, me again...

I want to maintain this thread as a supportive "lounge" environment, rather than an educational or debate-oriented thread, so I thought I would begin a new topic of conversation for those of us who have left, or been kicked out of the Waldorf movement.

Some issues my family has dealt with and ways to handle them are as follows:

1) Leaving the built-in, automatic community network, which includes friends of our children and friends we have made as parents.

This can be a lonely, yet liberating, transition time.

2) The pain of "I thought we were friends but now many in my community are literally telling me they "don't want to get involved", or "don't want to know about all the traumatic details" of what we went through. The school is "working" for their children, and so, that is "all [they] need to know".

Again, when we go through trauma, our friends are the ones we normally turn to for support. When many of these are no longer a resource, times can be very lonely indeed.

3) It is time to begin reaching out to family, being honest about what you went through (even if they think you were crazy for putting your kids there in the first place after hearing the story), and making new friends or reconnecting with those not involved in Waldorf. Expand your horizons.

4) It is also a good time not to underestimate the fact that you may be needing (and the chances are good for this) family or individual counseling, to gain perspective again.

Counseling helped my family enormously, because when an outsider scoffs immediately at some of the treatment you have received, it is very liberating to realize just how ridiculous some of the behavior you have gotten numb to really is.

5) Make a list of what worked for you in Waldorf, and what drew you to it in the first place. You do not have to give these things up. My children still have the tradition at Christmas that Santa sat by the fire carving in the old-fashioned way, a wooden toy for them as he and Mrs. Claus talked and thought about my kids only. I made up this tradition myself, and really enjoy looking at the Ostheimer and Kinderkram sites like The Wooden Wagon. However, I no longer order from companies that identify themselves as Waldorf associates or supporters. I also do not go to Waldorf craft fairs, etc.

What I do do is find the basic core of what was already existing within myself that Waldorf aligned with and thus drew me in: for me it was the crafts, songs, underlying spiritual acknowledgement, colors and textures. These elements are still very prevelant in my life and the lives of my family members.

By doing this, I have separated my identity from that of Waldorf. Losing our individual identity can be a common problem, and rediscovering it is crucial to our happiness and fulfillment.

Want to add anything? Please jump in!!!

Peace,
post #24 of 801
Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi

The Kindergartens became established, and one grade. Eventually I became a grades teacher at the school. They sent me, all expenses paid, to Rudolf Steiner College where I studied for thirteen hours a day, five days a week, in the summer.

After returning from my first year, I noticed the other teachers didn't seem as friendly to me. I chalked it up to my imagination.

Bensavi, why do you think your collegues did this? Were they questioning your training?

I am sorry that your son went through what he went through. During my daughters last year of Kindergarten, 2 families had to be asked to leave because their children were acting out sexually with the other children (mostly at playdates and a little at school). It was hard to tell those two families that their children we hurting the other children and that the school could not provide the kind of help their kids needed. The rest of the Kindergarten year was much better after that for the rest of the children. I am hopeful that the families got help for their children. I am sorry your school did not respond as they should have to protect the rest of the class.
post #25 of 801
Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
Now that this thread has fully opened up and gotten "down to it", please remember that:

If you are not someone who needs help and support with a negative Waldorf experience, please do not post here unless you are directly supporting someone else who has spoken out, with bravery, about how they or their family feels hurt.

Also, please do not post here simply for the purpose of defending Waldorf Ed. or your particular school/good experience-- there are plenty of other threads for that.

Please review the guidelines in the original post, #1.

To quote Lauren, our moderator:

"Members posting simply to pick apart the question or put down the questioner will not be tolerated."

Peace,

can we subscribe to this thread & just read the posts? I am a mother who uses some waldorf arts and crafts and other curriculum (hser) and would like to hear both sides. ok?
post #26 of 801
Thread Starter 
Hi Chandraj,

Thanks for your consideration in asking to read this thread.

I, personally, have no problem with that, and I am pretty sure the user guidelines don't have a problem with that either.

I also would like for others to come out and say if they had a problem, but honestly, I think the only problems we Waldorf Questioners/Concerners have ever had is having people question our motives, integrity, or actual credentials for statements we have made. This was done in an argumentative manner in the past, or simply to halt therapeutic discussions.

As long as the guidelines are being followed (stated in the original post and the sticky by Lauren), it's all good!

Thanks agian and have a great rest of the weekend!
post #27 of 801
ok thanks!
post #28 of 801
I came here when I was exploring education options for my children. I wanted to know what other peoples experiences were. I'm glad to see that there are still threads that are addressing Waldorf "concerns."

It is unfortunate, in retrospect that I ignored some of the warnings and concerns that were brought up on this board. I don't even think that your story Bensavi would have changed my mind.

So for any mother that is here looking for information and is wondering if Waldorf is for them I would like to just point some things out.

--If you are concerned about religion/anthroposophy being part of the Waldorf education system then please explore another type of school. While some schools are more open about this than others every parent needs to know that anthroposophy permeates the theory and practice of Waldorf. If you are unfamiliar with anthrosophy then start your research by looking into it. If you are comfortable with what you find then continue your research. If you don't like what you learn about anthrosophy then please save yourself the grief. You will not be able to change or dilute your child's Waldorf school or group.

--If joining something that is "Waldorf inspired" find out exactly what that means. To you it might mean the incorporation of Waldorf toys, stories, songs and music. To others "Waldorf inspired" might mean significantly more.

--How do you feel about academics and how children learn? Waldorf is very specific about this. If you think a child should be taught to read before 2nd grade then Waldorf isn't for you.
post #29 of 801
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Brooklyngirl...

Yes, as a former Waldorf teacher, I appreciate your pointing out that Waldorf is Anthroposophy. It is an educational form (pedagogy) created by Rudolf Steiner (creator of Waldorf ed.) in response to a request for such an educational model from one of his Anthroposophical supporters and students. If someone buys into Anthroposophy as a spiritual fact, and as a reality, then Waldorf would be fine for them.

But, to go into Waldorf Education without researching Anthroposophy is asking for potential problems down the line --- one of many reasons being that true Anthroposophy and thus Waldorf Education discourages attachment parenting, co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, etc., as well as other more dogmatic things stemming from Anthroposophy...

Some of my issues were the blaming of the child's karma for bad things that happened to him, or beliefs that since he was vaccinated, this didn't allow him to get ill -- and thus he had to "suffer" more in everyday life and relationships to obtain the same benefits that illnesses would have supposedly provided.

If one truly has "nothing to fear" from Waldorf critics/those with concerns, then one should have no problem researching from all the available critics websites and literature as well as pro-Waldorf sources, and would not be threatened by the information therein.

Peace,
post #30 of 801
Thread Starter 
Kira,

I've been meaning to thank you for sharing your experience with us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Kira~
Hi all,


I guess I will share my experience with Waldorf here in case it helps anyone looking for more information. Of course every Waldorf school is unique and my experience is unique as well.

I attended Waldorf in grade 6. My family had just moved out to BC and heard bad things about the local public schools and I was all set to enroll in one year into a private Baha'i school so we just had one year until then.

Because I had gone through years in the public school system and was learning reading with my mom at home even before we started it at school, I was very shocked at suddenly being immersed in such a different style of learning.

We had no books, we never read in class or for homework. A class usually consisted of the teacher giving a lecture and we could draw pictures or write what he or she said. 2 kids in my class of 9 could not read at all, they were the 2 who had gone through Waldorf from kindergarden age. Math class was drawing shapes in our sketchbooks and also one time I remember nailing little nails into a sheet of plywood and wrapping yarn around them to make it look like a star.

It was very hard to learn French and German because we couldn't practice reading from a text at school or at home. Our teacher would say words and we'd repeat them. That's it.

By the time I finished the year and went on to the next school, I was so far behind in my Math that it took me almost the entire seventh grade spent in after-school tutorials to catch up. Luckily I loved reading and had been reading books at home even though it wasn't part of my school work at Waldorf, so that didn't suffer. We didn't learn any science or geography or social studies at all, so I was behind on all of those too.

I'm so glad that I only went there for one year, other wise I know it would have taken me longer to catch up and Math has always been a challenge for me.

After that experience, I know I will never send any child of mine to Waldorf. I loved learning to read when I did - reading was a very special part of my childhood and I hope it will be for my children too. Also I want them to be prepared well for university, and I know that if I'd stayed on at Waldorf for all of high school, I'd never manage with college/university courses.

My younger sister unfortunately struggled with these same issues, since she also attended Waldorf that year. She was in grade 3. After that year, my parents took her out and put her in another school since we had moved to another area with a better public school. She almost had to repeat grade 3 because of Waldorf, but luckily the new teacher she had was willing to help her out after school if needed with her reading etc.



Thanks for letting me share my experience, and very glad this thread is here for those who need it.




-Kira
post #31 of 801
Thread Starter 
QUOTE: MUSE: Something we're struggling with a bit right now is the "labelling" of children that goes on; is this universal in waldorf? When ds started in kindergarten the teacher referred to some children as "melancholy" and some as "sparky". We said, hmm, are there any other types of children besides that and she said no. She wouldn't let on what category she put our son in, but I'm guessing sparky, and that that had all sorts of negative connotations; cheeky, mischevious, 'too much energy'. Now he has a new teacher and she says at the end of the day, when he is bubbling and excited and talkative, that he had "not good energy today", and then one day when he was sick, exhausted, had black circles under his eyes, said, "he had a very good energy level today". As in, boys (in particular) are supposed to be quiet, subdued, passive little things. Not at all what we signed up for.
: Is this typical?[/QUOTE]

Sorry to take so long in responding...

Yes, Muse, this labelling is the foundation of my Waldorf teacher training, and it effected everything from the way I taught a lesson, to where I seated children in relation to each other, etc. The labels are:

Choleric-leader, firey
Melancholic-sensitive, prone to the blues
Sanguine-flitting from one task to the next, losing interest quickly
Phlegmatic-methodical, precise

(These are brief desciptions.)

Some children are considered in Waldorf blends of two, and also considered to change over the course of childhood.
post #32 of 801
Thread Starter 
Hey there, Everyone...

Just wanted to say thanks so far for everyone's contributions and for letting this be a place where we can establish comfort and solidarity.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

post #33 of 801
Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
Sorry to take so long in responding...

Yes, Muse, this labelling is the foundation of my Waldorf teacher training, and it effected everything from the way I taught a lesson, to where I seated children in relation to each other, etc. The labels are:

Choleric-leader, firey
Melancholic-sensitive, prone to the blues
Sanguine-flitting from one task to the next, losing interest quickly
Phlegmatic-methodical, precise

(These are brief desciptions.)

Some children are considered in Waldorf blends of two, and also considered to change over the course of childhood.
Hmmm I have a real problem with this labelling. When Waldorf says they are "child centered" it's really not true, because children are indivduals who should be treated as that. You can't simply lump them all into a category. Also it seems things are not flexible in the waldorf classroom/style of teaching, do not adapt to the individual personalities/needs in the group.

Compare this with our local public school where at the start of a new term they empty out each classroom completely and when the new class of children comes in they let the children decide how to arrange the furniture, decorate the room, seat themselves, etc. And if say they are going to teach a class on history, they ask the children what they would like to learn about that term, and have the children lead the learning.

I've learned that for all the good things there are in Waldorf, it really is not a child-centered approach (it's a Steiner centered approach) and that in many ways it is quite conservative and un-innovative (is that a word?!).

In regards to attachment parenting, I think this really differs depending on the school. I know at our school (in the UK; maybe quite different than the US) in theory the teachers would prefer kids were more independent of their parents early on; i.e. not extended breastfeeding, etc, but in reality they won't say anything/criticise or tell us how to parent (well, except for when it comes to TV and toys...). And in reality the school is a buzzing hive of attachment parenting and it's a place where we feel part of a community that is extremely supportive of our parenting practices.
post #34 of 801
Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
But, to go into Waldorf Education without researching Anthroposophy is asking for potential problems down the line --- one of many reasons being that true Anthroposophy and thus Waldorf Education discourages attachment parenting, co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, etc., as well as other more dogmatic things stemming from Anthroposophy...
This is a very important point, IMO. I am friends with a couple (they have two preschool-aged daughters) who are very much into Anthroposophy and by extension Steiner education. This is to the extent that they would never consider moving somewhere that doesn't have a Steiner school, and won't consider any other type of education for their daughters. They live their lives very much according to anthroposophic principles (with a few exceptions, for example they let their kids watch Thomas videos at other people's houses). They've lent me a number of anthroposophic child development and parenting books.

These books heavily discouraged/ criticised 'extended' breastfeeding, co-sleeping and other AP practises. My friend formula fed because 'children should be independant'. The books stated that a child 'absorbs cultural information with the breastmilk and therefore prolonged breastfeeding leads to a rigid, culturally-specific way of thinking that is not appropriate in our modern global world'.

In general, I found the philosophy and the lines of reasoning on many topics to be dogmatic, confuse, and not child-centred in the least. Children have to fit into the 'mould' of the philosophy and are seen through very rigid, pre-composed 'lenses' or perspectives.

I was actually rather drawn to Waldorf before reading more of the material and books, but the more I read, the more turned off I felt.
post #35 of 801
Thread Starter 
Good points, Muse and Sandoz. It is always good to hear from you...

Muse, yes, ironically enough, the attachment parenting/extended breastfeeding lifestyle families do sort of naturally flow into Waldorf at school age. An aquaintance of mine was just talking about this.

I think they can co-exist, except when a "problem" arises with a child. In my experience, my child's "problems", the school required us to see an Anthroposophical doctor, and required his report to come back to them to read in order to "help" them deal with us. That's when these lifestyle choices become advised against, and became the reason for his problems in their eyes (he was: ap/eb/vaccinated).
post #36 of 801
Thread Starter 

Just Want to Keep This at the Forefront for Anyone Needing Support:



Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
Okay, me again...

I want to maintain this thread as a supportive "lounge" environment, rather than an educational or debate-oriented thread, so I thought I would begin a new topic of conversation for those of us who have left, or been kicked out of the Waldorf movement.

Some experiences my family had/has are:

1) Leaving the built-in, automatic community network, which includes friends of our children and friends we have made as parents.

This can be a lonely, yet liberating, transition time.

2) The pain of "I thought we were friends but now many in my community are literally telling me they "don't want to get involved", or "don't want to know about all the traumatic details" of what we went through. The school is "working" for their children, and so, that is "all [they] need to know".

Again, when we go through trauma, our friends are the ones we normally turn to for support. When many of these are no longer a resource, times can be very lonely indeed.

3) It is time to begin reaching out to family, being honest about what you went through (even if they think you were crazy for putting your kids there in the first place after hearing the story), and making new friends or reconnecting with those not involved in Waldorf. Expand your horizons.

4) It is also a good time not to underestimate the fact that you may be needing (and the chances are good for this) family or individual counseling, to gain perspective again.

Counseling helped my family enormously, because when an outsider scoffs immediately at some of the treatment you have received, it is very liberating to realize just how rediculous some of the behavior you have gotten numb to really is.

5) Make a list of what worked for you in Waldorf, and what drew you to it in the first place. You do not have to give these things up. My children still have the tradition at Christmas that Santa sat by the fire carving in the old-fashioned way, a wooden toy for them as he and Mrs. Claus talked and thought about my kids only. I made up this tradition myself, and really enjoy looking at the Ostheimer and Kinderkram sites like The Wooden Wagon. However, I no longer order from companies that identify themselves as Waldorf associates or supporters. I also do not go to Waldorf craft fairs, etc.

What I do do is find the basic core of what was already existing within myself that Waldorf aligned with and thus drew me in: for me it was the crafts, songs, underlying spiritual acknowledgement, colors and textures. These elements are still very prevelant in my life and the lives of my family members.

By doing this, I have separated my identity from that of Waldorf. Losing our individual identity can be a common problem, and rediscovering it is crucial to our happiness and fulfillment.

Want to add anything? Please jump in!!!

Peace,
post #37 of 801
First of all I'm glad this thread is here. It has given me a chance tolook at both sides of the coin. I have my 20 mo old ds enrolled in a sugar peas program for 12-29 month old children. It is a parent/toddler program. I will be taking my son on some days and my mom will take him on days that I can't be there. I went to visit at the end of Oct and spent a morning there. Overall we had a great experience.

just wanted to give a little background.

Anyway, I started out looking into waldorf ed and thought I had a pretty good understanding of the philosophy. I liked the basic ideas behind it and really thought it would be a good start for my ds. Now after reading a bit more I am a little concerned that it will not be the best fit for us.

First of all ds is bf and I nursed him during our visit, oops? Nobody seemed to mind but are the ideas of ap really frowned upon, should my ds be more independent in their eyes?

Next, ds is also very energetic. He would sit for a few minutes during circle time but then began wandering around and playing with toys. Should I have tried to "contain" him? I really don't think this is too realistic for a child this age. I tried to just follow the lead of the other parents but the class was small the day we went and most of the kids sat and listened. From some of what I have read this type of behavior seems to be frowned upon in the waldorf classroom.

From what I understand schools vary in theegree to which they follow the steiner model. I guess I'll have to take a wait and see approach, as I would like to give this parent/toddler program a try.

Are there any red flags that I should be looking for? I want the enriching environment for my ds but I also want him to be embraced for his uniqueness. I also do not want to be judged for my parenting choices.
Thanks for reading, I know this kind of rambles.

Any advice or input would be much appreciated.
post #38 of 801
Thread Starter 
Hi ayme371,

I think everything you are doing is perfect. I think if the school wants your child to be more still in circle time they will/should let you know. Also, nursing him there is being true to who you are and so you should always continue being yourself and true to your relationship with your child in any situation.

As far as each school having their "own level of how strictly they stick to the Steiner methods", that is definitely how things are on the surface/ day to day operations. But, as I've said, remember the school could not be an official Waldorf school (registered with the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America) unless they do follow the Steiner and Anthroposophical methods when it comes down to it.

In my experiences, it seems the Anthroposphical dogma really comes out and is used to explain decisions and dealings when "problems" arise with a child's actions or parents' actions. And in my situation, AWSNA directly mentored the decision making process and issuing of punishment to my son and me. Thus, they agreed with it.

This is (in theory) still fine, as long as everyone understands from the get go what Anthroposophy is, what these Anthroposophical methods are that will be used to deal with issues, and that they most definitely will be used to evaluate the child and his/her parents, and used as a justification for the school's actions.

Waldorf does have a lot to offer. That's why I spent so many years (five teaching) and taking my presious free time to get the Waldorf training above and beyond my graduate school education, while also having a family.

It is my hope that the honesty and support we display here in this thread can help some of the shadows Waldorf still holds finally see the light of day and evolve into something that is almost entirely positive, rather than what many of us have experienced when things get difficult.

Difficult times are the most challenging, but more importantly, they are the opportunities we have to grow. Punishing and "ex-communicating" each other from a community is never a healthy solution in most situations.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone (if you're in a part of the world that celebrates that)!!!
post #39 of 801
Thanks for your response beansavi.

I have been doing my research concerning anthroposophy,trying to muddle through it anyway. I like most of what I have read so far from the waldorf.org website. Is there anything else that you would recommend I read that might touch on any positive as well negative aspects of anthroposophy in the classroom? (the school is an official waldorf school)

I will certainly stay true to my relationship with my ds and I am really looking forward to embarking on this new experience with him. I just want to be as informed as possible about all aspects of Waldorf ed. Thanks again for anwering my questions and I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. Class starts on Monday.

Have a great Thanksgiving.
post #40 of 801
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I would read The Education of the Child, which is a series of lectures Rudolf Steiner gave to the faculty of the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Germany. This is an on-the-surface type of overview of where the teachers are coming from. But then I'd also dive in on some Anthroposophy like Man as Symphony of the Creative Word, or How to Know Higher Worlds. These books also effect Waldorf, since Waldorf is Anthroposophy.

All of these you can check out for free from the Rudolf Steiner Library in Ghent, New York and they will mail them to you.

I would also look at Waldorf critic websites, since anyone who chooses Waldorf for their children, and therefore family at large, should not be threatened by anything those sites might add. Those sites will also have other sources for you to look into.

Keep in mind that I have been studying Anthroposophy for ten years in an official Anthroposophical study group and am just recently coming across things I was unaware of, and that seem to justify current dysfunctional behaviors in Waldorf to me.

Researching Anthroposophy is a life-long endeavor and cannot be done with a single website or school pamphlet, and that's why it would be healthy to get opinions from both the Waldorf critics as well as pro-Waldorf sites---and form your own opinion as a balance in between the two.

Best of luck to you and your family,
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Waldorf
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › Waldorf › A Safe, Healthy Haven: Waldorf Questioners/Concerns Thread