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Here goes - thoughts and feelings on Waldorf and Anthroposophy and Anthroposophists - Page 2

post #21 of 156
I can't answer your questions, because I don't know. I think there's something to be said for the hard fall after falling in love with something - of course there's an emotional response of betrayal. What I don't understand is why there's a fall to begin with. Our school is very up front and open about Steiner and anthroposophy. I don't get why some schools aren't, and would feel equally deceived and pissed if I got into a school only to find it wasn't what it said it was. I think it's weird.

It also seems obvious that different Waldorf schools are very different in other ways as well. I don't see any teachers crying, we don't get a ton of fundraising requests, the administration has been very stable, I see kids doing all sorts of physical activities that aren't eurhythmy, we don't get a lot of "God" in blessings and songs, plus a ton more things I just edited out, because who cares? It's really hard to generalize when the differences are apparently so great.

I will add that I do think there are people who are more likely to feel hurt by things, but I am probably one of them. Again, if I was very involved in a school and then felt cast out, I'd be as hurt as anyone in that thread. If I was told that I was raising my kid wrong by people I had trusted and held in esteem, I would have a hard time with that. I just don't see any of that at our school: whether it's because I'm naive and inexperienced, or because schools really are that different, time will tell I guess.
post #22 of 156
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Originally Posted by Attached Mama View Post
Whether or not all of this article is true, I think you might find it interesting.
Oh, it's invariably interesting to read the theories cooked up at Camp PLANS. Conspiracies to achieve world domination using eurythmy, toy gnomes and magic water color talismans to brainwash little "Manchurian Candidates" in the Waldorf schools-drat. Where the heck is Batman when we really need him?
post #23 of 156
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Originally Posted by frostysarah View Post
It also seems obvious that different Waldorf schools are very different in other ways as well. I don't see any teachers crying, we don't get a ton of fundraising requests, the administration has been very stable, I see kids doing all sorts of physical activities that aren't eurhythmy, we don't get a lot of "God" in blessings and songs, plus a ton more things I just edited out, because who cares? It's really hard to generalize when the differences are apparently so great.
Same here. But I saw my child's teacher cry-back to school night, public high school, after a parent asked if she planned to take the class to a more technical level because her child felt that the work they were doing was pretty basic. My sixth grade teacher cried, again public school: first man I ever saw cry in my life.

And the Waldorf school my children attend does do way more movement than eurythmy. There's a whole other system of Waldorf movement called spacial dynamics (the difference between eurythmy and spacial dynamics is kind of interesting). There's what's called "games" class. That's a required part of the curriculum. There have been lots of competitive athletics from seventh grade on, and several types of dance have been taught also, including ballroom, swing and contra. And morning circle is full of different movement exercises. And my high schoolers like eurythmy a lot-there's an eurythmy elective offered that turns many students away because there's more demand for the class than there is physical room for.

Special teachers do have it rough sometimes. I think it's a very tough tough job teaching special classes here because they deal with a whole school of students in all age groups, virtually at the same time. Some teachers don't have the classroom management skills that are needed to engage with students revolving in and out of the special classes. The tendency of the faculty is to believe that if a teacher is having trouble discipline-wise, it's because they aren't loving what they're teaching enough, or that their students are under challenged. I've never been an elementary school teacher but I believe it's more complicated than that. Some who try to teach just don't have in themselves the kind of personal presence and demeanor that will instill harmony and engagement from the students. And special teachers may have what it takes for some ages of students, but just don't have it with others. I've seen this quite often, actually, where teachers' impact on the class is completely changed after taking on or giving up classes of certain grade levels.
post #24 of 156
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Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post
Oh, it's invariably interesting to read the theories cooked up at Camp PLANS. Conspiracies to achieve world domination using eurythmy, toy gnomes and magic water color talismans to brainwash little "Manchurian Candidates" in the Waldorf schools-drat. Where the heck is Batman when we really need him?
I would think it was funny and brush it all off too - if it weren't for the fact that Steiner is quoted in his books as saying these things and the current Waldorf organization doesn't seem to have progressed to far out of it as evidenced by their quote that much of what is done is too esoteric for parents to be told about it - keeping in mind that esoteric means mystical, only for the initiated, secret etc.

Believe me - I grew up in an organization that people called a cult - I know only too well how some people can twist and start rumors about anything that is different.

I'm sure there are some Waldorf schools that don't follow Steiner's views on these things, that are really only into "Waldorf" because it's beautiful and artistic and holistic etc. But judging by quotes from Steiner (who granted is long dead) and by the current Waldorf "administration", the school is still deliberately choosing to keep a lot of stuff secret.

While true beliefs and how those vary in individual teachers and schools vs how they are held by the organization may be very difficult to discern, the simple fact that there *is* a belief that some of the reasoning behind things is only for the "initiated" is more than enough to make me as a parent feel very uncomfortable.
post #25 of 156
Thread Starter 
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Originally Posted by Attached Mama View Post
Click on this link,
I think LindaCl covered this.

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Originally Posted by DimitraDaisy View Post
Okay, first off, quick introduction: I am from Greece, living in the UK, in the third and final year of a full-time Waldorf teacher training course, and hopefully working part-time in a small Steiner school this coming here.
Hi there. This sounds like an interesting choice, what brought you to the UK and to deciding to study to be a Waldorf teacher - if you want to share.
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I have what I consider a fair understanding of anthroposophy (although I also have to say my patience with Steiner's prose is somewhat limited). I am not an anthroposophist. A fair amount of what Steiner said rings true to me, and in time I often come to see wisdom in what sounded like nonsense to begin with, but there's also things that annoy me. Most of all people who take Steiner as a guru...
I agree with both elements of what you are saying - there can wisdom that is not immediately apparent, and people who make Steiner into some sort of guru are annoying

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I don't have any children (yet), so I don't really know what it is like from a parent's perspective, but I can imagine that I would find it difficult to hand my children over to a school, unless it was a well-run one and I trusted the class teacher.
Good point, for any school I think

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At the moment I think I am more likely to homeschool any future children we have. Probably using Enki at that too. I think there are some great ideas in Waldorf but that a lot needs to change for it to begin to live up to its potential.
I am interested to know why you would choose to home school, especially after training to be a Waldorf teacher - again if you feel comfortable sharing.

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That out of the way, the way I see it, your question is whether the things that seem to upset people about Waldorf are inherent to Waldorf somehow, and if yes, which ones and how. A fascinating question, as I said. I have long been struck by how traumatised people seem to be by all this. I don't really have an answer as to why this is, but I do agree with whoever said that there is something about Waldorf that makes people fall in love with it to begin with. Unfortunately there is also a lot in it that causes people to fall out of love with it, too. To take the relationship metaphor a little further, that it seems to me that Waldorf schools are the kind of partner that refuses to change, refuses that there is even a problem.
This makes sense to me, the falling in and out of love thing. But what I don't get is that it is inherently a Waldorf issue not to change or acknowledge that there is a problem. I am inclined to believe that this could be more of a human issue - annoying and very difficult to deal with - enough of a reason to leave a school, but again I am not sure that I see this as inherently a problem that waldorf schools, but rather a problem existing in education generally.

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Another thing seems to be that people form unrealistic expectations. I suppose that goes along with the falling in love thing. It may or may not be that schools encourage the forming of those expectations. I expect that some, perhaps many, schools do, although most likely that is not done on purpose but rather through a series of unhappy coincidences. I find that a lot of things in Steiner schools are done through a series of unhappy coincidences.
Again, I agree with the idea that expectations are not clear or could not be clear from both parent and school... What other things have you found to be done by unhappy coincidence?
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But I believe that what I wanted to say (I can't be sure, it was a couple of hours ago that I started this post) is that one of the reasons it is difficult to talk about 'Waldorf' in general is that there is no such thing.
This is worth thinking about!!!!
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There are the ideas and guidelines Steiner gave. There is Steiner/Waldorf school tradition, which I expect varies from country to country (although perhaps not enough).
Here I can offer my personal experience and say that there are differences. What used to be a Christmas festival, in my old school has become a festival of light to include Dewali, Chanukkah, Christmas and any other tradition that would like to participate. Not everyone loves it and it took a while, but I think this was an important step
Also it was fascinating to see a Waldorf school here in Israel and see how similar but different it is

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There is the culture surrounding Waldorf -- the kind of people it attracts (which also varies I think) and the thing those bring with them. And then there are the individual schools and teachers, with their individual traditions and beliefs and problems and so on and so forth. And yet all this, and more, is labeled 'Waldorf'. And if there is one problem with Waldorf education, it probably is that the relationships between those things are nowhere near being clearly defined. That, and the huge gap between theory and practice.
This is a new idea to me - and one that I will want to think about more....
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Originally Posted by fluttermama View Post
I think this can be true...and on the other hand toxic people can be found everywhere and anywhere and that includes Waldorf. Our situation was one where I would never send my child to the school after what happened but I did embrace Waldorf homeschooling. I realized that the teacher who did what she did was a toxic person but that did not make Waldorf curriculum in itself toxic.
I think this is very brave of you to say and to be able to articulate so clearly. Thank you

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Originally Posted by frostysarah View Post
I can't answer your questions, because I don't know. I think there's something to be said for the hard fall after falling in love with something - of course there's an emotional response of betrayal. What I don't understand is why there's a fall to begin with. Our school is very up front and open about Steiner and anthroposophy. I don't get why some schools aren't, and would feel equally deceived and pissed if I got into a school only to find it wasn't what it said it was. I think it's weird.
Good point about being up front and deceiving or not deceiving. But I guess not all parents get it when they are given information and perhaps choose to see things that they want to see and don't see things that later become difficult for them... I know prospectives exist in schools and are given to parents, but I would guess most parents would have deeper questions or be looking for subtleties that are not addressed. As PP said, most schools are probably not out to actively deceive, but it happens through a series of coincidences and a mix of poorly matched expectations

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I will add that I do think there are people who are more likely to feel hurt by things, but I am probably one of them. Again, if I was very involved in a school and then felt cast out, I'd be as hurt as anyone in that thread. If I was told that I was raising my kid wrong by people I had trusted and held in esteem, I would have a hard time with that. I just don't see any of that at our school: whether it's because I'm naive and inexperienced, or because schools really are that different, time will tell I guess.
As I have already said, I know that I am more likely to be hurt and I know that this makes me vulnerable. Also something that worries me when I think of finding a school - any school. Yes, being cast out and being told you are raising your family wrong would be awful! I have had to challenge my parents beliefs in weaning at 9 months or something like that and also getting all tied up in knots about whether infants should be leaning to be independent or not - but these issues are not really for this thread
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Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post
There's a whole other system of Waldorf movement called spacial dynamics (the difference between eurythmy and spacial dynamics is kind of interesting).
Are you referring to Bothmer Gym? (I think that is how you spell it?)

I really appreciated your whole post LindaCl, but I am really really tired after a marathon of babe not going to sleep - so am slipping up on personal responses. But I do appreciate what you are sharing and your personal experiences coming from such a positive place. I think I am starting to wonder if there is perhaps a need for interested parents to have a check list of things to assess in a school before they commit? Or maybe that is a bit anal, or maybe parents already do..... but perhaps there can be 'clues' to which schools are more likely to be open to change or more orthodox or more professional or more homey. And maybe get a better match on expectations - but I think I am over simplifying... and T I R E D

OK, I need to sleep. If I have missed anyone who posted after I started my reply, I look forward to reading your posts.
post #26 of 156
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Originally Posted by Attached Mama View Post
I would think it was funny and brush it all off too - if it weren't for the fact that Steiner is quoted in his books as saying these things and the current Waldorf organization doesn't seem to have progressed to far out of it as evidenced by their quote that much of what is done is too esoteric for parents to be told about it - keeping in mind that esoteric means mystical, only for the initiated, secret etc.
Steiner said a lot of weird things, but he didn't say that he was trying to take over the world. Sorry, it is funny but in a way, not...my two children are very real people who are the victims of this fanatic conspiracy theory, not Steiner. (All Waldorf students are, members of Steiner's "New World Army" to these tinhat conspiracy kooks) This is what was going on. Steiner lived in a time and place where schools were places that were intended to create a certain kind of student, one "kind" being good Catholics or Protestants, and another good servants of the state. These schools were not designed to "take over the world" necessarily, but simply to prepare for the right kind of future. All schools do this, there is a future goal to all education. It's a forward looking vision, any education is. Government invests in schools in the US because it considers schools an "investment in our future", graduating students are told "you are our future", like that. Originally here, education was seen as necessary for democracy. Lately a lot of people think education's goal should be to train a necessary work force. Steiner's vision of the future was one which called for individuals who were able to think and act of their own free mind and heart, and not to be servants of any state or church doing what they're "supposed to do" or acting in a certain way because they're "supposed to"; it was a 100% humanistic vision he had that the "I" of each person need be free of dogmas or prescriptions imposed upon them. The Waldorf school wasn't a training camp for any particular kind of future except one in which each unique individual is fully realized and free captain of his or her own ship. It may have been idealistic, but Steiner thought the needs of the future demanded individuals acting in complete freedom. His intention was a humanistic education where students each find their own purpose and meaning, but after the conspiracy theorists twist what he said around for a while it's transformed into "plot to take over the world".

Similar twisting going on with the "esoteric" clip. The anthroposophist organization hired a media person, and when describing what the media person was supposed to do was describing the scope and the limitations imposed by "mass media" as an information source. It's something like the difference between getting political information from a 30 sec radio ad or billboard compared with a policy paper published by the Rand Institute. We're talking a grand total of two people hired specifically to handle higher profile media stuff for the german anthroposophical society because that's what they're experts in, the peculiar challenges of communicating through mass media. That doesn't necessarily have anything to do with schools deliberately withholding information about anthroposophy to parents.
post #27 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post
Steiner's vision of the future was one which called for individuals who were able to think and act of their own free mind and heart, and not to be servants of any state or church doing what they're "supposed to do" or acting in a certain way because they're "supposed to"; it was a 100% humanistic vision he had that the "I" of each person need be free of dogmas or prescriptions imposed upon them. The Waldorf school wasn't a training camp for any particular kind of future except one in which each unique individual is fully realized and free captain of his or her own ship. It may have been idealistic, but Steiner thought the needs of the future demanded individuals acting in complete freedom. His intention was a humanistic education where students each find their own purpose and meaning, but after the conspiracy theorists twist what he said around for a while it's transformed into "plot to take over the world".
Individualism in anthroposophy and Waldorf is not at all the same as a 100% humanistic vision wherein the individual is free of all dogmas or prescripstions put on them. It's actually, according to Steiner, the exact opposite.

In Steiner's "Universal Human", p 16-17, he claims that the Initiate cannot have any personal ideas and views of his own, or he will never know objective truth. He states, "The person in whom anthroposophical wisdom appears must be completely unimportant compared to this wisdom; the person as such does not matter at all."

Boldings are mine... I don't like a system in which my child is participating in things that *all* have an underlying anthroposophical reason and wherein she is not supposed to have any personal ideas or views of her own and wherein she is completely unimportant compared to the anthroposophical wisdom being put into her.

In my opinion, this is exactly why many people experience Waldorf as unbending: because anthroposophy is more important than the individual.
post #28 of 156
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Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post
Steiner said a lot of weird things, but he didn't say that he was trying to take over the world.

Steiner's writings show that he believed in reincarnation and that he believed that anthroposophists, because of their higher evolution, would be the ones to lead or rule in the coming ages. Those who had not been initiated into anthroposophical wisdom would not have the capabilities necessary for leadership.

I never viewed this so much as a "take over the world" philosophy so much as I viewed it as a radical belief in the necessity of indoctrinating children into anthroposophy - born out of a genuine belief that it's what they need for the best life rather than out of a belief that then Steiner can take over.

The philosophy of evolving to the highest human potential in each reincarnated life that one has is a basic principle of waldorf/anthroposophy. You Are Your Child's First Teacher and Rainbow Bridge both talk about it, even going so far as to say that maybe it is, after all, a good idea to not breastfeed so long so that the child does not take on too much of the mother's personhood which could hinder their pesonal evolvement to their personal highest potential in this life.
post #29 of 156
Friends, I would like to make a request, and you can take it as just that. Can we please not use links in this discussion? I think that there is some interesting and some flawed stuff at the PLANS website, and I think that discussion about it is best done there. They have their own Yahoo group that would be well served by new voices showing up. I am not opposed to talking about articles, but if you do, how about if you sum them up in your own words and relate them to your own experience. I am simply unwilling to follow those links, and while I think this conversation is incredibly interesting, I just can't participate if this is the turn we are taking.

It might also help if we all could go to the User Agreement sticky and refresh ourselves about what we have agreed to. These contentious threads almost always get shut down, and when they do it is usually because of repeated UA violation. How about it we just don't go there and keep the conversation respectful, compassionate and alive? I think that we all have a lot to gain if we can accomplish this.
post #30 of 156
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Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
Friends, I would like to make a request, and you can take it as just that. Can we please not use links in this discussion? I think that there is some interesting and some flawed stuff at the PLANS website, and I think that discussion about it is best done there. They have their own Yahoo group that would be well served by new voices showing up. I am not opposed to talking about articles, but if you do, how about if you sum them up in your own words and relate them to your own experience. I am simply unwilling to follow those links, and while I think this conversation is incredibly interesting, I just can't participate if this is the turn we are taking.

It might also help if we all could go to the User Agreement sticky and refresh ourselves about what we have agreed to. These contentious threads almost always get shut down, and when they do it is usually because of repeated UA violation. How about it we just don't go there and keep the conversation respectful, compassionate and alive? I think that we all have a lot to gain if we can accomplish this.
I take it you are referring to me. I only posted one link and I also followed up on that link in further posts so it's not really necessary to read the link.

What is PLANS?? The link I gave was not to any "plans" thing and I thought the joke about it was just a joke I didn't get. Now I'm mystified....

I fail to see how quoting Steiner on anthroposophy is contentious... I understand that not all Waldorf/anthroposophists believe him, but quoting him and why I disagree with that aspect of Waldorf/anthroposophy is answering the OP's question. I don't for a second believe that all Waldorf people believe his views, but I do know (I'm near the largest anthroposophical community in the US) that many do. And simply put, in answer to the OP's question, that is why I and some others have a problem with Waldorf. And my "problem" is only a small one. I don't hate Waldorf; we go to festivals and activities at nearbye schools and incorporate many Waldorf ways into our home.
post #31 of 156
Attached Mama, I really agree with you about Steiner's work and I think it is a typical dogma in that regard. The message ultimately is that if you have done your spiritual work then you will understand. If you have not followed the anthroposophical path you are simply not equipped for the discussion. Anthroposophy is a form of late German Romanticism which was a reaction against the Enlightenment. It is Englightenment values that I hold most high when it comes to education, society and human progress. For this reason, Anthroposophical principles never have and never will resonate for me. (Although the stuff that I heard at open houses did.) If I have to take an Anthroposophist's word for it rather than being invited into the conversation at the deepest level, I bump up against it as dogma. "Just because" is dogma. If I, a mature, open minded adult am not worthy of a complete explanation, it is dogma. If I have to follow a spiritual path to understand, it is dogma.

Giving some other more digestible reason for the way things are done (as with Eurythmy, black crayons, wet on wet, hats and woolens year round...) in my view is simply unethical. And I do think that this is something unique (as compared to any other sort of educational institution that I have encountered in my 40 years) to Waldorf. A Catholic school will make it very clear why their students go to Mass and take religion class. Waldorf parents are left in the dark about many things. A parent like Ema who doesn't need to know the why's of everything will probably do just fine as a Waldorf parent. But I cannot be happy in that environment. It just makes me angry to be given an answer only to discover later that I was not given a completely honest one. (And yes, Ema I have been very direct. And I have been supplied with indirect and not-so-indirect untruths on many occasions. There have been some exceptions, notably in deep conversation with a Eurythmy teacher who very generously explained some of the spiritual principles underlying Eurythmy.)

To be honest, Deborah's comment that Eurythmy isn't spiritual makes me angry. Deborah, I am staying open to hearing you out, but from my point of view, this is simply an unethical thing to say to people who are trying to figure Waldorf out. It just isn't true. I don't think that it makes Eurythmy bad that it is performed with spiritual motivation, it is the lack of transparency about why Waldorf does what it does that I am addressing here. As a product of and believer in the Enlightenment, I am offended. Whether Eurythmy is useful or not isn't the question. Disclosure is the question.

Working through this argument has led me to a simple answer to your question, Ema. It isn't Waldorf and it isn't whiner parents that leads to the bitterness that you have come up against. It is the lack of disclosure that leads to a deep cultural mismatch for a parent like myself.
post #32 of 156
Attached, I didn't follow your link, so I know not of what I speak. Was your link a Steiner quote? I would be very interested in knowing what Steiner has said that is problematic for you. (Nearly all of it is for me, so I think we will understand each other.) I didn't mean to cut you down at all. On the contrary I am very curious about your point of view.

After reading nearly everything that has been posted hear about Waldorf I can clearly see where the pitfalls are and it would be so nice to stay out of them!
post #33 of 156
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Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
Attached, I didn't follow your link, so I know not of what I speak. Was your link a Steiner quote? I would be very interested in knowing what Steiner has said that is problematic for you. (Nearly all of it is for me, so I think we will understand each other.) I didn't mean to cut you down at all. On the contrary I am very curious about your point of view.

After reading nearly everything that has been posted hear about Waldorf I can clearly see where the pitfalls are and it would be so nice to stay out of them!
I quoted him in one of my posts above - we probably cross-posted and then mine was missed...
post #34 of 156
Oh, I see the misunderstanding. I didn't have any concern about that entry with the Steiner quotes. (And an embedded link under your own words doesn't trouble me either.) It was the ealier one that led to several posters talking about the Waldorf Critics (PLANS is their organization that came into existence to sue a school district over a Waldorf charter school violating the separation of church and state principle.) That was the turn I was hoping we could avoid- talking about another group's conversation. If we can keep the conversation grounded as much as possible in experience (Even if that experience is reading Steiner and going bonkers- I have BTDT) and in our own words as much as possible it will help keep it productive.
post #35 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
Oh, I see the misunderstanding. I didn't have any concern about that entry with the Steiner quotes. (And an embedded link under your own words doesn't trouble me either.) It was the ealier one that led to several posters talking about the Waldorf Critics (PLANS is their organization that came into existence to sue a school district over a Waldorf charter school violating the separation of church and state principle.) That was the turn I was hoping we could avoid- talking about another group's conversation. If we can keep the conversation grounded as much as possible in experience (Even if that experience is reading Steiner and going bonkers- I have BTDT) and in our own words as much as possible it will help keep it productive.
No prob I had never heard of PLANS b4. Someone else just PM'd me explaining what it was.
post #36 of 156
regarding the comment (I paraphrase) "people come into Waldorf with UNrealistic expectations...hence the disappointment"

We discovered Waldorf when our firstborn child was just 3 years old. So, relatively speaking, we were pretty new at this parenting thing. We found the school because we were attracted to the half day K option, I have always felt that full day K seemed so long (of course our youngest begged for it). Anyway, at our first visit, we were swept off our feet, by the beauty, the peace, the songs and the quiet, I did not know children could play so peacefully, the enviroment was so relaxing. I wanted to be a kindergartener there! We were hooked and switched from our fine, but noisy and oevrstimulating pre K right away, and that was that.

as I have said before, K was fine. It was not until our children were in the grades that things began to unravel, and by unravel, I mean a slow, steady drip of things just being harder that they should be. The administration, or whatever runs the school seemed to be in a constant state of turmoil, in the entire time we were there, 9 years, it felt like we were part of the building of a brand new school, this at a 25 year old school. Everything was so unprofessional and run so poorly, and just so much work.

For me, the fall was not so hard, because, the disillussionment with the Waldorf schools ability to be everything we wanted, came parallell to the bloom off the rose thing that happens when your children begin to grow up, have big kid issues; reading, bullies, self esteem, lonliness, friends, just all the hard truths that we have to start dealing with as parents and we find ourselves wishing for the good ole days, when we could fix their problems with a hug and a kiss. Bigger kids...bigger problems.
And then I lost a parent, and really losing a parent puts it all in perspective, or it did for me. The thing you are so afraid of as a child actually happens, and then you have to grow up. And so I grew up, and it seemed overnight I knew that nothing would be everything, that Waldorf had been good, great even at times, but no longer served our needs. It was time to go, the door was open, and we quietly walked out. We burned no bridges, but felt no regret or saddness in leaving, it is as if we had used it all up, shook the bottle a few times, and there was just nothing left.

I can see, had the fall from grace had happend when I had younger, more precious breakable children, I would have fallen harder. But now, they have broken a few times, been mended and we are all good, knicks and all.

I hope this made sense...
post #37 of 156
I think it is a combination of real traumatic experiences that have happened to certain individuals and/or a huge sense of letdown and taken advantage of when people invest their lives into waldorf only to discover it wasn't right for them in the end...and that can be for a bunch of reasons...the school, the teachers, plain perspective of the parents, anything really...

In my personal experience with a special needs child in kindergarten who was actually kicked out close to the end of this school year is that TEACHER IS EVERYTHING! I cannot stress this enough. Main teacher in the first half of our school year with years and years of teaching experience was able to handle DH's outbursts. Teacher second half of the year was not so successful and his behavior spiraled downward.

Now I have met the prospective first grade teacher who seems to have a much different point of view and outlook on special needs children in a waldorf classroom that former teacher and faculty. And let me add that one teacher can work fabulous for one family and disastrous with another. I believe part of the asset and problem at the same time with parent/family dynamics at waldorf is that it is an intimate one. The teacher is more interested in your personal life at home and more apt to give guidance than other teachers. So of course if things go awry it seems like that would feel pretty traumatic after knowing each other on such a personal level. I know it was awfully traumatic for my son to be kicked out of school for the rest of the year.....and there were some issues with teacher/school, but they aren't entirely to blame either. Some of them did what they thought was best and it just didn't work out for all of us.

The other thing to remember is that waldorf teachers come from so many diverse backgrounds. They all have to take the waldorf teacher training but they can come from all sorts of other backgrounds, not necessarily teaching. Now I'm not saying that those with teaching backgrounds are better teachers either. I think anybody can teach if they want to just as a parent can homeschool. I'm just saying that you get a lot of different types of people with different approaches, ideologies, etc.

The only disservice I have seen to us with anthroposophy was in our situation with DS's special needs. We spent the entire school year sending him to a chiro and an anthro doctor who was lots of money and zero help to us at all. Basically we discovered at the end of the year that if we had gone outside of the anthroposophy box we could have already had him in OT for sensory and maybe avoided him getting kicked out....but we wanted to go the alternative route as well and went with what they suggested. In the end it kind of bit us in the ass. So my biggest concern would be teachers who might overlook any conventional medical treatment for a serious special needs child because they only believe in anthroposophical ones. I've already discussed this with faculty and most of them do seem open to thinking outside the anthro box if suggested but I'm sure there are those who don't so that is a potential pitfall from my experience.

Thinking back on what we went through I guess I could have gone over to the "life after waldorf" thread and posted a dramatic thread blaming the staff for delaying my son's treatment, etc. I know that some folks have had truly horrible things happen to them at waldorf (or any school for that matter) but I also think you can put a spin on something that happened to you and make it sound very traumatic too if you know what I mean.

As for us, we decided teacher is most important thing. If we like first grade teacher and she is flexible enough for DS's needs we stay with the school, if not we leave and homeschool waldorf curriculum. I absolutely do not believe there is anything traumatic or horrible about the curriculum itself.

And as for all the spiritual stuff, you gotta figure out in advance if you are okay with that or not. You can't just listen to what the staff tells you, look at the classrooms, and think that anthroposophy, talk of angels, Jesus, spirit guides, fairies, etc. is never going to be heard by your precious one because it will be, and depending on the teacher, maybe to a larger extent than you like. So if you aren't okay with that, yes, you could be very disappointed.

Like I've said on here over and over I always see practical reasons for things done in the name of anthroposophy. Steiner believed children should be covered in layers to protect their organs as they incarnate. Regardless of that, I think many of us believe children should be kept warm so they can focus on play and not be distracted by cold. Likewise with eurythmy. Who cares if it was based on astrology or some spiritual system? Bottom line is that it is great therapy and expression for many, including my son.

There are some people though who will find all of these things inherently wrong just because of their roots. So those people will in turn be "traumatized" when they didn't research ahead of time to find this out and somehow feel deceived because waldorf staff didn't give them every text written by Steiner to read.

I think that's it, in a nutshell, from my own perspective.
post #38 of 156
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Attached Mama View Post
In Steiner's "Universal Human", p 16-17, he claims that the Initiate )my boldcannot have any personal ideas and views of his own, or he will never know objective truth. He states, "The person in whom anthroposophical wisdom appears must be completely unimportant compared to this wisdom; the person as such does not matter at all."
I did not want to get into a debate with quotes from Steiner as a) I really do not know much and have not read much and therefore could look really silly and b) That is not what I had had in mind when I opened this thread,
But, I do know enough to know that this quote is about initiates, not pupils in a waldorf school and from what I know of initiates - these are not anthroposophists per say, but people knowledgeable of spiritual matters - perhaps a wacky idea, but not one unique to anthroposophy... point being this quote being applied to pupils in a Waldorf school is not correct. Again, this is not something that I know a whole lot about, so I could stand corrected, but again, I think this is a digression from the original intent of the post, so I would prefer to leave Steiner quotes out of the discussion


Quote:
Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
Friends, I would like to make a request, and you can take it as just that. Can we please not use links in this discussion? I think that there is some interesting and some flawed stuff at the PLANS website, and I think that discussion about it is best done there. They have their own Yahoo group that would be well served by new voices showing up.
It might also help if we all could go to the User Agreement sticky and refresh ourselves about what we have agreed to. These contentious threads almost always get shut down, and when they do it is usually because of repeated UA violation. How about it we just don't go there and keep the conversation respectful, compassionate and alive? I think that we all have a lot to gain if we can accomplish this.


Quote:
I fail to see how quoting Steiner on anthroposophy is contentious... I understand that not all Waldorf/anthroposophists believe him, but quoting him and why I disagree with that aspect of Waldorf/anthroposophy is answering the OP's question. I don't for a second believe that all Waldorf people believe his views, but I do know (I'm near the largest anthroposophical community in the US) that many do. And simply put, in answer to the OP's question, that is why I and some others have a problem with Waldorf. And my "problem" is only a small one. I don't hate Waldorf; we go to festivals and activities at nearbye schools and incorporate many Waldorf ways into our home.
I don't like taking sentences out of context, so I bolded the phrase I am responding to Am I correct in understanding that you believe that the philosophy/dogma behind decisions that teachers make is what worries you about putting your child in a Waldorf school? Or are there aspects that you do not agree with, but other things that you find agreeable? I do not want to change your mind, and I do not think that that was ever a goal I had in opening this thread - to change peoples opinions or challenge their decisions, although I admit it is hard to stay away from that. I guess I was hoping that people would share their personal experiences and also any insights they have had as to why they became part of a group of people that were traumatised after a Waldorf school experience. Or not, as the case may be.
Quote:
Originally Posted by orangewallflower View Post
Anthroposophy is a form of late German Romanticism which was a reaction against the Enlightenment.
This is interesting, something I never knew. But I am not sure what it has to do with my child education.
Quote:
It is Englightenment values that I hold most high when it comes to education, society and human progress.
For someone who never studied philosophy I would be interested to hear more about that - but maybe in another thread. For me at least, this is not the crux of the problem or at the centre of my concern
Quote:
For this reason, Anthroposophical principles never have and never will resonate for me. (Although the stuff that I heard at open houses did.) If I have to take an Anthroposophist's word for it rather than being invited into the conversation at the deepest level, I bump up against it as dogma. "Just because" is dogma. If I, a mature, open minded adult am not worthy of a complete explanation, it is dogma. If I have to follow a spiritual path to understand, it is dogma.
I hear you on coming up against dogma, but it is just possible that you are dealing with people who also do not really know themselves and are relying on ideas they might not even understand themselves? Not everyone is able to communicate clearly and express themselves coherently and end up kinda falling onto "just because" as it is easier.... why am I questioning this? I guess it just doesn't seem to be such a threat to me to have people thinking they know stuff that I don't or being unable to explain exactly what it is they are doing. I would be more inclined to worry if there was some sort of violence being directed at my child. I guess it could be argued that cultish experiences are a violence against the individual, and there are plenty of people who think anthroposophy is a cult - something I have yet to explore myself..
Quote:
Giving some other more digestible reason for the way things are done (as with Eurythmy, black crayons, wet on wet, hats and woolens year round...) in my view is simply unethical. And I do think that this is something unique (as compared to any other sort of educational institution that I have encountered in my 40 years) to Waldorf.
Again, this comes back to how concerned a parent would be with the intention of the teachers..... I can't get it out of my mind that if we were talking about a cult that brainwashes it's members I would be very agitated if information was being kept from me and I was told "just because" and this resulting in me and my family being severely traumatised.... it is scary what people will do if they are told to with enough authority..... honestly I feel I am on very shaky ground here. I would prefer not to think of myself as brainwashed and also would prefer not to think of my parents as cult members and in my experience I never had anyone tell me what to think in an either or kind of way. I feel I have been left very free to think as I choose and to question as I choose and to totally have nothing to do with anthroposophy if I choose. In our family neither me nor my brother are anthroposophists - and we have both followed our own professional careers while harbouring mostly happy memories of our school days... so, are there wacky people out there? yes! Are there dogmatic schools/teachers? Yes. But I still believe that the dogma usually covers difficulties in communication and expression, not some sort of secret agenda
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A parent like Ema who doesn't need to know the why's of everything will probably do just fine as a Waldorf parent.
Ouch
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But I cannot be happy in that environment. It just makes me angry to be given an answer only to discover later that I was not given a completely honest one. (And yes, Ema I have been very direct. And I have been supplied with indirect and not-so-indirect untruths on many occasions. There have been some exceptions, notably in deep conversation with a Eurythmy teacher who very generously explained some of the spiritual principles underlying Eurythmy.)
Point taken.

Quote:
Working through this argument has led me to a simple answer to your question, Ema. It isn't Waldorf and it isn't whiner parents that leads to the bitterness that you have come up against. It is the lack of disclosure that leads to a deep cultural mismatch for a parent like myself.
I think I understand your position as it being totally unacceptable for full intentions and meaning to be kept hidden blatantly or not so blatantly. And this is your experience with Waldorf- the element of the hidden. I am sure that this will be very helpful to people who would share your concerns. But like I have said I am less concerned with the why's and more concerned with the competence of the teachers regardless of why they think they are doing something.

Quote:
Originally Posted by littleanniesky View Post
And so I grew up, and it seemed overnight I knew that nothing would be everything, that Waldorf had been good, great even at times, but no longer served our needs. It was time to go, the door was open, and we quietly walked out. We burned no bridges, but felt no regret or saddness in leaving, it is as if we had used it all up, shook the bottle a few times, and there was just nothing left.

I can see, had the fall from grace had happend when I had younger, more precious breakable children, I would have fallen harder. But now, they have broken a few times, been mended and we are all good, knicks and all.

I hope this made sense...
Yes, for me it did! I really appreciated hearing your story more in full! Thank you for sharing so honestly. I respect your decision and it sounds like you definitely made the right decision for your family.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixiewytch View Post
I think it is a combination of real traumatic experiences that have happened to certain individuals and/or a huge sense of letdown and taken advantage of when people invest their lives into waldorf only to discover it wasn't right for them in the end...and that can be for a bunch of reasons...the school, the teachers, plain perspective of the parents, anything really...
This seems to be what is emerging.

Quote:
The only disservice I have seen to us with anthroposophy was in our situation with DS's special needs. We spent the entire school year sending him to a chiro and an anthro doctor who was lots of money and zero help to us at all. Basically we discovered at the end of the year that if we had gone outside of the anthroposophy box we could have already had him in OT for sensory and maybe avoided him getting kicked out
I am really sorry this happened to you! Being an OT and having a friend who is an OT in a Waldorf school I can totally relate to this problem. She has had to deal with the most awful attacks by the more die hard elements in the school for bringing un-waldorf elements into the school (she works with SI). Also I would be highly sceptical of anthro doctors - but that's me. I am sure they have helped someone somewhere, but it's too much theory and not enough effect for my taste.

Quote:
Thinking back on what we went through I guess I could have gone over to the "life after waldorf" thread and posted a dramatic thread blaming the staff for delaying my son's treatment, etc. I know that some folks have had truly horrible things happen to them at waldorf (or any school for that matter) but I also think you can put a spin on something that happened to you and make it sound very traumatic too if you know what I mean.
From where I am sitting I am quite in awe of your perspective. I can only imagine how challenging it is to have a special needs son and how frustrating to not be getting the treatment you need and going through the trauma of being kicked out. I do not know if I would have been that patient. I hope you are happy with the teacher you have found now


Quote:
Like I've said on here over and over I always see practical reasons for things done in the name of anthroposophy. Steiner believed children should be covered in layers to protect their organs as they incarnate. Regardless of that, I think many of us believe children should be kept warm so they can focus on play and not be distracted by cold. Likewise with eurythmy. Who cares if it was based on astrology or some spiritual system? Bottom line is that it is great therapy and expression for many, including my son.
More eloquently put than all my ramblings...
post #39 of 156
"I guess it just doesn't seem to be such a threat to me to have people thinking they know stuff that I don't or being unable to explain exactly what it is they are doing. I would be more inclined to worry if there was some sort of violence being directed at my child."

I've been following this thread with interest, and I must admit this is a viewpoint I have a hard time understanding. Would you be comfortable with having your child enrolled in a school where they were, for example, taken to confession, given communion, prayed the rosary every day, while you remained ignorant of the meaning and purpose behind all these actions?
post #40 of 156
Thread Starter 
Quick add on. Been discussing this with DH, who is not totally in favour of Waldorf as he is very much not religious in his approach to life and would be disturbed by his child being indoctrinated with anything that has spiritual/religious overtones. Orangewallflower - he shares many of your concerns and was questioning my nitpicking issues with you. I am sorry if I have come across as unaccepting of your points or in any way disrespectful towards your thoughts on why Waldorf is not for you. This is emotional, and a lot is at stake.....
But I thought I would share some of what DH and I have been discussing.
Keeping agendas hidden in a no-no.
In our collaborated opinion, there is a difference between a Catholic school and a Waldorf school as in a Catholic school Catholicism is taught and in a Waldorf school anthroposophy is not taught, at least it should not be.
Parents who choose Waldorf are looking for better educational opportunities for their children and are prepared to invest their time and money in these opportunities. With this investment also comes the expectation that the parent is an equal partner and has a say in their child's education. Not nice to be told this is not so!!!!
Waldorf can be very enticing with its child centred approach and seemingly liberal ideas, making it very frustrating when questions are met with dogma and suddenly a liberal 'paradise' becomes a horrid trap of limited thinking.

Got to go and bath my boy - but will share more later
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