Considering Waldorf - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-04-2009, 04:09 PM
 
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Vaptek, I've been reading these boards for a couple of years, I think, now. I have found that when parents come on with particular concerns the threads tend to follow a pattern, that by and large *really* help parents make this crucial decision. Waldorf was a lot of what I wanted for my kids, but in the end I made the right decision (for my own kids) to not proceed into the grades.

When parents come on who are deeply religious and want to make sure that they are not entering a spiritual system different from their own, they are often steered away from Waldorf. When an atheist comes on, that to me isn't a nonstarter, but I do think that atheists need to really go in knowing that anthroposophy is the core of Waldorf education. They should have pretty good idea of what anthroposophy is (esoteric Christianity) and how Waldorf education is a manifestation of it. Before the internet made such communication easy (I think it was Eugene Schwartz who said that parking lot chatter became global with the internet) many parents believed what they were told in promotional materials and by admssions officers- which rarely provide adequate information on anthroposophy. I know that many Waldorf parents just don't care that much about anthroposophy, but I believe that most self-described atheists will. Again, that's not to say Waldorf won't work out for them, but they should gather as much information as possible.

Of course, every school is different. The typical reaction to visiting a school is overwhemingly positive because Waldorf schools are so beautiful. If the OP left this thread not even wanting to visit, I would feel that we did her a disservice. If no one came on with positive comments about Waldorf I think that would also be a shame. But providing her with some balance, to know that for her situation there are some drawbacks to that beauty for atheist parents is absolutely crucial for making a good decision.
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:46 PM
 
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Just wanted to reiterate that transfer in the early grades is difficult because the schedules for Waldorf and the public school system are not in synch at this point. But by high school they have come into synch and transfer is fairly straightforward. As a university science professor I can attest that the Waldorf students I've met have more than adequate preparation in science, with a larger emphasis on hands-on experiments in the Waldorf schools.

In terms doing art by rote, again I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding. Waldorf takes art instruction seriously, and as such they believe in techniques that must be mastered via teaching, just like in handwerk there are particular skills (knitting, woodworking, felting, etc.) that require mastery via teaching. I personally believe that a lot of elementary school education in the public schools emphasizes creativity over skills because they undervalue the importance of skills, which are a necessary (if certainly not sufficient) condition for creativity. One can't be a creative fashion designer unless one first learns techniques of sewing, and one can't be a creative musician unless one first learns music theory.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:43 PM
 
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Here's a question: How well would Waldorf education be suited to a child from a Pagan household? Well, I'm Pagan and a scientist and my hubby is atheist but spiritual. We'd like an educational environment for our dd that allows her to go at her own pace. Would Montessori perhaps be a better option? (dd is 10 weeks old, researching very early (!!), very tired, and typing one-handed - thanks for your patience!)
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Old 10-07-2009, 02:38 AM
 
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Waldorf schools don't allow children to go at their own pace in my experience. Perhaps things have changed. Again (not to sound like a broken record!) it's all about the individual school.
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Old 10-07-2009, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, nobody's scared me off visiting the local school. I'm set to go down next week

My daughter would be entering Kindergarten during the next school year. (They start kindergarten at age three at the local school). If we decide to go with Waldorf this would give us plenty of time before school transfer becomes an issue. Traditional schools around here start Kindergarten at age four, and there are two years of kindergarten.

It's interesting to me that people are suggesting Montessori. I attended a Montessori school when I was very young and apparently I loved it. There are several Montessori schools within about a half an hour to forty five minute drive from us - further than I would like, but certainly not impossible. I did go and visit one of the Montessori programs, but was turned off by their focus on early academic achievement. The director of the school was pushing the fact that the kids were learning academics early, and thus had some sort of academic advantage over their non-Montessori peers. However, this may have been a result of a pitch made to a perceived audience, and not as indicative as to what the school is like as I assumed.

I had thought that Waldorf would allow children to go at their own pace. It seems that I have misunderstood quite a few things bout Waldorf! I must say that the school websites and brochures are not very informative I got a very different picture of Waldorf from reading the schools handbook and materials than I am receiving here. Not that the picture painted here is a bad one, it's just different that what I had thought.

Perhaps I should go and visit with a different Montessori program in our area as well as the Waldorf school

Mum to DD 9/07 and DS 01/11

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Old 10-07-2009, 05:11 PM
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I'm seeing a problematic use of the word "truth" around here. it is being confused with "facts." While all facts are true, not all truths are facts. that is, many truths are subjective or emotive in aspect, and therefore not "factual" and yet still no less true to an individual or group.

thus, it is important to note that children are both taught facts and truths in a waldorf education. children are taught scientific facts in waldorf such as how the seasons change (and why) and also how gardens grow, and on and on. these are taught along with the fairy tales and other elements of seasonal celebration/learning.

the fairy tales and the like are taught in the "truths but not facts" methodology similar (ime) to jungian archetypes. that is, in early stages, they are tauht in the form of "realities" or "play realities" and then later developed into "understanding certain archetypes." that is often how santa--in mainstream culture--moves from being 'that real guy who brings presents' to being 'the spirit of generosity' for most people.

i have noticed that waldorf schools vary widely in how much "one's own pace" children can go. if you are too slow or too fast, then it's not a good fit. but i've noticed this at nearly every school i've ever been in. many are just not equipped for special needs on either end of the spectrum, and are there for the general needs of the middle ground.

montessori is more play-based learning, more about being at one's own pace, but it seems nearly to be anti-imaginary play. that's just from what i've read and seen around here, but i also believe that schools vary.

as far as kindy goes, i wouldn't be worried about waldorf kindy. it's very straight forward--celebrate the seasons, spend time cooking and gardening, art is entirely free, and lots of free play time. story telling is fun and enjoyable. that's it. it's really relaxed at that age. it gets more "strict" at the grades.

so, i don't think it would be an issue to, say, put her in waldorf kindy for now, and then when she enters first grade, transition her to public or montessori school depending upon which works.
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:57 PM
 
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In terms of self-pacing, I don't believe there is much varation among Waldorf schools grades 1-12. The classes (which are composed of like-age children, although I have heard of a case or two of a child skipping a grade) study different topics in blocks. This means that they will spend two or three weeks on a particular block and then move on. There is a certain amount of work to do and all students are expected to do it. I know students who had to spend recess inside catching up nearly every day. If someone can speak to the contrary, please join in, but the principle of the whole class studying the same thing at the same time is an important one in the Waldorf grades. I would be very surprised to know of a school that does it differently in the grades.

Fustian, if she enrolls in kindy that young, you have plenty of time to get to know the school and the curriculum. It's such a good way to give it a try. I think Waldorf is at its best in kindy.
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Old 10-07-2009, 10:15 PM
 
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I would think vary carefully about this decision. It is a nightmare to transfer out of a waldorf school into regular education if things don't work out.
I second that! When Ds transferred in 3rd grade it was horrific. He was so far behind. The teachers all thought something was wrong with him. None of the other children wanted to be friends with him. It really hurt his self-esteem.
He is now in grade 6 and it and he has caught up and gotten more confidence but the first year was very tough, second year still hard....
And I feel so bad for sending him to a Waldorf school in the first place.
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Old 10-08-2009, 12:53 AM
 
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This post really saddens me. In fact, the whole thread is getting a little depressing. I am by no means a "blind follower" of any ideology, but Waldorf has very valuable things to offer, and a whole worldview that is very hard to find within mainstream educational settings. But you have to understand globally what they are trying to accomplish and the way the whole educational system is set up.
Third grade is absolutely the worst time to transfer, because that exactly the time when the differences between the two educational systems are most divergent, and Waldorf is "behind" (although I'd say they are laying the foundations that will support their students better in the long run). And, yes, that's exactly when my sister transferred and it was awful for her. In retrospect, my mother wishes my sister had stayed *longer* in Waldorf rather than pulling her out *earlier*. By 7th-8th grades, Waldorf students are not only catching up, but by high school they're actually ahead of most public school students. But by "ahead" I don't mean in terms of test scores, I mean in terms of being able to develop themselves intellectually as independent analytical thinkers.

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I second that! When Ds transferred in 3rd grade it was horrific. He was so far behind. The teachers all thought something was wrong with him. None of the other children wanted to be friends with him. It really hurt his self-esteem.
He is now in grade 6 and it and he has caught up and gotten more confidence but the first year was very tough, second year still hard....
And I feel so bad for sending him to a Waldorf school in the first place.
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Old 10-08-2009, 02:02 AM
 
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Kafka,
Perhaps I'm reading the pps wrong, but I'm not seeing these warnings about the difficulty of transfer as, in themselves, an indictment of Waldorf education. I think that some of us view a rationalist worldview in a Waldorf context as potentially problematic for this particular parent, and as such she should both learn all she can about Waldorf AND understand how committing the grades, especially the early grades, are. (This is also a very important reason to make sure to meet the incoming first grade teacher before making a final decision.)

When parents come on talking about loving the spiritual side of Waldorf you aren't going to see people jump on to the thread saying "Hey, do you know how hard it is to transfer in third grade?"

You mention how rare the Waldorf worldview is in mainstream education. Absolutely. But imagine those of us who just don't believe that there is a spiritual realm or world of any kind. (I believe that human beings are innately spiritual, but this resides in the human mind and dies with it.) That means that the more we learn about Steiner, the less enchanted we become. The less his view of childhood development makes sense. So for some parents, the "whys" of Waldorf make everything fall into place. For others they make Waldorf less embrace-able so the "what's" become very, very important.

If you look at some of the long old threads where parents of enrolled children came on with concerns about what they were seeing and then learned that there is an anthroposophical basis for what they were seeing, (as with teachers not speaking directly with children about their behavior), they often would say "we never would have enrolled if we had understood that the schools are so anthroposophical." Invariably after it became apparent that the parent and child were indeed in a bad situation, a Waldorf-comfortable parent would come on and say "Well, you should have done more research."

I totally understand how great Waldorf is for many families. It is also important to understand that it is a bad fit for others. It's better for the parents who might have enrolled their kids mistakenly, it's better for those kids, and it's better for the Waldorf communities as well. Discontent is poison to a small school. It is not an indictment of Waldorf to help parents figure this out and to be very honest with them. It is a crucial step in the creation of a heathy Waldorf school.
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Old 10-08-2009, 06:32 AM
 
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Fustian---Ditto absolutely everything you said (even down to being a trained scientist). DD is almost 2yro. I have her in Parent/ Tot program at our local Waldorf. I am still undecided about the very issues that you raised.

DH is totally on board with it through kindy, but opposed thereafter.

I love so much about Waldorf schools that don't really seem to be supported in many other school options. I don't know what we are going to do. I think that we may try out 3 yro kindy, but I am not sure at this point. It is really hard to do much more because we will be moving in a few years anyway.

I would really like to see more before deciding on this one fall session and get to see another teacher. I think that because the teachers do go through all of the grades with the students that getting the one that is right for one's family is essential.

Hmmm...so I understand your concerns and I am conflicted as well. Do share your visit impressions and what you think of your local school.
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Old 10-08-2009, 08:58 AM
 
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Orangewallflower, I just want to say that your posts are just spot on. I agree with so much of what you've written , so won't reiterate it.

It's hard for those who do feel the fit is right, to disengage, and understand that the points you make about parents who discover anthroposophic beliefs are behind many things the teachers do, isn't a personal attack.
If one doesn't believe in higher spiritual worlds, or karma, and one's world view is rational and scientific, to realize the teachers whole way of operating is based on Steiner's "cosmic truths", and they are being used with your children, is invasive and shocking.

"You should have done more research" is often said; but the research throws up so much, and the schools seem bent on keeping many things from parents.

I've found it useful to read the books the teachers have to read during training. IMO, they show there is no doubt that the training is a form of indoctrination, that the teachers have to believe in Steiner's world view, and allow it to indoctrinate the children.
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:19 AM
 
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By 7th-8th grades, Waldorf students are not only catching up, but by high school they're actually ahead of most public school students. But by "ahead" I don't mean in terms of test scores, I mean in terms of being able to develop themselves intellectually as independent analytical thinkers.

I don't know how you support a statement like this? What study was done, with what controls? What was the measurement, where is the raw data? Who funded such research? Which public school students were measured? And on and on.....there are no answers because it seems to be anecdotes presented as fact. Unfortunately, this is an example of the type of 'truth" or perhaps a pseudo-scientific fact that gets trotted out a lot.

There is absolutely no reason to malign other students or their intellectual capacities in order to further feeling good about your educational choice.
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:18 AM
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i think it's fair to assert one's opinion based on experience in the matter.

i wouldn't say that waldorf educated people are necessarily "ahead" in any 'scientific/factual' way, but in my experience,waldorf education doesn't inhibit free thinking or analytical thinking, nor does it inhibit an individual's interest or success in pursuing the sciences as a career.

i make this statement because of a pervasive cultural fear that i commonly see: many parents (in general) fear that their children will 'be behind" based on whatever kind of education one gives them or doesn't give them.

because waldorf does not teach the sciences in the 'common' way in our culture, there is a fear that those children will "be behind" or not be able to keep up once in higher educational circles. i think that it is always a fair concern when questioning, thoughtfully rather than neurotically, which form of education to utilize for your child.

thus, as evidence to the contrary, those of us who know waldorf educated graduates in university point out--not scientifically or through a study, but through knowing these kids--that many waldorf educated children go on to study the sciences and do quite well.

of the children whom i know who graduated last year, a number of them are in the sciences. one of my best friends is a brilliant mathmetician, and she was waldorf educated.

so, even though waldorf doesn't educate in the sciences the way that other schools may (and honestly, depending upon the child, those other methodoloies may be better for an individual, given child), doesn't mean that children do not receive the ability to think critically and analytically to succeed in the sciences.
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Old 10-08-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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It's interesting to me that people are suggesting Montessori. I attended a Montessori school when I was very young and apparently I loved it. There are several Montessori schools within about a half an hour to forty five minute drive from us - further than I would like, but certainly not impossible. I did go and visit one of the Montessori programs, but was turned off by their focus on early academic achievement. The director of the school was pushing the fact that the kids were learning academics early, and thus had some sort of academic advantage over their non-Montessori peers. However, this may have been a result of a pitch made to a perceived audience, and not as indicative as to what the school is like as I assumed.
I know that this conversation has veered off the OP's original question, but we decided to go with Montessori so I just wanted to say how we got there. I read a lot about Waldorf on this community, and was really surprised to learn how strict it was. It also helped explain the friends I had in high school who had gone to a Waldorf school!

I think that so many of us hear stories about the love of learning being knocked out of very young kids in public schools that we translate this into distaste with the idea of early academic achievement. But I eventually came to the conclusion that early academic achievement has nothing to do with FORCED early academic achievement.

Children in Montessori schools often seem to (according to the anecdotal research I've done) indeed read and write fairly early, but the difference between this and mainstream school is that they are given the tools, to work with at their own pace, and they come to traditional academic skills in their own time and at their own pace. If you read about the Montessori activities (I recommend "A Parent's Guide to the Montessori Classroom", which is really just a pamphlet but outlines all the major work), they are designed to be very specific steps on a road to the academic skills, each of which requires the child master it before moving on.

Over in the Montessori community there are very frequent threads about parents being upset at how "strict" or "structured" the Montessori classrooms are, how there's no imagination allowed, how the teacher doesn't let the children play with the toys however they want. I think that on the surface all of this is true, but the underlying reasons are very valid. The truth is that children thrive under structure: Waldorf is all about structure though it's called rhythm. The main difference is that in a Waldorf classroom (and in most preschool classrooms) the whole class follows the same rhythm, while in Montessori the child is taught the structure of each activity, and then allowed to go it alone. By working on the activity of their choice, the children really learn to master it, and this mastery gives them the skill to work on the next activity. The activities slowly build up to various academic skills, and before you know it your child is writing or reading or multiplying two digit numbers, with nary a workbook or forced memorization drill in sight.

The fact is that some children do pick up on academic skills faster than other children. My sister was probably profoundly gifted, and could read by the time she was two (I'm not making that up) and she and her friend who was definitely profoundly gifted sat around and read calculus textbooks in first grade. Waldorf probably would have driven both to suicide! On the other hand, I was a much more laid back kid, totally into my own little fantasy world, and wasn't reading fluidly until the summer before third grade when I kind of figured it out on my own: I probably would have flourished at a Waldorf school.

But my point is that having a blanket concept of early academic achievement being a bad thing is, in my personal experience, not a constructive way to view many kids. Once I learned more about how strict Waldorf is in keeping kids on the same track, I had the realization that my beef isn't with early academics, but with expecting all kids to follow the same path to the same place (I'm still no longer nearly as smart as my sister, but I'm no slouch either), whether that track is "early" or "late." This realization made me choose Montessori. To my knowledge, besides a Sudbury type school experience, Montessori is the only curriculum that really lets a child learn at his own pace.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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Old 10-08-2009, 11:53 AM
 
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OK, zoebird. But the way you present your anecdotal evidence is a lot more palatable (and truthful) than the quote by kafka.

I considered Waldorf for a very long time. Ultimately, I rejected it. I was able to find a fabulous public magnet school -- an "open" school -- that suited our family much better, and didn't cost their college funds. I feel very comfortable with my decision. I have a friend who did choose Waldorf, and I find that despite extremely similar parenting styles and lifestyles, she has drifted away, and has become quite narrow in her world view, and choices of friends and activities. That's my anecdotal experience of Waldorf.
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Old 10-08-2009, 12:23 PM
 
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i think it's fair to assert one's opinion based on experience in the matter.
Yes, very true. However, opinion should not be confused with fact, nor presented as such. It's one of those pieces that seems to get "muddied" in waldorf (my opinion).
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Old 10-08-2009, 02:27 PM
 
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I don't think I presented my post as the result of a randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled study. I based my post on purely my own experiences as a university science professor and laboratory director running laboratories in both state and ivy-league research universities, who recruits supposedly "top-level" high school students from Intel and Simons competitions. I say that not to give myself extra credit (I agree, that my opinion is just an opinion and should be treated as such), but to provide a basis for my statements. The vast majority of high school students, even the straight-A wunderkind-types that we see coming out of these competitions, are terrible scientists. Great students, terrible scientists. They simply cannot think for themselves. And, just as importantly, they strike me as being over-educated and under-skilled. The vast majority of them cannot build anything, cannot design anything, and have no experience working with their hands. My own personal viewpoint is that Steiner's stuff with the reincarnation etc. is just plain silly but makes a nice metaphor. But the real asset is in getting kids back to making things, because that process teaches them some very valuable skills and develops important physical intuitions that fewer and fewer of our kids would otherwise be exposed to (again, my impression based on my own experiences...no published Nature study here). Just as a point of reference, 50 years ago (read Feynman's autobiography) the average physics major had spent his (yes, mostly "his") entire childhood taking electronic things apart and putting them back together. That is no longer the case, and it makes my job much MUCH harder because they just aren't clever in that way. Unfortunately, it can't just be easily taught in a year's lab rotation because it should have been developed over an entire childhood.

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Yes, very true. However, opinion should not be confused with fact, nor presented as such. It's one of those pieces that seems to get "muddied" in waldorf (my opinion).
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Old 10-08-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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Kafka, you have touched on one of the things that Waldorf does very well, and that is missing in some mainstream schools. Human beings need to make things and our culture of standardized testing over the last four decades has been driving this out of the schools. I do see it starting to bubble back up in the mainstream though. Knitting is starting to be a common activity in the classroom and sewing is a common after school activity. My son's class tends a vegetable garden. It would be nice if it were built in as curriculum as in the Waldorf schools though.
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Old 10-08-2009, 03:06 PM
 
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I'm very surprised to hear that it's coming into the mainstream, since it seems that with my three kids it's been driven more and more out with every passing year in the rush to fill kids' time with computer learning (what used to pass for minimal art instruction is now computer graphic design). My kids run the gamut, from preschool to high school. Not one of the three is receiving any practical manual skills in the classroom...it's so unbelievably frustrating, since even when my mother went to school girls at least took sewing and boys took shop. Now they both learn how to invest in the stock market in a class called "life skills." Warning: non-scientifically-proven anecdote: when I asked my high-schooler son's friends what they would do if their cars ever broke down (out of curiosity) the answer, universally, was... "call a guy." Perhaps this attitude of helplessness explains why my best scientists come from "underdeveloped" countries; in a country like India or Pakistan or the Ukraine, when you're a boy and your car breaks down, you and your friends fix it yourselves. You see the result of this mindset in the lab when something isn't working and there's no "guy" to call.

I got into this forum because I essentially try to give my kids a dual curriculum. When they get back from school, I spend another 3-4 hours with them doing projects that are strongly Waldorf-based. I know Waldorf kids who are flaky and into drugs and druids, but I've been impressed by the high school kids who come out of our Garden City Waldorf school and I like to recruit them because they tend to work out well. Of course, there is a self-selected bias confound, since the kinds of parents who tend to seek out alternative educational strategies may have themselves greater levels of independent thinking that they pass on to their children either genetically or via childrearing...I'm aware of that. But with all those caveats, I still think Waldorf is not "anti-science"...just the opposite. You can't study the world well without having your hands in it.


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Kafka, you have touched on one of the things that Waldorf does very well, and that is missing in some mainstream schools. Human beings need to make things and our culture of standardized testing over the last four decades has been driving this out of the schools. I do see it starting to bubble back up in the mainstream though. Knitting is starting to be a common activity in the classroom and sewing is a common after school activity. My son's class tends a vegetable garden. It would be nice if it were built in as curriculum as in the Waldorf schools though.
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Old 10-08-2009, 03:54 PM
 
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You can't study the world well without having your hands in it.
Wow. i love that!

DH currently is a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering at a Ivy League University. He went to public schools with a strong focus on science. But he really feels that what has given him an 'edge' has been his informal schooling. The hours upon hours he spent in the woods as a child, the 'tinkering' he and his brother did, lots of traveling, and learning from others- including carpentry, fine woodworking, auto mechanics, and some cooking. His 'being' in the world, so to speak.

off topic but, incidentally, this is the first time in the nearly 10 yrs we've been together where he isn't able to do most of the car repairs on our car, simply because his research responsibilities don't give him enough time~~ wow, have mechanic bills been a slap in the face, lol!

DD likely won't be attending a formal Waldorf school for many reasons- financially, a few concerns we have with anthroposophy, and I just don't think its the right fit for her. I wouldn't have any real concerns, though, if she were to attend about the difference in how science is taught in the higher grades. I do have some issues with the 'gnomes as truth' stuff for the littles.

Most of this is me rambling, and not terribly relevant... sorry about that!

Rebecca, wife to a hardworking PhD student DH and mama to one sweet girl (3), four angels in heaven, and joyfully welcomed our baby boy January 2010! blog link in profile
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:48 PM
 
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Kafka, I do hear, and agree with the point you are making about wishing for more "hands on" involvement of our children in the world. We are also a family of university teachers, Ph.D's, scientists, as well as musicians, artists, writers. In our experience, it's not the school that creates or fosters any of the above-it's the family. My ds spends literally hours taking apart electronics and putting them back together, just as his father did as a child, and his g'father before him, all scientists/engineers. The problem was that this was labled as inappropriate and unbalanced by waldorf teachers. So, you can have your hands in the world, but it has to be by Steiner's rules and timetable. Once one of my kids brought a skull of an animal, yet to be identified, to school for exploration, and was told that children of that age should not look at such a dead part of the animal. Hmmm. So you have this supposed embracing of science and then pure quackery. Hard to figure out.

IDK what the answer is-kids definitely need to connect more with their world, but we don't rely on a school to do this for us. It's more what our value system embraces, so my guess is that at least one of my kids is going to be sought after as a creative thinker.
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Old 10-09-2009, 01:34 AM
 
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Karne, I was thinking about this issue and wondering how much screen time has to do with kids making things. My kids watch about 1.5 hours of t.v. a week, and they don't have any other screen time (except that little bit at school.) I can easily see that if I allowed it most days and especially if video games were thrown into the mix, they would have almost no play (make, break, dig, draw) time. I wonder if t.v. and video games are a large part of the phenomenon of passivity and helplessness that Kafka sees in her employees. What do you think of this idea, Kafka?
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Old 10-09-2009, 04:25 AM
 
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There are so many great posts on this thread, I don't know where to start! I think kafka's main point about the development of physical skills is really important.

I was involved in a Steiner/Waldorf parent-toddler group where we used to live, when DD was about 9-20 months old. It was a great, friendly, welcoming group of people. As time went on, I decided that I needed to research Waldorf a bit more, and I became uncomfortable with certain aspects of the philosophy and method. I was sold on the idea of creating a rhythm, but was worried about it becoming too rigid. I am almost comfortable with the paganish esoteric christianity, but my husband is very atheist/rationalist and he did not like that aspect of Waldorf at all.

I started to ask questions, and talk about my concerns with other people in the parent-toddler group. I discovered that although the woman who ran the group was doing a 1-year course ("Foundation Year" I think they called it) in Steiner education, she was by no means 100% Waldorfy. I visited her at home several times and discovered that her 5-year-old daughter had plastic toys and even a little DVD player. She was very much into taking what worked in Waldorf, for herself and her daughter, and leaving the rest. I eventually decided that while I liked our local group, I was not a huge fan of Waldorf overal.

We have since moved, and there's a Waldorf school only about a mile away, which is closer than anything gets to us here. It's actually on the way from our house to the main road. I will be going to check it out in November, but I'm leaning away from it despite its convenience. For one thing, it's expensive and they only do full days (8:30 - 2:30) and I really think that half days are better for pre-schoolers, if you can manage it. Secondly, we can do a lot of what I like about Waldorf at home. We'll have a garden, we live in the middle of the woods, I bake and make things, and I might even work on my story-telling skills and brush up on fairytales, which I'm interested in anyway.

Also, I've found a school I like much better. It's a 20-minute drive away, but not so far from DH's work. It's a Reggio-Emilia/Montesori based pre-school (half days only) in a church basement. They have a "science room." It was a busy, welcoming space, and the teachers were fine with letting me and DD (who is not quite 2 yet) just drop in, whereas the Waldorf and Montessori schools here only do scheduled visits, parent only, after the kids have settled in to the rhythm. Their openness was really important to me, even though I can see the rationalle behind the other parent-visit policy.

I'd say, keep looking, and see what the particular Waldorf school you're looking at is like. They can vary quite a bit.
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Old 10-09-2009, 07:18 AM
 
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I guess in my earlier post I should have said that there not much in the of alternatives to either Waldorf or Montessori in my area.

aikigypsy--Thanks for mentioning Reggio. I started looking that up and exploring that forum here on MDC.

I want to know more about the art and crafts. I have been very fascinated by the Waldorf watercolor images and other handcrafts. I still have "crafts" that I did 40 yr ago and I don't want my child wasting her time making stupid paper bag puppets from some copies that the teacher ran off. I must have made 20 of those things, one for each holiday/season/occasion. I can not think of anything less creative than that. They don't look like they were even ever played with as a puppet and now I can understand why.

orangewallflower--I am also very interested in what these other approaches say about screen time. We did away with our TV. I don't miss it. It makes it really "easy" at this point because she does not really know what TV is. I can not believe that my parents let me watch as much TV as I did. I always thought that it was weird that there were people who were raised without TV. I did not know anyone personally and here I am without a TV.

"I wonder if t.v. and video games are a large part of the phenomenon of passivity and helplessness that Kafka sees in her employees." I would believe so. Having taught at the university level, I must say that screen time and computer-based approaches are not the end-all-be-all. I think that they can be for the motivated learner, but students who have no motivation to learn are not any more engaged in the technology than they are with any other medium. I think that is why I am so interested in finding a place that supports creativity, music, nature/science, etc. to ensure that the love of learning is strong.

I am a product of public education K-12 and private liberal arts college. In high school I was very frustrated because I wanted to take art and was told that I was "too smart" for those classes and that those classes were Not there for the "university bound" students, but more for the dropouts. I was even a "teacher aide" xeroxing rather than an art class because of that for a semester---what a waste! I had learned to be a "good girl" and to do as told at that point, but that is another topic. Anyway.....I went to a liberal arts college and finally got to take art and even had my own show!!! I loved it and feel that I was quite deprived growing up. (Wow, just writing this has just now crystalized why this is so very important to me as one should not have to wait until college to get exposure to real art.)
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