@vjpam "I'm sorry if I sound a bit defensive here - - it's just that we have felt very judged by many in our own Waldorf community for leaving what they believe to the the "one true educational system."
I'd just let that go if I were you. There will always be people who think they have found the "one true" anything. Its the people who share your goals and values...but also see that there can be many ways that get there...those are the people to listen to.
I would differ from Jacquelin's advice and advise you not to slap your friend or do any other sort of violence to her.
I, too, have heard from some artistic friends who went to Waldorf schools that they felt creatively stunted there. There is a lot of copying, and while that is a perfectly fine way to learn, not all students are into it. I think your friend is relating her lived experience, and we wouldn't want to slap her for it.
Ummm...MichelleZB...it is a turn of phrase?? Of course I am not advocating actually "slapp[ing] your friend or do[ing] any other sort of violence to her." Geesh. My comment was about what creativity is...what can be considered a creative act. I am of the opinion that if someone does not see something creative happening when they pick up a paintbrush and move it around according to their inner or outer perceptions that they are alienating themselves from their own creativity in some way. Just by virtue of doing it, both the object and the subject have been transformed. This, in my opinion, is what it means to create.
I've got to say, I'm utterly stunned by your reaction to my post.
To VJPam, I didn't think you sounded defensive at all. I haven't read a full biography about Steve Jobs, but one article I read talked about his intrigue with electronics having more to do with HOW they work - meaning, he would take old televisions apart and try to put them back together (please correct me if I am wrong). I don't think any Waldorf teacher would suggest putting a stop to that sort of curiosity - they might want the younger child to get out and PLAY a bit more, but what I was trying to say in my post was that my own son is very "in his head" (I won't suggest he's the next Steve Jobs, but if there is a "gifted spectrum" he might be on it). I've never had any of his teachers try to get him to stop reading or even have him slow down his interest in reading (or math for that matter). They have worked with him and are finding ways to challenge him when he needs to be challenged.
And I certainly didn't mean to suggest that Waldorf is the only method that works! I was just trying to point out that it's okay to have students who are brilliant - after all, they're all brilliant in some way, right?! My son has no creativity, but is a fabulous reader and is great at math. He doesn't draw as well as some of his classmates, but he can knit up a storm. So, I really think that for HIM (and for many "heady" children) Waldorf is a great fit. I know he would thrive elsewhere. I just thought I was answering some of the OP's concerns.
And to that note, I hope *I* don't sound defensive at all! I'm not feeling defensive - just wanting to explain another view.
How wonderful it is that we have various methods of teaching children, since there are so many different variations of children!
Yeah, well, I was being a bit silly, I suppose. I realize you were using an expression. But I was trying to draw your attention to your word use. "Slap her upside the head" is maybe an idiom you should think twice about using.
I think you are being very dismissive of Buzzbuzz's friend's feelings and experience. The thing about art and creativity is that people have to do it their own way. It is very possible to feel bulldozed artistically, and it's not very kind to pooh-pooh that feeling in someone else.
Maybe the idiom sounds especially harsh to your ears coming from Canada? Its a rather common thing to say in parts of the US and very often used in a friendly, mock-confrontational context. The idea is that you confront the person with direct and overwhelming evidence as if it were hitting them in the face.
As for being "dismissive of Buzzbuzz's friend's feelings and experience" I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Her friend's experience is her personal experience and I have no way of knowing anything about it. What I reacted to is that she said her friend had a "theory." A theory is an idea that her experience is applicable to other people or indicative of a larger phenomena. I found it kind of perverse and alienating to think that its possible to render something into existence without you also having participated in a creative act. It sort of cuts off or sets a very high bar for what creativity is...like it can only exist if the artist reflects on the experience and says it was a creative act. I think that sells all of us far too short both in terms of understanding what creativity is and in appreciating the magnitude of our own capacities as creative beings.
And some of it has to do with how you define creativity. Is making a needlework sampler from a predetermined kit really creative?
That's rather how my friend felt about her Waldorf experience - it had the appearance of creativity but only in a "paint by numbers" sort of way.
No slapping is on the horizon... ;)
I support homebirth that meets the qualifications set forth in the AAP's 2013 policy on homebirth.
I'd like to share a few stories of Waldorf alumni I have personally run into over the years who were critical of their education at various stages:
-- An alumna of our Waldorf school wanted to be an art teacher, but definitely not constrain the children's creativity as she felt hers had been constrained in the early years. She was hired by a public school and went into her first class, a first grade, with a rich offering: pastels, charcoal, crayons, oils, acrylics, finger paints, etc., and various kinds of paper. She invited the children to choose a medium, a surface, and do whatever they felt like.
It was utter chaos, and what came out was, she felt, not remotely artistic. It was unsustainable for her to continue like this, she realized.
On Day 2 she turned this around totally. She gave out a single medium and paper and started teaching fundamentals: experiences of pure color, of various combinations, building up elements of form...which is what the Waldorf approach tries to do as well, she realized. She became a firm believer in her early education, so long as at the appropriate time increased choices unfold.
-- I met a friend of a friend in England, a music teacher who turned out to be a graduate of the Edinburgh Steiner school. She was not happy with her education at all, primarily because she was Jewish and there had been little (or no) acknowledgement of Judaism in the school.
I asked her how her teaching was going; she said she found it very easy and satisfying. In fact, she didn't understand why it was so easy for her when many of her friends really struggled. I asked her if she thought she had good teachers at the Steiner school; she answered that they had been very good. I asked if she thought that having good teachers might have given her good examples at a deep level that she was drawing on now. She was silent for quite some time and then she said that yes, she thought that was probably the case, although she had never considered this before.
-- I got to know a German girl who was working as a WOOFer on an organic farm. She was a Waldorf alumna in nursing school. She said she had been really angry at her Waldorf school after graduating, because she was sure that she would be (1) drastically under-prepared for the sciences in nursing school, and (2) a social misfit unprepared for either the competitive environment or to make friends with non-Waldorf students. After one month, she realized that she was both one of the most popular students in the whole school, and was ending up informally tutoring many other students in a variety of subjects. She turned around completely in her attitude and realized that she was the one person who got along with everyone in the school. (The latter is a frequent theme amongst alumni, I've noticed..."I'm the one person in my office who gets along with everyone.")
Having said this, Waldorf schools do sometimes struggle to meet both ends of the spectrum: the very gifted and the very challenged. At some point, if you really want the character building that the schools provide, yet your child falls into one of these two categories, you're going to have to supplement outside of school. That, or find a school that focuses more on your child's needs.
I enjoyed reading these anecdotes, hope-faith-charity. Do you mind if I call you Hope? :)
One of them included this: "She invited the children to choose a medium, a surface, and do whatever they felt like...It was utter chaos, and what came out was, she felt, not remotely artistic. " I can relate. I don't remember having any art instruction in grade school either (public school; good suburb). It was maybe once a week and I always felt that as soon as I got started on my work it was time to return to the classroom. Of course, I thought my work was magnificent but I usually got a "meh" from the art teacher. And it was always stupid stuff like collages too. Later, I took up photography and design and it turns out I have a good eye, and the ability to remember colors very accurately. So, to add to your collection of anecdotes, I mourn what might have been possible for me way back in 1st grade. But what stories to do I have to tell about nothing? I can't even express the loss. Its just a big hole. There is no experience connected to it. Just me now...old...wishing I had the time to take an art class and even if I did perhaps getting embarrassed that I know nothing.
I can understand how "restricting" a more structured art curriculum might be for an early-blooming, talented and motivated student. But what about the kids who don't know how to get started or how to translate their ideas to paper? Its just like the kid who has difficulty with language arts. Yet if you read a lot, recite poems, and act out plays you begin to see how its done. Maybe you'll never turn into JK Rowling but you'll either be able to appreciate what she can do or know how to get started yourself should you want to. So many of us will be blessed with long lives. There's no way to know what the future has in store for us. I'm of the mind that true education entails growing capacities that may not bear fruit for years to come.
I can understand what you mean, I know it seems weird at the beginning... But having studied for 12 years in a Waldorf school, I really enjoyed it! In my school, there were people who followed the "strict" rules, but lots of people just did not and I believe it was fine: every parent should be able to decide what is good for their children, especially if they enjoy singing with the radio!
Regarding the lack of science and readings... I can only say that it comes, but differently for each child, at the moment that is best for them. I was a very intellectual kid, so I guess it was the greatest thing for me to be in a place where they also wanted me to do other things, it gave me a balance. And if I look at the people who were in class with me (it's been 10 years since we finished, and we still see each other very often), some have become great musicians or artists, but most of us have gone to university and have found it really easy.
Hope this reassures you a little, but don't worry, just keep doing as you would with your children, I'm sure it will be fine