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post #21 of 109
Ozhenya, I think we all want community, crave community, benefit from community - community that supports and nourishes our values. It's just that when we want something/anything so badly, we mere mortals can sometimes become somewhat tunnel-visioned, even when our children are clearly having a difficult time in the particular community we've chosen, and don't belong there.

I just think we have to be stay very conscious about our motivations whenever our children are involved and are the link to whatever community it is that we want to be part of. They're the ones who have to live the daily reality of it.

Our objectivity can get all muddled in any kind of school community - I've also seen it in a very different kind of private school - not Waldorf - that had absolutely wonderful events where the children performed in delightful programs, and then the families all enjoyed potlucks, with their instruments coming out for lovely spontaneous sing-alongs of favorite songs while the children played - everyone basking in the camaraderie and warmth of the feeling that they were part of something very special and were providing their children with a wonderful school experience. But there were some very serious problems and dysfunction inside the classrooms for a number of the children - and parents didn't want to know about it, or in some cases knew about it but didn't want to deal with it because of their fear of the dreaded public school as an impossible alternative. It wasn't until I'd left the school that I happened upon parents who told me their children had been very unhappy there - but were doing fine in public school. And Waldorf communities offer even more attractive events - some of the most beautiful and amazing events I've ever experienced - so belonging to those communities can carry even more weight when sorting out our priorities.

I'm sorry if I took your post wrong - I might very well have read a tone of voice into it that wasn't there. - Lillian
post #22 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by ozhenya
What do you mean by "introducing fantasy"? (i am really curious i don't mean it as a judgement)
Things are only fantasy because we hava some notion of what is possible and what is not as far as our limited views can tell us. These things (meaning the possible and impossible) differ from culture to culture, from person to person. Children come to this world ready to take everything in. They look at things as they are as a whole and they see the most wonderful about them.
We are not introducing anything to a child by telling him stories.
By fantasy, I mean everything from Winnie the Pooh (which, by the way, was originally intended for children of around SEVEN OR EIGHT years of age, before the rights were purchased by Disney), all cartoon characters, talking animals, the tooth fairy (which should not be relevant before the age of 7 anyway), Santa Claus, Superman, and other characters that have been fabricated by adults and imposed on children. Note that I am not against fantasy altogether but I think it is appropriate to introduce it later, at age 5 or 6. I don't think it serves much purpose showing my 19-month old Peter Rabbit. She needs to learn what a real rabbit is first before she can appreciate that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ozhenya
How can people be okay with "unreal" cartoon caracters that don't even have anything moral about them and not want to introduce fairy tales to their child. Real world is different to children than it is to us. They look at plants and bugs and they see their life in them. WE look at them and we see awful insects and useless green things. (okay not really so, but almost).
Totally agree with you. My DD watches NO cartoons (and will not for a long time, if I have any say in the matter).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozhenya
Children naturally imagine things, they use their imagination if we let them. By not letting them we are hindering something natural.
I could not agree more with you. But you are talking about imagination, not fantasy. Note that IMAGINATION is NOT the same as fantasy.

Fantasy is a retreat from the real world through mental perception of unreal images.

Imagination,on the other hand, is the process by which all the impressions taken from the real world are placed at the level of abstraction.

It is imagination that has enabled humans to master their environment and construct civilizations. Imagination has a sensory basis, and its construction in the mind has to be firmly established by reality. The more it is connected with the reality of the external world, the better one can use one's imagination to create.

Consider the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, which were made into reality many years later. They were invented through the observation and knowledge of real things, real objects, and real elements in nature. He scientifically observed the flight of birds, for instance, before attempting to draw an object that was much later to become an airplane. Most scientific discoveries have come through someone's imagination.

Adults think that they are developing the imagination of children by making them accept fantastic things as realities. But even Waldorf educators acknowledge that this is not true. Showing children Disney cartoons of Cinderella and and Winnie the Pooh only serves to limit the child's own imagination in construction his or her own stories and even drawing his or her own pictures of what, for example, Cinderella should look like.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ozhenya
Waldorf is all about the real world: nature, the plants and rocks, natural fibers and animals, seasons. Plastic, polyester, and man built concrete cities are not real world. They are what we created. Of course that is where we live now and there is nothing we can do about it. But think of the reasons why it hapenned. I think Montaigne would have lots to say on this subject.
I think that this aspect of both Waldorf and Montessori is wonderful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozhenya
Also if you think about why a child would want to read and subtract early it will make sense. We live in the world where money is essential (have you seen the new "visa" poster adds on bus stops? it says "life takes visa" or something like that). We are all caught up in numbers. We are all caught up in neon letters on the fronts of stores.
Numbers were essential even in the most primitive of societies, long before money was around. I think they are an inevitable component of the any civilization.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozhenya
The Mall.....we take WALKS in the Mall. Where did the forest and fields go with cows eating grass and enjoying the sun...?
I live in France. We don't have malls (Thank God!!).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ozhenya
Of course our children seeing that as "real" world will want to know what everything is. It does not necessarily mean that they are ready to count or read, they are ready to start learning about the world and that's the only mean.
Totally agree. But, for example, my 19-month old loves to play with the light-switch in the hallway. She is fascinated by the fact that she can turn the light on and off. Should I stop her from doing this? According to Waldorf, yes, because it is "too mechanical" for her and she is not in the stage for doing mechanical things yet. What kind of arbitrary judgment is that? To my mind, it is the child who should be determining when he or she is ready for what by actually engaging in the act, not some adult who has arbitrarily decided based on the child's age or when the child has adult teeth or other criteria having no link with the child's abilities. If my daughter is turning a lightswitch on and off by herself, to me that means that she is ready for that kind of activity. If my daughter is starting to recognise letters and sounds in books, she is ready to begin pre-reading, whether she is 4, 5 or 7 at the time. If she recognises that we I pick up another apple, I now have 2 apples, she is ready to do addition (and indeed, she is already doing it). There is no need to artificially stall this process until she is a certain age.
post #23 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J
Ozhenya, I think we all want community, crave community, benefit from community - community that supports and nourishes our values. It's just that when we want something/anything so badly, we mere mortals can sometimes become somewhat tunnel-visioned, even when our children are clearly having a difficult time in the particular community we've chosen, and don't belong there.

I just think we have to be stay very conscious about our motivations whenever our children are involved and are the link to whatever community it is that we want to be part of. They're the ones who have to live the daily reality of it.

Our objectivity can get all muddled in any kind of school community - I've also seen it in a very different kind of private school - not Waldorf - that had absolutely wonderful events where the children performed in delightful programs, and then the families all enjoyed potlucks, with their instruments coming out for lovely spontaneous sing-alongs of favorite songs while the children played - everyone basking in the camaraderie and warmth of the feeling that they were part of something very special and were providing their children with a wonderful school experience. But there were some very serious problems and dysfunction inside the classrooms for a number of the children - and parents didn't want to know about it, or in some cases knew about it but didn't want to deal with it because of their fear of the dreaded public school as an impossible alternative. It wasn't until I'd left the school that I happened upon parents who told me their children had been very unhappy there - but were doing fine in public school. And Waldorf communities offer even more attractive events - some of the most beautiful and amazing events I've ever experienced - so belonging to those communities can carry even more weight when sorting out our priorities.
- Lillian
I think you may have hit the nail on the head. A particular Waldorf school is not for every child. In Seattle, we are very fortunate to have two wonderful Waldorf schools. I have friends with one child in one and another child in the other because the fit wasn't right for both children at the same school. If these parents didn't have another great choice nearby, they might have stuck it out in bad situation for their child because of the parent's desire for a Waldorf education and community. I agree that many parents so desire the community that they don't see their children's struggles and they stay longer than they should and are very disappointed when they leave. I don't think you get this kind of intense community in many other schools so I don't believe the critics are as passionate. My child and I had a bad experience with Montesorri but I wasn't emotionally invested so I had no desire to start a Montesorri critics site.
post #24 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
By fantasy, I mean everything from Winnie the Pooh (which, by the way, was originally intended for children of around SEVEN OR EIGHT years of age, before the rights were purchased by Disney), all cartoon characters, talking animals, the tooth fairy (which should not be relevant before the age of 7 anyway), Santa Claus, Superman, and other characters that have been fabricated by adults and imposed on children. Note that I am not against fantasy altogether but I think it is appropriate to introduce it later, at age 5 or 6. I don't think it serves much purpose showing my 19-month old Peter Rabbit. She needs to learn what a real rabbit is first before she can appreciate that..

Many Waldorf schools do have rabbits and chickens on hand so that children experience these animals in real life. The tooth fairy isn't really introduced until later and many families do not do Santa Claus because of the commercialization. They are more likely to follow their family or ethnic traditions such as Santa Lucia or St. Nicholas or Christkind.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
Adults think that they are developing the imagination of children by making them accept fantastic things as realities. But even Waldorf educators acknowledge that this is not true. Showing children Disney cartoons of Cinderella and and Winnie the Pooh only serves to limit the child's own imagination in construction his or her own stories and even drawing his or her own pictures of what, for example, Cinderella should look like.
Waldorf schools do not introduce images of these characters. They tell stories about these characters and allow the children to make the pictures in their minds.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
Totally agree. But, for example, my 19-month old loves to play with the light-switch in the hallway. She is fascinated by the fact that she can turn the light on and off. Should I stop her from doing this? According to Waldorf, yes, because it is "too mechanical" for her and she is not in the stage for doing mechanical things yet. What kind of arbitrary judgment is that? To my mind, it is the child who should be determining when he or she is ready for what by actually engaging in the act, not some adult who has arbitrarily decided based on the child's age or when the child has adult teeth or other criteria having no link with the child's abilities. If my daughter is turning a lightswitch on and off by herself, to me that means that she is ready for that kind of activity. If my daughter is starting to recognise letters and sounds in books, she is ready to begin pre-reading, whether she is 4, 5 or 7 at the time. If she recognises that we I pick up another apple, I now have 2 apples, she is ready to do addition (and indeed, she is already doing it). There is no need to artificially stall this process until she is a certain age.
In my experience, Waldorf does not artificially stall reading or numbers. Numbers were introduced in a very real manner of knitting. Knitting increases finger dexterity which helps writing and also encourages the use of numbers through counting stiches. Reading was not emphasized until 1st grade but the children were not discouraged from writing their names or recognizing letters. Rather oral learning and imitation were emphasized. My daughter knew all of her letters before 1st grade because she wanted to learn them and learned them on here own. My son on the other hand had no interest in letters and went to first grade knowing few. They both read above grade level now.

I think listening to what you believe is important to children, indicates to me that Montessori might be a better fit for you. As an engineer, who works with a great deal of imbalanced eggheads, balance was important to me. My children show clear strength in numbers and engineering but I wanted to have a more rounded education for them where art, music and natural beauty were featured just as strongly as numbers and reading.
post #25 of 109
I sense a general misuderstanding on the side of the critics about why and how Waldorf philosophy does the things it does and when. I wonder if it would help to push through the fear (and anxiety producing sites), and find out for real for yourself in deep Waldorf research whether or not the things happening are evil.
post #26 of 109
This may be off topic I suppose, but it appears to me that the vocal Waldorf critics are a purely American phenomenon. I tried doing a few Google searches for "Steiner School critics Europe" and "Steiner School critics UK" and the only anti-Steiner hits I got were the US based waldorfcritics and such. Any ideas why this seems to be such an issue for us here in The States and not one for Europeans?

The first things that comes to my mind are these..
- Europeans are not nearly as religious as Americans and so would be less likely to be offended by the spiritual teachings of Waldorf education.
- Religious education, including saying verses and singing hymns is part of public school education in many European countries. Things like celebrating Michaelmas and Advent in school wouldn't even pop up on the radar as strange.
- Going by something that was mentioned earlier that rung true for me... Perhaps there is a stronger sense of community, family, and culture in Europe outside of the school setting, so Waldorf school is just like any other school and not a social club with all of the cliques and other BS that come with it.

What do you all think? European Mamas and Papas, is my idea totally whacked and off-base?
post #27 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by DashsMama
This may be off topic I suppose, but it appears to me that the vocal Waldorf critics are a purely American phenomenon. I tried doing a few Google searches for "Steiner School critics Europe" and "Steiner School critics UK" and the only anti-Steiner hits I got were the US based waldorfcritics and such. Any ideas why this seems to be such an issue for us here in The States and not one for Europeans?
I saw vocal critics in the list that were other than American - one in Australia in particular. They wouldn't show up in a Google search as such. I never thought about it, but I suppose they were a small fraction. However, it seems to me, as I recall, that criticism wasn't about the spiritual beliefs themselves so much as about the fact that the full impact of the spiritual beliefs in curriculum and day to day faculty decisions about individual children was not more clear up front so that people could make informed choices when they thought they were enrolling in a secular school. - Lillian
post #28 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J
However, it seems to me, as I recall, that criticism wasn't about the spiritual beliefs themselves so much as about the fact that the full impact of the spiritual beliefs in curriculum and day to day faculty decisions about individual children was not more clear up front so that people could make informed choices when they thought they were enrolling in a secular school. - Lillian
Ya know, if the critics had just stuck to the one point about waldorf schools not being as up front as they could be about the education I doubt there would be any problem at all. The critics could have come up with a simple checklist of what they thought parents needed to know, schools could have looked at it and decided to what extent they wanted to comply with the suggestions and the conflict probably would have ended peacefully.

The history of the whole controversy is pretty complicated at this point and I'm not going to try to recap or summarize all the various exchanges, but the whole thing has gone a lot further with accusations than a simple lack of openness on the part of waldorf schools.

Deborah
post #29 of 109
Yeah, I am a little confused about Waldorf calling itself a secular education. On the one hand, they do not teach Anthroposophy directly to the students. Students are not taught the basic Anthroposophical meditation techniques or philosophy that is in Steiner's book "How to Know Higher Worlds" for instance. On the other hand, almost everything that is done is based on Steiner's spiritual science, and the morning verses and such mention God.

I guess it's sort of like studying Aikido or Kung Fu. There are definite spiritual traditions that guide the martial arts lessons, but to my knowledge that spiritual tradition is not directly taught to the students. Is Aikido or Kung Fu considered secular? I don't know. I have met Christians who were so uncomfortable with the spirituality in some martial arts that they felt they could not study them. Should martial art schools put disclaimers on their fliers saying they are based on Buddhist, Daoist, Shinto traditions, etc?

Like I said, I'm on the fence with the idea of Waldorf being considered secular. On the other hand, I have no patience for people who claim they didn't know about the spirituality present in Waldorf education. It has been blatent and obvious in every Waldorf school I have ever set foot in.
post #30 of 109
I cross posted with Deborah and just wanted to agree with her that the Waldorf critics often go far beyond the complaint that Waldorf's spirituality is hidden from prospective parents. I have been a frequent lurker on WaldorfCritics as well as OpenWaldorf (before it crashed) and some of the anti-Waldorf accusations are pretty extreme.
post #31 of 109
Hmmm. I haven't very often heard the term secular used in a waldorf school context. Certainly, religious beliefs and membership would not be used to exclude any family from the school, and studying Steiner or anthroposophy isn't a requirement to enrol a child.

I worked at the Anthroposophical Society in America for 6 1/2 years in the 90s. Among other things I managed the membership database, entering all new members, inactivating people who dropped out or resigned, etc. People don't have to abandon their religious affiliation to join the Society: you can continue attending, studying, participating in whatever religious sect or system you prefer. In my experience, this is one of the areas where anthroposophy differs from religion. Some religious groups wouldn't care if people belonged to four different religions at the same time--say alternating Judaism, Hinduism, and two flavors of Christianity on the weekends each month. Others are exclusive: us and no one else. Anthroposophists consider religion to be a separate matter from the study of anthroposophy, so it is, in fact, possible to be a Muslim and an anthroposophist at the same time. There is actually an anthroposophical center in Egypt that has both, and so far, they are doing okay. The anthroposophical centers in Israel combine anthroposophy and Judaism. I have several friends who combine active church membership with active anthroposophical study here in the U.S.

Deborah
post #32 of 109
I think most Waldorf schools describe themselves as non-sectarian rather than secular. There is definitely a spiritual aspect of the education. There is a recognition of the soul; hence, head, heart and hands.
post #33 of 109
Thanks, Rhonwyn. Non-sectarian sounds familiar, but I've never heard secular in that context. Just a confusion of terminology, obviously.

Deborah
post #34 of 109
I often lurk in this area. I am confused about something. It seems to me that there was a debate just like this a few months back. It ended in some posters being banned, I think. That being said, why can't the Waldorf naysayers just chit chat amongst themselves. I, for one, am a fan of Waldorf (my child is too young for it right now) and I feel comfortable reading the naysaying stuff and don't feel the need to defend Waldorf. When the pros and cons debate turns personal, it sometimes get nasty. If you don't like Waldorf, so be it. If you do, great. I think Rhonwyn is right to say that you have to visit the schools and decide for yourself. Also, the best place to research anything is not necessarily the internet. Any bozo with a computer can put up a website and claim to be an expert. You have no idea if what you are reading is true or not. Read a published book about Waldorf, visit a Waldorf School, talk to Waldorf parents before you make any kind of decision. Don't rely on a website.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
I live in France. We don't have malls (Thank God!!).
FYI: When I was in college, I spent a semester living in Lyon, France. There is a large shopping mall there called the Part-Dieu. This was in 1987 but I know it is still there.
post #35 of 109
HI Boongirl. I'm just the mod, not a Waldorf expert at all, but just wanted to throw in that if any members get restricted or banned at MDC, it is for repeated violations of the UA, not for opinions expressed or challenges to popular thought on the boards.

post #36 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by DashsMama
This may be off topic I suppose, but it appears to me that the vocal Waldorf critics are a purely American phenomenon. I tried doing a few Google searches for "Steiner School critics Europe" and "Steiner School critics UK" and the only anti-Steiner hits I got were the US based waldorfcritics and such. Any ideas why this seems to be such an issue for us here in The States and not one for Europeans?

What do you all think? European Mamas and Papas, is my idea totally whacked and off-base?
Right, DashsMama, I think that if you want to really conduct a proper Google search on this, you are going to have to use NON-English search terms.

In France, in 1999, the French Government classified the anthroposophic society in France and Steiner/Waldorf schools officially as a SECTE ("secte" is the French term for cult). In France, this is a way of alerting the public that your activities have a cult-like nature; moreover, once an organization has been classified as a secte in France, it will be investigated from time to time by Government officials to ensure that the organization is not engaging in brainwashing or other activities to manipulate members or their children.

In 2000, Government officials did a surprise inspection of 14 private Steiner schools and came out with a damning report. Among the concerns were:

- Lack of any structure in the teaching. The teacher seemed to expect the children to learn by sheer saturation.
- teaching programmes based on mythic and mystic themes that left no initiative to the pupils.
- Children learning myths as "history".
- pupils transformed into simple "gentle executors". Above all, they were not asked to question anything.
- Children engaging in eurythmy looked like part of a seance.
- most of the children did not have up-to-date vaccinations.
- only 3 of the 14 schools observed the French sanitation and security regulations in vigour for all schools and other institutions with children. 1 school had a gas stove in the classroom where children were being taught.
- Tardiness in learning reading and maths. The children were not at the same academic level as those in French public schools.

Here is just one link, in French of course (but there are others):
http://www.prevensectes.com/rev0008.htm#1

Here is a Swiss site on sects:
http://www.akdh.ch/ps/ps_report.html

http://www.akdh.ch/ps/ps_report.html

Here is a German Waldorf critics group on Yahoo!
http://de.groups.yahoo.com/group/Waldorf-Diskurs/

There is also a German organization called Die Initiative zur Anthroposophie-Kritik (IzAK) but they don't have a centralized website. The founder pulled her child out of Waldorf when, by the equivalent of third grade, he still could not read.

Here is an article in the principal newspaper of Vienna, Austria questioning whether Steiner/Waldorf schools are occultist or even Satanist!

http://www.wienerzeitung.at/Desktopd...ter=A&cob=7764

Just to confirm that there is plenty of questioning of Waldorf on this side of the pond as well!
post #37 of 109
Thank you for those links, cmlp. As I am a typical monolingual American, I know I am limited in my Google searches. I hoped someone in your part of the world would help. I did expect to find a UK critics site using English though. My friend from England assures me that English is indeed spoken in the UK. An off-topic aside...Since she moved to the US, this friend has often been complemented by strangers on how well she speaks English!!!

Thanks again. Now off to find a translator...
post #38 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmlp
Here is an article in the principal newspaper of Vienna, Austria questioning whether Steiner/Waldorf schools are occultist or even Satanist!

http://www.wienerzeitung.at/Desktopd...ter=A&cob=7764

Just to confirm that there is plenty of questioning of Waldorf on this side of the pond as well!
This is actually a 1997 review of the book "Schwarzbuch Anthroposophie" by Guido and Michael Grandt. The authors of the book question whether Waldorf schools are occultist/Satanist, not the newspaper.

By doing a further Google search for these authors, it appears that the title of this book has been changed to "Waldorf Connection". It is on the PLANS recommended reading list, but alas it is still in German.

My kids are itching for some attention, so I've got to go. I'll write more later.
post #39 of 109
There are critics of Waldorf in other countries. But there are critics of Montessori, critics of Sudbury, critics of ... heck, critics of school period. Summerhill has been harassed by British education officials for years. Montessori suffers their own critics, many of them accusing her and her school with collaborating with Italian fascists. Harry Potter has critics, and how many websites are there that claim it's satanic? A search on that gives me more than 1.7 MILLION, though probably many of that number are defending poor Harry against the book burners and witch hunters.

The French government has been severely criticised over the country's anti-cult laws, including criticism from international human rights groups which are cataloging outrageous religious persecutions resulting from it. (The reach of the law isn't limited to religious groups, btw.) Some of the examples I've seen remind me of the McCarthy days in this country. For example, one of the human rights groups reported the case of a teacher who there lost his or her job based on the suspicion they were a member of the Unification church. The teacher received an email from someone in the church--essentially, that was all the evidence required. Even the Catholic and Protestant religious leaders in France have protested these laws as both a violation of human rights and the French constitution.

The anti-cult government minister, Jacques Guyard, was found guilty of defamation against anthroposophy by a Paris court and ordered to pay 90,000 francs. His charge against them that they practice "mental manipulation" was made without "serious investigation", in other words, it was based on rumors alone that were never legitimately looked into. Guyard appealed the court decision, basically attempting to claim that as a government official he was immune from this kind of legal charge against him.

As far as the items listed in this "damning" report, well.........I don't know much about French Waldorf schools, but here if a government inspector did this kind of an inspection of *any* private school, there would be a lawsuit against them before the week was over. In the US, we don't tolerate this level of intrusiveness from the government into the affairs of any private school, except maybe in the area of "sanitation and safety", which only our newer and richer public schools could get high marks for either.

Only about 1/3rd of the public school third graders in my community are hitting the target reading level (about 20,000 students in the third grade altogether), so our government obviously hasn't figured out the 'perfect' way to teach students themselves. , so it's a blessing they have only *very* limited authority to tell private schools how they're supposed to do it.

The problems identified in this "damning report" are in many ways more "funny" than they are "scandalous". Most children aren't vaxed, therefore Waldorf is a "dangerous cult"? Eurythmy looks like a "seance"???? Yea, and so does ribbon gymnastics, Michael Jackson's "moon walk", and the Stanford marching band during football halftime.

Linda
post #40 of 109
I am not usually in this forum, but I have not yet found any sort of well-organized critical group of Montessori or other alternative teaching methods. I've not seen a "Reggio Emila Awareness Network." There are individual critics, sure - as with anything - but no website dedicated to how horrid it all is and how nobody should send their child there. If you have a website that's dedicated to destroying any of these pedagogies, I'd love to see it.

It seems that Waldorf seems to uniquely attract this sort of well-organized critical group, which I always found odd. Not to mention, y'all have the frequent heated smackdowns over here! What's up with that?
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