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How is this "not religious"? - Page 2

post #21 of 66
Oh and there is a dance/game with it...

All form circle holding hands and singing.
Teacher sings two childrens names and they step into center of circle and dance.
All clap where indicated and brush pointer fingers when indicated.
On "Thurn and face the wall again" the two dancers come back to the circle but they face outwards and hold hands with the others in the circle again.
Do until everyone in the circle is called and facing outwards.
To finish all sing
"Except for everone, fairest of them all, We can dance and we can sing, Let's turn and face the ring again!"
To finish everyone turns to face the inside of the circle again.
post #22 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post
Interesting. I think Hannahsmummy lives in Glasgow. Maybe she has heard the song. Now everything points to this as an old folk song, probably went with a dance once upon a time, that morphed in some places into a Hide and Seek verse.
It's a Scottish childrens folk song that has a game attached to it. It would have been played as a street game, like Hide and Seek, Ring Around the Rosie or Dusty Bluebells.

I'm not really sure how I'd feel about it if I didn't get an explaination.
The original rhyme was part of a game played by girls and I am told it was about getting married, i.e. death of childhood. It would have originated at a time when girls did marry at a much younger age.

We live in an age where are children are so protected from from things that are frightening, so it is shocking to hear a small child talk about death. There is a long history of stories, poems and songs for children which are meant to teach a lesson and which are quite horrible!
This is a great link to information on the evolution of children's literature:
http://www.deathreference.com/Ke-Ma/...-Children.html
Take a look at Struwwelpeter...yikes!
http://www.fln.vcu.edu/struwwel/struwwel.html
Anyways, sorry I am off on a tangent! It's an area I find really fascinating.

I think the bigger picture isn't so much that the kids were singing the song as the way your questions were received. It sounds like you didn't get a fair answer and you were treated badly and I can see how that would be upsetting and frustrating.
As for how appropriate the song is for small children, I don't know. Without an explaination, probably not very.

In my personal experience I haven't heard anything like it at our school. There is mention of God at the school but not of Jesus.

I have found the thread really interesting because, here in the UK religion is a part of all schools. In fact one of my reasons (among many) for choosing a Steiner school is that I didn't want my daughter to have a Christian education. Even public schools here have prayers, religion classes and even take the kids to church.
post #23 of 66
Hannahsmummy

I agree. Waldorf teachers inadvertently contribute to confusions because on the one hand, they suggest that everything they do has a purpose to it, and on the other, when parents ask the "what's the purpose to this" kinds of questions, the teachers don't necessarily make sense to us in what they're trying to tell us. A lot of what is done in Waldorf is simply traditional Waldorf, no more significant reason than that. It's not a good reason or a bad reason to do something because others do it, necessarily, but sometimes Waldorf teachers can't see or don't want to admit that there really isn't any more reason than that.

America has become super sensitive in the last twenty years towards any religious 'features' in schools. One school even banned 'red and green' colored decorations from their school's winter party because it was thought to be too religious. The perspectives are changing so rapidly. All the schools my children ever attended had visits from Santa Claus and homemade Christmas cards, things like that. But today the public schools are shying away from any of that, and I guess private schools are as well. Waldorf is largely doing what they've always done, while the mainstream has changed a lot. Waldorf isn't hiding what they do from anybody, imho. It's just a struggle to explain now--you can't get five random people together in a room in my own community, I know, who would draw the line at the same place between what is religious and non-religious.
post #24 of 66
Thread Starter 
Well, I'm really sorry but I just ran into someone today at a birthday party who had left a Waldorf school recently and recalled her son having come home talking about Jesus. That was not why they left and she was not overtly upset about it, she just, like me, was caught off guard.

I had and have heard the claim of Waldorf being religious a lot prior to and since leaving Waldorf and I used to assume that people were reading too much into it and were perhaps "un-spiritual". I think I was wrong and I think that christ (christ-body) etc. and Christian traditions are both very much a part of Waldorf (maybe more subtle in some schools than others).

I don't have a problem with discussions about death. I do have a problem with a school that purports to be extremely protective of children's exposure presenting it in such stark terms and with parents completely oblivious to it and not given the opportunity to have their own discussions about it. I know Waldorf frowns upon those types of conversations but, I was very grateful that I heard the verse and was able to get some sense of what it meant to my son. I had just weeks before had a parent looking down her nose at me because I mentioned that my son was talking a lot about death and neither of could have ever guessed at the time that it came from school. I chose not to tell this particular woman who was obsessed with Waldorf as it would either shatter her world or she would have to adjust her thinking and rationalize it even though she truly wasn't cool with it.

This was not Ring around the Rosie which is very covert to me. It was not sung as a folk song with no pedagogical purpose. It was limited to the children moving on to 1st grade and it was utlilized for a purpose.


I am perfectly content with differing on interpretations of what my experience signifies. Again, Waldorf is and will continue to be right for many. And, the religious nature was not why we left, more the dogmatic, condescending and evasive handling of the parents on this and other more important issues that pushed us away.

dharmama- Wow. That gave me the creeps.
post #25 of 66
I have been very fortunate in that my children's teachers have always answered my questions even sometimes with an 'I don't know'.

When my eldest was in 1st grade, the first word they learned to spell was God. It set off huge alarm bells in my head and caused me to ask via class email why that word was picked first because you know everything has some deep meaning in Waldorf (or so I assumed). It started a lively email conversation among the parents. Some who were alarmed, some who were not (the Buddhist parents were the most relaxed about the whole thing). Finally the teacher chimed in and said that the word was picked because it was easy to spell and was in the morning verse. The teacher then told us that the second word the kids had learned was dog. Lucky for us though, our teacher answered the question and didn't let the mystery fester.

Sometimes a pickle is a pickle, a song is a song or a word is a word.
post #26 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn View Post
Here is a link to the full poem that I found with Google:

http://sniff.numachi.com/pages/tiWALLFLW2.html

It appears to be Scottish. It is not exactly the same.

I can't find the exact poem that you have written in the OP but it is obvious it came from this old Scottish one.

Hmmmm... Seeing the op, I was thinking I would be very upset if my child came home singing that. The op sounds very much like religious tones, though it sure doesn't sound particularly Christian to me. The link above sounds much more appropriate, at least in the sense that it doesn't seem so macabre and it also doesn't seem so religious. I'm still not keen on it, to be honest. But I don't think I would be happy with the school teaching that sort of thing at all. I think I would be rather upset.
post #27 of 66
Yep, I would be upset too if my daughter had come home from kindergarten singing a song like that. Seems majorly inappropriate.

I also agree that teachers should answer questions openly and fairly AND in my experience of waldorf they mostly do.

Where I get uptight is the leap from what happens occasionally at some schools to the conclusion:
Quote:
I had and have heard the claim of Waldorf being religious a lot prior to and since leaving Waldorf and I used to assume that people were reading too much into it and were perhaps "un-spiritual". I think I was wrong and I think that christ (christ-body) etc. and Christian traditions are both very much a part of Waldorf (maybe more subtle in some schools than others).
But it is clearly being expressed as an opinion (thanks Mijumom) and everyone has a right to an opinion!

Cheers!
post #28 of 66
Thread Starter 
Rhonwyn- I always appreciate your input. I am a little confused by your last statement as clearly the song was not "just a song" given that it was a. acknowldeged by the teacher to have been sung for a puropse b. was reserved only for the older contingent of the kindergarten (sort of acknowledges a more mature theme) c. contains language and content that any remotely aware person would construe as potentially contraversial and provokative.

Also, I'm sorry to say that given the fact that Waldorf is so often on the defensive about its religious content (or lack thereof), I find it hard to believe that a teacher could just choose God as a first word as a random choice. How completely oblivious can a person be. Whether rational or not God and religion are loaded issues especially in a "non-religious" school...I just don't get the sort of provokative moves and then the claiming of obliviousness...

BTW- I aspire to be more like the Buddhist parents...sooner or later you've got chill, right? I'm having an easier time of it now that I'm dealing with a more straight-forward and transparent pedagogy but when it comes to our children it is a real challenge to relax and trust.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn View Post
I have been very fortunate in that my children's teachers have always answered my questions even sometimes with an 'I don't know'.

When my eldest was in 1st grade, the first word they learned to spell was God. It set off huge alarm bells in my head and caused me to ask via class email why that word was picked first because you know everything has some deep meaning in Waldorf (or so I assumed). It started a lively email conversation among the parents. Some who were alarmed, some who were not (the Buddhist parents were the most relaxed about the whole thing). Finally the teacher chimed in and said that the word was picked because it was easy to spell and was in the morning verse. The teacher then told us that the second word the kids had learned was dog. Lucky for us though, our teacher answered the question and didn't let the mystery fester.

Sometimes a pickle is a pickle, a song is a song or a word is a word.
post #29 of 66
The pickle is a pickle comment referred to my experience with the word God as the first word that my eldest learned to spell which I read more into than was there. I was not referring to your experience which was an odd experience and not something that I have experienced. I am sorry if made you feel like I wasn't taking you seriously. Also I must say, that I do trust my child's teacher. I don't believe that she was dishonest with me. She may have been naive but she isn't dishonest.

Also, our school does not claim to be non-religious but rather non-sectarian.

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

nonsec·tari·an·ism n.


Did your school claim to be non-religious?
post #30 of 66
Thread Starter 
Well, I can tell you that I certainly had the impression that it was not religious but spiritual and all inclusive. I do think that the pedagogy itself is more rooted in a certain view of God and Jesus...again, the Christ body in anthroposophy. The notions of "all God's children" and a God who looks down from heaven are pretty exclusionary to a lot of interpretations of God.

Anytime the question came up about religion we were told no, that it was not a religious school. Usually someone will mention spiritual, not religious.

To me, this is symantics. I really don't want to argue the point as I think your position is valid. And, I also think that much of the basis of Waldorf and the thread (whether overt or covert) are religiously oriented and based on a specific view of God and humanity. Maybe doctrine is a better word than religion. Regardless, it is not what I feel I was told I was getting and I know ohters who feel the same, some who stay in because they are rooted in Waldorf and it feels worth it and some who leave. As a Waldorf teacher told me, "It is a hard place to be and an even harder place to leave"...

The verse was an overt example of something I feel is prevelant in subtler ways in Waldorf education and this just happened to shine a bright light on it.

But, enough about my impression with regard to this verse and the topic in general...I'm interested in others' as well.
post #31 of 66
The "wallflower" song is one of those old songs the meaning of which has long become obscure. I would call using it in kindy weird but not representative of anthroposophy. We sang "Old Roger" a lot in the kindergarten I worked in and that has a lot of mystical history like "John Barleycorn," as well as being all about death. But to "use" something like that as well as all the literal Jesus-talk with the children, that's really strange.

In my experience with several Waldorf schools I have never seen the overt religion you describe. The anthroposophists are Christian in their way, and my current school offers the traditional "free religion classes" which only a handful of kids attend. The teachers often don't give a "straight answer" about religion not because they are trying to hide anything but because they genuinely don't know how to respond. I always think of a line from The Simpsons: "Yes with a maybe, no with a but."

I think it must also be pointed out that, as we know, these schools were founded in Germany and continue a lot of German traditions. Christian festivals in Germany have a much more secular tone to them, as elaborate as they are. Although their roots are religious, and those who practice that denomination might gain deep refreshment from them, in the schools they are not necessarily a proselytising opportunity or religious event.
post #32 of 66
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LizD View Post
Although their roots are religious, and those who practice that denomination might gain deep refreshment from them, in the schools they are not necessarily a proselytising opportunity or religious event.
I suppose this is where it depends on the threshold of the family and the intentions of the individual teachers. It is hard to pin down and hard to know going in what you are going to get. At least that is my experience and resolution. I am enjoying having my son at a school that is holistic and conscientious while undeniably not religious...the difference is stark. And, it takes a special school to pull off the essence of consciousness and spirituality while steering clear of religion. I don't think Waldorf consistently accomplishes this due to the very nature of it's roots and it's allegiance to Steiner and anthroposophy. This is the reason that Krishnamurti, when forming his schools, did not set a specific curriculum. He knew that times would change and that in different eras and locations very different curriculums would be appropriate. Still, the values and the spiritual essence are alive there. We are not at one of his schools but it would be my first pick if we lived closer to one.
post #33 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassiopeia View Post
Waldorf comes out of anthroposophy. Anthroposophy is a spiritual science. The song to me isn't nec. Christian (ie, no Jesus) as someone else mentioned. If anything it reminded me of reincarnation.

Spirituality is part of Waldorf.
Right. It's referring to the spiritual stages of man, as taught in Anthroposophy.

By singing these songs, Waldorf teachers believe (as I was trained in this area) that they are stimulating an unconscious spiritual element inside of the child, and awakening them to their divinity and destiny. They believe the child already knows what the song is saying, but has "forgotten" upon birth.

A Waldorf teacher firmly believes that he or she is destined to aid in the child's re-awakening.

That is why they do not speak about it with parents (and are elusive). Sacred mysteries are not supposed to be spoken about or shared with those who do not understand them yet. People are supposed to learn them through song and story, as Jesus deliberately taught through his parables.

This song you mentioned is a symptom of something much larger inside of Waldorf, of which you caught a brief glimpse, and that is why it is still bothering you. It would bother me.
post #34 of 66
wow...this is all very interesting.
post #35 of 66
Hi Beansavi,
I spent three years working at a large and active waldorf school, as the business manager. As part of my job I was required to attend the elementary school level faculty meetings and the full-school faculty meetings and the administrative group faculty meetings. That worked out to three meetings per week, most weeks.

The most relevant to this topic were the elementary school level meetings. Attending would be eight class teachers, the curative teacher, and all of the special subject teachers (eurythmy, languages, handwork). Roughly 15 people, plus me. In three years of attending these meetings no one ever said anything that would line up with what you are describing. These were closed meetings. No parents who weren't also teachers. Although not all of the teachers were anthroposophists, everyone present was comfortable to be teaching at a waldorf school. I was a non-teacher, but a long-time anthroposophist, so there was no need to hide stuff from me.

What sort of stuff did we talk about? Practical things sometimes. How to keep the boys from flooding the restrooms, for example. We did two or three child studies (with permission from the parents, of course). We worked on the material for accreditation. Teachers brought challenges and questions to share with their colleagues.

But, of course I believe you. I'm just, as always, very puzzled that your experience is so different from what I've seen and heard over many years of close association with a lot of waldorf teachers, parents, and students.
post #36 of 66
doublepost, oops!
post #37 of 66
:

I am always amazed at the widely different experiences I see here.
post #38 of 66
That song sounds SUPER CREEPY.

I mean... "we all must die except (name) and (name)"? OMG!
post #39 of 66
It is super creepy but no more than Ring around the Rosie which is about the bubonic plague. It is amazing what remains in children's culture that can be traced back to the middle ages or even before. My kids have learned songs from other kids that I knew as a kid that my Mom knew as a kid. There is a whole kids oral culture. It would make a fascinating study.
post #40 of 66
Thread Starter 
I think that Ring around the Rosie uses much more subtle language and is used far and wide in many classes/schools and many ages.

The song I wrote about uses clear language- "we are all God's children and we all must die"...believe me I started hearing about dying and fielding questions about death right away. I just had no idea that it was coming from school until he sang the whole song in my presence...it didn't feel good to hear those words coming out of his mouth. Plus, I got to hear about death and dying from his younger brother (3 at the time). It is really crazy the more I think about it.

Rhonwyn- I have always appreciated your insights and you seemed to be clearly put off by this song when I first posted. I'm not sure why you are equating it with Ring around the Rosie now. I'm sure you realize that most parents would not experience hearing these words come out of their children's mouths the same way they do with Ring around the Rosie.

I would hate for this to digress into a sort of she said/she said...I respect that your experience (and Deborah's) have beeen different. Still, there are a great number of people who like me, originally chose to agree with people like you rather then the ex-Waldorf folks, and came to experience many of the things they read about. I have defended Waldorf here and IRL. I still think it is right for many. I also think there are elements to it that can be unaccpetable and surprising to many.

It is fair to say that it is all true- that some people experience Waldorf one way and some another. But, there is simply no way to discredit me or other parents who truly have no vested interest in spending time on MDC discussing these matters but to seek resolution and move on. From the time my son was an infant, I was interested in Waldorf, read about it and implemented some of it's ideals (I loved "You are your child's first Teacher"). It borders on devestating to hold such high ideals for your child's education only to find that it is not the healthy, safe place you thought it was. It was a shock to be back out there trying to find an alternative.

I realize that many people go through Waldorf education with much more positive impressions and great outcomes. I would still recommend the school (and I do) but I am clear that there are religious elements and a sort of secretive doctrine that they have to just have faith in and accept that they wont fully "get it".

I also know people who, even years into it, are exhausted and stressed out from trying to get answers, communicate and understand what is going on. That is a tough path and the more rooted their kids are, the harder it is to leave.

Again, all points of view are valid and I suppose each parent needs to see what resonates with them and go from there.


Off to bake! (Talk about scary).


Happy Thanksgiving!
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