A Critical Review of Waldorf Resources - Page 6 - Mothering Forums

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#151 of 165 Old 11-04-2005, 02:21 PM
 
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There are actually two main "streams" involved in criticism of waldorf. One is Christian and the other is secular humanist. It may seem odd for them to work together (it does to me), but the same alignment of forces has joined together to attack alternative medicine. The first public critique of waldorf in the U.S. was published in a secular humanist publication.

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#152 of 165 Old 11-04-2005, 03:31 PM
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Aha! Actually I had no idea what secular humanism was so I went to secularhumanism.org and found this.


It is:
Quote:
A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.

there is more. the def also talks about a constant search for truth and using critical reasoning rather than faith to seek answers to human questions.

So, waldorf critics, where are your comments? Eagerly awaiting being informed.
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#153 of 165 Old 11-04-2005, 11:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yinsum
Jen if you check your school's website click on Waldorf Info and then click Rudolf Steiner then under the first paragraph comes the heading Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy. Just thought I'd double check the site you mentioned
That is barely a mention at all! It is there, though...

Quote:
Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a respected and well-published scientist and thinker, with particular fame for his work with Goethe's scientific writings. The roots of Waldorf Education come from the spiritual-scientific research of Steiner. According to Steiner's "Anthroposophy", a human is a threefold being of body, soul, and spirit, whose capacities unfold in developmental stages on the path to adulthood
In my opinion, that would not be enough to let me know that the entire education at a Waldorf school is Anthroposophy-based. I mean, if the founder of another school happened to be Catholic and the school's website mentioned it once (seemingly as a side note), I certainly wouldn't expect the education at this school to be based on Catholicism.
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#154 of 165 Old 11-05-2005, 12:01 AM
 
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Boongirl you may find fewer agenda-focused critics on the subforum these days. We are focusing on healthy sharing of information and discussion without calling forward people who just want to debate. I hope that makes sense to you. There are plenty of old threads to review various points of view.

 
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#155 of 165 Old 11-05-2005, 01:13 AM
 
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Hmmm... I don't know if I qualify as a Waldorf critic, I'm simply someone who was interested in Waldorf and amazed and shocked at what I found. I figured I'd answer these questions for myself and make some comments about my own beliefs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
I then spent some time at the PJI website. They define themselves as " a legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties." Further digging found that they support legalizing christian evangelizing in public schools and offer support to pastors and other christian leaders as to how they can affect policy in public schools. They also support efforts to ban abortion.
I've never been to the PJI website but I will mention that I do NOT "support legalizing christian evangelizing in public schools", au contraire, I am strongly, completely against it. Can't even stand the idea of ten commandments in the classroom. I am also pro-choice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
So, this all brings me to some more questions for those who are critical of waldorf. Let me first say that I am asking respectfully.

1. How has your own christian or other religious views affected your opinions of Waldorf?
I am not Christian. I am not affiliated with any religious group and I do not fall under any religious category. I am not atheist, either. I suppose the fact that I specifically and adamantly do not subscribe to any particular religious doctrine definitely influences my opinions of Waldorf...the parts of Waldorf that I like have nothing to do with religious beliefs...the fact that so much of it seems to be based on what I see to be a religion, Anthroposophy, is a HUGE reason why I would never send my children to a Waldorf school.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
2. Is your negative experience with Waldorf related to your religion?
My main experience with Waldorf is having friends & family involved or interested in Waldorf, which led me to be interested in it further, which led me to this board.

The negativity that I have found with Waldorf is mostly due to Steiner quotes...I won't buy Mitsubishi because in the 80s they had horrible environmental policies and I don't forgive them for that...I don't buy VW because they once supported the Nazi Party and I suspect it's possible that they still have those sympathies, I don't buy Mobil/Exxon gas because of their extremely poor reactions after the Valdez oil spill, and I won't support Waldorf because of Steiner's horrible quotes regarding race...his suggestions that teachers are karmically destined to be more important to the students than their parents, his suggestions to teachers that they not call the morning verses 'prayers' but verses so as to not have parents up in arms, thinking they were pushing anthroposophy on the children (which they were).

I also hate the idea of eurythmy, seems absolutely creepy to me and it seems unethical that it is the main physical education taught throughout the years and indeed, every year, etc.

Has nothing to do with my religion...though perhaps a little with the fact that I am not an anthroposophist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
3. Do you believe that Waldorf is a cult or that anthroposophy is an occult religion?
Anthroposophy seems possibly cult-like but I'm not convinced that it's a cult. Now...Scientology seems particularly cult-like to me, Moonies are cult members, Mormons seem iffy to me...even Landmark Forum seems extremely cult-like to me... I'm not convinced that Anthroposophy is a cult... not yet anyway. From what I have read, some Waldorf schools seem sort of cult-like, "my way or the highway" and don't question, just do. Constant sing songy voices from teachers...that seems a little over the top, too. Hey, I'm a cheery friendly person with little kids and I definitely use cutesy voices speaking to little ones at times, but I'm always 100% sincere about it...I just know that I couldn't keep that up constantly though...so it seems to me, to be a very insincere quality in a teacher.

As for occult, yes, Anthroposophy is definitely occult-based...is there really any debate or question about that? I'm fairly certain that Anthroposophy does not debate that and Steiner admitted clearly to being an occultist, correct? Some Waldorfians seem to say that Waldorf is not pushing Anthroposophy on its students, that they are teaching about all types of religions to the students, and some Waldorfians readily admit to Waldorf being Anthroposophy. I know both types of Waldorfians, personally. This contradiction seems...I don't know...wacky, for lack of a better term, to me. And these are people I know in real life...without even getting into the disparities apparent on this board.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
Just curious because religious beliefs could explain a lot about why some have strong negative opinions of Waldorf and some do not.
I can't speak for any others that I have seen post "critiques" of Waldorf or their Waldorf experiences, but I haven't seen anything that would suggest to me that they are speaking from the point of views of their religions. I have read many specifics criticisms of experiences in their relative schools though...with varying stories. It always amazed me, actually, when some pro-Waldorf posters seem to yell and scream at these people, trying to invalidate their experiences. I think each poster has the absolute right to the validity of their experiences and the right to tell them to others.

Life is a learning experience...since we can't all do anything, hopefully we can learn from reading and hearing about others experiences. Actually, I just took my children to a Waldorf playgroup yesterday and they had a marvelous time with a bunch of other wonderful preschool aged children. Yet I would never enroll them in a Waldorf preschool or elementary. That's my own personal choice.
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#156 of 165 Old 11-05-2005, 01:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lauren
Boongirl you may find fewer agenda-focused critics on the subforum these days. We are focusing on healthy sharing of information and discussion without calling forward people who just want to debate. I hope that makes sense to you. There are plenty of old threads to review various points of view.
Ah, I just posted then saw this.

Then again, I have no agenda. Just an interest in Waldorf.
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#157 of 165 Old 11-05-2005, 01:46 AM
 
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In my opinion, that would not be enough to let me know that the entire education at a Waldorf school is Anthroposophy-based. I mean, if the founder of another school happened to be Catholic and the school's website mentioned it once (seemingly as a side note), I certainly wouldn't expect the education at this school to be based on Catholicism.
I don't know, Riversky, I think that the school website you were referring to earlier made it very clear that Waldorf schools are "rooted" in Anthroposophy:

Quote:
The roots of Waldorf Education come from the spiritual-scientific research of Steiner. According to Steiner's "Anthroposophy", a human is a threefold being of body, soul, and spirit, whose capacities unfold in developmental stages on the path to adulthood
I think I'm a bit like you in that I don't want any religion in public schools at all (or in courthouses!), but at the same time, the thought of Anthroposophy in private Waldorf schools doesn't bother me much. I realize that it's a trade-off between the things I love about Waldorf education and their wackiness. I still think the good outweighs the bad compared to public schools. And being a cynical atheist I have no fear of my dd becoming an anthroposophist. That is one thing I wonder about, though: do the kids buy into the weird beliefs when the parents don't? I suppose that's another topic...
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#158 of 165 Old 11-05-2005, 11:41 AM
 
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Let me clarify my comment made earlier. MDC members that are at MDC to be part of the whole community are more than welcome to discuss the pros and cons of Waldorf, respectfully and in accordance with the UA. Healthy discussion is an important part of the whole community. What we are steering away from is when members join just for the purpose of debating Waldorf-- pro or con-- and don't even seem aware that they are within a larger community. Peggy has decided not to host that here at MDC.

Parents who are struggling with educational decisions have always been able to critically discuss those options, and this will continue.

I hope I am coming across clearly. I want to make sure people know they can analyze Waldorf education for its strengths and faults, just like any other type of educational option.

 
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#159 of 165 Old 11-05-2005, 12:18 PM
 
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Personally I don't look at what Waldorf does as religious but more in a mythical light such as Jungian philosphy. Waldorf for me, speaks to the mythical archetypes found in all of our subconciousness.

It begins with Fairy Tales which are ancient folk tales, progresses to Aesop's fables and saint stories, to the Old Testement and Norse Tales, to Greek myths, to Roman myths and on up through history, taking a more historical and less mythical view of things as the children become older. Major European holidays are celebrated because the schools started in Europe: Michelmas, Martinmas (lantern walk), Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, Twelth Night, Easter, May Day, etc. All of this is goes on while also holidays from the Jewish calender are celebrated in 3rd grade.

In our school, the children learn Spanish and Japanese so many Mexican and Japanese holidays are celebrated also - The Day of the Dead, Doll Festival, Children's Day, etc. Many of the blatantly Christian holidays have been changed at our school to what I think they hope is more ecumenical holidays: Advent - Soltice, Easter parade - Spring Parade, etc. Also, a lot of these festivals drop off as the children get older (Easter Parade/ Spring Parade is solely the Kindergartens, Advent/Winter/Soltice Spiral is K - 3, Lantern Walk is K -2). We get complaints from Christian parents when festivals are changed in name from Christian to what they see as Pagan. Also, many of teachers celebrate Kwanzaa as a way to bring African American and African culture into the classroom. Along with telling African folk tales and Persian folk tales in 1st and 2nd grade.

I know that in other countries and in other schools where other languages are taught, other holidays are celebrated. In Israeli Waldorf schools, Jewish Holidays are emphasized. The festival schedule adjusts to address the archetypes within the children. This I think, is more of a challenge in the US, because we are a nation of immigrants from all over the world.
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#160 of 165 Old 11-05-2005, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverSky
I can't speak for any others that I have seen post "critiques" of Waldorf or their Waldorf experiences, but I haven't seen anything that would suggest to me that they are speaking from the point of views of their religions. I have read many specifics criticisms of experiences in their relative schools though...with varying stories. It always amazed me, actually, when some pro-Waldorf posters seem to yell and scream at these people, trying to invalidate their experiences. I think each poster has the absolute right to the validity of their experiences and the right to tell them to others.
Thank you for clafifying your beliefs. Definitely has given me ideas to look for in researching more about waldorf schools.


And, thank you too, to Lauren and Rhonwyn for your thoughts.

This is a great discussion. Has really opened my mind.
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#161 of 165 Old 11-06-2005, 12:06 PM
 
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I'm glad. No one should chose any education system for their child without their eyes wide open and their mind also. Good luck in your search!
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#162 of 165 Old 11-06-2005, 02:37 PM
 
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Boongirl <So, this all brings me to some more questions for those who are critical of waldorf. Let me first say that I am asking respectfully.
Just curious because religious beliefs could explain a lot about why some have strong negative opinions of Waldorf and some do not.>

Hi Boongirl!
Although I have said in many posts that there is allot I like about Waldorf education, I could not in all honesty say that I can recommend it without allot of reservations. This is because of what I experienced when my son was in Waldorf schools for 3 and ½ years. So in answer to your questions:

<1. How has your own Christian or other religious views affected your opinions of Waldorf?>

I was initially drawn to Waldorf because I liked what I knew about anthroposophy.
I was raised Catholic. After rejecting Catholicism for years I have made peace with it. I also have done Yoga for years so I am open to allot yogi ideas such as the idea of reincarnation. I believe there are truths in many religions. For that reason I felt comfortable with allot of Steiner’s ideas.

<2. Is your negative experience with Waldorf related to your religion?>

In no way. I knew about anthroposophy years before I enrolled my son in a Waldorf school.

<3. Do you believe that Waldorf is a cult or that anthroposophy is an occult religion?>

No to both of those. It is not a cult although some of the members some times act like they are in a cult in that they take Anthroposophy for an absolute truth. Whether it is Occult or not depends on where you are coming from. A born again Christian might say Anthroposophy is Occult. For me I agree with those who call it "esoteric Christianity".

My reservations with Waldorf education are only indirectly related to Anthroposophy in that I feel the Waldorf teachers should have more training than just the works of Rudolf Steiner. I think Steiner was very enlightened for his time and he had many good ideas,but like allot of clairvoyant people, he was on some of the time but certainly not all of the time. I think Waldorf teachers should study about other forms of education as well as other types of child development theories. They absolutely, positively should up date themselves about things that were not around in Steiner's time(or where but not identified yet) like ADD, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Dyslexia,Dyspraxia, and just in general learn more about different learning variations instead of just saying a child is "not incarnating properly in their bodies” every time there is a problem.

The other reason I and allot of the parents I knew pulled their children out of The Waldorf schools that my son was in is all the unsupervised free play. There was just too much bullying, hitting, and bad behaviour going on with not enough intervention. I might have thought this was just the schools my son was in (in different parts of the country because we moved) but I read the” Bullying in Waldorf schools” thread and there was allot there that sounded very familiar to me. I think if you read that tread it puts in a nutshell many of the things I don’t like about Waldorf Ed. I especially was touched about all the times I read about children being considered "a problem" in Waldorf schools and then excelling once they changed schools. My son is also now one of those children.
Lorraine
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#163 of 165 Old 11-13-2005, 03:53 PM
 
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Just my opinion:

What a very nice thing to say and I am glad it worked out for your family-regardless of the direction! Information is always a good thing, and censoring it is not. I am glad some of Pete's hard work has taken a positive effect on people. I know it helped me and my son...

Beansavi

Quote:
Originally Posted by RubyWild
Pete, I've been meaning to come and thank you. We had always planned to homeschool, but then had an offer to pay for private school and were very seriously considering Waldorf. We had been to several open houses, puppet shows, a May festival.

I came here and saw your posts and realized that while I was impressed with some things, I had this niggling feeling that something was wrong with the particular Waldorf school I was visiting. Based on what you have been saying here, I began asking different questions and talking to Waldorf parents and was able to determine that this Waldorf school is not right for us. They were hiding their religious philosophy from us, among other things.

My Dh is very relieved because he has always wanted to homeschool, but I had some doubts.

One more thing, after talking to one Waldorf parent - who happened to be an acquaintance of mine from more than 20 years ago - this parent began having her own doubts and has since put her Dd into Montessori.

So, Pete, you are having and impact.
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#164 of 165 Old 11-14-2005, 09:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jalilah
The other reason I and allot of the parents I knew pulled their children out of The Waldorf schools that my son was in is all the unsupervised free play. There was just too much bullying, hitting, and bad behaviour going on with not enough intervention. I might have thought this was just the schools my son was in (in different parts of the country because we moved) but I read the” Bullying in Waldorf schools” thread and there was allot there that sounded very familiar to me. I think if you read that tread it puts in a nutshell many of the things I don’t like about Waldorf Ed. I especially was touched about all the times I read about children being considered "a problem" in Waldorf schools and then excelling once they changed schools. My son is also now one of those children.
Lorraine

I am sorry that this is what you experienced. I think this can be a problem at a lot of Waldorf schools because of lack of supervision. Our school has done a lot to increase the supervision during playtimes. The parents have to be reminded though, that the teachers on the playground are there to supervise not chat with the parents. Also, the teachers remind the parents that at all school events, the parents are in charge of their children not the teachers. I have seen the most problems when the parents are in charge.
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#165 of 165 Old 11-17-2005, 03:44 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
I am sorry that this is what you experienced. I think this can be a problem at a lot of Waldorf schools because of lack of supervision. Our school has done a lot to increase the supervision during playtimes. The parents have to be reminded though, that the teachers on the playground are there to supervise not chat with the parents. Also, the teachers remind the parents that at all school events, the parents are in charge of their children not the teachers. I have seen the most problems when the parents are in charge.
Rhonwyn,
I want to say that I really appreciate your sensitivity and understanding!

The things that happened were not when the parents were supervising but in the class, things we heard from the children but did not see ourselves.

I have written in other posts that I think times have changed since Rudolf Steiner was alive. In those days it was the norm for children when not in school to have allot of unstructured free play. My mother who grew up in the 1930s talks about her summers that were spent the entire time outdoors playing with only children and no adult supervision. They had no toys only playing with objects likes sticks and rocks. Nowadays when we are afraid to let our children out alone on the street, it is so different. Children are not used to that much freedom anymore. In Steiner's time most people still lived in extended families. Not so now a days. Sadly many children are not used to dealing with many children at once.
This could be why there are often problems during the free play in Steiner schools.
Lorraine
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