What are the negatives? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 08-02-2014, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What are the negatives?

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Mom to DS 9/18/09 and DS 3/28/13
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Last edited by wookumus; 08-06-2014 at 10:32 PM. Reason: post being misinterpreted, would rather end before more conflict starts
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#2 of 6 Old 08-04-2014, 05:42 PM
 
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Well, since nobody else has answered, I'll chime in. But I am, by no means, a Waldorf expert. I have 2 kids who go to a K-12 Waldorf school (1st and 3rd grade) and another who will likely start Kinder in a year. I started at Waldorf very naive of all the Waldorf controversies and concerns. The school had come highly recommended by several of my colleagues who have kids there, so I toured the school and went for it. I knew there were concerns about the delayed emphasis on academics in the early years meaning that some kids might go longer before their learning disorder was discovered, and also knew that it can be hard for kids to transition into regular schools in the early years as they will be behind their peers, but I was willing to accept those risks. Son after my boys started there 2 years ago, I because a little leery of some of the things I was seeing. I didn't fit in well with the other parents and I did not take easily to the emphasis on "magical thinking". I've always been a practical, scientifically minded person and it goes against my nature to encourage belief in fairies, gnomes, and even God for that matter. Then I began reading up on some of the negative Waldorf information out there; there is a lot of it if you look around. And I basically freaked myself out. I was to the point of thinking I would pull them out of Waldorf, but I decided I shouldn't base that decision on what other people had experienced at other Waldorfs. So I made myself stop reading negative things on the internet and just decided to watch my kids and their interactions with the school. Two years later and we are still going to our Waldorf. It's not a perfect school and certainly not the perfect fit for our family; but I think based on the alternatives, it's as good as I'm likely to find without home schooling (and I would be terrible at homeschooling).

I could probably write a hundred things more, but I will just try to give a few examples (good and bad) of where my kids and their cohorts are at:
-my 3rd grader: we were in the car last year with 3 of his non-Waldorf friends. One of them mentioned the eruption of Vesuvius (I think they were talking about volcanoes or something) happened in 70AD. My son had no idea of this event, but when I asked how many years ago that was, he came up with the answer in seconds flat, whereas his friends were still slowly doing the math in their heads.
-same 3rd grader is not at the same reading level as his cousin who is 5 mo older and a grade higher, but he is close.
-my 1st grader (will be entering 1st grade next mo), still doesn't know his letters. For the most part not a big deal, but he sometimes gets embarrassed about it when hanging out with non Waldorf kids.
-my 1st grader had a friend who changed from Waldorf to public school last year, when she entered the 1st grade. I ran into her mom recently and she said they spent the whole year playing catch up because she was so behind (this was not unexpected).
-my 1st grader's cousin, who is a similar age, steals her parents' ipads and locks herself in the closet all afternoon to play on it. When I hear stories like that I feel smug, because that is a non-issue for my kids. (Of course, I never express my smugness to anyone).
-I am very anti-homework, and as of yet, there has been no homework for my kids, but all of their non-Waldorf friends have homework, including the Kinders.
-the after-school program at our Waldorf is phenomenal. I compare it to the public school after-care program that my eldest went to when he was in public Kinder. They would put movies in the VCR and let them watch, every single day!

Anyhow, it doesn't matter so much what my experience has been because it is so dependent on the individual school, and within that school, dependent on the individual teacher. I would encourage you to tour the school more than once, and sit in on some classes at different age groups. Talk to parents of kids there and kids who have graduated, to see how they fared when entering the real world. And only give weight to negative reviews about your specific school, not about Waldorf in general.
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#3 of 6 Old 08-04-2014, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really appreciate your detailed response! I am scientific-minded sort as well and the magical aspect is a little out there but also exciting in a way. It's hard to find much fun these days for kids when so much academic focus is started even in preschool! I do like the delayed and less intensive academic aspect, the push for so-called achievement isn't resulting in increased intelligence in our country, in fact, quite the opposite. Since writing my post, I have spoken to others with experience at this particular school and based on my initial visit, the vibe seems quite laid back and very relationship oriented. As we would with any school, we will be on top of any warning signs but for 2-1/2 days a week to start, I think we are going to give it a try. I supposed you can find strong naysayers for any academic philosophy or style. For now, this seems to fit for us. We shall see!

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#4 of 6 Old 08-06-2014, 08:34 AM
 
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Hi, Wookumus. What in particular is of concern to you? To put it bluntly, all the nasty crap on the internet is not "hidden" and there is a reason why the most reputable sources (like books and articles from educational professors) do not contain the same stuff you can find on blogs. I'd be happy to share anything about our experience but the downsides have been exceeded by the great education our kids our receiving. I'd also suggest talking to parents at the school you are looking at. Anyone who has enrolled their child during the internet age has probably seen that stuff too.

That is something that I think needs to be pointed out more often. The typical Waldorf school has hundreds of enrolled children. Depending on the age of the school, there could be thousands of alumni. These private schools simply cannot function financially or otherwise without years of satisfied parents who are paying the bills and/or sending in donations. And that means that the children do learn how to read, that they do get into good high schools after 8th grade, that they are not taught to believe in gnomes, and they’re not mercilessly pummeled on the playground for karmic reasons.

It sickens me to see the wonderful school our children attend depicted in such a way. I have come to know a lot of parents at the school over the years and we've got doctors, lawyers, university professors, artists, sales executives, hairdressers, social workers, cops, flight attendants, public school teachers, carpenters, chefs and waiters as parents in our school. None of these parents are messing around with their kids' education because it is simply too important in this day and age. It has to be working for them.

Please forgive me for being so testy. I want to be helpful but I’m a little tired with the implication that I have subjected my children to “occult teachings”. Whatever problems I have with Waldorf education are not of that sort.
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#5 of 6 Old 08-06-2014, 05:28 PM
 
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Wookumus, thank you for your reply.

As I said in my post, I want to help but I also wanted to express that the point of entry is difficult when the premise begins with there "are occultist teachings in certain schools" and that such "information about Waldorf is concerning because it almost seems hidden".

As you can see from my reply, one of the biggest "negatives" I have about Waldorf is that people will state misinformed things as fact and then basically ask "does this bother you, too?" Well, I guess in theory such things would be a "negative" for me but if I don't agree with what you said…what am I supposed to say?

Again, I would be happy to share our family's experience. What do you want to know?
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#6 of 6 Old 08-08-2014, 04:44 AM
 
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My son just finished 5th grade at Waldorf. He started in the middle of 2nd grade. We're in a part of Europe in which Waldorf schools function more like a charter would in the USA, so there's a fair amount of gov't oversight and the school has to conform to a general curriculum, though how they do so is up to them.

My son's level of math is higher than kids that go to normal schools. Granted, he's particularly good at math *but* his teacher also works on it a lot in all sorts of great, creative ways. DS' reading took a while to catch up with kids in standard schools, but he's now also ahead.

Basically, I've never seen the "occultist" weirdness that all these people on blogs talk about. I think that Waldorf can become an easy target because it could seem "weird". Moreover, lots of parents idealize it so much, that the normal reality of any school (of whatever sort) which doesn't quite meet expectations seems particularly devastating. I have no doubt that students and parents have had bad Waldorf experiences but we haven't been among them. In fact, our son has done wonderfully well, gained lots of confidence, and is a happy kid.

The main negative I can think of is also a positive. The teacher stays with the class from 1st-6th grade. In our case, this has been wonderful. His teacher is amazing, talented, and a fabulous role-model. But if a teacher is less good or just doesn't quite click with a student, that can be difficult.
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