Constructive critiques of waldorf education - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 08-06-2005, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been away for a few weeks, recovering from a very painful lower back problem...better now thank goodness.

I don't have time to read through all the active conversations that have been running while I was away (I have a lot of other interests besides waldorf, some of you know me from the vaccinations forum, I have a full-time job running a library, two grandchildren, a spinning wheel, plus all the regular life stuff), but I am curious about the overall results of the discussions that have occurred.

on 7-19 Pete wrote:
Quote:
I can, however, shed some light on Waldorf education and draw from many years of personal hands-on experience with Waldorf. Why isn't that a good thing?
and Cynthia Mosher wrote on 7-22:
Quote:
Pete, I think you have some beneficial information and opinion to share.
What I'm requesting is that people point me to the constructive comments on waldorf that have come out of the discussions over the last few weeks. Links or quotes are both fine. I'd like things I could take to the waldorf school my grandchildren attend: positive suggestions that will make the school better for everyone: children, parents, teachers and administrators.

Thanks in advance!
Nana
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#2 of 17 Old 08-06-2005, 09:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Deborah
I'd like things I could take to the waldorf school my grandchildren attend: positive suggestions that will make the school better for everyone: children, parents, teachers and administrators.
That’s a difficult and in some ways impossible-to-address question. Every school is different, and different teachers and colleges will respond differently to ideas and suggestions of the sort you’re requesting.

Example: I wrote that schools would benefit from teachers asking the question: What’s good and correct about allowing children to use black crayons? And Pete correctly observed that “the exclusion of some colors that some children NEED is not healthy.”

Now, tell all that to different faculties in different schools, and you’ll get a variety of responses. Well, maybe not a variety, actually. Most will undoubtedly dismiss all of it offhand. A few liberal-minded and progressive groups might be willing to engage in a dialogue on the subject.

And the odd school might even consider changing their pedagogical views based on outsider feedback of that sort, but a participatory response like that would be the rare exception, absolutely.
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#3 of 17 Old 08-06-2005, 09:46 PM
 
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I thought threads-about-other-threads was an MDC no-no.
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#4 of 17 Old 08-06-2005, 10:54 PM
 
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UA rule


No
"Posting to discuss the statements or behavior of a member or members on the board, or to criticize another discussion on the boards"

I'm not sure Deborah is criticizing anything. Are you Deborah?

 
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#5 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 12:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Nope, no I'm not criticizing any of the other threads. I was simply asking for people to share any good stuff that has come out of the discussions over the last couple of weeks while I was away.

I'm interested to see if the open discussions have resulted in some positive, helpful ideas, basically. No problem if they haven't, certainly. Nor if they have!

Nana
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#6 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 12:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lauren
UA rule


No
"Posting to discuss the statements or behavior of a member or members on the board, or to criticize another discussion on the boards"

I'm not sure Deborah is criticizing anything. Are you Deborah?
I don't think Deborah is criticizing anything. I feel it IS important to look at what positive steps can be taken to help Waldorf.

Deborah, I'll give you an example of something positive that has happened in our Waldorf school. I only found out recently that I contributed to this, BTW... (I hope I'm not breaking a trust by telling this story - it was, after all, a private conversation).

Last year, I attended a PA meeting. On our break, we were directed to pair up with someone we didn't know and to find a quiet spot on the campus to talk and get to know each other. I paired up with the Director of Communications and Community Outreach - I knew who she was at the time but we had never really had a conversation. We started talking out by the garden and, naturally, I seized the opportunity to let her know how I felt about parents not getting a good understanding about Anthroposophy before they enter the school - and even as they are in the lower grades. I told her that I felt strongly that our school was being deceptive to prospective parents. I felt that she heard me.

Soon afterward, it was announced that our school would be hosting Anthroposophy 101 - Anthroposophists from the school would sit down one morning a week and talk with parents and prospective parents about Anthroposophy, what it is and what it means to them. I have never attended one of these so I don't know what is being said, I assume it is very basic stuff, but the parents seem to be coming away with an understanding and a positive feeling about what they are hearing.

So, here, Deborah, is a positive suggestion you can take to your grandchildren's Waldorf school. All it took for me to make a positive change was to talk to the right person and have them hear me (OK, the second part is not always easy). Anyway, ask them to offer, as a community outreach/parental awareness program, weekly lectures about Anthroposophy. This completely turns around the complaints many critics have about Waldorf schools and it will help point the Waldorf movement in the right direction.

Is this the type of positive suggestions you were looking for?

Pete
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#7 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 03:36 AM
 
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Not a direct quote, but something I have said several times: I believe that if all Waldorf schools were totally upfront about the school and the education system's deep connection to anthroposophy, there would be fewer unhappy parents, as people more people would truly know going into a school what the school is about. IME, Waldorf PR glosses over anthroposophy to a disingenous degree. More transparency, early on.

Waldorf is not just about "the spirit" of children--its about viewing "the spirit" in a very specific framework:anthroposophy. But that's simply not made clear enough.
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#8 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, those are both helpful pieces.

I just found out this morning that my granddaughter's school suffered a huge fire on the 6th! Luckily they had an alarm system, the fire department came, called 4 other departments and the fire was contained and then put out. About $50,000 in damage, mostly to the exterior of the building. An electrical problem with an exterior light.

The school will still be able to open on time.

Nana
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#9 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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On the other hand:

The idea that waldorf should be more open about anthroposophy is not a new one. I agree totally.

I'm just disappointed that two weeks of open criticism and discussion of waldorf has resulted in the basically the same old, same old. I've heard a lot of arguments over the years that "shutting out" the critics hurts waldorf. Well, Mothering has been kind enough to host an open discussion of waldorf for a good two weeks or so and so far the outcome isn't super impressive.

Come on, isn't there anything else that emerged during the discussions here? Positive, constructive, only. I'm all too familiar with the negative comments on waldorf and anthroposophy...

Nana
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#10 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 12:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deborah
On the other hand:

The idea that waldorf should be more open about anthroposophy is not a new one. I agree totally.

I'm just disappointed that two weeks of open criticism and discussion of waldorf has resulted in the basically the same old, same old. I've heard a lot of arguments over the years that "shutting out" the critics hurts waldorf. Well, Mothering has been kind enough to host an open discussion of waldorf for a good two weeks or so and so far the outcome isn't super impressive.

Come on, isn't there anything else that emerged during the discussions here? Positive, constructive, only. I'm all too familiar with the negative comments on waldorf and anthroposophy...

Nana
It depends on what you mean by "positive" I suppose. Two people who were hurt by their treatment at Waldorf schools were able to articulate and release that suffering for the first time - here on this forum. I'd call that positive. Many other people have expressed that they have changed their minds about enrolling their children in Waldorf after hearing the other side of the issue. These are, in all likelyhood, people who would have started in Waldorf only to become disappointed - maybe they would have become prolific critics. I'd call it positive - that they were spared this experience. And we don't know how many people who have been lurking, and have not expressed an opinion one way or the other, may have been surprized to find opposing opinions. Thousands of people have viewed some of these threads. They have gotten a different view of Waldorf - maybe one that Waldorf should own up to. I can't imagine that information (you ARE a librarian, right ) would be considered anything BUT positive.

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#11 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 12:36 PM
 
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I got a knot in my stomach, took a break from here and spent more time with family. That is positive, isn't it?
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#12 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 01:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
I got a knot in my stomach, took a break from here and spent more time with family. That is positive, isn't it?
On SO many levels

Pete
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#13 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 06:29 PM
 
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I think something good that came out of the two weeks of Waldorf questioning were all of what Pete said (I was one of the people who got to voice their experience) but also the fact that I am still able to maintain a perspective of wanting to help the Waldorf movement.

Because Mothering, and those on the thread gave me a safe place to voice my family's experience, learn a little more about Steiner in a realistic and balanced fashion (showing positive and negatives) I was able to come to a place where I felt like starting the

"Waldorf Resources and Ideas (Support/Positive Only Please)"

thread. I don't think I could have done that if I felt I still had my unresolved issues and frustration at being silenced for so long.

Thanks to Mothering and all of you!

Long live this forum, community, unconditional support and lovely heated debates in the search for understanding! :
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#14 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 06:32 PM
 
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Now, let's see. When I taught in a Waldorf school we held class meetings once a month to get the parents in to actually do what the kids were doing. I gave them mini lessons in the same subject matter like watercolor, beeswax, speech (that was a fun one), etc.

The parents really bonded and I bonded with them, too. Much more fun for everyone!
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#15 of 17 Old 08-07-2005, 10:13 PM
 
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I don't know if this is positive or not, but y'all are making me work much harder than I usually have to in the Learning at
School forums!!

I appreciate that, though it has been heated at times, almost everyone has been willing to edit, change tone, and settle down so that the conversation could proceed.

Since I am a clinical social worker by training, I have been working hard to maintain the perspective that this is a 'group' that needs to struggle to find common ground and continue on the path of treating each other with respect. In The Different Drum, Scott Peck talks about community as not being valid unless people of differing persepectives can be embraced just as solidly as people with same perspectives.

I have been learning a lot about patience as this has been going along! (That is definitely positive as I need to get more patient....just ask my kids!)

 
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#16 of 17 Old 08-08-2005, 10:10 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
On SO many levels

Pete

No it is not. What you all have experienced is not even remotely like what our family has experienced. If one were just to read those posts one would get a very unbalanced view of Waldorf IMO. That is what gives me knots in my stomach but frankly I don't have the time or energy to run around and offer a counter viewpoint, so I don't anymore. It just depressed me.
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#17 of 17 Old 08-08-2005, 11:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
No it is not. What you all have experienced is not even remotely like what our family has experienced. If one were just to read those posts one would get a very unbalanced view of Waldorf IMO. That is what gives me knots in my stomach but frankly I don't have the time or energy to run around and offer a counter viewpoint, so I don't anymore. It just depressed me.
Your statement "I got a knot in my stomach, took a break from here and spent more time with family. That is positive, isn't it? "
It's positive that you took a break. It's positive that you spent more time with your family. It's positive that your family got to spend more time with you. That's SO many levels of positive.

FWIW, I'm trying to (finally) present a balanced view of Waldorf - and considering my experience was unbalanced toward the negative, it's a lot of work for me to continually have to say - not all Waldorf schools are like this - or to have to soften everything I say. If my view isn't balanced enough, it's up to others to provide that balance. I'm not here as a moderator - I'm here as an opinionated participant on this forum. Maybe your assessment that I am responsible for the imbalance is a little unfair. I really can't help it if people who represent the supportive side of Waldorf are not holding up their end. And if you look at the number of reads on the "support only" threads, there doesn't seem to be as much interest in "support only" viewpoints as there is in the more critical stuff.

Sorry for the knots in your stomach.

Pete
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