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#1 of 43 Old 03-04-2004, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello all! I am the mother of a wonderful 8 year old and a 1 year old. My dd goes to public school. This morning I read the article in Mothering about the Wardolf Schools. Well, I began to research and it seemed like an interesting idea and maybe something my dh and I should look into for our children...then I ran across this...

Wardolf

I just wanted to know if there was any truth to this at all. Is Wardolf a good source of alternative education (alternative to ps).

Homeschooling isn't an option in my house. My dh has an aunt that homeschooled her children (his only exposure) and her kids are not exactly stable. He attributes that to the homeschooling. However, he isn't opposed to a "private" school.

Thanks in advance!
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#2 of 43 Old 03-04-2004, 08:55 PM
 
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We're in our ninth year as a Waldorf school family. I never intended to be a 'private school' family, and neither did my wife until she saw the Waldorf school.

It's definitely a different approach, though, and by reading the critics' writing you will get an idea of what CAN go wrong. It's also a good source for knowing what to look for when you visit a school.

Good luck!
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#3 of 43 Old 03-04-2004, 09:31 PM
 
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Waldorf Schooling is a wonderful option in my personal opinion. If you are interested in doing some reading on it, I really liked the book Understanding Waldorf Education by Jack Petrash. It is a very easy read and gives you information on why they approach education the way they do.

Personally, I know more about Waldorf preschools than grade an high schools, but I would say that the overall philosophy is about doing what is truly developmentally appropriate for children and teaching children to become thinking people, rather than ones who memorize facts. They seem to really cultivate a love of learning.

So much of what they do in regards to young children is really being backed up by recent advances in brain research and by child developmental specialists. The need for free play, unstructured toys, and their daily routines.

About the site you linked to, here's my take on it...1. You can probably find anyone out there who has had a bad experience at any school.

2. They say that Waldorf is a religious organization. There is some truth to this. Waldorf has roots in Anthroposophy. I don't know a whole lot about it, but I think the main thing is that they see people (and children) has having a mind, body, and spirit. And so teachers try to acknowledge the "spirit" of children. This rubs some people the wrong way.

3. Some of what they don't like are some things the founder of Waldorf Education, Rudolph Steiner, has said in lectures. He wasn't just into education but other philosophical issues. From my point of view, yes, he probably said some crazy things as genius minds often do, but I feel like his approach to education was right on.

Anyway, those are my thoughts!
~Dana

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#4 of 43 Old 03-05-2004, 01:43 AM
 
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My intention of coming to this board tonight was to start a post about Waldorf schools, however now I am just in shock over what I read on the Waldorf link!
A few weeks ago I meet some parents of Waldorf students at our local farmer's market. These moms had a booth to promote a new Waldorf school in town. I was very interested since I am in the process of finding a preschool for dd for the fall! I had never heard of Waldorf education until I started reading Mothering a few years ago, even though I have a degree in early childhood education and taught in a Catholic school for five years. I had also done lots of internship teaching at public and Montessori schools. Anyway they invited me to an open house next weekend and even encouraged me to join their playgroup, and I was all excited to go! I was thinking wow, maybe this is really something I should look into, I met these people and then read the article, it must be a sign or something! But now I am put off by the racist and authoritarian sounding comments on the PLANS website!
Anyway I would still like to go to the open house and check this option out for myself, but what things should I be looking for both positive or negative? Thanks in advance!

Not trying to take over thread, I just thought we were both in a similiar situation! Thanks!

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#5 of 43 Old 03-05-2004, 01:52 AM
 
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Oh! I did just think of one other thing that really bothered me about the Waldorf school! I have called the school three different times over two days during school hours and I got an answering machine each time! Not only did I not speak to a real person, my call has not been returned from Tuesday! I thought this was very strange! How in the world do you contact people at school if they don't answer the phone or return calls? Is this normal at other Waldorf schools? Thanks!

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#6 of 43 Old 03-05-2004, 08:11 AM
 
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I don't have personal experience with Waldorf, though I have friends that do. I think there are pros and cons to the Waldorf approach, just like any other educational philosophy. I have learned a lot more about Waldorf right here on this forum. You may want to do a search to read the many many threads that have been discussed and debated on Waldorf education here on this forum (if you need to know how to do a search let me know).

I think as with anything it's a good idea to be an informed consumer and to thoroughly research anything you are exposing your children to. People on this forum have stressed that there are amazing differences between Waldorf programs and the way they carry out the philosophy, how much they integrate Steiner's teachings etc.

If you want me to pull up some old threads on Waldorf, let me know. (One of these days I'm going to create an archive for Waldorf, Montessori, etc.)

 
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#7 of 43 Old 03-05-2004, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by lauren
If you want me to pull up some old threads on Waldorf, let me know. (One of these days I'm going to create an archive for Waldorf, Montessori, etc.)
If this isn't too much trouble for you, it would be great. I did a search on Waldorf and didn't come up with much - Although I will say that after reading the posts, it would help if I spelled the word correctly : (see OP)
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#8 of 43 Old 03-05-2004, 02:33 PM
 
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octobersweathearts said it well. We've been a Waldorf family for 3 years and I have loved the experience. You know when you read about some of the things Rudolf Steiner had to say, I guess what's important is not what he said (or didn't say -- or how it was translated/interpreted) is how is it carried out in the school? My children are bi-racial and I can assure you that we have not been on the receiving end of racism. So, if Steiner said some racist thoughts -- I'd ask, "Are the teachers at my child's school taking on racist thoughts that would come out in their actions."

IMO, I wouldn't call Waldorf education religious -- that is there are no beliefs that the children are required to have. But, I will say it is spiritual (in my experience) in that the teachers do hold that the children have a head-body-and spirit. My question would be, how does this play out in the classroom? At my ds school at the beginning of circle time, they light a candle and sing, "Take the light to your heart." Is this religious? Is it spiritual? When I witness it, I think it's beautiful and magical and I love the reverence of the moment. And, because my child has this image, I can talk to him about it. For example, during the holiday season I can explain that Christmas, Hannaukah, Kwanza, Solstice are celebrations that really center on light in the darkness or holding the light in one's heart. It really speaks to him.

I think the PLANS sight is a little extreme and there is much anger (in my opinion) behind the work they are doing. I don't know if their work is making the world a better place. Maybe it is?

What's most important, IMO, is to not get up in all the rhetoric, or get too caught up in the head. I'd look to see what's happening in your child's classroom or potential classroom. I'd say here, "Actions speak louder than words."

Finally, pant pant, with regard to the answering machines at the school and phone calls not being returned, Waldorf schools are usually grass roots/parent initiatives which can be short on money (to hire people to answer the phone) and the parents who are volunteering may be spread thin, doing many tasks at a time, so phone calls aren't returned promplty.

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#9 of 43 Old 03-05-2004, 10:56 PM
 
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Laura, try your search again. I just did a test search, typed in "Waldorf" and came up with 170 separate threads on this forum alone. Make sure you spell it right and choose the forum to search as Learning at School. Let me know if you need any help.

I will be setting up archives eventually, but I need to get some instruction from the administrator on how to do it!

 
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#10 of 43 Old 03-05-2004, 11:16 PM
 
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I went to Waldorf schools from age 3 until I graduated from HS. Jack Petrash, who was pentioned in a post as an author of a book on Waldorf education was actually my teacher for 8 years (you usually have the same teacher from 1st through 8th grade). While I did not read the PLANS site thoroughly, I am familiar with many of the criticisms of WAldorf education. I think that the person who said that you can find people against any type of schooling, or really anything, for that matter, is correct. WAldorf schools are not for everyone. In my opinion, they take a wonderful approach to educating the head, heart, and hands of a child. I know that I definitely entered adulthood a MUCH more well-rounded person having gone to a Waldorf school, and I have a deep appreciation for the multitude of talents that people have.

In particular, I think that Waldorf preschools are magical places to nurture the growth of children. There is no emphasis on academics, which allows children to explore, play, imagine, etc -- activities severly lacking in the lives of young ones today, IMO.

Two more points:

One is that I think it's important to note that, as is said on the PLANS site, there are parts of Rudolf Steiner's writing that I believe are racist and innapropriate. He did, however, write in the early part of the 20th century -- not to excuse him, but to place him in historical context. I think that one could probably find offensive things in the writing of most philosophers of the time.

My second point is that, as with all schooling decisions, it is important to weigh the specific needs that your child has, your wishes for him/her, and the potential school setting you are considering. Waldorf schools vary tremendously from school to school, so it is important to see if your local school seems to be a fit. Additionally, learn about the philosophy of the school to see if it matches your own educational philosophy. While I loved my WAldorf experience, I won't send my child to Waldorf schools (except perhaps preschool), as they don't provide some of the things that I hold near and dear to my heart as a part of schooling experiences (I'm a teacher/graduate student in education).

Hope some of this provides another perspective to those of you considering Waldorf. Feel free to pose further questions here or pm me with them.

good luck!
megin

Mommy to an amazing 8 year old, wife to an inspiring principal, and welcoming Wylie Grace! Our July 4th babe!
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#11 of 43 Old 03-06-2004, 01:32 AM
 
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If you don't mind me asking, Megin, what sort of traditional school experieces do you consider lacking in Waldorf schools? I did read that you will not find an American flag in the classroom, is this true? Thanks!

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#12 of 43 Old 03-06-2004, 12:19 PM
 
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megincl wrote: While I loved my WAldorf experience, I won't send my child to Waldorf schools (except perhaps preschool), as they don't provide some of the things that I hold near and dear to my heart as a part of schooling experiences (I'm a teacher/graduate student in education).


I have two children in Waldorf and I am very interested in what you found missing. I can't see anything missing from the elementary program but I am wondering about high school.

My children are in K and 2nd grade and we love Waldorf. My 2nd grader would do well in public school because he is always in his head thinking about facts. Waldorf has really rounded him out and increased his creativity and imagination. I think he will be a better person for it. Waldorf stretches him where he needs to stretch. My kindergartener while less in her head is well met by Waldorf because of the decreased media infulence. She would very easily develop into a Britney Spears wannabe if she were exposed to that.

Lastly, I have to say, before we choose Waldorf I looked at many things including the PLANS site which really disturbed me. In the end, I am glad that I did not let these people's bad experiences prevent me from choosing Waldorf. It opened my eyes to what can go wrong in Waldorf (and in many other schools for that matter) so that I can keep my eyes open to what is going on at my school but frankly I haven't seen any of it. I think it really depends on the school, staff and parents at each individual school. The only thing I wish is that there was a Waldorf public school so we weren't spending the equivalent of a mortgage payment on schooling!
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#13 of 43 Old 03-06-2004, 01:16 PM
 
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In response to what I find lacking in Waldorf schooling, let me preface it again by saying that I think this is a totally personal opinion.

I was trained as a public school elementary school teacher. As a teacher, I focused much of my curriculum around literacy, particularly involving students in writer's workshop and reading workshop. Both of these models depend on kids to choose what they read/write, work hard to develop their creativity in writing and independence in reading, and are, in my opinion, the best way to focus on literacy at the elementary level (augmented by other types of teaching as well). I feel that these two types of approaches to learning are lackign in Waldorf, as far as I know. There is little choice around what one reads and a lack of emphasis on creative writing in the early grades. I think that for many children who go to Waldorf schools, they can get these things at home, but for me it is important that DS also experience this type of learning in school. Mind you, I know that many public schools don't offer this kind of approach. I'm DEFINITELY picky and happen to live in an area where some do (luckily). So, in terms of content/pedagogy, this is one thing that I feel one usually can't find in waldorf schools taht I would want.

Secondly, it is very important to me that DS attend a school that is diverse on many levels. We are a lesbian family and I want him to be exposed to ALL different types of families, people, etc. I find that Waldorf schools, like many private schools, are somewhat lacking in diversity. Again, I know this is not for lack of effort on the part of many schools. Merely the fact of being private causes one's population of students to, most likely, look a certain way. So, that is another element that is very important to me in DS's schooling experience that I don't feel I can find at Waldorf.

Regarding HS, I think I got an excellent education during HS (I went on to Swarthmore College and am now getting my doctorate at Harvard). It was more rigorous, in many ways, than what my friends got who were in public school. When I was in HS, the HS at my school was very new, so they didn't offer things like honors classes, etc. My brother is about to graduate from the same HS and he now has many more curricular choices. I think the school is really responding to the times in terms of offering choices in foreign language, honors English and math classes, etc.

I don't know that this answered folks' questions....let me know if it didn't, for sure!

megin

ps: bottom line: what I find missing from Waldorf is missing FOR ME, in terms of what I want in schooling. I don't think the program is inherently lacking in any way at all.

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#14 of 43 Old 03-08-2004, 11:46 AM
 
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megincl writes: As a teacher, I focused much of my curriculum around literacy, particularly involving students in writer's workshop and reading workshop. Both of these models depend on kids to choose what they read/write, work hard to develop their creativity in writing and independence in reading, and are, in my opinion, the best way to focus on literacy at the elementary level (augmented by other types of teaching as well). I feel that these two types of approaches to learning are lackign in Waldorf, as far as I know. There is little choice around what one reads and a lack of emphasis on creative writing in the early grades.

Rhonwyn replies: I think it does depend greatly on which school you go to. In my son's 2nd grade class, they have free reading periods during the week. The teacher checks out a ton of books from the library for them to choose from and also allows them to bring books from home. She does insist that the books be age appropriate. In regards to the creative writing, they do some free writing about various themes but not as much as the free reading.


Lastly, I agree, diversity is lacking. We have lots of economic and religious diversity but little racial diversity. I would like to see more. I have to tell you though of a recent experience. We had an alumni panel at our open house and many of the alumni expressed that while their years at the school lacked in diversity, they felt they were much more open and accepting of other cultures and races than many of their public school peers in high school and college. They attributed it to the vast range of cultures they were exposed to in Waldorf elementary school. It was pretty eye opening for me because I have always been concerned about the diverstiy. The alumni sited the way that they were taught to always look at the humanity of something. Facts were not just facts, they often were a part of a human story.
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#15 of 43 Old 03-26-2004, 10:41 AM
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i had the same experience as you, puddinnpeanut, about the nola waldorf not answering messages which is weird because they actually have an ad in the paper for hiring teachers but my message was about the teaching position and still has not been returned (some 3 wks to a month later). i have another friend who also called them for info and her call (2-4 wks later) has also not been returned. it would be neat to get involved with the program here but it is kind of hard when you only catch glimpses at various public events/festivals.

like some of the other writers here, having my child read and write freely very much as part of his education at every stage is a bit of a concern for me. again, it would be nice to be able to figure out how our local waldorf school planned to address the issue.
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#16 of 43 Old 03-28-2004, 12:40 AM
 
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I have been contemplating the best educational choice for my four-year-old ds and Waldorf is where I am leaning (today).

I have to say I am LDS (Latter Day Saint -- Mormon) and I am very used to seeing horrible anti-LDS materials or hearing anti-LDS thoughts and ideas. So when I see something where a person or group puts so much effort into berating or tearing apart or "exposing" in the name of "informing" or "educating" others, I get very suspicious of not only their "information" but their intentions/agenda (I just used a lot of quotes there!). PLANS' site totally turned me off not to Waldorf, but to their point and purpose.

I went on Wednesday to an open house at our local (charter) Waldorf school -- I am very impressed. I was able to converse with the K teacher and she went over many of the things they do in K. I am deeply feeling this would be a good place for ds. DS is not, by nature and imo, very "artsy" (oh here some the quotes again -- I swear I don't always write like this!). He has never enjoyed drawing or painting. The one time he painted with a friend (who is a talented and eager little painter!) he completely covered the page with black paint, so no white was showing, and then said, "I'm done!" and ran off to play outside.

I feel Waldorf will allow him and encourage him to learn things more through art/song/imaginative play versus public school. I also think he would fit right in to a public school, but there are so many things I don't subscribe to when it comes to public school education (although that is what I received K-12).

I thought the article in Mothering was great -- as is Rahima Baldwin's book, You are Your Child's First Teacher.

As for diversity, our Waldorf school probably has the most diverse population of all the schools in town -- I saw kids of every color there, although I cannot speak to their individual family make-ups (although I have dear friends in a lesbian family and that is where they are sending their ds).
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#17 of 43 Old 03-28-2004, 10:59 PM
 
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Quote:
I have been contemplating the best educational choice for my four-year-old ds and Waldorf is where I am leaning (today).
have to say I am LDS (Latter Day Saint -- Mormon) and I am very used to seeing horrible anti-LDS materials or hearing anti-LDS thoughts and ideas. So when I see something where a person or group puts so much effort into berating or tearing apart or "exposing" in the name of "informing" or "educating" others, I get very suspicious of not only their "information" but their intentions/agenda (I just used a lot of quotes there!). PLANS' site totally turned me off not to Waldorf, but to their point and purpose.
Yup, yup, yup. We're Jewish, and what kept running through my head as I read that waldorfcritic.com site was "you could take out Waldorf/Steiner and substitute Jew/Talmud, or Masons, or Jesuits, and you'd find this on any conspiracy site." Come on! There are probably things wrong with Waldorf, as there are with almost everything, but when I hear people saying, basically, "they have an evil secret agenda, and the fact that there is no proof just proves how clever they are" I start looking for people with tin foil helmets on.

I am still very interested in hearing about actual experiences with Waldorf, both good and bad, but am tuning out people whose opinions are based solely on Scary Websites. My oldest is almost 2, btw, and I've started looking into Waldorf because I'm thinking of putting him in a Waldorf preschool two mornings a week in September. Some of Steiner's ideas look a bit odd, but what I've read about what actually goes on in Waldorf schools sounds wonderful.

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#18 of 43 Old 03-29-2004, 01:08 AM
 
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Steiner's writings may seem odd, but I would recommend reading books such as You Are Your Child's First Teacher or Beyond the Rainbow Bridge for more actual insight into Waldorf schools -- those are things I can understand more easliy.

Wanted to add: Preschool seems like the perfect opportunity to explore Waldorf and see how it fits with your dc.
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#19 of 43 Old 03-29-2004, 07:41 PM
 
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Hello All,
I too have been looking into Waldorf. We are a middle income family and I am so afraid we are not going to be able to afford it. Is there anyone who has sent their chlidren to Waldorf that isn't well off? If so what kind of help can you get from the school? Payments? Discounts? I love the school and I think it a shame if only the wealthy could afford it? We need all of America to have the oppurtunity to have an altenative way of learning and thinking. Do they not need it the most?
Thanks for any input!
Namaste
Dana
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#20 of 43 Old 03-29-2004, 10:55 PM
 
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We're middle income, I guess, since I'm a SAHM and quasi grad-student. Waldorf preschool here is $15 Cdn per half-day, which is quite reasonable compared to similar things on offer. I don't believe there is a full time private school here, so can't compare.

If you're interested in incorporating elements of Waldorf into your activities with your children at home, whether you home school or not, www.waldorfhomeschool.com is supposed to be an excellent site. Good luck! (And from what I understand there are no national bursary/subsidy programs for Waldorf, but many schools have them locally.)
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#21 of 43 Old 03-30-2004, 12:08 PM
 
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It is generally harder to get for Kindergarten than it is to get for grade school because Kindergarten is already cheaper than grade school and because the school wants to invest in families that it knows will be continuing at the school. Many families leave after Kindergarten either because they always planned to or because they have discovered that they just can't afford it.

It is something our school struggles with all the time. We are trying to increase our scholarship/tuition assistance fund but it is very difficult. Essentially, when your child receives assistance it is because the other families in the school have given extra to support the economic diversity of the school. What is happening now is that we are losing our middle class families because they can't afford the tuition and they don't qualify for tuition assistance. What is left are the wealthy families and the lower income families. No one wants the school to be elitest but the teachers don't work for free and their medical care is expensive. Plus many schools are paying off loans for their buildings. Our tuition is less than the other 2 Waldorf schools because they are still paying off their buildings while we have refinanced and lowered payments.
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#22 of 43 Old 03-30-2004, 11:31 PM
 
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Thank you for your input. I hope we will be fortunate to send our daughter there.
Thanks,
Dana
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#23 of 43 Old 03-31-2004, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone, for your responses. I am gonna do a bit more research and see what the hubby thinks!
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#24 of 43 Old 04-02-2004, 05:52 AM
 
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I've been taking my son to Waldorf classes since he was about 6 mos old. He is now 3 and just transitioned into nursery school. I love it, and if possible plan to send both of my kids through the grades there. But, I want to give a heads up to some of you religious moms that there may be some stuff that goes on at Waldorf schools that may not gell with your faith. For instance, these are things I have personally witnessed...

The teacher intoning "Fire spirits, fire sprites, come to us with love and light" before she lit the candle on the snack table.

The blessing before snack included "Dear Sun, Dear Earth, from you we live, to you our loving thanks we give." God was never mentioned.

The nature table in the room really does look like a seasonal pagan alter.

Maypole dances and other pagan rituals encorporated into the curriculum.

Now, I am an earthy, pagan/jew who has studied Wicca and many other earth centered paths for years, so none of these things bothered me at all. In fact I lovingly call Waldorf "My Kid's Pagan Parochial School." But I suspect an LDS or Evangelical Christian mama might not be too thrilled with these goings-on. I personally think that one of the main reasons that that anti-Waldorf site exists is because religious people sent their children there without knowing about all the pagan-like spiritual stuff that goes on, and they were pissed when they found out!

Oh, and left-handedness is a real issue too! Even
Bob and Nancy discuss it on their excellent pro-Waldorf and Anthroposophy website (click Waldorf then click developing child).

Anyway, like I said, I love Waldorf. I would even like very much to become a Waldorf teacher someday. But I don't think it is for everyone.

Judy mom to Dash (9), Corbin (7) and Will (3) :
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#25 of 43 Old 04-02-2004, 09:53 AM
 
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Originally posted by DashsMama
I personally think that one of the main reasons that that anti-Waldorf site exists is because religious people sent their children there without knowing about all the pagan-like spiritual stuff that goes on, and they were pissed when they found out!

That's ironic, because though I go to the steiner playgroup and intend to enroll my son in the kindergarten, my main "issue" with the school is the christian leanings (I'm buddhist, my husband is atheist). It hadn't occurred to me that christians wouldn't like what was going on, but of course it is all very pagan. I like the fact that so far in my time there they haven't used the word God, because I don't believe that has any place in education. I grew up in england in a regular state school and had to learn all about god and jesus and it made no sense to me whatsoever. But I notice that in the Steiner school they start teaching the old testament when the kdis turn 9, exactly when steiner believes they are going through this enormous change and are quite vulnerable. Hmmm. that's quite suspect to me, but I don't think DS will be there by then anyhow.

BTW, We moved back to England from the US because of the price of schools there. Here many steiner schools are heavily subsidized by the government. the school we go to is applying for FULL funding in the next yr or 2. Wow!
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#26 of 43 Old 04-02-2004, 03:55 PM
 
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LOL Yes, there is quite a bit of Christianity sprinkled about our Waldorf school too (i.e. our classrooms all have pictures of the madona and child in them). We're also located in what used to be a Franciscan seminary, so there are crosses, statues of saints, stations of the cross, and even a chapel on site. This really hasn't bothered me though because the Christian leanings and holidays are presented in a way that IMO highlights their pagan origins (i.e. Mary as archetypical mother goddess, Advent spiral at Christmas symbolizing birth of light (sun god), I could go on and on). BTW, I overheard the first grade class saying their verses this morning and it included something about "the Lord," so maybe there is more talk about God than I realize.

One of my best friends just moved to the US from the UK. She has told me how inexpensive Steiner schools are there, and I'm so envious of those of you who live there. Grades here cost over $10,000 a year (I can't remember the actual cost but I think its closer to $12,000)! On a side note, my friend's whole family is left handed and she would never consider sending her daughter to a Steiner school because of their issue with handedness.

Judy mom to Dash (9), Corbin (7) and Will (3) :
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#27 of 43 Old 04-03-2004, 08:35 AM
 
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I have never participated in Waldorf schooling, but it is always interesting to me to hear about the spiritual underpinnings. From what I've heard, the spiritual beliefs are a little bit of everything thrown into a pot--a little Christianity, a little pagan, a little Buddhism, etc. It would probably appeal most to a family that has similar eclectic spiritual leanings, like many Unitarians I know. I think it is all the sprinkling that would be upsetting to just about anyone that had only ONE primary belief system, because it is such a mixture. Families that prefer to be fully in charge of their children's spiritual development might prefer to opt out, which is similar to the given reason that so many homeschool. I've also heard people lament that they wished they could have all the "other" parts of Waldorf (the wholistic approach) without the spiritual stuff having to be in there. Just my observations.

 
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#28 of 43 Old 04-03-2004, 02:17 PM
 
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well ... i just came here because I wanted to discuss a few concerns I am starting to have about Waldorf - and here's this thread! So instead of starting a new one maybe I'll just put my thoughts here?
First of all - I'm not sure if the problems I am seeing are Waldorf problems or teacher personality problems - but I am starting to think they are more likely Waldorf problems.
My daughter and I have been taking a parent tot class for about a year and I'm starting to notice some patterns of behavior in the teacher that make me think perhaps the Waldorf philosophy isn't as child-led and child-respecting as I thought it would be when we started. I keep reminding myself though that just because Waldorf is alternative doesn't mean it's my kind of alternative.
I have problems with the level of control exerted upon the children and parents. And it seems to me that Waldorf has a kind of know-it-all and bossy attitude toward parents and children. I mean Rudolph Steiner had an answer for everything! Really! And I sense there is a WAY I am suppossed to be and that my child is suppossed to be but it's never articulated and hardly anyone can achieve it and so people just go around judging each other and feeling like they aren't cutting it. It seems to be an atmosphere of heavy judgement.
Okay - why am I feeling this way? Well, the teacher seems to nit-pick everyone in the class. I will just tell a few of my experiences but I see this happening to all of the parents. My son had no warm hat - it was 70 degrees (not in pdx anymore - san diego)! and she asked me if I thought the room was warm enough - uh yeah - then she asked if I thought the baby was warm enough - oh I get what you're hinting at, yes I think he's warm enough - then she went and found a hat and put it on my son. i know waldorf has definite ideas about warmth but they seem to have definite ideas about everything! to me it was warm - outside in the sun uncomfortably so (son did have sun hat, btw) - to her it was cool. people are different. When these types of episodes happen over and over it starts to make me think that waldorf doesn't really respect children. it wouldn't be respectful to force or even nag my dd about wearing a hat if she felt warm enough. but then i strongly value my dd learning to trust her own perceptions and to have self-awareness. i do think i am age appropriate - i don't force her to make heavy or potentially harmful decisions at this age - maybe our idea of age appropriate just doesn't mesh?
I also have noticed a heavy reliance on manipulation that bothers me. the whole "good girl" thing and just "casually" pointing out that "so and so is doing this thing I really want all the children to do but will not ask for directly".
well of course i am being cut short : but i will look forward to hearing what others think because there are a lot of things i really like about waldorf - just don't know now if we'll go on to nursery.
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#29 of 43 Old 04-03-2004, 03:48 PM
 
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perhaps the Waldorf philosophy isn't as child-led and child-respecting as I thought it would be when we started. I keep reminding myself though that just because Waldorf is alternative doesn't mean it's my kind of alternative.
Momea, this observation cuts right to the heart, I believe, of why some people get disillusioned with Waldorf. I went to a Waldorf school for 8 years, and even now, when I try to explain it to people, I can see that they're thinking it's a sort of hippie-dippy alternative school. And just as you said, "alternative" doesn't necessarily mean what people would like it to mean.

I got a lot out of my Waldorf education, and don't regret it, but I would never say that it was in ANY WAY child-led learning. Although full of nature, art, crafts, dwarves and fairies, it was a rigid, teacher-led education, in which there was usually an expected answer to any question, and an underlying, unspoken structure that was never discussed (for example, we knew we were doing this strange kind of art where we had to paint everything exactly the way our teacher did, but we didn't know why). The older you get in a Waldorf school, the more you are allowed to use your imagination, but Iooking back on my earlier years there, I have to shake my head over the way things were done.

But again, as I've said before here - when it comes to Waldorf education, it's all about the individual school.
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#30 of 43 Old 04-04-2004, 05:32 PM
 
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I am fully aware of and have already come to a bridge with the teachings of Anthroposophy. The school we are leaning towards is a Waldorf Methods School. It is a charter school, hence it must conform to certain criteria set forth by the state. Religion, as you can imagine, will have no place within this school's pedagogy. Some parents have expressed opinions about this not being a true Waldorf school because of this fact -- while to say this will not have an affect on the entire teaching methods would be inaccurate, there are still benefits to a Waldorf Methods School, and that is what we are excited about.

Other than that, we are very religious -- I would never send my child to school to receive a religious education -- that is what we do at home.
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