Waldorf and fairies? Can someone explain? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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#31 of 46 Old 11-29-2003, 12:37 PM
 
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Anthroposophy grew out of Christianity and there are many anthroposophical Christians. One group meets at our school on Sundays. Anthroposophy is in the background at Waldorf schools and is not taught. The Waldorf schools do celebrate many European Christian holidays - Michealmas, St. Nicholas Day, Advent, etc. especially in the 2nd grade.

Today, many schools are adding more culturally diverse holidays. My son's class celebrates Christmas, Hannakuh (forgive my spelling!) and Kawanzaa. In 3rd grade, they will celebrate more Jewish holidays. At some point or another, they will celebrate Muslim holidays.

Many of the holidays also have dual names now as in Advent/Soltice spiral/garden and Easter/Spring Parade. The Lantern walk is not as closely tied to Martinmas as it once was.
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#32 of 46 Old 11-29-2003, 11:56 PM
 
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It is wonderful the way the Waldorf curriculum includes fairies and gnomes in the curriculum. It is not "taught", per se, in a scientific way such as "Fairies and gnomes actually exist; let's go out in the forest with our magnifying glasses and look for them." It is rather nurturing childrens' innate sense of imagination and wonder that they already have. It helps them grow and be compassionate and creative. An example in my son's Waldorf kindergarten is they have a classroom gnome who takes turns going home with each child each night. There is a whole story about the gnome, he is from Mexico, his teacher found him working in a mine when she was visiting Mexico and he told her how much he wanted to visit America...and he one way was found sitting under a tree when they were on their adventure walk...he made it! Each child gets a night to take him home with his bag of clothes and things, and the child draws a picture in the gnome's journal about what they did together that evening and the parent transcribes the child's words about their time together in the journal. It is a wonderful experience for the children, it nurtures their sense of wonder, the gnome is indeed very REAL to them. To say this is "lying" is absurd; do we not read fictional childrens stories to our children? Afterwards we don't say "It's important you understand that none of that was true, it was just pretend!" That would be ridiculous right?

I think the inclusion of fairies and gnomes is great! There IS a meaning behind it but you don't need to have a deep level understanding of that meaning in order to appreciate it.
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#33 of 46 Old 12-03-2003, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can see where it would be beneficial for children to excersize their imaginations and have make believe friends, etc. What I find slightly bizarre is that the *adults* are inventing these things for them. It has always been my experience that children can create their own imaginary friends and magical world. My toddler hasn't needed me to create one for him. It's not like I tell him he's not really a dog when he is pretending to be one, or that his imaginary friends aren't real. It's just that *he* is the one making these things up as opposed to me. He doesn't even know what a fairy or a gnome is, so I would have to actively tell him to believe in these things in order for him to believe. Of course I read to him and I don't make a point of telling him that the things I read aren't real:
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#34 of 46 Old 12-03-2003, 09:20 PM
 
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We all influence our children's imagination with the media we expose them to, the stories we tell them, the people they are around, etc. In a class setting, it is beneficial for the entire class to have something thay all can relate to- thus the stories they are told often have a serial story quality to them. I don't think that Waldorf teacher "make up imaginary friends" for the children. When I was in school, we did a water conservation program that had Ricky the Raindrop as the main character. It's the same thing to me.
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#35 of 46 Old 12-03-2003, 10:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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An example in my son's Waldorf kindergarten is they have a classroom gnome who takes turns going home with each child each night. There is a whole story about the gnome, he is from Mexico, his teacher found him working in a mine when she was visiting Mexico and he told her how much he wanted to visit America...and he one way was found sitting under a tree when they were on their adventure walk...he made it! Each child gets a night to take him home with his bag of clothes and things, and the child draws a picture in the gnome's journal about what they did together that evening and the parent transcribes the child's words about their time together in the journal.



This is what I was referring to. I don't think that's at all like the Ricky the Raindrop example. I'm not saying it's bad, just different and maybe not something I would do. It seems like people are getting defensive, so maybe it's time to call it quits
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#36 of 46 Old 12-03-2003, 10:14 PM
 
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"What I find slightly bizarre is that the *adults* are inventing these things for them."

I agree.

I'm wondering, at what age do Waldorf teachers cut back on the fairies/gnomes and fantasy?

Thinking back to my work with schools, in addition to fostering children's own fantasy games, it is quite normal for teachers to create little fantasies with the children, although there is an understanding (usually unspoken) with the children that it was just that, a fantasy.

Eg, one teacher made a bear cave and pretended that the three bears had come in the night and set up camp to make porridge for breakfast. The children all got involved in the fantasy and made porridge etc, but it was directly linked to an activity, not something that teachers consistently pretended (or believed) was true.

Or another teacher often created a fantasy classroom - the room would become a treasure island one term, or an enchanted forest. This would be linked to what the children were learning about, and wuold be exciting and imaginative, and so the teacher would pretend it was 'true', but the children were aware that they were fantasising.

So, fantasy can be enjoyed and promoted, even in the mainstream classroom. I don't think that the examples given here of imaginary characters for helping children to learn concepts are really individual to Waldorf - this is the sort of thing that many good elementary teachers do. If the use of fantasy in Waldorf is simply to give story context to lessons, then it is nothing new or unusual (take a basic example of Letterland, used in thousands of elementary classrooms, where fantasy characters represent the letters of the alphabet, and where stories teach the principles of phonics)

I"m still confused about where the differences are. What I have read about some Waldorf teachers supposedly believing their fantasies, makes me uncomfortable. What happens if children disbelieve? How do Waldorf teachers deal with the disbelievers?
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#37 of 46 Old 12-03-2003, 11:23 PM
 
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From what I've heard about Waldorf, I think it is difficult to make a distinction between a fantasy character and teaching that character as a 'truth'. I know I've also learned (here on this forum) that there are many many differences between individual Waldorf schools--some are very true to Steiner and anthroposophy (sp?), others are more 'loose' with things. I think its fair to say that any prospective customers of a Waldorf school should do their homework, ask lots of questions about issues that are important to them, and make an informed decision (just like we do with everything else--vacc, circumcision, sleeping arrangments, etc.)

If folks do feel like it is getting to be a discussion focused on Waldorf vs. anti-Waldorf, it would be wise to take a break from it. If it can stay even handed and exploratory, continue on!


 
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#38 of 46 Old 12-04-2003, 05:26 PM
 
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Fairies and gnomes are very much a part of the curriculum through stories and play in Kindergarten and 1st grade. Fairy tales are used in Kindergarten and 1st grade. Most peope have a strong connection to fairy tales as it connects to many primative archetypes (read Joseph Campbell, etc.). In 2nd grade, stories have shifted to Aesop's Fables, Saints tales and tall tales of the US (Johnny Appleseed, etc.). In 3rd grade, it is Jewish tales and the Old Testement. 4th grade is the Norse Tales. 5th grade is the Greeks. 6th is the Romans. 7th is early history and 8th is usually the last 100 years or so.

Children generally leave fairies behind and the teachers don't try to extend the belief at the 9 year change, the same time they tend to leave Santa Claus and others behind.

Some people like fairy tales, some do not. I happen to love them and would read them to my children anyway. We read the original Grimm fairy tales as opposed to the Disney versions. The fairy tales told at school from my obeservation, are usually more obscure ones like Mother Holle or Vassilka the brave where the girls are not passive beautiful princesses but are usually good and kind (beautiful on the inside) but also brave. The boys are also good and kind and clever. If there are ugly stepsisters, they are ugly because of their character which sours their faces not due to any physical characteristic.
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#39 of 46 Old 12-04-2003, 07:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mama Lori
An example in my son's Waldorf kindergarten is they have a classroom gnome who takes turns going home with each child each night. There is a whole story about the gnome, he is from Mexico, his teacher found him working in a mine when she was visiting Mexico and he told her how much he wanted to visit America...and he one way was found sitting under a tree when they were on their adventure walk...he made it! Each child gets a night to take him home with his bag of clothes and things, and the child draws a picture in the gnome's journal about what they did together that evening and the parent transcribes the child's words about their time together in the journal.
One of the classes in my daughter's Montessori school did this as well but with a bear. Every day a different child would take home the bear and his things, write about what they did, etc. They were doing it for several reasons:
1. the children were learning to write so this gave them practice at home
2. it got the parents involved because they parents needed to help with spelling, etc.
3. gave the children practice in doing something school related at home
4. gave them responsibility for "someone"
5. ...and I am sure they were many more reasons :-)

Anyway, my point is I think this example is a very cool idea. Doesn't matter if you are using a gnome or a bear, the same lessons can still be learned.

Tofie ~ mama to DD1, DD2 and Pookie v3 debuting December 2011
Oh my God....women are the COWS of PEOPLE!! --Reese, Malcolm in the Middle
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#40 of 46 Old 12-04-2003, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Part of where I am seeing a big difference in Waldorf is also that the teachers actually believe in fairies and Atlantis and they then teach it to the kids (at least in theory, I realize that not all schools might be like that). To me, this is the same as a Christian teacher teaching the kids about God and Jesus. I don't want that for my child. Others do, and that's okay.
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#41 of 46 Old 12-05-2003, 12:43 PM
 
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I see where you're coming from momsgotmilk4two. It just made me think, do you think kids would know the difference between learning about fairies and learnig about God? Just wondering because the other day my 6 year old daughter tells me that she believes God exists (we are not a religious household by any means). I asked her how she came to this decision using Santa Claus as my example since she had it figured out he didn't exist (as well as the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy) at 3 years old. She didn't have an answer for me, she just said it was different.

I may have answered my own question. :-) You said that the teacher's believe it as well. Now, that is different than Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc. as I personally don't know any adults who believe they actually exist. Thus apparently children aren't easily fooled, they'll be on to us, unless we actually believe. Which then means that your analogy between the fairies and God makes sense.

Just some thoughts, I am in no way trying to turn this into a religious debate!

Tofie ~ mama to DD1, DD2 and Pookie v3 debuting December 2011
Oh my God....women are the COWS of PEOPLE!! --Reese, Malcolm in the Middle
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#42 of 46 Old 12-05-2003, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No worries, no religious debate from me We're agnostic, although if the kids end up believing then that's fine with us as long as they can accept that we think differently.
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#43 of 46 Old 12-08-2003, 04:33 AM
 
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Our Waldorf is a charter too We are in CA. We feel very lucky.

Re: the statement that Waldorf teachers "actually believe in fairies" and teach it to children, not sure where this came from but I wouldn't quite put it this way! It is not that literal. Someone also mentioned finding it strange for a teacher to present an imaginary figure to children, that only children should come up with imaginary figures. Have you ever read your child a fictional children's story, such as Goodnight Moon, Goldilocks, The Gingerbread Man, etc., these are all imaginary characters that we present to children! Just like the kids in my son's Waldorf kindergarten love the classroom gnome, they love being sprayed with magical fairy potion (lavendar water), and they love the tricky things the naughty hobgoblin does. It is so sweet and wonderful to see, and the children learn so much from it and they love it!
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#44 of 46 Old 12-12-2003, 04:38 AM
 
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momsgotmilk4two,

I live in San Clemente. Would you mind telling me the name of your son's school? I am interested in Wadorf education and I like that we have so many options in this area!
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#45 of 46 Old 11-19-2006, 07:50 PM
 
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I think this is a very interesting and useful thread. Perhaps a sticky could be made?
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#46 of 46 Old 07-06-2013, 11:31 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momsgotmilk4two View Post

With all of the discussion of Waldorf school, I am curious- what is with the fairies? I have heard that Waldorf has created controversy so I hope no one is afraid to answer questions- I'm really just very curious and can't find much on the philosophy behind Waldorf on the internet
I understand *what* they do, but not all the whys. I've seen lots of wool Waldorf dolls and fairies for sale in catologs but I never really thought about or understood what these specific dolls had to do with Waldorf education. Also, what is the controversy with Steiner? I'm just kind of wondering how this schooling could be controversial since I've never heard anything *bad* about Waldorf before
We're not looking to send our kids there because we are just too much of a tecnological family for it, I think- dh is a computer programmer so I'm not sure how we'd keep computers away from the kids, but I'm still curious about it. I'm not at all wanting to get into a heated debate about it, just looking for info because I like to know about these things and I know someone in rl who is planning to send her child to a Waldorf kindergarten. If someone could point me in the direction of a website that explains these things that would be nice too
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