So what if you aren't religious at all? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 11-14-2004, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Does it matter? My dh is an atheist and I'm a spiritual atheist (if that makes any sense). Neither of us are interested in encorporating the word "God" into our dc's vocabulary. My dh in particular would cringe at the thought of preaching the word of God to our kids, although learning about different religions is perfectly acceptable. What do you think? Is sending them to a Waldorf school like sending them to a religious school? I really love how the curriculum explores fables & mythology and I think it's great to learn about different religions of the world. I just don't want any of them preached to my kid.

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#2 of 8 Old 11-15-2004, 10:20 AM
 
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This one is tricky. I've known some atheists to find the waldorf approach totally repellent and others (my younger brother, for example, who went to a waldorf school for several years) to be totally okay with it. I think you might want to try reading a book about waldorf education to get a bit of the flavor around the "spiritual" side of the education to see if it bugs you or not. It would be hard to find out enough about this aspect of waldorf by just visiting a school.

I went to a waldorf school for a couple of years as a teenager, and I can't ever remember being preached at. My daughter attended for 13 years. She is, I think by nature, very open to the sort of cosmic stuff that is a background to waldorf, so she was happy with the general tone of the education. For example, in 5th grade, her teacher told some of the myths from India. My daughter came home and told me that now she understood how it worked, people were born again and again. In other words reincarnation. Now, I'm sure her teacher just presented the story, leaving the children free to take it in and make of it what they would. For my daughter it was the obvious presentation of "how it works" but for other children in the class it may have simply been another great story. I didn't hear from the other children in the class.

My granddaughter, now in the nursery school at our local waldorf, participated in a lantern walk a few days ago. The preparatory handout described the schedule and asked the parents not to break the mood of the story and the walk, which was supposed to inspire feelings of quiet reverence in the children. For some parents, something like this could be...not what they want.

A couple of examples, hope this helps.

Deborah

PS Just wanted to add, regarding the reincarnation story, if I had not been positive about her belief in reincarnation my daughter probably would have moved it to the "just a story" column. Parents have a lot of influence over children's long-term structure of beliefs. On the other hand, if everything a child experiences at school is going to be mocked or belittled at home (something I got a bit of from my parents who were fairly hostile towards much of the content I got from public school), it definitely undermines a child's respect for their teachers and the seriousness with which they take up their school work.
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#3 of 8 Old 11-15-2004, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your reply. I'll definitely have to pick up a book like you suggested. My initial feeling is that I'd be okay with what is taught. I think it's wonderful to hear stories from other cultures. And I'm not really sure how to describe the kind of person that I am... I'm absolutely not religious (I do not believe in organized religion) but I am very spiritual and IF I were to ever be okay with adopting a religion, it would lean towards one that centered around nature. I can't say that there is no such thing as God (like my dh can) but I can say that I don't believe s/he's the entity as described by any religion I know of. So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm open to stories. I'd encourage my child to draw their own conclusions from them, but I have to admit that a conclusion that would lead them to adopting an organized religion would really horrify me. Ugh - I dunno. So much to consider. Thanks again for your help.

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#4 of 8 Old 11-15-2004, 07:19 PM
 
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That's a mouthful, lol & a bit contradicting. I struggle with this EVERY day! My DH is also an Atheist. I don't have a problem with my dds learning about different religions, in fact I like that b/c it kinda helps me explain to dd that it is all pretend. What I do have a problem with is the timing, I have often heard diff teachers talk about the children 'waking up' and that being the reason they read the old testament at a particular age. I resently had an 'awakening' of my own when I heard the current 3rd teacher talk about her curriculum and how she will turn to the Bible for students questions about creation. I nearly fell out of my chair.

I posted all about in the tribes forum, under Any Atheist parents?

I am still undecided about whether my dds will attend grades, i guess it depends on the incoming 1st grade teacher. If she or he is some 'religious fanatic', we are out of there, i'll homeschool. The public schools in our town are at the top in the state but I LOVE LOVE Waldorf, everything except the religious side. They claim to be non-religious but that is not true, it really comes down to the individual teacher.

I'd love to chat with you more since we are almost in the same situation.

Thanks for sharing!
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#5 of 8 Old 11-15-2004, 07:32 PM
 
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I believe the morning verses recited at all Waldorf schools contain the word "God." This was problematic for us, but might not be for other atheists.

A copy of the verse is in this thread:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=212481
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#6 of 8 Old 11-15-2004, 07:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuqui
That's a mouthful, lol & a bit contradicting. I struggle with this EVERY day! My DH is also an Atheist. I don't have a problem with my dds learning about different religions, in fact I like that b/c it kinda helps me explain to dd that it is all pretend. What I do have a problem with is the timing, I have often heard diff teachers talk about the children 'waking up' and that being the reason they read the old testament at a particular age. I resently had an 'awakening' of my own when I heard the current 3rd teacher talk about her curriculum and how she will turn to the Bible for students questions about creation. I nearly fell out of my chair.

I posted all about in the tribes forum, under Any Atheist parents?

I am still undecided about whether my dds will attend grades, i guess it depends on the incoming 1st grade teacher. If she or he is some 'religious fanatic', we are out of there, i'll homeschool. The public schools in our town are at the top in the state but I LOVE LOVE Waldorf, everything except the religious side. They claim to be non-religious but that is not true, it really comes down to the individual teacher.

I'd love to chat with you more since we are almost in the same situation.

Thanks for sharing!
They teach the Old Testement in 3rd grade due to the black and white nature of children at this age. In 4th grade they teach Norse mythology because they meet certain needs of the children at that age as do the Greek myths at 5th grade.

In regards to God in verse, in California the verse was reworded for the charter schools so that separation of church and state was adhered to strictly. They are not so strict at the AZ Waldorf charter schools.

In 1st grade, the first word the children learned was the word God as their first written and read word. I read a lot into this as did other parents and we had a really wonderful discussion amoung the class parents who range from atheists to Budhists to Christians. It turned out that the teacher picked the word because they say it everyday in their verse and because it was easy to spell. Nothing more, nothing less. As they say, sometimes a cucumber is just a cucumber. :LOL
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#7 of 8 Old 11-15-2004, 10:38 PM
 
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I have another memory of a conversation with my daughter about her waldorf education. At some point, fairly early on, her class had already heard 5 different creation stories. I asked her (dumb question), which one she thought was true. She said "They all are." We need to remind ourselves that children do not think like grownups.

On evolution vs creation, in the modern scientific sense this shouldn't come up in the curriculum until high school. At that point waldorf students are ready to look critically at the problems with both evolution theory and creationism and try to come up with their own answers based on an examination of the available data. After many years of thinking about this problem I've cheerfully concluded that everyone is wrong and the question of origins is still wide open. I'm as opposed to evolutionist dogma as I am to creationist dogma, and I really resent people expecting me to choose one side or the other in an ongoing debate of silliness! End rant, sorry.

If organized religion is what you are worried about, waldorf schools cheerfully welcome people from a wide variety of religious backgrounds. I've encountered, Buddhists, Jews, Methodists, Anglicans, Catholics, etc., along with lots of people who don't belong to any church at all. This variety means that the schools should avoid theology and dogma, but of course individual teachers have been known to open mouth and insert foot...

Time to go off and have some hot flashes

Nana
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#8 of 8 Old 11-16-2004, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Deborah - Thank you for all your help. I'm going to have dh read these threads I've started as well. I think that I'd love the Waldorf approach and am really hoping it's something that can work out for us. I love the idea of exposing my dd's to all sorts of ideas and theories and let THEM draw their own conclusions (even if I don't always agree). I'm fine with saying things like, "Some people believe in this, others in that. You get to figure out for yourself what you believe in, even if it's something different (and I can explain what her dad & I believe in and why)". I just know I couldn't be prouder than if I helped raise independant thinkers.

The challenge I now face is the realism of it all. The 2 closest schools are both about 65 miles away, my older dd has some special needs (see other thread), and financially - well yikes! So I don't know if this could really work for us, but I really do hope it's an option. I'm afraid of what options she'll be left with otherwise. I'm just beginning to think more and more that I'm not cut out for homeschooling (plus I don't believe in 100% homeschooling programs anyway) and what does that leave my dd's with? Not a whole lot. There's Montessori but I don't think that's for us. Anyway, thanks again for all the valuable info. I think at the very least we'll arrange visits with the 2 nearest schools to get a feel for it first hand.

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