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Reflections on a weekend waldorf conference - Page 3

post #41 of 63
LindaCL- My kids are at a Waldorf school wich we love and I promise you there are symbols and rituals and things that I have no inherent understanding of. I am trying to learn. My point is that, it IS different than anything I've seen before (and I'm from California). It is not as commonplace as Birthdays. I trust based on my kids' experiences that we will be comfortable with the differences. There is symbolism in the seasons, in the holidays (especially Christian ones), in the colors they use, etc. I think the word heathen definately carries a negative connotation (maybe I should look it up on google). I do think that it is ok for some people to think it's weird, occultish, whatever, everyone is entitled to their experience of any school, system, person etc. Some people absolutely think Montessori is "weird". Montessori schools are all so very different that I think it's harder for them all to be clumped together. Also, they don't seem to have so many "spiritual" elements. It seems a much more practical system.

I hope you understand my point. I don't think there is any point in getting too defensive of Waldorf. Even with my kids there, sometimes I think "Oh, that's a little weird." Yet, I don't equate weird with bad. You know how many people think I'm weird for having tandem nursed, home-birthed, not vaxed etc.? I'm so over what people think.

Just my two cents. Sorry for rambling.
post #42 of 63
Definitions of heathen on the Web:

a person who does not acknowledge your god
not acknowledging the God of Christianity and Judaism and Islam
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Within a European Christian context, paganism is a catch-all term which has come to connote a broad set of not necessarily compatible religious beliefs and practices (see Cult (religion)) of a natural religion (as opposed to a revealed religion of a text), which are usually, but not necessarily, characterized by polytheism and, less commonly, animism. There is little organized "-ism" in paganism.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathen
'
Heathen' is an album by David Bowie. It marked the return of producer Tony Visconti who co-produced with Bowie several of Bowie's classic albums. The last album he co-produced was Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) from 1980. Musically, Heathen is an interesting mix of nostalgia with the cutting edge. "Slip Away" is very similar in mood and style to classic Bowie songs like Life on Mars?, while "Slow Burn" certainly is reminiscent of the songs "Heroes" and Teenage Wildlife. ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathen_(album)

Originally people of the heath or moor. Originally, it was a Christian term to denigrate followers of the old, pre-Christian Religion. Followers of Asatru and other ancient reconstructed aboriginal religions have embraced the term.
www.religioustolerance.org/gl_h.htm

Literally means "heath-dweller", and refers to practitioners of the Norse pagan faith.
www.winterscapes.com/uppsala/glossary.htm


None of these definitions offend me nor are they applicable by my personal estimation.
post #43 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
Just my two cents. Sorry for rambling.
You aren't rambling, I'm rambling I'm laid up for awhile recuperating, and I'm on this med that makes me so drowsy I can't find much to occupy me where I don't just doze off. Thank you all for putting up with me here~~even if I'm making no sense /g.

I don't think I'm at all defensive about Waldorf, any more than I am about birthdays. The issues involved are exactly the same to me! Pretend you're as unfamiliar with birthdays as you are these symbols and so forth in the Waldorf school. Pretend you were trying to understand what the birthday celebration signifies to those celebrating it--whose definition would you apply? That of the JH? Or that of the person performing the birthday celebration? And who would you look to for the official determination about whether or not it was a "religious" practice?

This is just logical consistency from my perspective, and whether this or that is more widely familiar doesn't factor in the argument, imho.

But I agree completely, people don't necessarily have common agreement about what is or isn't weird. Like I said, it's not an issue with me if something is "weird" to them, but I certainly won't defer to them either.
post #44 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
I mean that much of the controversy surrounding Waldorf schools is that they purport to be non-sectarian but in fact could be described as religious. Parents who are wary of this issue would not like hearing that their children will be engaging in earth worship if they are enrolled in Waldorf.

Nor, incidentally, do I think that any parents who are not, themselves, into earth worship would be much interested in getting their children into earth worship at school (except, I suppose, people in California).
You are confusing non-sectarian with secular. Waldorf advertises as being non-secarian, not secular.


non·sec·tar·i·an ( P ) Pronunciation Key (nnsk-târ-n)
adj.
Not limited to or associated with a particular religious denomination.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
nonsec·tari·an·ism n.

[Download Now or Buy the Book]
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


nonsectarian

adj : not restricted to one sect or school or party; "religious training in a nonsectarian atmosphere"; "nonsectarian colleges"; "a wide and unsectarian interest in religion"- Bertrand Russell [syn: unsectarian] [ant: sectarian]




sec·u·lar ( P ) Pronunciation Key (sky-lr)
adj.
Worldly rather than spiritual.
Not specifically relating to religion or to a religious body: secular music.
Relating to or advocating secularism.
Not bound by monastic restrictions, especially not belonging to a religious order. Used of the clergy.
Occurring or observed once in an age or century.
Lasting from century to century.

n.
A member of the secular clergy.
A layperson.



Waldorf does recognize the spirit or soul of the child.
post #45 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
I mean that much of the controversy surrounding Waldorf schools is that they purport to be non-sectarian but in fact could be described as religious. Parents who are wary of this issue would not like hearing that their children will be engaging in earth worship if they are enrolled in Waldorf.

Nor, incidentally, do I think that any parents who are not, themselves, into earth worship would be much interested in getting their children into earth worship at school (except, I suppose, people in California).
how do you know? maybe they would...
post #46 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
When teachers get their crayon shipment, they pull out the black ones.
I was surprised to read in this thread that this is not always the case - because my child's kindergarten teacher, a devoted Anthroposophist, made a big point of the fact that black is not okay for use by children that age. She said it had to do with death, and even said that a child who was attracted to using black had a problem (I can't remember exactly what she said, but it had to do with an emotional problem). My guess is that as Waldorf schools increase, some of those pedagogical details take awhile to take hold because those most deeply trained in them can't be everywhere at once. - Lillian
post #47 of 63
My guess is that as Waldorf schools increase, some of those pedagogical details take awhile to take hold because those most deeply trained in them can't be everywhere at once. - Lillian

Is it possible that maybe the schools are evololving and adapting because the dogma is so offputting to most and they want to thrive?
post #48 of 63
LindaCL- I hope you feel better soon.

I'm just not sure why the resistence to acknowledging that Waldorf has a spiritual component that could easily resonate as weird, religious, occultist etc. to those unfamilliar with it. Like I said, I think most of it is great but it just seems so obvious to me why people are often surprised by what they see once they are there.

Also, there have been stories about Jesus (not identified as such) and other religious overtones. i am not religious but I don't mind because the way they have been processed by my kids is really beautiful. A good story is a good story. But, I could see how some would be surprised and offended. Even, the Easter Bunny showing up and hiding gifts, making Easter baskets etc., many people could be very uncomfortable because you don't expect it going in. I've decided to go with it because my kids love it but prior to their attending a Waldorf school, I would have NEVER promoted such a thing in my home. Can't you see why some people end up feeling that there is so much to it that they weren't made aware of? I think it is so critical to be really straightforward about it.
post #49 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
"My guess is that as Waldorf schools increase, some of those pedagogical details take awhile to take hold because those most deeply trained in them can't be everywhere at once. - Lillian"

Is it possible that maybe the schools are evololving and adapting because the dogma is so offputting to most and they want to thrive?
Oh, wouldn't that be nice - and I think that's a lot of what Beansavi would like to see. But realistically, from what I've seen and heard, I can't imagine how that could very easily be the case, because they do have certain spiritual goals in mind, and letting go of the Anthroposophic principles wouldn't accomplish them. I don't know - I've always wondered why someone who likes a lot of the educational methods but not the dogma doesn't set up some schools that go only so far - just secular schools with some similar methodology...but I have yet to hear of one.

I should add that this is not my issue - I personally favor homeschooling, but it's definitely not for everyone, and I'd love to see more educational alternatives than those that exist right now. For that matter, I'd love to see some of the Waldorf methods - like the delay of formal reading instruction, the more imaginative approach to math, the use of the lovely colored pencils - incorporated into public schools. But I don't mean to hijack this thread - that's a whole different topic.

- Lillian
post #50 of 63
"But I don't mean to hijack this thread - that's a whole different topic."

Oops, I think I already hijacked it.


It seems clear at least at my kids school that they have kind of chilled out a bit (female teachers wear pants, no harping about media unless it's really bad, kids can talk freely about dinosaurs and other non-Waldorf things). Even the vibes of some teachers are so different than others (only a few seem really bizarre and most are really accessible and down to earth). It's a very well-established school but they really seem tuned in to the need to adapt a little to their environment and the desires of the parents.

Kudos to you for homeschooling, it's a serious consideration for us.
post #51 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J



I don't know - I've always wondered why someone who likes a lot of the educational methods but not the dogma doesn't set up some schools that go only so far - just secular schools with some similar methodology...but I have yet to hear of one.
Have you heard of Enki?

Looks pretty ideal to me but there don't seem to be any schools up and running right now
post #52 of 63
Rhonwyn,

Quote:
nonsectarian

adj : not restricted to one sect or school or party;
No, I do not think that I am confusing the term non-sectarian and secular. A non-sectarian school could not engage children in earth worship, as earth worship (assuming it is really worship) is one particular religion. Just like a school could not claim to be non-sectarian but have children pray to Jesus. IMO, as soon as you engage the child in an act of worship, you are being partial to a religion, even if only for a few minutes. Why not pray to Buddha instead?

A good "non-sectarian" school is one that teaches children about different faiths (including stories, festivals, important days) without engaging them in the acts of worship inherent to those faiths. I would not expect a non-sectarian school to lead children in earth worship any more than I would expect a non-sectarian school to celebrate the eucharist (communion) during class or perform Christian baptisms or mass. All of these acts would show partiality to a religion.
post #53 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
Rhonwyn,



No, I do not think that I am confusing the term non-sectarian and secular. A non-sectarian school could not engage children in earth worship, as earth worship (assuming it is really worship) is one particular religion. Just like a school could not claim to be non-sectarian but have children pray to Jesus. IMO, as soon as you engage the child in an act of worship, you are being partial to a religion, even if only for a few minutes. Why not pray to Buddha instead?

A good "non-sectarian" school is one that teaches children about different faiths (including stories, festivals, important days) without engaging them in the acts of worship inherent to those faiths. I would not expect a non-sectarian school to lead children in earth worship any more than I would expect a non-sectarian school to celebrate the eucharist (communion) during class or perform Christian baptisms or mass. All of these acts would show partiality to a religion.

But Earth worship as you call it is only one aspect of the many religions they do cover. There is more of this in Kindergarten and 1st grade. In 2nd grade, they are learning about Saints, Heros and Aesop's fables. In 3rd grade, my child celebrated Sabbath every Friday afternoon as well as the high holy days. I have had people ask at various times, depending on what my children talked about, if they went to a Pagan, Christian or Jewish school. So to me, they are covering many religions and are non-sectarian. Now in 4th grade, they are studying Norse mythology. Next year it is the Greeks, Eygptians and ancient India.
post #54 of 63
It's really interesting that so many of us first come to Waldorf thinking of it as promoting earth based spirituality. After I started to do some reading it became clear that it has way more Christian leanings.

I also don't really get the objection to defining Waldorf as spiritual. Anthroposophy is a spiritual science and most of the writings talk about New Mysteries. Even something as basic as Beyond the Rainbow Bridge mentions spiritual aspects.
post #55 of 63
BAck to Waldorf in the Home Conference... the web site offers many copies of different lectures and I was wondering if there was one or two that really stands out and would be relevant to waldorf homeschoolers?

Thank you.

Warm wishes,
Tonya
post #56 of 63
Quote:
It seems clear at least at my kids school that they have kind of chilled out a bit (female teachers wear pants, no harping about media unless it's really bad, kids can talk freely about dinosaurs and other non-Waldorf things). Even the vibes of some teachers are so different than others (only a few seem really bizarre and most are really accessible and down to earth). It's a very well-established school but they really seem tuned in to the need to adapt a little to their environment and the desires of the parents.
An interesting aside (unfortunately, I don't remember where I read this, but it rings true to me): The first waldorf school was founded in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919. A few years later some folks from Hamburg, Germany, came to Steiner and said they were starting a waldorf school. Steiner said that a school in Hamburg should be quite different from the one in Stuttgart, because Hamburgers (yeah, that is what they are called, sorry) were a quite different bunch from the folks in Stuttgart and each school should fit the local style.

So, yes, a healthy waldorf school will be in tune with the local culture, environment, parenting style, etc. If a school is in a total "Steiner says" mode, this is NOT a good thing. My own take is that it is better for a particular waldorf school to be off on one or another "waldorf" thing in preference to rigid dogmatism.

Deborah

PS My experience of AWSNA is that they are not promoters of rigid dogmatism. Others may have different experiences.
post #57 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
LindaCL- I hope you feel better soon.

I'm just not sure why the resistence to acknowledging that Waldorf has a spiritual component that could easily resonate as weird, religious, occultist etc. to those unfamilliar with it. Like I said, I think most of it is great but it just seems so obvious to me why people are often surprised by what they see once they are there.

Also, there have been stories about Jesus (not identified as such) and other religious overtones. i am not religious but I don't mind because the way they have been processed by my kids is really beautiful. A good story is a good story. But, I could see how some would be surprised and offended. Even, the Easter Bunny showing up and hiding gifts, making Easter baskets etc., many people could be very uncomfortable because you don't expect it going in. I've decided to go with it because my kids love it but prior to their attending a Waldorf school, I would have NEVER promoted such a thing in my home. Can't you see why some people end up feeling that there is so much to it that they weren't made aware of? I think it is so critical to be really straightforward about it.
Thanks mijumom! I'd normally enjoy the "down-time", but I can't even get any reading done--I'm too mushy-headed (I could use a 'poor me', violins playing smilie here ).

No, though I did do a poor job of it, I tried to describe a path to sort *out* of the confusion with the BD example.

Waldorf tells you exactly *what* they do. People are free to determine from their own personal philosophical perspective whether they think it is acceptable practice or not. But it only confuses the issue to insist on labeling what they do, as in the case of "heathen" ritual. Not everybody is going to agree that tree hugging or singing a good morning to the world can be described as "earth worship"--you're going to get a lot better true understanding to acknowledge that terms like that largely just make for more misunderstanding because they mean completely different things to different people.
post #58 of 63
I agree about the labels. But, I think it behooves readers to look a little closer and figure out if it's applicable.

There has been so much new and unforseen in our experience of Waldorf so far. It is really difficult to get a grasp on what to expect and what my kids will be exposed to.

Some people suggest in depth research which is fine but it's tough to have to study something so intricately prior to making a decision. There are a lot of educational choices, I can't get trained in all of them

I and others come here to get a straightforward, balanced, unemotional and unbiased explanation of what it means to attend a Waldorf school. Sadly I have only been able to go from feeling completely convinced it is wonderful to completely convinced of the opposite. And I go back and forth with these extremes. I keep hoping I'll get some real clarity.

Example- the other post about gnomes and fairies has a link to a Steiner article. Reading the first portion, I was so inspired I nearly cried, by the end I was pretty freaked out. Therefore, I need to know how his words are typically interpreted by modern Waldorf teachers and how they impart this to the kids. Do these educators really believe in gnomes and fairies as represented in literature or are they methaphors for the esoteric that is so little explored in mainstream science etc. or something else?

I hope I'm not hindering your recovery with my rambling.
post #59 of 63
Very briefly, I should be working, Steiner describes a myriad of spiritual beings who play roles in both the physical and the spiritual worlds. None of the beings he describe correspond in an exact way with the beings described in the wide range of literature that is available from the many cultures on this planet. So his gnomes are not exactly like the either the gnomes in mythology and folktales and they are definitely not like the gnomes in the cutesy books. They are beings who carry out various kinds of useful work in nature. The closest stuff I've found to Steiner's ideas is the books coming out of Findhorn.

Out of time, sorry, I'll try to do a bit more tonight if I have time. Or maybe tomorrow.

Deborah
post #60 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deborah
The closest stuff I've found to Steiner's ideas is the books coming out of Findhorn.
Oh no! Findhorn freaks me out a little!
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