Hi ladies. I wanted to just pipe in here and say a few things.
First, my PC caveat: I know that all schools are different, all teachers are different and all families are different. What may work for some, might not work for others. People can have positive and negative experiences in the same environment, so much is variable based on family circumstance, personality and need. Some public schools are bad, some are good. Some private schools are bad, some are good. What might be bad for my family, might be good for another etc..
Our natural family style was/is very much an incorporation of both Waldorf and Reggio Emilia approaches. DP and I both have a love of natural toys and learning through experience. Waldorf crafts and toys where what we naturally went toward. Reggio environment is what we naturally created. We discovered both of these teaching methodologies when we started doing our school research and they both seemed to click with what we naturally did. When our DD was a toddler we started looking into private school options for her because _our_ local public school didn't seem like a good fit for our child.
We are fortunate to 1) have the option of sending our DD's to private school and 2) have a number of RE schools and a waldorf school to choose from. I am naturally skeptical. Because of that I tend to research _everything_, from both sides before making any decisions. I researched RE and WE methodology online before going to look at our local schools. I found tons of information on both styles of education, and was really surprised when I came open the obvious contrast that I couldn't find any anti-RE sites, but did find numerous WE ones. How odd that people can have such negative experiences with a specific teaching methodology that support sites are created around them. (I would like to note that there are many people out there who did not like Reggio either, but for reasons I could easily extrapolate: not enough formalised teaching, thought their kids weren't actually learning etc..)
Being a researcher, I naturally looked into the history of both methodologies. I looked into RE and had no bells of concern ring off. Looked into Steiner, and well, maybe I looked a little too much
. I came out of my RE research with a few questions for the school we were considering (how do you incorporate traditional learning into your RE approach, how do you manage to take the RE philosophy through 5th grade when even the Italians who created it think it shouldn't be done). I came out of my WE research with pages of questions. FWIW, I was really surprised that a methodology that seemed so revolved around creativity and natural environments was also so structured in what the children were 'allowed' to do. My research left me confused by the dicotomy I saw it's own approach.
We visited both schools, with a wealth of knowledge in our minds. I understood that all schools do things differently, so I wanted to give our local schools a chance. Maybe our WE school wasn't strict Steiner and took the aspects I love and left the rest. Lots of bells and whistles went off for us. I didn't really care about the colors of the rooms, if they weren't touting to the kids why they were that way (which they didn't). I was surprised by the mess (not kids clutter), but gunk. I was saddened that they forced the kids to wear certain things: not letting them self regulate, but I know many parents like this. I was a little overwhelmed by the religious symbolism for pre-schoolers, but again, as long as they didn't teach religion I'd be ok. The contrast between the WE school (all artwork looked the same) and the RE ones (different mediums, all art unique) was huge. We listened for buzz words and heard a few that turned us off. Maybe we did too much research, maybe I'd read too much Steiner going into it that I extrapolated more then was intended. But when they did mention some labels (not something I'm into) and when I heard the word Karma we wrote it off. (Our DD was born with multiple craniofacial birth defects, and like I said, I had read Anthroposphy material and knew how Steiner would view our lovely DD. I was listening for these buzz words to see how much had made it's way back down to the teachers.)
So, we gave it a shot and a chance. Maybe others would have given it more, but after one tour we decided it wasn't for our DD. We opted for the RE school and have loved it.
Ok, I'm LOL right now. DH is really good with writing things and just getting to the point. I could have just written this:
I am so sad that so many of you had such negative experiences with one teaching methodolgy. I want you to know though that through the sharing of your experiences you can help others in getting educated and informed. That through your heartfelt words others can garner information to help them make informed decisions on their own. I am sorry for all that you went through, but I support your desire to heal and learn from your experiences. Through similiar websites we found when looking into WE we received a ton of information that helped us make our own informed and educated decision for our DD as to whether WE was right for her.
Someday I will learn to just get to the point.