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#61 of 163 Old 03-06-2002, 02:32 AM
 
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Hi Lisa, I have been also thinking about this thread and although I really like what so far I have learned about waldorf, I appreciate your views since they only make my antennas be more alrert. I feel that you meant well by telling us this and that you were maybe trying to spare someone of what happened to you and for that I thank you! And like Queen mama said well, I also hope that you and your family heal from this bad experience and keep in your hearts all the good that there might have been.
Hugs to you Lisa
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#62 of 163 Old 03-06-2002, 06:35 PM
 
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Yes, Lisa, I to hope that in some way you find peace. Your posts have also helped me to ask the right questions. Although, I may not have found the same conclusions as you, I do appreciate that you brought some of these questions to our attention.
From an earlier post of mine, I may have sounded a bit resentful, but I guess it was more frustration as I was upset when something that is obvious to me was not as evident to you and others.
Sincerely,
Mjakka
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#63 of 163 Old 03-30-2002, 04:52 AM
 
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Here is a specific link/story that I felt compelled to share with you all...

http://www.waldorfcritics.org/active...s/lombard.html

I just wanted to say that 5 years ago I was under the impression that Waldorf Education was very basic, natural in the purest most CONCRETE form with no hidden meanings nor teachings...just let the child discover and live in nature, trust the child, allow freedom to learn with no limits unless someone is being hurt, love everyone as if they are your mother/father/brother/sister...Like a school for the hippy earth-mother's child (I mean that in a positive way!). So I came very close to sending my dd to the Waldorf Preschool here but, after gaining more info, decided against it because of their ambiguous/vague philosophy (including a small one-line statement that they follow "Steiner" with no elaboration) and, most importantly, the fact that they did not allow parents in the classroom (not even in the first few days). They also seemed to dictate a lot of "parental" decisions (what we were allowed/not allowed to fix them for lunch, they were not allowed to bring personal possessions, ie dolls etc, they were only allowed to play with faceless dolls etc...). I was given the impression that parents were not given much respect/trust. I followed my gut and kept her home with me instead...I will never be more grateful for my instincts! I understand that there are people out there who believe whole-heartedly in Steiner, everyone is different, but Waldorf is NOT for me and my family.
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#64 of 163 Old 03-30-2002, 06:58 AM
 
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Personally I thought this thread was dead and I was happy. I am weary of "helpful" people spreading darkness. Dear mothersunshine, be happy and move on. People are free to view all kinds of nastiness (via website or whatever) if it makes them feel better about their life's choices, I guess. But how can this be truly helpful?

From this weary debate I have concluded that Waldorf schools in general need to be more open with parents about their philosophies, and perhaps the Anthroposophical Society needs to make a public statement about the most "popular" misunderstandings regarding Steiners complex philosophy and publically denounce outdated beliefs and post this on their website or on a website specifically for the Waldorf questioner. Then there will be somewhere for questioners to go other than to websites designed to destroy what is a really beautiful way of educating.

I have posted enough on this topic. I am on to happier discussions and debates elsewhere. I am unsubing.

isis
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#65 of 163 Old 03-30-2002, 06:27 PM
 
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Mother Sunshine I appreciate the information.

Just because information is negative is no reason not to post it.
In fact the opposite is true. We need to know all that we can know about a subject that is important to us.

So, again, I am glad you posted your information.

I'm happy to read all posts, both negative and positive, add that to my own research, and come up with an opinion.

Mary
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#66 of 163 Old 03-30-2002, 11:32 PM
 
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Mother Sunshine

Many people don't see what you saw. Others either choose to ignore it or accept it. In spite of the protestations of some advocates I have interacted with, Steiner institutions do vary greatly in their "belief", and stir in more or less of the flavouring as they see fit in each institution.

The problem for me is that the sugary benefits of warm fuzzy "natural wood block" educational coating act effectivly to hook parents, and blind them to what is just underneath.

I would say you had a lucky escape.

Isis

I agree that this may not be the thread for doom and gloom. Support should be for that. Another thread should be started for the doubters. Perhaps I'll do that, and we can keep everything cool.

a

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#67 of 163 Old 03-31-2002, 04:22 PM
 
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I don't understand how people can be so angry about something they don't properly research! Unless it is anger at oneself for misleading themselves.

I agree with Isis, that Waldorf educators/schools should as a result, be more forthright regarding their inspiration!
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#68 of 163 Old 04-01-2002, 08:03 AM
 
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Just a reminder that we all need to be gentle with each other.

Sierra

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#69 of 163 Old 04-02-2002, 01:50 AM
 
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Dear everybody,

I am sorry that "Isis" feels she must unsubscribe to this forum just because a single thread has generated some opposing opinions and even controversy. That sort of attitude -- "Don't stir up the waters; just go along and keep your questions and concerns to yourself" -- reminds me quite a bit of the way my family was treated when our daughters attended a Waldorf school and we began to discuss our concerns and to ask questions. Not only weren't our questions answered, but I was told to hand over an audio cassette recording that I had made during a question and answer session that had taken place during a parent evening (and during which I had publicly -- and yes, bluntly -- asked a number of questions.)

I have since learned that other parents who have decided that Waldorf was the wrong place for their children encountered similar attitudes when they began to ask questions and to discuss their concerns and misgivings. One man that I know was told to either "shut up" or to take his son out of the school! (This gentleman has become concerned about a number of things, including the fact that the school store carried copies of a book that quoted Rudolf Steiner as saying that blonde hair and blue eyes "bestow" intelligence. When the man objected to such racist doctrine being sold by the school, he was told that he just didn't understand the narrative, that there was nothing to worry about, etc.)

If Waldorf schools -- and indeed, the whole of the anthroposophic movement, with which Waldorf schools are inextricably entwined -- would simply become honest about what they offer (and don't offer), this thread would have been much, much different. People could have been discussing the merits of children having the same class teacher for eight years, or the up- and downside of the Waldorf preference for large classes (30 to 40 students in a single elementary or middle school class is preferred.) They could have been talking about how learning knitting and crocheting improved their children's manual dexterity, or exchanging information on good books to read.

Instead, the discussion *must* focus on the fact that Waldorf schools promote themselves as one thing when they are quite another. (Sort of a "what you see ain't what you get" type of scenario.) Waldorf schools promote themselves as progressive, arts based, non sectarian schools, and they aren't: they aren't progressive (most of their philosophy dates back to the Middle Ages, believe it or not!); they aren't arts-based (yes, children paint and draw, but those activities are considered "spiritual" rituals that are intended to put the children in touch with supersensible "beings" and thus must be done in a rigid and proscribed order, copying the teacher ); and they are NOT "non-sectarian" because they are Anthroposophical institutions.

I spent probably 40 hours, at least, researching Waldorf education (both inside and outside the classroom) before enrolling my child, and here are a few things that I did not know, and that no one thought to tell me about:

* Waldorf teachers consider fairies, gnomes and undines as REAL, and sometimes say "Good children can see the gnomes." (Makes one wonder how the child who does not see these little critters should react if he or she wants to be considered "good." Should the child lie? Hallucinate?)

* Waldorf teachers seat children in their classes according to the child's "temperment." Choleric children often are placed in the back, so that their "fire" will not "burn" the teacher. Phlegmatics often are placed near the window, so the light will rouse them.

* Waldorf teachers may be reluctant to intervene in bullying situations -- even when those situations portend harm to the children -- for fear of interfering with the children's karma or destiny. A California mother has filed a lawsuit against a Waldorf charter school because she claims that the teachers there allowed her son -- who has a disfiguring genetic disease -- to be beaten up repeatedly. Several Waldorf teachers examined the "question" of bullying and posted the resulting research paper online a year or so ago. Among the more interesting parts of the paper were portions where the authors questioned when, if AT ALL, teachers should intervene in situations were children may be harmed. (My aside: IF AT ALL? Are they crazy?)

* Eurythmy is not, as some Waldorf schools will tell you, a "form of dance." Steiner invented it to help human beings interact with the world of spiritual beings. Each movement is based on occult symbols, an alphabet if you will, taken from Rosicrucian and other mystical orders. Thus, eurythmy is considered "therapy" for learning differences, emotional problems, etc.

*A good portion of the science a child will learn at a Waldorf school is not the science that the rest of the world learns. Example: Waldorf students learn that the "elements" of chemistry are "earth, air, fire and water," instead of the Periodic Table of Elements. They learn the humans descended from a race that inhabited Altantis, which was destroyed in a catastrophe. Animals are the "cast off" parts of human beings. The optics they learn have been considered all wrong by modern science for years.

* Teachers at Waldorf schools believe -- at least most of them -- that the children in their classes were brought to them by "destiny" and that the teacher is the primary spiritual guide in the child's life.

* Though Waldorf schools begin to teach reading in second and third grades, many Waldorf teachers privately believe that children would be better served by waiting until at least 11 to read and write. That is because Steiner, their guru, said that children have a better chance of progressing spiritually, if they wait until 11 to 14 years of age to learn to read and write.

I could go on and on. Suffice to say that I truly do believe that people have the right to send their children to whatever school they choose. My beef with Waldorf schools is that they do a horrible job -- and I think it is on purpose! -- of letting prospective parents and the public know what they are about, which is educating children according to the tenets of anthroposophy, which aims to prepare children for their next reincarnation. (Anthroposophists believe that people are now preparing for the next epoch -- the Sixth, I think -- during which those trained in this life according to Anthroposophy will tell the rest of us what to "think , feel, will and do."

When this thread began, I was so impressed that the debate was so rational and congenial. In my experience, when folks begin talking Waldorf (and when they have differing opinions about it and different experiences with it), it does not take long for emotions to run high and for people to become angry. I understand this. When parents make a commitment to a certain educational modality, they believe in it and become very invested in it. They want to let people know about the good things, and to defend the system in question if someone else comes along and challenges that system. That is natural and understandable. I remember well how I felt when, as a solidly pro-Waldorf parent, I first took part on the Waldorf critics list and someone came forth telling me I was "indoctrinated" and "gullible," etc. I didn't get mad; I simply thought that those attacking Waldorf for being deceptive were over-reacting, or else just sad and unimaginative people who didn't "get it." I figured that, for whatever reason, things did not work out for their kid at a Waldorf school, and so they were taking out their "sour grapes" on the rest of us.

Now, of course, I am the one doing the challenging, and I have had to eat many of the words I said in the defense of Waldorf! (Keeping up the food metaphor, let's say that I am having my share of humble pie! <g>)

Anyway, please, please, please consider carefully before enrolling your child in a Waldorf school. Write me offlist to ask for a list of questions that I and other former Waldorf parents wish that *we* had asked before signing our children up. Read material that is produced OUTSIDE of the anthro. system (nearly everything written about Waldorf is the product of the anthroposophic press, AWSNA and other groups that are part of the system.)

In other words, make an informed decision. That way, you will be able to enjoy and support what is going on inside your child's classroom, which is how it ought to be.

Regards to everyone,

Lisa Ercolano in Baltimore, Maryland
Vice President, People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools (PLANS)
www.waldorfcritics.org
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#70 of 163 Old 04-02-2002, 03:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by momofgurlz

Write me offlist to ask for a list of questions that I and other former Waldorf parents wish that *we* had asked before signing our children up
I don't think it should be "offlist". I would very much like it to be visible to the passer-by.

These concerns generally indicate that this philosophy, to me, is from another age, trying to be "modern". With all that has been said, I still think that there is much else wrong with Waldorf Steiner Education.

Mainly, the fact that it is a reaction against the hight of the Industrial Age, and all that that period did to the human spirit makes it redundant in the context of "tools for children in the Information Era".

Waldorf doubter's thread is a place where I would like these discussions to happen with "the gloves off" if neccessary.

Hope this helps

a

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#71 of 163 Old 04-02-2002, 04:12 AM
 
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Hi Lisa,
I pm'd you about a week ago - I wanted your recommendations for specific texts read.
I did get a recommendation on another thread and will start with that book - but am always looking for more suggestions. You seem to have done quite a bit of research so your input would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Mary
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#72 of 163 Old 04-02-2002, 01:29 PM
 
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I agree with sanna that Waldorf schools should be open about Anthroposophy. However, in my experience, they are! For example, the Waldorf school we are looking at for kindergarten has had several events designed to introduce prospective families to the school. At one, there was an entire table of literature concerning Anthroposophy, including free copies of issues of Anthroposophy Worldwide and brochures for the Anthroposophical Society in America. The faculty referred to and explained aspects of Anthroposophy repeatedly during their presentations. At our parent interview recently, the school representative spoke quite openly about Anthroposophy and invited our questions. This school is very forthright concerning the source for its inspiration. So is my dd's preschool, for that matter.

As for the link from mother_sunshine, I read that account a couple of years ago. Although it is obviously intended to shock people and scare them away from Waldorf education, I already had a good enough feel for Waldorf that I was not much put off. (For example, I could tell that the author of the story was clueless about many important aspects of Waldorf education, such as the preference for non-toxic, natural art materials rather than magic markers. . . .) There is a great deal of consciousness surrounding almost every aspect of the environment for the developing child -- which is what makes these schools so special! I personally want to send my child to a Waldorf school in part because of what is not permitted there: cartoon characters on clothing, plastic toys, magic markers, neon paint, television, videos, computers in the elementary grades, artificial colors and flavors in food. In our modern, American, consumer-driven society many aspects of these schools are different -- hooray!

What I keep seeing in the critics' outrage is that they blame the school for not telling them about the true nature of Waldorf schools. Then they go on to paint the faculty as belonging to some bizarre, evil religious cult. Hogwash! As the critics admit, once they did their research (after they left the school usually!), there is plenty of information published and widely available about Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy and Waldorf education. There are also completely benign (even lovely) explanations for the painting techniques and color choices employed, etc.

I think what is disturbing to me and perhaps some of the others on these boards is the attempt by a few disgruntled parents to portray everything about Waldorf schools and philosophy as kooky, at best. They occasionally have the gall to imply that Steiner or the schools are somehow racist, based on out-of-context statements attributed to Steiner or the ominous color theory. It's true that the schools are guided by ideas that are not in the mainstream, but most will find that if they look into them with an open mind that there is much to contemplate. Many will find that the guiding principles are full of wisdom, love, and concern for humanity.
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#73 of 163 Old 04-02-2002, 02:10 PM
 
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Can we just all agree that not everyone shares the same opinion about Waldorf and not discount one another's viewpoints? I don't think either side has any ulterior motive - what I infer from reading the posts is that everybody just wants to relay their own experience with and opinions about Waldorf education and anthroposophy - for the education of everyone else.

To discount the viewpoint of the detractors is to say that dissenting opinion hasn't a place in this discussion and to invalidate their experience. THAT is hogwash!

To discount the viewpoint of the supporters is also HOGWASH!

I appreciate reading both sides of the debate - what I don't appreciate is people attacking each others opinions or experiences.

Thanks to everyone who has imparted information on this subject. I will write this again - I am eager to hear BOTH sides of the debate and encourage everyone to offer their opinion - positive OR negative.

Mary
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#74 of 163 Old 04-02-2002, 06:52 PM
 
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Yep. Try www.live-education.com. They provide Waldorf curriculum with or without active teacher consultation.
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#75 of 163 Old 04-03-2002, 12:54 PM
 
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Lisa,

Do you receive any compensation from PLANS?

And did you know that it is illegal in most states to record conversations without consent of the other parties?
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#76 of 163 Old 04-03-2002, 02:05 PM
 
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No, I don't receive any compensation from PLANS! PLANS is a completely voluntary, non-profit organization, and frankly, we are usually strapped for money. I volunteer time to PLANS because I want Waldorf to practice full disclosure so everyone who enrolls his or her child knows everything he or she should about Waldorf.

Of course I know that audiotaping without consent is illegal! I have been a newspaper reporter for more than 20 years, and I am well aware of the laws. The audio tape I made was not done in secret: I asked the permission of the teachers and the rest of the parent audience before I turned the tape recorder on, and then I asked again, for the record, after I turned it on so that there would be absolute certainty of the legality of my tape later. Just so you know, it was not unusual for me to record a meeting, as for years during our time at the Waldorf school I served as class mother and as such, wrote and edited a small newsletter that I would distribute to every parent on a monthly or bimonthly basis. The newsletter would contain little items of interest, including notes from the class meetings, so that parents who were unable to attend could know what was going on.

The controversy over this particular tape occured because the teachers in attendance were obviously unhappy with the questions that I -- and eventually other -- parents asked during the meeting. The questions ranged from why parents are not told that some of the science taught at Waldorf schools (science called "zoology" and "optics" and "chemistry," etc.) is not the same as at other schools to the role of Lucifer in the path of Waldorf teachers. (Waldorf master teacher Eugene Schwartz has claimed that much of what has been accomplished by Waldorf teachers has been under the guidance of Lucifer.) I believe I also asked the teacher about why children in the nursery school and kindergarten are not permitted to draw with black or brown crayons (which fact made it impossible for my daughter, who was adopted from China, to draw herself. Ditto for the few black children in the class.)

Lisa
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#77 of 163 Old 04-03-2002, 11:36 PM
 
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You're kidding right?

What the dickens is wrong with black or brown?

a

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#78 of 163 Old 04-04-2002, 12:28 AM
 
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Alexander,

Nope, I kid you not! Children in *most* Waldorf nursery schools/kindergartens are not given brown and black crayons to use. In fact, my daughters' school was typical in that from first through at least fourth grade, children had to request the teacher's permission to use black crayons, which were kept on her desk and could be used only to depict living things. (Example: a child could ask to use a black crayon in order to make the trunk of a tree black. But if the child wanted to use black to depict a car tire, well, that was not allowed. In fact, Waldorf teachers do not like children to draw cars, trucks and other machines, so this is particularly verboten.)

The reason for the black/brown prohibition? In Anthroposophy (which dictates everything in Waldorf, down to the most amazing little details!), colors are looked upon as having the ability to invoke spiritual entities. (That is why classrooms in many Waldorf schools are "lazured" -- treated with translucent washes of various glazes of color. The belief is that these colors, applied correctly, can help humans "see into" the spiritual realm.) Along with this belief about color is a belief that some colors are more healthy and more spiritually OK, if you will, than others. Black is viewed as being the province of the anthroposophical dark god called Ahriman. (Ahriman and Lucifer are sort of the diabolic twins of anthroposopy. God/the Christ Impulse is on one side, and Lucifer and Ahriman are at the other. Lucifer is the "light bearer;" he is the ego impulse, the thing that drives human beings to want to achieve. Anthros believe that this often can get out of hand. Ahriman is the darker side, the will-sucking materialist who tries to deceive human beings into thinking that the material world is all that there is. Strict anthroposophers believe, in fact, that computers have the ability to "suck out" the will of the person using it, which is one reason that computers either are not used at all in most Waldorf schools, or only used in the very top grades.)

Because it is the province of Ahriman, black is not considered healthy for young children. During a discussion about this issue with my younger girl's class teacher, I was told that black also just happens to be "too intense" for young children. I countered by asking how my Chinese-American child, who has lovely black hair that falls to her lower back and shining black eyes, was supposed to draw herself. And how about the little African-American boy in the class, I asked: How was he to depict himself? The teacher said she could teach those children to "smudge" other primary colors together to make black. I replied that that seemed absurd to me, and that if the children ended up *making* black, wouldn't the color still be viewed negatively as something dangerous, however it was made? I got no answer. I am not the only parent or individual who has found this attitude, overall, to be rooted in a sense of racism. (Steiner did say, after all, that blonde hair and blue eyes bestow intelligence, and the darker human beings got, the more stupid they would be.) Pardon me while I vomit.

I found that many parents never notice that black crayons are not included in the selection given their children at Waldorf schools. Because most people do not stop and examine what crayons are in a box or a basket on a classroom table, it never comes to their attention unless someone -- their child? -- points it out. (That is how I learned about it: when my younger girl told me she couldn't draw herself unless she made hersefl with yellow hair. My child them speculated that perhaps the school did not have enough money for a black crayon, or perhaps the teacher did not like her hair and eye color? Needless to say, I found this attitude both ridiculous and intolerable.)

The whole subject of "art" in Waldorf is an interesting one. A friend of mine who is a professional artist (a Univ of Chicago graduate) moved across state lines to enroll her daughter in a Waldorf school because she was told over and over how the arts were integrated into every subject. Once her daughter was enrolled, my friend noticed her child's interest in drawing, painting and creating was diminishing rapidly, as was the originality and quality of the subjects in the works. My friend inquired at the school about this, and was told that "there is no art in a Waldorf school." She was told -- and it is true of most Waldorf schools -- that at least thru elementary school, children copy almost every drawing and painting they do from one done by the teacher. This is because drawing and painting must, according to Steiner, be done in a certain order, etc. in order to shape the child's growing spirit. The watercolor exercises, in fact, are intended to invoke spiritual entities ... the pictures created are, in essence, talismans that call forth the other world and its beings. If you don't believe me, check out the paintings and drawings that line the walls of any Waldorf school in the world. They look absolutely the same as ones in any other school -- amorphous blobs of watered down color, done in the same way, on paper which has the square edges cut off. (Steiner hated square edges.)

Waldorf teachers also try their best to frustrate children's ability to draw using lines because Steiner taught that the "line is a lie left over from a previous life." That is why small children are given big block crayons to use, instead of regular crayolas with a tip.

Waldorf children also are taught -- indeed, forced -- to leave facial features (eyes, nose, mouths, etc.) off their drawings of humans. (Waldorf dolls are made much the same way.) The result is quite creepy looking until you get used to it. The idea is to take away the individuality of each person, just as is done in the younger grades at the schools.

Lisa
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#79 of 163 Old 04-04-2002, 12:40 AM
 
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If the Steiner comment that blond hair and blue eyes indicate intelligence is taken out of context, can somebody quote the context in which it was made?

I find it hard to see in what sort of valid context such a statement could be made.
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#80 of 163 Old 04-04-2002, 12:50 AM
 
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Britishmum --

I am not sure what you mean by "taking it out of context," but give me a little bit of time to rummage through my Steiner books, and I will post the paragraph (or more) from which the quotation cited came, along with the name of the book, the publisher, year, pages, etc.

Frankly, I cannot imagine in what context such a statement would be acceptable, and the more Steiner one reads, the more racist comments just jump right out. Contrary to what many devoted anthroposophists wish to believe, Steiner *was* a white man of his time, and he likewise carried some of the mainstream beliefs of his time. Steiner of course added his own interpretation to this belief that white people are superior; he taught that the various races of humankind express varying levels of spiritual maturity. White people, for instance, are in the "adulthood" stage of their spiritual evolution. Asian or "yellow" people (as he called them) are the adolescents, and black people are the infants. Steiner even taught that if pregnant women read novels, etc. written by black people, they would give birth to biracial children (he used another, less savory word, however.)

When Waldorf teachers, etc. are asked about this racist viewpoint, most seem to give the same answer: "Some of Steiner is difficult." Difficult? Heck yes, it is difficult to accept that in 2002 schools would be selling books that contain this kind of material to parents, who are supposed to read it for instruction!

In Europe, the racist underpinning of some of the Waldorf curriculum, methodology, viewpoint, etc. has been the subject of a great deal of controversy. In Holland, one mother caused a great public outcry when her daughter brought home a mainlesson book that contained a unit in so-called "racial ethnography." It pictured two blonde, white children in the sun with a small black child in the darkness, with belittling statements about the black race on the same page, copied from the teacher. (Article is available for your viewing and reading, with photos, through www.waldorfcritics.org.) A German news program has also done an exposee on the problem of anti-Semitism in Waldorf, and a group of children of holocaust survivors (Aktion Kinder de Holocaust) has expressed grave concerns about Waldorf. (That is a whole new thread.)

I will get back to you, Britishmum, with the info.

Lisa
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#81 of 163 Old 04-04-2002, 03:25 AM
 
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Thanks Lisa,

My 'out of context' question came from Heartlight's post where she said:

"They occasionally have the gall to imply that Steiner or the schools are somehow racist, based on out-of-context statements attributed to Steiner or the ominous color theory."

I just couldn't see how such a comment could be made in a context that would be acceptable, and wanted clarification.

Thanks for all your efforts and time in answering these questions. The link was very informative.
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Britishmum,

First of all, I am not the best person to defend Rudolf Steiner (or Waldorf education, for that matter). I haven't read any of his work (yet), but do know Steiner is well published. I know he believed in humanity and love and kindness. He did not espouse hate of any kind.

But I think it may also help to remember this country's own evolution when condemning someone as a racist. (Would you discount all of Thomas Jefferson's ideas because he owned slaves?) Rudolf Steiner was born in 1861 and died in 1925. That is the context in which any questionable statements should be judged. (Remember that this country had institutionalized racism until the 1960's, if not later.)

The more important question to me is how Waldorf schools conduct themselves. Waldorf schools promote diversity (giving financial aid to encourage it) and do not condone or engage in institutional racism. On the contrary! I have read many books and visited many schools (my daughter attends one) and I know there is no hidden agenda. If I had any hint that there was, I would not hesitate to withdraw my daughter, and I certainly would not continue this debate.

There is another Waldorf list that is not maintained by those who wish to bash Waldorf education. A search of its archives can reveal the other side to the critics' claims. For example, see http://maelstrom.stjohns.edu/CGI/wa....dorf&P=R12227. This post addresses claims of anti-semitism and racism. People interested in other questions can perform searches of the archives and get information from people more knowledgeable than me. They can also subscribe to the Waldorf list and post questions of their own, if they are so inclined. Then they can get the other side to the story.

I really think it is a shame that such a beautiful educational method comes under such vicious attacks.
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#83 of 163 Old 04-06-2002, 03:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by heartlight

I really think it is a shame that such a beautiful educational method comes under such vicious attacks.
That's interesting. What is it that you find so beautiful?

a

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#84 of 163 Old 04-06-2002, 03:54 AM
 
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Heartlight - thank you for the link.

I don't see this sort of discussion as making attacks on a system, but opening it up to debate. I believe that any educational system needs to be able to stand up to such scrutiny.

Somebody mentioned in one of these discussions (I can't recall who) that it is a shame that Waldorf education is coming to the fore in this information age, as it enables people to set up websites to criticise it. I don't see that the information age should be any threat to any worthwhile educational system. On the contrary, it should be of great assistance in spreading the word! If advocates of a system fear information being freely available and different viewpoints given, then there is something very wrong.

I believe that we should let the cynics be cynical and the critics be critical, and see how the system stands up to such scrutiny.
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I'm with you Britishmum! I am finding this conversation fascinating and very informative. There are a few people in my life who have been closely associated with Waldorf schools in the past and I am now very eager to ask them about their experiences. It is too bad that some people get so defensive when the opinions of others conflict with their own.
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#86 of 163 Old 04-06-2002, 06:33 AM
 
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ITA

I find, once again that I am total agreement with BM.

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I would love to see a debate about Waldorf Education and a thorough exploration of Anthroposophy by people who *care* about the future of Waldorf schools.

What bothers me about the most vocal critics is that they are lashing out in anger based on bad personal experiences and therefore cannot be trusted to paint the whole picture any more that we can trust the die-hard Anthroposophists.

If you really resonate with what Waldorf offers, go try it out- ask questions. Find a good school- there are many, many out there. Many schools deliver what they say they are, a beautiful, soulful education.

If you like the PR but think Steiner is bizarre, what should you do? Whine? Whine over the internet? Create a website and whine? Attract other whiners so you can all whine ever louder and in unison. Whine your "points" over and over and over ad nauseum? Please, forgive the people who hurt you and put your precious life's energy into something you can really feel good about. Something other than angrily tearing someone elses work down.

The question stands:

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO CREATE SOMETHING BETTER? IF YOU WERE SO ATTRACTED TO WALDORF EDUCATION IN THE FIRST PLACE, THERE MUST HAVE BEEN SOMETHING GOOD THERE.

Step outside of your need to do the whole expose thing and find the real human good in the Waldorf movement and see what you can *build* from that. Find the good in all the Waldorf materials and work with that. Create a Neo-Waldorf movement. (What a great idea!) Or just forget about Waldorf.

Be your own visionary, or at least put down the axe.

Visualize beautiful things.
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What bothers me about the most vocal critics is that they are lashing out in anger based on bad personal experiences and therefore cannot be trusted to paint the whole picture any more that we can trust the die-hard Anthroposophists.
No. Of course we can't. Their job is to critisize, not trumpet the cause!

And that is why the debate is useful. We see each other's view, and trust ourselves to construct the picture.

We should not ever trust any group / person to put the "ballenced" picture. That is our job as recipients of open debate.

a

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Hello to everyone!

Once again, I want to thank the folks at "Mothering" for hosting such an informative, lively and mostly congenial debate/discussion on this board. As I mentioned earlier, there are precious few places on the internet where such debate is allowed and even encouraged. Someone here suggested that readers of this thread check out the discussions on the SJU list. When and if you do, please note that SJU is the *official* Waldorf education discussion list and debate and probing questions are not encouraged there. In fact, people who ask too many questions or who stir up too much debate are unsubscribed. (If you don't believe me, please read the list description. It states that a general approval of Waldorf is expected of all subscribers. People who probe too much or disagree with the "party" line are either kicked off or the moderator closes the thread. Not exactly "free and open" discussion!)

That is why the Waldorf Critics' List was started. It is, I believe, the single place on the Web where people can openly debate the pros and cons of Waldorf education. And if you think that the list is ONLY for critics, well, you haven't spent any time there! I have been on the list for about 4 years (came on as a Waldorf advocate!) and much of that time, there have been equal number of critics and advocates engaging in often-heated but almost always interesting discussions.

Someone here -- was it heartlight? -- commented that "there must be something good" about Waldorf if even the critics were attracted to it. My response is, once again, that I don't condemn or even criticize everything about Waldorf. (In fact, I once started a thread on the critics list called "What I Like About Waldorf Education!") For the record, I like the emphasis on play in the nursery and kindergarten; the lovely wooden, wool, cotton and silk toys and play frames; the baking and cooking; the tradition of storytelling; the fact that children of both genders learn to knit and sew and play the recorder; that children play outside in most kinds of weather.

The things I do not like is long, and include: Waldorf teachers often have little to no training beyond the Waldorf seminary course they are required to take; Waldorf child development theory has not changed in more than 80 years and is not based on modern understanding of how humans develop and learn; Waldorf pretends to be flexible, but is in fact rigid; children who *want* to and *can* read before the age of 7 to 9 are actively discouraged from doing so, and made to feel ashamed; Waldorf teachers often attempt to discourage children from critical thinking before the age of 14, because that is what Steiner said: the "artwork" done in Waldorf schools in nursery through at least grade 4 is not really "art" at all, but a series of rigidly dictated spiritual exercises aimed not at allowing expression of creativity, but at putting the child in touch with the supersensible world; Waldorf science is not the science accepted by the mainstream community; myth is taught as fact; punishment and discipline often are "medieval," and include shaming children by placing dunce caps on their head, making children stand in front of the class with their "silver swords" (arms) crossed over their chests, or having them turn their shirts inside out; Waldorf teachers' belief in karma can prevent them from intervening in bullying situations ....

Underlying ALL OF THIS is my basic complaint, which is that Waldorf schools do not disclose to parents the full truth about the education and training that the schools offer, which is this: Waldorf schools are the parochial schools of Anthroposophy. Just as Catholic schools teach and guide children according to the tenets set forth by the Roman Catholic church, so do Waldorf schools teach and guide children according to tenets set forth by Steiner's church. The difference? Roman Catholic schools OPENLY ASSERT their philosophy with signs and crucifixes and openly garbed (often) clergy. They believe in their philosophy and methods, and describe them openly.

Waldorf schools, however, pretend to be non-sectarian. Parents of all -- or no -- religious faith or path are told that the school is suitable. If Waldorf was open and honest about its strict adherence to "Steiner says," well, then people such as myself would avoid it, and there would be no Waldorf critics. (Or at least, very few.) I am convinced that if Waldorf would stand up and proudly proclaim the truth, parents would flock to enroll their children! Even Eugene Schwartz (Waldorf master teacher, author of "Millenial Child" and a major force in the Waldorf movement) agrees. He has said, in public, that Waldorf schools need to own who they are, and to tell parents that children at the schools will have "one religious experience after the other." At the now-famous 1999 Sunbridge College lecture. Schwartz basically warned his fellows in the Waldorf movement that even parents who do not have the whole truth know, instinctively, that something is going on of which they have not been told.

People I know who have worked in Waldorf schools -- both as teachers and as teachers' aides -- have talked about how faculty at the schools work to keep parents who are unaware of the depths of anthroposophy in the school from delving too deeply. One statement sticks out in my mind. "Parents who are not anthros. just can't handle the truth," she said. "They'd be scared away if they knew teachers made decisions about their kids by what's revealed in their nightly meditations on the child's destiny. They wouldn't get it and they wouldn't like it. So we don't tell them." Another former teacher said that she was told that as long as she did not dedicate her life to Steiner, she would not be accepted by the rest of the teachers. Another one told me that she was disturbed by the way parents and children were talked about in faculty meetings, which are closed to parents. "Parents were looked at as baggage that the teachers had to carry to do their job with the children," she told me. She remembered how other teachers at her school spoke of a child conceived through in-vitro fertilization as "not quite human." "They said {the child} was 'transparent, without a real soul,'" she said.

By joining the ever-growing public outcry for Waldorf schools to be honest about who they are, I believe I *am* doing what I can to create better Waldorf schools. Yes, I was attracted to Waldorf schools, but I was attracted by deceptive advertising. If Waldorf schools delivered what they offered -- a progressive, arts based, non-sectarian education -- I would not be spending an hour writing this. My children would still be at their former school. I could use this time for something else. Unfortunately, that is not the case. So here I am.

Lisa
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Not much to add because British Mum and Alexander seem to articulate my feelings/thoughts on a very consistent basis and I don't wish to introduce too much redundancy onto the thread . . .

Thanks and encouragement to those who continue to offer their personal experiences, convey information, and impart knowledge in the face of sharp criticism and discouragement.

This discussion has been immensely helpful to me in that it has brought to my attention the fact that I need to do a great deal of research and investigating before determining the course of my daughter's education.

Quote:
First of all, I am not the best person to defend Rudolf Steiner (or Waldorf education, for that matter). I haven't read any of his work (yet), but do know Steiner is well published. I know he believed in humanity and love and kindness. He did not espouse hate of any kind.
Heartlight, I do appreciate your posts as well. I question, respectfully, how you can know what Steiner believed if you haven't read any of his work?

Mary
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