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#1 of 163 Old 12-29-2001, 01:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am researching a Waldorf education for my son. I have only come up with positive information. I am not looking for an institution to take over the responsibility to teach him, but one that works as a cooperation between home and school. Does anybody have an experiences or information to share, either to encourage or discourage this type of education?
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#2 of 163 Old 01-16-2002, 09:55 PM
 
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My daughter attended a Waldorf school for K-3rd grade and we really loved it. However, you ask about parent involvement. At the school we attended parent participation was limited to fund raising. The teachers (faculty) run the school and some are better than others at allowing parental participation.
Sometimes I flet that I was the child.

We left because of a bad mix of children and an ineffective teacher. We loved her as a person, but she didn't understand our child's learning disablity - mixed dominate (right brain with a left eye dominate and right handed).

The 8 years with thesame teacher can either be a blessing or a curse. It depends on the teacher. In our case because we trusted the teacher we believed her when she said it was okay that our child wasn't reading like the other children at the end of 2nd grade.

But we loved Waldorf and that is the method that we have predominately used when we began to home school. I am still an avid reader of Steiner and especailly all things Waldorf.

Most of all you can't beat the Waldorf kindergarten!

I would suggest that you ask all the hard qurstions of the school and the teacher in regard to working in cooperation. It is very indvidual teacher based. Every teacher is encouraged to find his/her own path and some are more open to parents than others.
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#3 of 163 Old 01-24-2002, 05:17 PM
 
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Rev Mother,

What is the theory behind a Waldorf education?
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#4 of 163 Old 01-24-2002, 06:10 PM
 
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How much time do you have????

There is no way I can explain Waldorf education in the confines of this post. Nor am I the person to do so. But there are many great books out there (I can recomend some) that will explain it better than I.

Waldorf education is based upon the work of Ruddoff Steiner and grounded in Anthroposophical thought.

That said, here is a quote: "There is a relation between the hours of our life and the centuries of time. The hours should be instructed by the ages and the ages explained by the hours."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

That is in harmony with Waldorf education.
I would say that it is providing an education appropriate to the natural stages of human devlopment -- rather than imposing development. From my religious perspective I always say...God created children to grow, learn and develop in a certian way and rate. God doesn't care that we have become more high tech, children still grow, and are intened to grow the same way as at the beginning of time. Or "teach 'em like God made 'em"

One of the things we loved about Waldorf was the fact that they were not swayed by educational fads.

Let me know if you'd like some titles.
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#5 of 163 Old 01-24-2002, 11:06 PM
 
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Are there any good web sites that you know of that give info about it? I am curious about things such as classroom set up, scheduling, etc. In my past life as an education major we learned many different types of ed theories, but Waldorf doesn't ring a bell. Of there is a lot that my brain has forgotten from my life BC (before children.)
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#6 of 163 Old 01-29-2002, 02:38 AM
 
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Try www.bobnancy.com. That will probably be a good start!
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#7 of 163 Old 01-29-2002, 12:32 PM
 
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Beth:

Part of my double major (undergrad) was education and at a "teachers college" no less. Waldorf education was never mentioned. Of cource that was back in the dark ages...

The bobandnancy website is great or you can try Antroposomorphic Press.

boband nancy have some weblinks that can help too.

Personally, I \'d stay away from reading Steiner, at least at first.
What age level are you interested in?
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#8 of 163 Old 01-29-2002, 05:06 PM
 
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RevMother,

My oldest son will be four in May and will start Parochial preschool this fall. I'm curious about how Waldorf would educate the pre to el ed ages.
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#9 of 163 Old 01-29-2002, 06:54 PM
 
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I keep hearing that a good Waldorf education depends on the teacher, what happens if the teacher is not particularly good, for one reason or another?

With appreciaiton,
Margaret
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#10 of 163 Old 01-29-2002, 08:33 PM
 
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I just finished reading Rahima Baldwin Dancy's book, You are Your Child's First Teacher. I truly enjoyed her insights. I'm not sure that I want my son to attend a Waldorf school - I'm fairly certain that we can't afford that. But I'm looking forward to using Waldorf ideas in raising my son.

Looking back at my upbringing, I think that my Mom followed many of the principals of Waldorf philosophies. I remember the creative play that we engaged in as children, and I want my son to have those same experiences. There was a lot of joy in my childhood with my brothers.

I think that our biggest challenge at this point will be turning off the TV. I know that I don't want Nathan to grow up glued to the TV, and that means less TV for dh and myself!

I hear a hungry baby!

Elizabeth
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#11 of 163 Old 01-30-2002, 01:48 AM
 
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Margraret:

AHHHH, there's the rub. Unless the school had more than one class in the same grade level and I don't know of any schools that do (I'm sure there are some).

I do think, hoever, that most teachers are good ones. You need to ask around and once the child is in the school develop a personal; relationship (as much as possible) with the teacher.
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#12 of 163 Old 01-31-2002, 12:57 AM
 
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Hi, Olivia, and everyone else who happens to be here!

I spent almost six years as a Waldorf school parent, and I strongly encourage anyone considering enrolling a child in a Waldorf school to thoroughly research both Waldorf education and Anthroposophy before doing so.
Waldorf schools promote themselves as being "arts-based," "progressive," "non-sectarian" schools that take into account "the whole child." Unfortunately, in my family's experience (and that of many others with whom I am in regular communication via the 'net), Waldorf is none of these things. It is especially NOT "non-sectarian," as Anthroposophy determines almost everything about Waldorf, from the sing-songy voices the teachers use to what snacks are served on what day to the color of the classroom walls to what stories are told in what grade, and even how teachers react when children quarrel, or have difficulty getting along. (A belief in karma and reincarnation is a basic tenet of Anthroposophy. Former Waldorf parents have told me that this belief in karma -- that a person's past lives determine situations in the present -- caused difficulties for their child at Waldorf, because teachers hesitated or even refused to intervene in bullying situations. The teachers feared that there was "karma at work" between the fighting children, and that by interfering, they would alter the "life lessons" the children had to learn.)
Anthroposophy determines the smallest details of classroom life at Waldorf schools. Most people are unaware -- at least, I was! -- that children in many Waldorf nursery, kindergarten and early elementary grade classes are not allowed to draw or color using black crayons. The reason? In Anthroposophy, the color black is considered spiritually unfit (harmful) for young children who are still in the process of "coming into" their bodies from beyond. Some Waldorf teachers I spoke with called black an "Ahrimanic" color, meaning it is associated with/even imbued with the spirit of the Anthroposophic god called "Ahriman." (This is a very complicated subject. Anthroposophers believe in two forces that are polar opposites: Lucifer, the light bearer, and Ahriman, the dark, earthly force. A very well known former Waldorf teacher trainer and Waldorf teacher named Eugene Schwartz credits Lucifer with being a big inspiration for Waldorf teachers.) Some parents (including me!) feel that this negativity about black carries racist overtones.
Needless to say, this is a complex subject. If you are considering Waldorf, learn about Anthroposophy. They are inextricably intertwined.
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#13 of 163 Old 02-03-2002, 08:38 PM
 
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My siblings and I are the products of Waldorf education pre-K through 12th grade.

For anyone considering Wladorf, I think the main, most important thing to consider is that NOT ALL SCHOOLS ARE ALIKE. Sure, they may be grounded in the same philosophy, but it gets played out differently in different schools. Read all you want about anthroposophy and Steiner, but what it comes down to is how you feel about your local school. Visit, talk to teachers, parents, and kids, and make your decision from there.

Although there is a lot in the philosophy that kids aren't made directly aware of, I must say that in all my years as a student (Green Meadow in NY), I NEVER came across the "karma" idea. Maybe it was a factor in the way teachers treated kids, but it was certainly never presented to us.

Which just goes to show that different stuff goes at different schools. I'd be happy to share my thoughts on the advantages/disadvantages of a Waldorf education with anyone interested in the perspective from age 36. Just email...
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#14 of 163 Old 02-04-2002, 08:11 PM
 
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Hi, everyone! <g>

I read with interest the post by the gal from toddlerland (!! I fondly remember that place myself, tho it's been a few years!) saying she and her sibs attended Greenmeadow Waldorf school, and pointing out that though the philosophy behind Waldorf (Anthroposophy) is the same everywhere, how various schools interpret it may be different.
I think that is an excellent point. I do think, however, that ALL Waldorf schools are obligated to tell ALL parents about Anthroposophy -- and its basic tenets -- because those tenets and beliefs in fact DO impact on everything in a Waldorf school, from the way teachers talk to children to the colors in classrooms to what is taught (and not taught) each year, and so on. I am very glad that the magazine mom felt her education was a good one, but I am sorry to report that my own daughters did NOT get a good education (in most any sense) at their Waldorf school, and I would wager that the school's dedication to Anthroposophy and its principles was to blame. (Example: Waldorf schools say they won't "force" children to learn to read early. What they don't publicize are all the things they do to try to stop children who naturally do read at what they consider an early age! They say they don't "force" children into intellectualism at an early age, but neglect to mention that those children who are intellectually inclined are discouraged from being so.) This all happens because of teachers' dedication to anthroposophy, which views Waldorf as a way of preparing children's souls for the next incarnation, rather than as a way of educating children for this world. That is why I urge anyone interested in W. to read about anthroposophy.
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#15 of 163 Old 02-04-2002, 08:15 PM
 
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One more thing: anyone interested in Waldorf should check out the information on the People for Legal and Non Sectarian Schools (PLANS) Web site, and read what is there with an open mind.

The addy is: www.waldorfcritics.org.

I also moderate a list called Waldorf-survivors-only which is administered through Yahoogroups. We have about 60 members from all over the world; folks who either attended Waldorf themselves, or whose children attended and had extremely negative experiences. (Commonalities include children who get so behind academically that they have great difficulty catching up; children with learning differences whose problems were not detected by teachers or parents and struggle for many years as a result; children who were bullied and abused physically while at Waldorf; and more.) The stories are truly heartbreaking.

Lisa
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#16 of 163 Old 02-04-2002, 08:31 PM
 
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I'll say up front that I know very little about Waldorf. That said. A few years ago I babysat for a child, who was almost 8. He had been attending a Waldorf school, but it ended at 2nd grade and he had to find a new school. He could not read, and was diagnosed with a learning disability after leaving the school. He had a very hard time getting into another school because he was so far behind academically. He had to attend private tutoring ans complete all sorts of homework, all summer that I kept him, which was no fun for him, and a major hassle for his parents, in order to attend a private school the next year...

- Chelsea
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#17 of 163 Old 02-04-2002, 08:58 PM
 
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Unfortunately, the situation that Chelsea described is one I hear about quite frequently. And while I recognize that there are many happy and satisfied Waldorf graduates, I personally am acquainted with a large number who have not had that outcome ... ie) children who attend Waldorf schools and then, when they must transfer to other, non-Waldorf schools, find they are disturbingly behind their peers. Waldorf schools generally *do* warn parents that Waldorf children generally do not reach "parity" with non-Waldorf peers until third grade. What parents do not realize, however, is just how far behind their children might be! Many times while at our former Waldorf school I heard parents reassuring themselves by saying "Well, our children may seem to be behind academically until 3rd or 4th grade, but after that, Waldorf children soar ahead." Unfortunately, there seems to be previous little "soaring ahead" in reality, and I hear weekly from parents who are upset and sick at heart at how hard their child must struggle just to catch up when leaving Waldorf for a more mainstream approach. Again, I put the blame for this squarely on anthroposophy and Waldorf teachers' devotion to it and unwillingness to deviate from the "anthro party line" set up by Steiner (who had no children and little experience with them!) 80 years ago and does not take into account modern understanding of human development. Fundamental Waldorfism is very Medieval.
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#18 of 163 Old 02-04-2002, 09:22 PM
 
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As someone who spent years in Waldorf education, I can definitely list the negatives as well as the positives. However, I must say that I think the tone of waldorfcritics.com is rather extreme. Undoubtedly some people have had bad experiences with Waldorf education, but from what I've heard, Dan Dugan has turned his negative experience in the San Francisco school into quite the little industry. The whole thing has such a gleeful tone to it, (Oh my god, kids paint only on wet paper until third grade! Let us tell you the horrifying secret reason!) and I find it pretty creepy.

I just want to say, in response to the reading thing, that I was a very early reader; I remember asking my father to teach me, which he did. It was always acknowledged in my class that I was ahead of everyone in reading, and no big deal was made of it in the slightest. Not to invalidate anyone else's experience at other schools!

One of my main problems with the education I received is that there was no help available for someone who had real problems with certain areas, academically, like math. I was made to feel a total dunce, and simple solutions like extra tutoring were never mentioned. I can't say if this was a function of Waldorf education, or just me falling through the cracks. As I said before, I am reluctant to generalize, just because I DO know how different the schools can be. But I am also wary of blanket condemnations of Waldorf education, when I know there's much about them that's quite wonderful.
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#19 of 163 Old 02-04-2002, 09:27 PM
 
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Also, I want to add that though my siblings attended Waldorf through 12th grade, I left after 9th (for complicated reasons unrelated to Waldorf education). I had no problems making the transition academically to a new school. Not to say that others did/will not.
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#20 of 163 Old 02-04-2002, 10:02 PM
 
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Thank you, zinemama, for being brave enough to stand up to those Waldorf critics! I read their stuff also, and always leave it feeling dirty. The “discussion” is so mean-spirited that it reminds me of an angry mob. I think they should share the responsibility for their disappointment with their children’s education. It is obvious from a lot of their grievances that they did not do their homework before sending their children to a Waldorf school.
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#21 of 163 Old 02-05-2002, 08:28 AM
 
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We have had a very positive experience with Waldorf education. My daughter has been in a Waldorf school for nine years with the same class teacher for 8 years. The kindergarten teachers only teach kindergarten. We realize it takes a pretty dynamic person to be able to take a class from first to eigth grade. We feel very blessed that our daughter's teacher was able to do that. The school and the teachers are evaluated regularly, and what often happens is a teacher change occurs before 6th grade. Many teachers realize that the middle school years require more demanding academics.
I have found our school to be very open to parent input and individual children's needs. Waldorf education has given my daughter a rich educational experience. She has experienced arts, foreign language, dance, drama, choir, enriching field trips, gardening, orchestra, band and really amazing academics. Her class just finished a very hands on chemistry block.
It is unfortunate that there are people that have had a negative experience with Waldorf education. This has not been ours.
Just the other night when I was tucking my 13 year old into bed she said, "thank you mom for giving me a Waldorf education."
Enough said.
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#22 of 163 Old 02-05-2002, 04:49 PM
 
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I am also considering a Waldorf education for my ds. It is good to hear both the advantages and the disadvantages before making a decision.

For now I am going to sign up for the parent toddler classes, and get a taste of what Waldorf is like.

As far as continuing ds's education past preschool or kindergarten, I will have to do much research, and hearing from parents or former students is really helpful.

My question is-If you don't like a teacher, are there other classes you can switch too, or do all Waldorf's only have one class in each grade? For those of you who have attended, or have children that have or are attending, what is the graduating class size?

I guess all schools are different, but I'd like to get a general idea.
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#23 of 163 Old 02-05-2002, 05:03 PM
 
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I really appreciate all the view points and sharing in this post. For me personally, I've been disappointed. My husband and I moved a few states away in order to be close enough to a Waldorf School for our 4 year old to attend. When we first arrived, my son and I went to a parent/child program. It was pretty clear straight -away that the teacher and my son just did not click. She was a nice enough women, with lots of experience but she seemed lost as to how to deal with energetic boys. She's now heading up the nursery program which we did not send him to. Since becoming more immersed in the community, we've heard really unfortunate things about the school, from many, many people. Pretty much the same type of things so there must be some truth to it. I know of several people who have left the K program because of the teacher and others who are actually fearful that there child will get that teacher versus the other.

I just don't understand how this comes from a school that puts out literature that sounds so beautiful and has a setting that is nothing less than idyllic. While I know that problems exists in the world, it just seems that issues of power, control & other hurtful behavior don't have a place in a Waldorf environment. Am I too idealistic?

Thank for listening.
Margaret

Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who's there.
~Rumi
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#24 of 163 Old 02-06-2002, 12:29 AM
 
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Hi, Margaret and Rain!

I was a Waldorf school parent for almost six years, so I feel qualified to answer the questions/respond to the statements you made.

Both of you asked whether all Waldorf schools offer only one class per grade level, making it impossible for a child who does not "click" with a teacher to move to another class.

To my knowledge, all Waldorf schools have one class per grade level. (The exception is nursery and kindergarten, where many schools have two or more nursery/kindy classes.)

That means that all children in, say, a certain Waldorf school's second grade are with the same teacher, with no possibility of moving. Note that when one presents this scenario -- "What if a child and a teacher just do not get along?" -- most Waldorf teachers seem to give a version of the same, overly idealistic answer: "In the world one must learn to get along with lots of different people. So we make it work!" What most don't tell you is that the Anthroposophic belief in karma is very much at play here; Waldorf teachers by and large believe that if a child ends up in their class, destiny is at work and *must not* be fooled with! In my opinion, this is quite unfortunate, not only because it is inevitable that some children and some teachers do not get along, but also because if parents are unhappy with a child's class teacher (do not feel the teacher is good with children, believe the teacher is too easy/too harsh, etc.), there is NO alternative class to move the child to!

Margaret, your comment about the beautiful, idealistic image of education presented by Waldorf schools struck a chord with me. Like so many parents I know, my husband and I enrolled our precious daughters in a local Waldorf school because we trusted that the school would provide what it said it would provide: an arts-based, progressive, non-sectarian education that nurtured a child's individuality. Sadly for our daughters (and, for us!) we found that there was very little "art" at Waldorf (from first through the first half of the fourth grade, when we withdrew our older daughter, most of her drawings were copied line by line, color by color, from the teacher's drawings on the blackboard; same for painting, all done in the wet-on-wet style). "Progressive?" Not unless you call teachers categorizing children by their physical characteristics (shape of ears, complexion, etc.) via the "Four Temperments" (a Medieval idea) progressive! In our view, Waldorf also does NOT nurture individuality; it stresses conformity, albeit a conformity to the "Waldorf way." By the time we withdrew our older daughter, she was one very unhappy little girl who dreaded going to school and being put through the mindless routine that was called a "schoolday." (I am happy to report, however, that after a half year of homeschooling that allowed her to "catch up" and to learn all the things she never was taught at Waldorf, she is now a very happy and successful student at a very good, non Waldorf school. Even better is the fact that her non-W school provides all the things we wanted for her when we enrolled in Waldorf!)

Again, I affirm the right of parents to send their child to whatever school they choose. I ask only that Waldorf schools tell parents the whole truth -- that everything at Waldorf is dictated by anthroposophy -- in advance, so parents can make an informed choice. Again and again, I have heard of parents who moved across the country/state lines, etc. to enroll their child in a Waldorf school in the belief that the school would provide an arts-based, non religious education, only to find that almost nothing they were told was true, and that there was plenty they were NOT told that they should have been. The result? People who are very, very critical of Waldorf education and who are very (in my view, understandably) angry.

Think of it this way. You go into a restaurant that advertises its delicious "vegetarian fare." It's a pleasant looking place, and people seem nice. When the waiter comes, you order a big salad and a tofu burger. But the waiter puts a big, fat, juicy steak on the table. When you say "Oh, no! There must be some mistake? I am a vegetarian, and I ordered a salad and some tofu!" the waiter says "Well, all we have are steaks here. Didn't you know that? Everyone else here knows that!" and walks away, making it YOUR problem. I realize that is a clumsy image, but it might give you some idea what it feels like to "buy" what Waldorf "advertised" (arts based, non religious education) only to find that what they "serve" is far, far different. And when you complain, people call you "bitter" or "so angry" and say that YOU should have investigated the school/restaurant ahead of time, instead of just believing what the sign outside said (or what the teachers, administrators, etc. told us.) Hey! Who would have thought that a SCHOOL would tell anything but the whole truth?????

Lisa
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#25 of 163 Old 02-06-2002, 05:41 AM
 
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Lisa,

Thank you for your reply, sharing your experience and voicing all that I have seen and feel in regard to WE. It's really so unfortunate that there is this wonderful opportunity to educate children in a beautiful and wonderful way and it just misses the mark.

Yet another reason for home schooling.

Best,
Margaret

Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who's there.
~Rumi
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#26 of 163 Old 02-06-2002, 11:19 AM
 
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Hi to all,

I wanted to reply to some of the more negative responses. As I think I have stated we were in the Waldorf school through 3rd grade.

I look at Waldorf school as being alot like a church (no I'm not impling they are religious -- I stated that before). A church seeks to present and live a particular doctrine -- Waldorf schools seek to live by a certian philosophy of education.Churches are only as good at living out thier theology as the people who make up thier community -- Waldorf schools are the same. (And why anyone would want to go to college to be a teacher and then spend 2-3 more years studing tp be a Waldorf teacher is beyond me. They make significantly less than thier bros and siss in the public school. Humm --- sort of like ministers with Masters and Doctors
degrees -- maybe it's because most of them LOVE children )
Like churches, I found that Waldorf schools can be hypocritial -- show me a place in society that isn't that way at one time or another!
As in a church when folks are not happy about something they can always find like minded people with whom to gossip rather than facing head on the situation.
Finally, as in the church, I have found that when someone is displeased with one particualr community and they leave they have a tendency to paint the whole -- doctrine and all other communities -- with the same broad strokes. And suddenly EVERYTHING about the whole philosophy is bad. This has been my experince with others who left our same schools -- it is not just that one incedient, or teacher, but everything.
I don't know if that comparision will help, I hope so.
I am always leary of people who warn me off of something when they have had a bad experince. They don't want to be "alone" in the belief. They don't want to "leave alone".
I know that somunds harsh and I don't mean for it to, but I think the only thing you can do is experince it for your self. And just becasue one school is having a harder time walking the walk and talking the talk, doesn't mean they all are.

When I was discovering that our particualr teacher and school were not working out for our daughter a friend of mine was discovering the same thing for her son. My friend was nasty and demanding of the teacher, and the teacher became defensive.
THAT really helped.
Now my friend is anti EVERYTHING about Waldorf education and she can't believe that we still embrase the basic tenents.

As to the comment about art -- what is wrong with the children learning by copying? That's how they learn the "techs". The children get lots of opportunities for "free drawing and free painting too".
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#27 of 163 Old 02-06-2002, 12:23 PM
 
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This reply is for "rev mother" and for, of course, anyone else who wishes to read it!

I felt the need to address one point you made in your last post about Waldorf education. (To be honest, I would love to address several of the points you made, but I fear people here are tired of all this, so I will restrain myself. If there is anyone out there who would like to hear anything more of what I had to say, as someone who spent six years as a Waldorf mom, was on the school's Parent Association, volunteered extensively and is in close contact with many former Waldorf parents from all over the world, just write me offlist.)

Rev mother, you say you wonder why people who become Waldorf teachers go through all that college training, only to spend "2 or 3 more years" studying Waldorf methodology, and you speculate that maybe they just love children.

I am glad you brought that up, because once upon a time I, too, thought that Waldorf teachers actually had more training (or at least as much) as those who teach in public and other schools.

Unfortunately, that is just not true. I have in my possession that catalog, course list and book list from the two leading Waldorf teacher training "colleges" (and believe me, I use that term loosely) in the US. What did I learn this way (in addition to through talking to a number of Waldorf teachers?)

I learned that not only don't Waldorf teacher candidates have to have already earned an undergraduate degree in anything, but that once they are enrolled in the Waldorf teacher training program, most of their time is spent reading works by Rudolf Steiner. It's interesting to note that the courses the teacher trainees take have names that *sound* quite different from what is really learned. (Example: a course on Child Development covers, in fact, how young human beings grow according to R. Steiner. Required reading for such a course is several books BY Steiner. This means that Waldorf teacher trainees are NOT getting the benefit of the accumulated knowledge of many. many fine educators and thinkers who have studied and worked with children in classrooms over the years. No. Instead, they get ONLY what Rudolf Steiner "intuited" through clairvoyance about human development 80 YEARS ago, with no update.)

Also, those employed as teachers in Waldorf schools do not always even have their Waldorf teacher training "certificate" by the time they begin teaching. A number run back and forth to the training centers the first few years, taking "intensives" during the summer, so they can earn that "certificate" while teaching. (Note, too, that a Waldorf teaching "certificate" is useless in getting employment at a public or other non-Waldorf school. It has meaning ONLY in Waldorf circles.)

While our family was involved at our former school, I remember hearing each year about the school's struggle to find a teacher for the next year's first grade. It seemed that there were not enough candidates, and it was often tense: would they find someone in time? Who would it be? I remember talking with several of the teachers (with whom I was quite friendly) and asking "Why don't you guys just find some very experienced teachers from public or private schools, and then just TRAIN them to do things the Waldorf way?" An uncomfortable silence usually followed. I watched as, several times, they hired people who had NO experiences teaching but had a "commitment" to "Anthroposophy." (I recall one individual who had been a meditative monk or something similar who was hired. Within several months, his class was in chaos and parents were extremely unhappy; children were withdrawn from his class. He ended up leaving mid-year, causing a panicked scramble to fill the spot.)

Last evening I ran into a former Waldorf teacher in the parking lot of a local supermarket. We got to talking, and she related how much happier she is at her new teaching job in a public school where faculty members with various backgrounds -- but all with good, solid teacher training -- worked together to educate the kids. She said me that during her time at the Waldorf school, several other faculty members had told her that "You will never fit in because you are not a follower of Steiner." She has concluded that if you work at a Waldorf school, the most important thing is to toe the Steiner line and be a devoted follower. She chose not to do so. Her loyalty is to the children: not to a dead demigogue.

The result of all this is that I advise anyone considering Waldorf to ask the school to give you a list of the faculty and its credentials. Note where only Waldorf training was given (and remember what W. training entails), and whether or not the teacher had any kind of regular college degree. Remember that Waldorf schools are run by the teachers, and usually by an in group of teachers who are the most devoted to Steiner. (One former teacher told me that she found the faculty meetings "scary. It was like a cult.")

Note, too, that anthroposophically devoted teachers believe that destiny brought your child to her or him, and that he or she (the teacher) is the PRIMARY spiritual parent of your child in this life. You, on the other hand, are just the "door" the child came through into this life; in a Waldorf school, you are expected as the "door" to hand the child over to the teacher, who knows better than you do. (Hey, I am not making this up. I have spoken with Waldorf teachers and people who worked at schools, and they inevitably report that the faculty attitude toward parents -- especially parents who ask lots of questions and make demands or even suggestions -- is not favorable. These people told me that they were shocked to learn that some Waldorf teachers consider parents people to be got around so that the teacher can get to his or her "mission:" to guide the child in this life as Steiner said he or she should be guided.)

For those who believe in the tenets of anthroposophy, Waldorf schools are surely wonderful. For those of us who wanted an arts based, non sectarian school, well, maybe not so wonderful!

Regards to all,

Lisa

P.S.: Rev asks what is wrong with copying. Nothing is wrong with a limited amount of copying. But we are not talking limited copying here; we are talking about copying *all* drawings done during classtime as part of the children's often-shown-off "mainlesson books" for at least three and a half years, and about painting (for the same length of time, if not more) in one style (Waldorf wet on wet) according to teachers' explicit instructions. (Yes, in kindergarten the children are given selected colors of block crayons -- teachers do not want them to draw with lines, as there is an anthro prohibition against them -- to scribble and to draw with. Once in grade one, though, that stops.)
A friend of mine in another state is a professional artist, and was delighted to discover Waldorf and its supposed "arts based" instruction for her child. She and her husband moved several states over so their girl could go to a W. school. Once there, the woman was shocked to be told by a teacher that there "is no art at a Waldorf school."
Next time anyone is near a Waldorf school , go in and ask to look around at the art displayed. Note how it all looks alike: amorphous watercolors and weirdly swirling crayon lines, one after the other, grade after grade. Then go to any other school and look at what they have up. Everything is different! In terms of art, Waldorf is a one trick pony.
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#28 of 163 Old 02-06-2002, 02:05 PM
 
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All that just goes to show you --- EVERY Waldorf School is DIFFERENT. The school we were at ONLY had techers who had both a State and Waldorf certification. (This did not totally apply to speciality teachers).

As to the art -- I think we are talking about totally differnt things here. You seem to equate "art" with children being able to freely express themsleves -- drawing whatever they want. I beleive that they benifit from being specifically lead. If you take an adult class the teacher has all the student drawing the same thing in the same way -- personal style comes later. My daughters clas teacher allowed for complete freedom of expression in the greeting cards they made each birthday, or at the birth of a new baby, and in the holiday projects. No, they are not teaching all forms of "art" (I do understand that comes in high school). It is the same thing in music -- ALL children begin with flute, then recorder and then (usually) violin. It is not until the upper grades that there is diversity in expression. But no one is saying that they can't take piano or flute outside of school.

Every family must make up their own minds about WE. And in no way should you put your child into the school unless you have done your own homework. Too often we found that there were parents in our school who would get upset by something and we would wonder --what are they doing here in the first place?

Wladorf education -- you either LOVE it or (as the writer above expresses) you HATE it. But it's not about WE -- it is about what we want for our children.


I have friends who HATE Mothering magazine becasue of a variety of reasons, mostly based upon a different idea of how children should be raised. It all falls into the same basket -- we decide what we believe and then strive to find a place where we can live that way in peace.

I am sorry, that you had a bad experince, and that you have come across so many others who have -- but statistically many have found WE to fulfill waht they want for their children.
I know a woman who believes that Rudoff Steiner is the Anti-Christ --

It also sounds like you think WE teachers are trying to "pull the wool" over parents eyes -- every single complaint you have mentioned we knew going in to the school and thought was great. So where is the problem? We decided to put our child in the Waldorf school -- "becasue of the art on the wall".

p.s. -- You mean your friend moved to another state JUST to attend THAT school? And she didn't do extensive research first? Research on THAT school FIRST, before moving????!!!!She didn't visit? Call? Write?? Interview???
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#29 of 163 Old 02-06-2002, 02:24 PM
 
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Rev mom,

I am certainly glad to hear that at your former Waldorf school, *all* teachers (except handwork, music, etc.) had degrees from four year colleges (non Waldorf) before they took Waldorf teacher training. I wish that were true at every Waldorf school.

The trouble is, even those who come in with degrees from non-Waldorf sources "relearn" important things they know so that they can teach about the world according to Steiner. This is sometimes troublesome. Example: Those who have a four year degree in elementary education go to the Rudolf Steiner College Waldorf teacher training program. During that program, they "relearn" even human physiology and come back saying ridiculous things such as that "the human heart does not pump blood," and that "Atlantis" existed and is the cradle of civilization for the "Aryan" people. One fellow who had a four year degree and wanted to become a Waldorf teacher related that he was told in a class that the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado happened because of "the way the Rocky Mountains lay, geographically, unlike the Alps." This guy countered by asking "Then how do you explain the Holocaust?" They had no answer. (Unfortunately, some modern anthro thinkers do have an answer. It is not one I want to repeat here. Just keep in mind their stong belief in karma and destiny.)

That all means one thing -- that Waldorf teachers learn to look at the world and the people and things in it according to Anthroposophy. They view everything via the lens provided by Steiner, who is not even recognized in education circles (or even in philosophical circles!) as a major figure. Again, I respect anyone's right to raise their child according to anthro principles. I ask only that Waldorf schools come clean and tell every prospective parent (and every current parent, while they are at it!) that the schools are all about anthroposophy.

All that said, we have not even touched on the fact that Waldorf schools here and abroad have been accused of promoting racist ideology. (Check out the Dutch mainlesson books available at www.waldorfcritics.org. But be prepared. You might find yourself sick to your stomach. Most parents enrolling children in Waldorf don't know about Steiner's "root race theory," which says that the races of humankind are in various "stages" of evolution. He places the white or Aryan race as the most evolved, with the "yellow" -- what you and I call "Asian" -- race as the "adolescents" and the "black" races as infants. There is a famous Steiner quote that says "blond hair actually bestows intelligence" and discusses how, as people become "increasingly dark," they will become "increasingly dumber." Books with this quote and others similar are on sale in many Waldorf school bookstores. I have talked to Waldorf teachers who insist that this is not racist at all, but just an observation about the spiritual ages of various races. Or these teachers and anthroposophists say that you can't take Steiner at face value, that he did not mean to be racist. (Funny how they take him at face value -- and quite literally -- when he says children should be protected from reading and the printed word and critical thinking until at least after 7 and, ideally, until age 14!!)

Had I known ANY of this before enrolling my children, I would not have done so. I would have done what I eventually did, and run the other way.)

Lisa
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#30 of 163 Old 02-07-2002, 01:42 AM
 
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momofgurlz and others who do not agree witth waldorf schools-

i am the duaghter to queen mamma and i went to waldorf through 8 grade. i am now at a public high school and am doing great. i heard that you guys said that waldorf students have a hard time transfering to public school and are behind. i am a sophmore in high school and want to let you know that it is a rare case when someone has problems transfering from waldorf to high school. i have a 3.85 gpa, by the end of this term i will have a 4.0. right now as a sophmore i am taking all junoir or senior classes. i have gotten several academic awards and am over the 90th percentile in the country in almost every subject. All the people in my class who are going to public schools now are doing just as well. and just a little fact for you guys, schools such as standford will except students from waldorf with a lower sat score than a person from a public school with a higher score. ohh..and i was not behind in academics when i got to the school, i was ahead. another point in waldorf is that it requires you to play and instrument. this looks very good for colleges. i am also eligable for the national honor society which i am in the process for appling for right now which is the highest honor you can get in high school. The one part of waldorf that needs improvmentis the sports. that is the reason that i did not go to waldorf high school, that and that the high school is about 1 hour away. the best thing about waldorf is that the teachers care about you ! they want you to suceed. that is really all i have to say about waldorf education. if you have any questions you can write back
queen mammas 16 year old daughter
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