Will a Waldorf education provide a strong SCIENCE and MATH foundation for my daughter? - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 12 Old 09-02-2012, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
tpase's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 28
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Hello,

I had posted a number of months ago when I had questioned whether my rather "academic" 4 year old would fare well at a Waldorf school. I am unable to pull that post up, but am so very thankful for the insightful and helpful comments I received from those familiar with Waldorf education.

My daughter begins her Kinder year next week (Whee!). But now I have another question:

How much emphasis does Waldorf education place on Math and Science, compared to Arts and Humanities?

 

I have always operated from the perspective of making choices in life that open up more options in your future. By that count, I would prefer my children receive a very solid and mandatory education in Math and Science, as that is hard to achieve without formal training. Arts and appreciation of literature will happen easily, as they are so inclined anyway. 

 

The nagging question in my mind is this: given the overwhelming number of actors and actresses and artists that are Waldorf grads in the US, and a lack of prominent scientists, economists, technologists in that roster, will Waldorf education fall short in the development of my nascent scientists?

 

Does anyone have any idea how rigourous the Math and Science curriculum is, and why is there a lack of world leaders in these fields in the pool of Waldorf Grads?

 

TIA

tpase is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
#2 of 12 Old 09-03-2012, 12:30 AM
 
Melaniee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: California
Posts: 3,705
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I think that's really a subjective question. I suggest you visit your local school to see what their programs are like. Many have regular tours scheduled where you can get a glimpse of the curriculum in action and ask questions.

Melaniee is offline  
#3 of 12 Old 09-03-2012, 01:01 AM
 
Lacarina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I was a Waldorf student for most of my school life. I have always felt that my understanding of science was lacking. With that said, I graduated from a class of 17 students, 1 is a biologist for the FDA, one works in testing for the WHO, and one got her PhD in neuroscience from a large and well respected research university in California. Of these three students, two of them were Waldorf lifers like I was. It is because of this that I can only assume that my lack of understanding in science can either be attributed to the 2 years I spent in public school, or, more likely, to a personal lack of interest or difficulty. I think it is fair to say that I didn't get science because of me, not my schooling. I should also say that in college I greatly enjoyed biological ecology and did quite well.
I can't answer your question directly, but I hope that my experience can help you in your decision.
Lacarina is offline  
#4 of 12 Old 09-03-2012, 01:54 AM
 
DariusMom's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: I've been in the lowlands too long
Posts: 2,276
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

My DS just started fourth grade and the level of math instruction is actually ahead of language instruction. Now . . . that can also depend *a lot* on the teacher, as well as the dynamics of the class. I believe the science instruction is more or less on par with where the local public schools are.

 

Anyway, as other posters suggested, take a look at the specific school, talk to them, see what their curriculum looks like, talk to other parents, and then see what's up. It's so hard to generalize about *any* type of education or even any school because there are so many factors involved.

 

All I can say is that we've been very pleased.
 

DariusMom is offline  
#5 of 12 Old 09-03-2012, 03:00 PM
 
mayaandx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: NY
Posts: 93
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Hi there,

My son goes to a Waldorf school and the admissions has told us that a high percentage of Waldorf graduates go on into the sciences, or to have dual art and science majors. It makes sense because they are really educated to discover the world. 

 

The Waldorf Seattle school website has this info. Here is a link to a study; not sure if it is the one referred to but it relates a lot to quantifying what Waldorf graduates go on to study: 

http://www.seattlewaldorfhighschool.org/faq-hs/PDFs/ProfileWaldorfGrads.pdf

 

A 2007 research study found that, compared to their non-Waldorf educated peers, up to twice as many Waldorf students go on to study science in college. I

 

I think in general the quality of the math education in HS really depends on the school and especially the teachers. 

 

Maya

mayaandx is offline  
#6 of 12 Old 09-05-2012, 01:28 PM
 
Jacquelin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 89
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

I think what Lacarina and Mayandx said sheds light on the character of science & math education at Waldorf and how it is different from other schools. Interestingly, there are many Waldorf grads who do art + science double majors (very unique these days) or they eventually take their interest in science and combine it with their social values (such as working for the WHO). So, probably fewer science fair whiz kids getting into MIT (although there probably are some) and many more who incorporate an interest in science into more multidisciplinary lines of work. Thats my read based on the Waldorf grads (and current college students) I know.

 

Of course, this all depends on a solid science curriculum with well trained teachers. Especially in the upper grades, your kids will need to have access to teachers who have the appropriate subject matter expertise and training to make these subjects come alive for your child. Look at the bios of the teachers. You should see undergraduate and/or masters degrees in mathematics, biology, and chemistry, or former careers that suggest a broad knowledge of science and mathematics. If everyone on the faculty has degrees in things like modern dance and Russian Literature your school may be underresourced and you should see what new faculty can be brought in, if only to teach certain blocks or special subjects. Hope this helps? Its been my experience that people who really like science and math---in the sense of playing around with the concepts and exploring ideas---are attracted to teaching in Waldorf schools because they can share the joy they have for their subject matter. However, some schools do have more of these faculty members than others and for that reason the quality of math and science instruction can vary.

Jacquelin is offline  
#7 of 12 Old 09-10-2012, 04:28 AM
 
Hope-Faith-Charity's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

About 2 years ago I heard a radio report about an Australian study comparing science achievement in Waldorf and non-Waldorf schools. The author, who was doing this for his masters degree I think, found that the Waldorf students had higher science exam scores and were more likely to enter scientific fields than their non-scientific peers. He was pretty surprised, by the way...I think he, like most of us, had ideas about Waldorf science education formed by the early years curriculum.

Hope-Faith-Charity is offline  
#8 of 12 Old 09-10-2012, 07:06 AM
 
LitMom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 291
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

The Science is taught less explicitly in the early grades than it is in public school, and the math is taught in a way that can look unfamiliar to parents used to the drill and memorize math style. It uses games and activities. Personally, I think it helps my daughter understand the underpinnings to the math more effectively. 


Book loving, editor mom to 2

LitMom is offline  
#9 of 12 Old 09-10-2012, 09:32 AM
 
QuirkyMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 13
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I work in administration at a Waldorf school, and what I observe is that science and math are taught as rigorously or more so throughout the grades--the biggest difference to me is how science and math are integrated with everything else, including art and music. The children are encouraged to see their whole world with a scientist's eye, rather than whatever fits into a 45-minute block each day. Like other commenters have mentioned, many of our graduates have pursued careers in science--in fact, we are developing a survey for our alumni to help us better understand why so many of our students find that path. I also believe it is the Waldorf way of cultivating curiosity and innovation--two critical requirements for 21st century science.

 

On a final note, Waldorf education in general boasts many accomplished scientists among its ranks; I would venture that because of our culture's preference for actors and performers, you hear about them less. Look up John Fitzallen Moore (physicist), Dr. Wolf-Christian Dullo (oceanographer), or Kristen Nygaard (scientist/programmer), for example.

 

 

You might find these piece interesting: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/8/prweb9852149.htm

 

http://www.waldorfwithoutwalls.com/articles/waldorfsci

QuirkyMama is offline  
#10 of 12 Old 09-12-2012, 10:19 AM
 
gcgirl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,311
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by QuirkyMama View Post

 

On a final note, Waldorf education in general boasts many accomplished scientists among its ranks; I would venture that because of our culture's preference for actors and performers, you hear about them less. Look up John Fitzallen Moore (physicist), Dr. Wolf-Christian Dullo (oceanographer), or Kristen Nygaard (scientist/programmer), for example.

 

 

You might find these piece interesting: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/8/prweb9852149.htm

 

http://www.waldorfwithoutwalls.com/articles/waldorfsci

 

Actually, my personal opinion is that Waldorf tends to attract artistic types, rather than that we have a cultural bias toward actors. I would like to see more data on this "high percentage" of Waldorfers who go into the sciences because I am not yet convinced. But that's not because I think Waldorf doesn't teach math and science well.

gcgirl is offline  
#11 of 12 Old 09-14-2012, 05:47 PM
 
ZippyGirl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Wandering, but not lost (yet!)
Posts: 722
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I have a couple of anecdotes to share regarding this question.  First, one of my closest friends just moved her daughter from an elite private school in our area to a Waldorf school in Massachusetts.  When the Waldorf school evaluated my friend's daughter, they found that she was surprisingly behind in math and science from the other private school.  The school sent the grade teacher down (two-hour drive one-way) to work one-on-one with the daughter over the course of the summer to catch her up with her Waldorf peers.  I was surprised that she was considered behind by the Waldorf school because she's a straight A student and her former private school was intensely academic with a stellar national reputation, but I was more surprised (pleasantly so) by the dedication of the Waldorf school and teacher to catch up the daughter.

 

Second, my husband and I recently observed a few classes at a Waldorf school to see if we wanted to send our children there.  He sat in on a seventh grade physics lesson (and I sat in on a third grade class).  We both have an undergraduate degree in biology (biochemistry and molecular biology in the case of my husband), and he was really impressed by the way the lesson was taught, the engagement of the students, and the challenging level of discussion.

 

Third, as a former scientist, I must say that one of the most important skills to have is the ability to think critically, to have a curious mind, and to question.  Anyone can memorize the Periodic Table.  Anyone can memorize the geologic time periods.  But my personal opinion is that Waldorf beautifully instills in its students the love of learning, love of the natural world, ability to think, and tools necessary to pursue intellectual and artistic questions and pursuits with equal vigor and skill.  And I believe that Waldorf excels in this.
 

ZippyGirl is offline  
#12 of 12 Old 09-19-2012, 10:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
tpase's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 28
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

thank you all for your comments, and links.

it is so VERY helpful. 

 

it has been two weeks since my little one embarked on her kinder journey at waldorf, and i am deeply, madly in love with the school and the methodology. it is the soundest method of education that i have found in all the different schools that i have toured. my background is in neuroscience, and my conservative world view on educating the developing mind is being challenged and flipped. and by golly, i think steiner was onto something! ;))

 

i would write more but i am unbelievably sleep deprived and will be completely incoherent soon...

tpase is offline  
Reply

Tags
Waldorf

User Tag List



Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off