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post #41 of 74
I agree that I don't really see a casual conversation about fairies as being negative but I'm sure that depends on who you are. I would also agree that this is pretty commonplace in waldorf education. The way I see it is that most children in the U.S anyway are taught to believe in santa. We all know santa doesn't really exist but we all pretend he does for the sake of imagination. Then when a child becomes older they eventually realize on their own for the most part that this is just a myth of early childhood. I don't see the belief in gnomes and fairies to be any different really, just fostering a sense of imagination.
post #42 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn View Post
One thing I have found interesting at our school is that while we attract very few African Americans, we do attract POC from Great Britain and the Caribbean and Africa. One of my children's assistant Kindergarten teachers was from Tanzania. She taught the children many songs and games from her home country. Her son attended one of the Waldorf schools in Seattle. Alas, she was only here for a short time before she graduated from teacher training and went back to Tanzania to work in a Waldorf school there. Another Kindergarten teacher, nap teacher and preschool teacher was from Great Britain and was a POC. She and her husband and daughter are now moving to an even whiter part of WA state on the peninsula to be a Kindergarten teacher at the school in Port Townsend.

Lastly, I have found that our teachers from Europe have actually done a better job of bringing multiculturalism and American history/culture to the classroom than our American born teachers. It reminds me of the American fascination with knights and swords while our German friends seem much more fascinated with Native American culture.

This is sooo funny Rhonwyn! My DH and I had to laugh when we read your post! We have the EXACT same experiences with people, mostly, especially now that we live in the US since just about over a year.
Not necessarily regarding the African Americans in Waldorf school, I do not know about that too much as we live in a dominantly white area, but with the rest of your post definitely!
I have a few friends of color from all over the place, not African Americans, and as we lived in Germany for a while, ....all I can say is spot on!
Weired isn't it?
post #43 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by zansmama View Post
, but the basic dynamic of "I am the teacher, I will tell you what's what" remains.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lberk View Post
I then when he avoided her she made a very expressive disapproving face ( shaking her head/frowning/eyes scrunched a bit).
To me, this sounds very German. My parents immigrated from Germany to Canada, and this just intitutively seems German. Its what I grew up with and sounds/feels familiar. While I have not read any anthro. texts yet, so I'm not familiar with the deeper philosophical underpinnings of Waldorf, I just guessing that its because its develped from German culture.

Its funny. I'm drawn to Waldorf due to my heritage, I believe, yet some things, like a great deal of ritual and points of authority, compel and repel me at the same time : as I've tried to change my beliefs from my parents' traditional European ways
post #44 of 74
Just jumping in here - I'm reading a bit about Waldorf just for curiosity sake.

I was concerned by what I read about math and reading in the Waldorf programs on another thread (Life After Waldorf maybe? The math was a first hand account). I'm also not cool on the "timeline" of when things are "appropriate" for my child. Aren't things best learned when the child is interested above all else? My DD wanted to write before she was 3yo. I gave her a crayon and helped her make some letters and she can now write her first name. I can't imagine having said "no, sweetie, you're going to learn to write your name in 7 months in preschool so let's scribble." :

That's just the first thing I thought of when I read of the "appropiateness" of what is learned. I do like some of the Waldorf ideas and can see them being used in the home successfully, but would never do a school.

Jenn
post #45 of 74
Yes, but how many three year olds actually ask to write their own name? I can see maybe asking to color or make something but it is typically the parents who assume that this is a good time to show them how to write their name or learn ABC's or math or whatnot, not that they are developmentally ready. The way I see it there are sooo many creative and crafty things you can do with the little ones that never have to involve "academics". I always believe in using a little common sense which means that if by some odd chance you have a 3 yo crying and throwing a tantrum because you won't teach her to write letters, well, I certainly wouldn't begrudge her that experience completely. I think as parents we get too caught up in comparing our children's progress with others we know and unintentionally end up teaching these things or buying teaching toys when the kids could really care less.

DS starts waldorf kindergarten this fall for instance and although he has learned a bit of reading, math, and scores above average on all cognitive tests he was given in preK, he is more excited about playing in trees, chopping wood, learning to knit, and cooking than he is the academic stuff, despite the fact that he could easily do it if given the work. Maybe that is because I have never forced the issue or put him around a lot of competitive type of families in that respect. I guess if he asks me to read or teach him something more advanced, I'm not going to avoid it. As with many things in children that age, I will show him a little something he is interested in, and then he will probably forget about it the next day. Such is the nature of children when they are given the ability to go at their own pace and not be exposed to constant media.
post #46 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by mimi! View Post
To me, this sounds very German. My parents immigrated from Germany to Canada, and this just intitutively seems German. Its what I grew up with and sounds/feels familiar. While I have not read any anthro. texts yet, so I'm not familiar with the deeper philosophical underpinnings of Waldorf, I just guessing that its because its develped from German culture.

Its funny. I'm drawn to Waldorf due to my heritage, I believe, yet some things, like a great deal of ritual and points of authority, compel and repel me at the same time : as I've tried to change my beliefs from my parents' traditional European ways
I am not so sure if I would call this a "German" thing and I also do not know what age group you are, but I would rather say that this is a generational attitude and not specifically related to a countries origin, my family is not German but also very authoritarian and so is my American husbands family!
post #47 of 74
For Steiner fairies and gnomes and "elemental beings" were not fantasy, they were very real, and I'd say this is true of many waldorf teachers (not ALL). So there is more going on with those types of conversation than just stimulating a child's imagination.

At DS's K I did not see it as the children being allowed to live in *their* fantasies and imagination, rather they were having something *put on them* by the adults. Fairies and gnomes were acceptable, other forms of fantasy were not. That may have just been our school, but I doubt it.
post #48 of 74
back again....intrigued by this new slant on the conversation....
"fantasy"
which I think is such a contemporary word, pointing a huge blinking red arrow at our loss and continued lack of connection with our world....
instead, let's call them elementals, or devas, or lovely little beings, or the air around her face, or the dew that sits and waits for the robin king to come and drink it up......really, these things are here...and, no, I'm not a 3 year old struggling in a 24 year old's body....These are the layers that people refuse to see, because we are so adjusted to this mechanistic lifestyle. Rot. Dull. Colorless....Steiner had such a hard time as a child as well as an adult, wondering why only he "saw" these things....he could never put it in into words, until meeting other like-minded folks and reading intellectual movers of the zeitgeist....Kant, for example, and his exercise in freedom and free thinking....all of that allowed Steiner to finally open up and accept his clairvoyant nature.....

While I'll stand for all different types of education--not soley Waldorf--I believe and admire in what Goethe,Steiner, Schiller, and Comenius did for education....They brought play back, and funny words, and make-believe....All allowing the child to note the entities around them, communicate with them, and then jump off confidently when their bodies and minds are pulling them into their higher stages--the teen years--with hormones, new social experiences, tough questions, etc....

I think the problem that most people have with Waldorf actually starts with themsevles...Not many of us look deep enough to let go, erase nomenclature and socioeconomic...anything. Waldorf is all about freedom....and the kids at the school have it as much as the teachers do....(and if they don't, then the school has fallen to the same "lack of" that the philosophy's critics have....they've made it fundamental and extreme)

I personally think that fairy/blanket comment was absolutely beautiful and completely appropriate. I remember my day was made when my 15 mo son first walked up to "grandfather tree stump" and with a giant green leaf, began putting pieces of bark, leaves, and grasses "to bed" for about 15 minutes...Another when he was making tea for himself and found a second mug, poured a cup of tea and placed it across from him, for someone perhaps I didn't see. My mother used to tell me stories about the "swamp witch" that lived in the muddy areas along trails in the woods...and we had a fairy tree, lined with lilys of the valley ("see, faires garden, too!") and usually covered in slug goo, which was then fairy dust to me! Kids see another realm........there's no way around that.
Sorry for the length, ladies and gents....
hope this all makes sense, too!

best...........
-kyara
post #49 of 74
Very nicely put kpb!
I tend to normally stay away from replies on this subject matter and read the replies from people that can put it so nicely into words as you, I guess my English is only good enough to a certain level...

Good depiction of Steiner's, not only but fundamental intellect and his strong relation to Goethe, Schiller and to the other literates.
post #50 of 74
Briefly chiming in here: I wouldn't support the notion of waldorf being all about freedom, based on the years of experience I've had in such a school. Perhaps it feels like it in the toddler or early childhood to some, but I don't think freedom was ever at the top of the list of educational ideals. If you are in it for long enough it becomes clear that this education incorporates a lot of norming, and the children having pretty clearly defined outlines for what is acceptable, as a pp said, some forms of fantasy are OK, and some are not. And that doesn't neccessarily relate to media forms of fantasy either. I think the nomenclature is as rigid as anyplace else, just given different wording, and the reliance on socioeconomic stature of the families has become a neccessity for the functioning of schools.

Finally, there are some three year olds who do want to learn to read or write, and are not "pushed" by their parents. Younger siblings often express these interests earlier because they've had natural exposure, and older siblings sometimes relish their position as teacher. I am sure we've all seen this with the "potty-training" of a second or third child; sometimes it just happens. I say this just as a caution against strictly believing only one version of how childhood or education should proceed. It's too easy to lose the focus on the child if this is the case-no matter what your belief system is.
post #51 of 74
This is so interesting to me....
At our visit there was no way I got a sense that the children had much freedom , so maybe its just this school. : That's too bad, though, since that was what I was hoping for, and its the only school within driving distance. Their behavior was controlled, the way they had to ask for a snack, which color paint they were allowed to use...
In reading these posts, I'm wondering if my issue is partly due to the fact that my son is 4 ( not 18 months)and although we have played and pretended, he now has a sense that play and pretend are great but he still wants a reciprocal conversation when he is trying to communicate with someone. I, too, want for him the freedom I thought we would find at Waldorf mixed with a beautiful environment and lots of time to just BE. In my mind sacrificing conversation/relationships would never be an option. I understand some kids would love it, but am concerned that there doesn't seem to be more of an effort to meet each child where they are, then gently lead them to the Waldorf world, so to speak. My son would no doubt get into the play and use his wonderful imagination given some time.
post #52 of 74
In regards to kpb's post - that is precisely why I would never send my dd to a Waldorf school - because some tend to believe, or push the belief, that fairies, gnomes and other invisible creatures are real. That sort of philiosophy does not mesh with our spiritual beliefs. I have no problem with "fantasy" but I desire dd to grow and learn that it is *not* real. We don't teach that santa is real either.

For me, growing up as a child, I had such a childlike awe of the world. I still retain that in many ways. Dh and others have commented on it. Yet I never ever believed that fairies or gnomes or santa etc were real. It is possible to have that amazed, awe of childhood while still understanding what is real and what is in the realm of imagination. Granted it takes time for a child to learn which is what, but I wouldn't want someone confusing my dd on it.

As an example, I remember being about 12 and watching a santa claus movie. I dont' remember which one - but I was so in awe of the whole idea of there being a santa and had so much fun thinking about it. But I knew it wasn't so - and that was not any sort of disappointment nor did it lessen the magic of the story for me.

So we choose to do "Waldorfy" things at home and to attend festivals and such and to homeschool.
post #53 of 74

developmental stages

Another reason I disagree with Waldorf is that they are so into make believe at the expense, in my opinion, of learning.

For many, tho not all, children, learning to read and write and count and sing the alphabet and other "academic" things - is purely fun and play. I don't want to deprive my dd of that sort of "play". I want her to have a full play experience.

Now I am not talking about the hyper academic attitude that is becoming prevelant in our nation (USA) and I am personally of an unschooling mentality so please keep that in mind.

But I think most all scientific studies have found that the ideal time for children to learn is when they are young - and to learn things in a playful, self-discovery way that is gently guided by adults. I am sure where Waldorf would disagre with me is in the guided by adults part. At least as far as academics because they sure do "guide" in the arts, crafts and other play areas. This seems backwards to me, to guide in one and be so hands off in the other.

I have read some of steiner's writings and I just don't agree with the "child needs to more fully evolve and be fully here on earth and with adult teeth and able to reach the hand over the head to the ear before academics start" sorta stuff. It all seems so arbitrary to me and so based on a "non-science".

But then again, there is much that I do absolutely love about Waldorf. So I just pick and choose...
post #54 of 74
Iberk, I just wanted to reiterate that I agree with you on how important the socializing component should be at your child's school, the rapport between child and teacher and his or her peers. That one is a big deal to me so regardless of anything else if that didn't seem harmonious I don't think the rest of it would matter.

I also wanted to say that I'm not seeing where academics are not taught in a playful manner in Waldorf. There are all sorts of songs and rhymes. At open house I also saw this lovely alphabet book. LMNOP I think it is called. Each page features a different letter of the alphabet with beautiful words and illustrations relating to that letter. When I visited the second grade classroom the teacher showed me a math example the students were learning where they were given a two digit number to write at the top of their page. Then they were asked to come up with all of the math problems to help them arise to that particular number. I gotta tell you, I was looking at the kids' work and it was pretty darn impressive to me for second grade. This visit really eased my mind about the whole so called delayed academics thing because I was also skeptical at first.

Personally I don't really have a problem with the structure surrounding waldorf. I think it is true that many people are mistaken into believing that waldorf is a freedom child based form of teaching like Montessori but it isn't. I'm just not sure why it is so terrible that some of these schools have rules about what type of play is or isn't appropriate. I'm sure most parochial schools have more rigid dogmatic structures of learning than waldorf and yet waldorf is the one we seem to demonize the most.

I can understand people being upset because they felt they were mislead or that the school misrepresented itself but honestly, there is so much information out there in Steiner teachings, books, and the internet alone to wade through. It only takes a little research to see that teachers foster a belief in fairies and gnomes. I can understand people disliking it because they were given the wrong impression but to make it all bad because they didn't do their own homework ahead of time and thought waldorf was something it has never advertised itself to be seems a little unfair.
post #55 of 74
Quote:
Originally Posted by lberk View Post
This is so interesting to me....
At our visit there was no way I got a sense that the children had much freedom , so maybe its just this school. : That's too bad, though, since that was what I was hoping for, and its the only school within driving distance. Their behavior was controlled, the way they had to ask for a snack, which color paint they were allowed to use...
In reading these posts, I'm wondering if my issue is partly due to the fact that my son is 4 ( not 18 months)and although we have played and pretended, he now has a sense that play and pretend are great but he still wants a reciprocal conversation when he is trying to communicate with someone. I, too, want for him the freedom I thought we would find at Waldorf mixed with a beautiful environment and lots of time to just BE. In my mind sacrificing conversation/relationships would never be an option. I understand some kids would love it, but am concerned that there doesn't seem to be more of an effort to meet each child where they are, then gently lead them to the Waldorf world, so to speak. My son would no doubt get into the play and use his wonderful imagination given some time.
I agree with you lberk that this behavior is weired, the teacher should be able to hold a reciprocal conversation with the child and the child should be able to just "be", so I guess it has something to do with that school/ teacher? Personally for the teacher to invite your son to an imaginative play with the sentence:"...she knew of a little fairy who would use it as a blanket." I can find nothing wrong, but I can also see that a child who is not yet involved with fairies and other beings should be eased into that world with care, as not to scare them perhaps.

The other thing that Attached Mama was saying in regards to being pushed to believe in all these creatures and beings for the sake of sacrificing academic education is totally wrong, sorry that I have to say this, but this type of play is ONLY done in preschool and Kindergarten! In first grade you will learn poetry, different languages, music and other academic lessons. In second grade you will learn the (from the parents obviously) very much anticipated writing and reading skill as well, so academics will definitely not suffer in this school environment.

In regards to what karne said, that some children, who are 2nd or 3rd in the family, can learn reading and writing skills earlier due to their older siblings I believe that the school teacher should take that into account and not penalize that child or parent for it but rather incorporate it into the teaching method and accept it! I also know that not all the teachers are able to do this, which is unfortunate but true.
post #56 of 74
hmmm...
the social aspect is huge, no matter what school or who's child.....if we were ever to unschool, that would be our first and most tantamount priority--ds is an extremely social creature! we must look to our family and our community as well for excitement and interest-peaking in kids....

the idea of make-believe really should be interpreted as imagination....children will imagine things appropriately for the ages...fairies or the like will lead to being on a pirate ship will lead to an underwater scuba diver or a mermaid at your community pool will lead to an "interview" in the mirror about your photography or your new book will lead to........
it all starts somewhere.....the teachers are just letting the kids know it's ok to think and feel in that manner....we made a gnome house out of an old hollow tree stump with a 6 year old and a 9 year old...I'd rather the children be "occupied" by that--despite any not-real element--than the boob tube or a box of dunkin donuts.

right?

the idea of freedom is not a literal one...I'm speaking spiritually, conceptually, visually, etc....I know not all schools and their principles are following that....that, is, however, the impetus for Steiner even delving into a new education philosophy....It's not science, it's based on the soul.
Therefore, any timelines and structure on what has to happen when (aside from a great curriculum) are silly....and I agree with everyone on that topic. This just happens to fall on the many points that have been brought up in previous threads (you can't buy waldorf, etc)....There are those fundamentalists out there.....Parents alike....Those that want their children to be in a bubble, whether mentally or physically until they're 25.
Utterly ridiculous.
But again that's an episodic facet, a social facet, an isolated facet, and not representative of Waldorf foundation in general.

As a tidbit, Steiner was brought in by a family, in Austria I think, around the age of 22/23 and was asked to teach and mentor the children....everyone was doing fine and moving along the "norm" of things (as much was known at the time) except for the youngest....He was rather ostrecized and left for "abnormal"....Steiner saw something in the little one, and knew in some way he could help...He re-introduced play (so much so that he comments he had never "played" more in those five years than his entire childhood) to the kids and brought in the concept of another world, the spiritual/elemental realm. After time together, with Steiner working through "things" himself, they totally melded (the utmost communication) and the child was brought into a world of understanding and acceptance....
hence, Waldorf paradigm was born.

it's never meant to be over-generalized on the children....

I think I'm basing a lot of my words not so much on my exposure to the anthroposophical aspect, but my exposure to our waldorf community...perhaps we've lucked out (not with such a great house as AttachedMama....congrats!) but with the area and the type of people....Jonah Kai has befriended many an older child (6+) since he was around 3 mo, and they are quite literally our extended family...maybe even more so than our own--in laws, mainly....eek!
they all have an ease and an interest--genuine--and I love being around them! We most definitely love the school that much more because of those kiddos and their parents....

but nothing is perfect....our job as parents is to foster those things that make our babes happy, as well as teaching our children to always question and never take things hook-line-and-sinker.....love science? great! come watch me brew mead this weekend!...want to write your name? great! let's get some cool window crayons and write away! have a fascination with the piano? super! let's play on this beat up casio from the thrift shop ALL DAY! we have to get creative....education, of any kind, never stops at the school, and vice versa.....it is supplemental, synergistic and symbiotic and one cannot be without the other....perhaps that's the only "rule" of waldorf or pedagogy in all.

post #57 of 74
Maggieinnh, I didn't mean being pushed to believe in them at the expense of academics - guess that I didn't explain myself so well. I was meaning to talk about 2 separate issues.

First I have no problem with gnomes, fairies etc but do have a problem with someone telling my child they are real as I want them to learn the difference between reality and fantasy - tho for children it is def a mixed thing for quite some time I dont' see the need to confuse them. Let them grow at their own pace with discovering what is real and what is make believe is my philosophy.

As for academics - yes I do love the way they use playful and creative academics in the grades as another poster on here pointed out. That's one reason I want to homeschool in a Waldorf fashion. What I was talking about tho (and didn't specify -sorry) is Kindegarten. I think younger children are also capable of learning some academics. For example, my dd loves at just 2 years to sing the alphabet and to point out "letters" on signs to me. No, she doesn't know individual ones, but she does recognize them as such. Also, we use a book where we read stories and find objects in Spanish. She loves learning what all the different animals are in Spanish and her favorite new word is "Conejo". She runs around the house saying "Conejo bunny!!" and pointing out "conejos" to me.
post #58 of 74
Ahhh, o.k. now I understand!

As I mentioned to previous poster I personally have nothing against the way the Waldorf schools foster imaginative play at a young age,...but I guess that is why I want to send my dc to a Waldorf school and for the same reason you choose to homeschool.
It is just different approaches and slightly different views!
Learning a second language is a great experience too, we are raising our dc with two and will add a third in a few years as well, so there all I can say is thumbs up!

Congrats on the new place as well, sounds really nice!
post #59 of 74
thanks for all the congrats everyone - we are so excited about the new place...

I would love to know how you are teaching so many languages... I'll start another thread so as to not hijack here...
post #60 of 74
my criticism of waldorf comes from watching my stepson learn to be mentally lazy and not read at the age of 9. everything else has already been said. if it was my choice, he would go to public school next fall. he has been in waldorf preschool and school since the age of 3 and he has learned very little. huge disappointment. maybe it is just the waldorf he attends. i don't know.
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