In plain English -- how does anthrosophy affect what kids are taught - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 62 Old 08-29-2005, 05:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Stripping it of all the philosophical/religious verbiage, what does that really mean to my child if he attends to a Waldorf school? How does it affect how he is taught?

I mean, as an example, if he had a teacher that was Jewish or Islamic or pagan or believed in reincarnation or believed that aliens spoke to her through her dental fillings, in reality, if she kept that separate from her teachings, it doesn't really make a difference to my son or to me. It may affect her approach to teaching, so a Quaker history teacher would probably not teach military strategy and a Hindu home-ec teacher would probably not prepare a lot of roast beef in school. But it's different than the Quaker teacher teaching that all war is wrong and pacifism is the only way or the Hindu teacher teaching that people who eat cows are evil.

So, in most Waldorf schools, is anthrosophy just a basis from which teachers formulate their teaching philosophies or does it infiltrate everything they do? Are they (sorry if I offend) like Scientologists or Kabbalaists, looking to convert every person they can to their POV?

How do I tell which occurs at the school I'm looking at?

And, for that matter, what is the basic philosophy of anthrosophy?

In case you didn't read my other thread, I'm just looking for a wonderful school that celebrates my child's unique spirit, encourages his creative side, allows him to play like a child without stifling his growth, and accepts his serious business like side and love of transportation vehicles and bugs. I don't need one with a philosophy just like mine, as long as they don't push a philosophy contrary to mine, KWIM?

Whew, I'm longwinded. Sorry

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#2 of 62 Old 08-29-2005, 08:11 AM
 
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Hi,

As far as their work in the classroom goes, Waldorf teachers are caring adults and their particular beliefs really aren’t going to affect the overall education children will receive. Some will point to anthroposophy in the curriculum itself as a major problem, but as long as you’re comfortable with what the school’s teaching, then that’s not an issue. BTW: in a nutshell, Anthroposophy is an esoteric Christian system of belief. The curriculum and the school festivals have been constructed and organized to reflect those beliefs. As an example: the first festival of the new school year is ‘Michalmas’. The archangel Michael, according to Steiner and Anthroposophy, is the Time Spirit who works with humanity on Christ’s behalf (a lot like Rumsfield-Bush the last few years).

It’s in the teacher-parent interaction that the philosophy can get in the way. Generally, the larger the school, the more anthroposophical fundamentalists you’re bound to run into and even bump up against. I would suggest speaking with as many of the teachers and admin people as possible, before enrolling. If you feel your questions aren’t being answered openly and honestly or taken seriously, or if you get the sense that individuals are acting a bit stuck-up or behaving in a condescending manner, then you’ve come across one of those schools you’d be better off avoiding.
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#3 of 62 Old 08-29-2005, 01:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sntm
Stripping it of all the philosophical/religious verbiage, what does that really mean to my child if he attends to a Waldorf school? How does it affect how he is taught?
Waldorf teaches (you may find this slogan on many Waldorf websites) 'from the inside out'. That means that through spiritual exercises, whether in painting or in dance, they believe they are bringing the spiritual world into your child and allowing your child to incarnate into the physical world. Your child, from the way you are describing him, is more interested in bringing the outside, physical world, into himself - his interest in bugs for example. This could be the cause of some concern for Waldorf teachers.

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So, in most Waldorf schools, is anthrosophy just a basis from which teachers formulate their teaching philosophies or does it infiltrate everything they do? Are they (sorry if I offend) like Scientologists or Kabbalaists, looking to convert every person they can to their POV?
It infiltrates everything they do, from the way they dress and walk to the tone of their voice. Every expression is (or should be) controlled and the chances of finding a Waldorf kindergarten teacher who will burst out in laughter at something funny a child has done are quite slim.
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How do I tell which occurs at the school I'm looking at?
I agree with Alanoe on this one - trust your instincts and ask lots of questions. Observe as much as possible - especially the environment you are putting your child into. Think about what your child would enjoy, and it may not necessarily be what you would enjoy.
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And, for that matter, what is the basic philosophy of anthrosophy?
I don't know if there is a nutshell explanation that would be any better than what Alanoe provided. Esoteric Christianity.
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In case you didn't read my other thread, I'm just looking for a wonderful school that celebrates my child's unique spirit,
I'd be concerned here. There is a tendency toward conformity - look at the pictures on the walls in the first and second grade classrooms.
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encourages his creative side,
Again, a problem especially in the early years (IMO).
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allows him to play like a child without stifling his growth,
He may get to climb more trees than other schools will permit - I'll give them that... and some more progressive teachers will encourage good healthy play.
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and accepts his serious business like side and love of transportation vehicles and bugs.
No - sorry, chances are great these will not be acceptable. Too intellectual on the bugs and the transportation vehicles are too Ahrimanic (the demon of all things mechanical). He will, in all likelyhood, not be allowed to produce drawings or paintings of trucks - only spiritual shapes early on, hills, trees, flowers a bit later. No trucks.
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I don't need one with a philosophy just like mine, as long as they don't push a philosophy contrary to mine, KWIM?
I'd say, think of what you know your child needs - and make sure what they push is in accordance with what he needs. It doesn't sound (to me) like your child is going to get a lot out of painting a horizon (division of heaven and earth) every day for a week. My opinion, of course.

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#4 of 62 Old 08-29-2005, 03:04 PM
 
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Hi

What great questions

I can only speak from my experience as a Waldorf parent. Ours is a large and very established school. Many of the faculty have been teaching at the school for decades.

The goal of the education is to develop what anthroposophists call the "free human being". This is a inner quality, a freedom in thinking, feeling and action that comes from the self. This is the mission, the outcome you might call it--the "free human being".

I don't think that this concept is as troublesome to us today as it was to the mainstream in 1920 Germany, and probably most other places, where state-sponsored schools were intended to produce a certain kind of "useful" citizen, or religious schools which were supposed to transmit a very particular theological dogma and belief, conditioning the students to proscribed religious allegiances.

Anthroposophists do not have any prescribed set of beliefs, but I think it's pretty much universal that they believe that human beings have a spiritual self as well as a physical self. My children have never been taught anything in particular about the nature of the spiritual self, it isn't really defined. But they were given the image that spirit can exist independent of the physical reality that we can see, hear, touch, etc. They hear about angels in stories, and there are LOTS of stories which come from a diverse array of historical religious traditions. All the stories are treated 100% equally, and they have come from ancient Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Babylonian mythology, from the Old Testament, from Islam, Buddhism, Native American, and Christian. One of their teachers occasionally talks offhandedly about angels from a more personal angle. For example, she would say something like, "Thank heaven the bad weather has cleared and we'll be able to go on the hike after all! Maybe the angels were looking out for us today." That's about it.

As far as "religious" festivals go, we have Michaelmas, which again is consistent with the traditional St Michael's Day festival, one of the so-called "Christian Feast Days" which, like *many* religious festivals, was probably a European pagan equinox celebration originally and later "Christianized" by medieval missionaries. Since it conveniently tied together with the end-of-harvest celebration, the Feast of St Michael continued to be quite popular in parts of Europe long after most of the others were forgotten.

And at Christmas time, there is a "Shepards Play". The other school-wide festivals have no religious elements at all. But at certain ages, when it fits the curriculum really, there will be some for just that particular age. For example, in the 5th grade when they learn Hindu stories from India, the students celebrated Diwali, 2nd grade St Martin's Day, and in 3rd grade they celebrated the Sukkoth. In 5th Grade they participate in a Greek Pentathalon, and each composes a poem to honor the Greek Gods for that day. The younger aged children also celebrate the Advent Spiral, which is essentially a "festival of light" which has more of an individually contemplative quality to it than an identifiably religious one.

Besides the traditional biblical story of St Michael and the Dragon, which the children have heard in kindergarten and revisit on Michaelmas Day, there really is nothing in the classroom which I would say ties in with this esoteric Christian theology that was mentioned. Again, they hear the Bible story with the European traditional medieval folk twist, not some anthroposophically esoteric one. No time spirits, no Christ spirit working on humanity, nothing that I recall. St George is guided to slay the dragon by St Michael, consistent with the traditional story, and even though this is a Christian story, Christ's role isn't explored really.

I think this is a good article explaining the Waldorf schools philosophy and approach to the religious question. http://www.awsna.org/renchristian.html

You should ask for copies of the verses and blessings your child will be asked to recite. The children usually say a thanks before each meal, and they recite an inspirational verse each day together as a class.

Linda
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#5 of 62 Old 08-29-2005, 03:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LindaCl
As far as “religious” festivals go, we have Michaelmas, which again is consistent with the traditional St Michael's Day festival, one of the so-called “Christian Feast Days” which, like *many* religious festivals, was probably a European pagan equinox celebration originally and later “Christianized” by medieval missionaries. Since it conveniently tied together with the end-of-harvest celebration, the Feast of St Michael continued to be quite popular in parts of Europe long after most of the others were forgotten.

And at Christmas time, there is a “Shepards Play”. The other school-wide festivals have no religious elements at all.
Untrue. There are the festivals of St Martin’s, Santa Lucia, St. John’s, plus Mary in the midst of the Advent spiral (along with her portrait on the wall of the kindergarten and even first grade classroom). Not to mention the Paradise play (Adam and Eve) and The Three Kings play, *along with* the Shepherds play (Manger story) at Christmas. I was being generous when I said ‘esoteric Christian’. It’s really religious spirituality of the occult Christian variety. And that’s without even beginning to mention the curriculum itself – which in its entirely is esoteric Christian wisdom, in the form of educational pedogogy for children.

And no, the ‘Michaelmas’ Steiner and anthropsophists celebrate, has nothing to do with the pagan equinox. Heavens, it’s the very antithesis of all things pagan, given Steiner was anti-pagan. The Waldorf Michaelmas festival is Steiner’s appropriate-for-modern-spiritual-seekers, esoteric-Christian spiritual-warrior celebration. Steiner identified Michael as the ‘right hand of Christ’ – who with his sword and might will vanquish the evil that strives to turn us away from the Christ path. Nothing ‘feasty’ about any of that.
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#6 of 62 Old 08-29-2005, 04:01 PM
 
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Reading Pete's account prompts me to emphasize that this has NOT been our experience.

From the very earliest ages, interest in the outside world is *encouraged*, not *discouraged*. It's just that the adults aren't coaching the children how to *analyze* it. They are encouraged to experience it, to observe it, to gather it *all* up through the senses, touch, play, experiment, all of it. Silk worms were raised in the classroom, and the children were encouraged to interact with them every day. The teachers would engage with the children about what they see, how the worms behave, etc. They wouldn't go into analytical type abstracts about them however.

The same is true with the other animals, there are farm animals, there are wild squirrels, birds, caterpillars, frogs~~everything. They had a rabbit for awhile. And a turtle. If your child is interested in observing insects in the world, I would think this school would be heaven to him. If he's interested in observing them under a microscope, he wouldn't be getting it here.

And "conformity" is not the rule of the day. The exact opposite is true. The respect given to each individual child *as* an individual is exemplary, and you see the result in the student body.

There's too much made of the fact that much of the work Waldorf students do "looks alike". Waldorf is not a curriculum where each lesson is an exercise in purely free expression. Some are, but not everything. In Waldorf however, they do teach discipline and method, and many assignments are *meant* to conform contentwise.

But parents have a lot of opportunity to examine the other students work, and they are *not* all alike. There is more uniformity in terms of content in the early grades, 1st 2nd etc, than later. But by the later grades, there's relatively little really. Take the artwork. My son, for example, doesn't like to use intense color in his art work, preferring more monochromatic pallettes. Another student in his class works prefers to work with such intense colors that her artwork reminds me of gothic stain-glassed windows. Individual styles are expressed within the parameters of the particular assigments, such as following a given outline or such.

These issues are for much later on though. At the preschool my son attended, the children followed one another like little ducklings. What looks like "conformity" is actually completely age appropriate imitation. They naturally do what they see, they aren't "compelled" to much in the way of conformity, except to sit when it's time to sit or wash when it's time to wash and listen quietly when it's time to listen.

One little boy in the kindergarten class just loved firetrucks. A firetruck found it's way into almost every picture he colored. He played firetruck in the sandbox, he played it indoors with the blocks, he turned upside-down chairs into firetrucks and loaded fellow friends as firemen onto them. This wasn't *a problem*. If the child had no interest in anything else, maybe they'd have shown concern.

The only things that children were not allowed to play were cartoon or other media figures like Power Rangers or Star Wars. And they were not allowed to shoot guns or take up swords against one another, as in "Playing war". Oh, and they weren't allowed to harm creatures, as in having a Stomp Dance on top of an ant hill.

Linda
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#7 of 62 Old 08-29-2005, 07:37 PM
 
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alanoe
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Untrue.
Sigh...... Perhaps not in your school. In mine, it is.


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There are the festivals of St Martin’s,
Yes, in 2nd grade. I said this.

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Santa Lucia
My son heard the story in 2nd grade. It was one of the Christian stories I described. However, neither of my children celebrated it as a festival.

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St. John’s
St Johns is a holiday that falls in the summer. The students here aren't even in school.

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plus Mary in the midst of the Advent spiral
The Advent Spirals here have had a candle in the center of the spiral, no Mary. No mention of Mary.

Not really what I'd call a "festival", but in our K and 1st they did have an Advent Calendar, but it didn't dovetail really to the Advent Spiral. There were no identifiably suggestive Christian images whatsoever during the Advent Spiral, so I think it would be misleading to represent those ceremonies as Christian celebrations. The fact that it has no such overtones, of any kind really, made it quite universalist, imo, not strictly Christian.

The Advent Calendar was the traditional 'how many days until' theme, and they did hear the Christmas story of Mary and her baby, although it was surprisingly oblique considering how almost universally known this story is in our culture. "The baby" as brought to the kindergartens was something of an archetype, not really identified to the children as Jesus or the Christ.

But the Advent Spiral was completely open to individual interpretation. The candles are imagery of 'something', but what that 'something' is was whatever the individual themselves brought with them. No talk of Mary or her baby, there was very little said at all except in terms of one's "inner" light, which again, isn't defined.

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(along with her portrait on the wall of the kindergarten and even first grade classroom).
Yes, lovely and very motherly Renaissance portraits, Raffael I believe. I can't say for certain, but I strongly doubt that the students are told that the painting is of Mary. Mary is joined in first grade with paintings from storybooks like Old Mother Holle and Jorinda and Joringel. She's no longer there in the secod grade. In the 2nd grade, I remember a St George by I don't know who went up, joined with lively but definitely anthropomorphized animals from Aesops Fables. But in third grade it was replaced with Monet's Haystacks. I can't remember 4th grade exactly, but what I recall were lots of elaborate celtic type Viking designs, stylized nature images, highly geometric. By 5th grade, the walls became almost a kaliedoscope. Shiva/Vishnu/Brahma for a few months, or Horus-Isis-Osiris, Siddhartha and the Tree of Enlightenment. Paintings of explorers and ships were up for awhile too. In 6th grade there were lots of knights and castles. In 7th, Da Vinci, sketches of flying machines, Vitruvian Man, and an unflinching self portrait as an old man. In 8th, Escher's hands, Neoclassical architecture, Winslow Homer's tumultuous "Herring Net".

In our school, all the paintings are treated the same way, there's nothing particularly special about Mary's portrait. Each work of art chosen (and the teacher chooses) are seen to "speak" to something in the students, and are chosen with sensitivity to the special qualities of their inner nature at that particular age. The paintings must have great aesthetic value as art as well.

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Not to mention the Paradise play (Adam and Eve) and The Three Kings play,
This school hasn't done these. Are you talking about a children's performance? If so, yes. In third grade my son played Pharoah in the story of the "Flight from Egypt". But this was in conjunction with the curriculum. Every year, except 8th, their plays have been chosen to relate to the curriculum. For example, in 4th grade, he played Loki, in 6th grade a character from Chaucer.

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I was being generous when I said ‘esoteric Christian’. It’s really religious spirituality of the occult Christian variety. And that’s without even beginning to mention the curriculum itself – which in its entirely is esoteric Christian wisdom, in the form of educational pedogogy for children.
Could you be more specific about what form this takes in the classroom? In nothing I've seen would I characterize the curriculum as "esoteric Christian wisdom", but maybe we just don't share the same concept of what that means.

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And no, the ‘Michaelmas’ Steiner and anthropsophists celebrate, has nothing to do with the pagan equinox. Heavens, it’s the very antithesis of all things pagan, given Steiner was anti-pagan. The Waldorf Michaelmas festival is Steiner’s appropriate-for-modern-spiritual-seekers, esoteric-Christian spiritual-warrior celebration. Steiner identified Michael as the ‘right hand of Christ’ – who with his sword and might will vanquish the evil that strives to turn us away from the Christ path. Nothing ‘feasty’ about any of that.
I don't know, or care really, what Steiner and the anthroposophists felt they were (or are) celebrating.

I was just talking about what my children received in their school. This was what I think sntm was looking for. At this school, the students experience the folk-traditional Michaelmas/harvest festival. I was simply providing the historical background to Michaelmas, St Michaels Day, which I think Europeans are more familiar with than Americans. Most historians do agree the holiday has its roots in pre-Christian pagan culture and later Christianized. Harvest festivals were originally pagan. Most Christian festivals are later adaptations to older annual pagan celebrations--a fact that led many post Reformation Christian purists to ban even holidays like Christmas altogether.
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#8 of 62 Old 08-29-2005, 08:34 PM
 
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O.K. So far, so good. Now consider whether sntm would really be interested in 2-3 members going back and forth and debating the finer points of each opinion. Most likely she would not. Each of you has expressed an opinion, there has been some clarification, and now there is room for additional, new opinions.

Just wanted to make sure a nice thread keeps moving along, well, nicely.....

 
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#9 of 62 Old 08-30-2005, 12:56 AM
 
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Hi Sntm,

I work in a Waldorf Charter school, which means that it is not as Waldorfy as Waldorf private schools. That being said, Anthroposophy is behind everything the school does. It's a religious school, much as someone would send their child to Catholic or Hebrew school - it's just more subtle and it's all connected with a child's development through education, whereas the art techniques taught in Catholic school don't have anything to do with a child's spirit.

Does that make sense?

Everything the school does is guided by Steiner's ideas about how education should support a child's spirit, and this is through the eyes of his created religion.

Now, on to the nitty gritty: Whether this bothers you or not depends on how you feel about religion being part of a school, how you see it affecting the children, and how you feel about Anthroposophy as it relates to children.

I, personally, am not an anthroposophist or Steiner fan. And what's nice about a Waldorf-style school that isn't private is that not all the teachers are. But they all agree on Steiner's educational philosophies. I like the emphasis on nature, and on the imagination, and on practicing thing slowly rather than rushing through them, using music to help learn, practicing fine motor and gross motor skills through craft and games, and on using the multiple intelligences to learn things. So when the children were learning about straight and curved lines on their first day of kindergarten, the teacher showed them on the board, had them draw them in the air, draw them on their neighbor's backs, draw them with their feet and chins, then draw with chalk, then go outside and find them in the buildings and nature.

But back to your question, I would not send my children to a Waldorf school unless it was very loosely based because I do not agree with Anthroposophy. However, I really enjoy being there and am learning many techniques that I can incorporate into my teaching outside of the school.

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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#10 of 62 Old 08-31-2005, 01:50 PM
 
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Pikku,
The school where you work sounds interesting. I personally think schools loosely based on Steiner's teachings might be the future for Waldorf schools. Honestly I think the problem with many of the "real" Waldorf Schools is that they feel they have adhere so strictly to everything Steiner said and wrote. They become too rigrid and closed-minded and this is in part where allot of the problems arise.

What in particular impressed me was:

[QUOTE=PikkuMyy]Hi Sntm,
<So when the children were learning about straight and curved lines on their first day of kindergarten, the teacher showed them on the board, had them draw them in the air, draw them on their neighbor's backs, draw them with their feet and chins, then draw with chalk, then go outside and find them in the buildings and nature.>

Wow, in both of the Waldorf schools that my son attended there was never as far as I know, any guidance like you described for the drawing and painting.
At 6 my son was still just scribbling and held the crayons or brush with an immature writing grip. They never corrected this. In fact they discouraged me from helping him, saying that this would all improve on his own when he was ready.
It did not. So when my son was 6 the teachers concluded that he was too immature to go on to first grade. Staying back in Kindergarten was a big mistake. My son was bored out of his brains with another year of kindergarten. He started acting up and refusing to participate in the circle games and eurhytmy(spelling?)(which he never really liked to begin with), which only made the teachers even more convinced that my son was still not ready for first grade. I finally got outside help and took my son to see an occupational therapist who confirmed that he had both fine and gross motor skill delays known as dyspraxia resulting form sensory integration problems. The OT confirmed that his motor skill delays, his inability to write or draw well would not get better on his own.
It is ironic that it was one of his kindergarten teachers who first suggested that my son see an Occupational therapist for once he started going to one they,the Waldorf teachers, disapproved of what she did. The OT usually liked to visit the schools of the children she was treating to see how they were doing and then give the teachers advise, but my sons teachers refused to even allow her to visit the class room! Finally some so called Waldorf "expert" on children with learning problems saw him and even made fun of the OTs report saying "what is dyspraxia? I can't even pronounce it!" This was the final straw for me. I pulled him out of Waldorf into Montessori. We continued seeing the OT. My son has made wonderful improvements since then. His writing and drawing are still "behind" his age level however to my great relief the Montessori teachers have no problem getting him to learn an to follow and do the work.

So it is interesting to read your post that Waldorf addresses fine and gross motor skills because I was under the impression going from our experiences, that they did not. Anyway the charter W schools sound like they might be better than the traditional ones!
Lorraine
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#11 of 62 Old 09-01-2005, 01:19 AM
 
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Hi Lorraine,

Thanks for sharing your story. From talking to other people, I have heard that private Waldorf schools do not have the capacity, nor do they want to , accept or deal with special needs students. They really want everyone to fit their mold or else... As you experienced.

Luckily, a charter school receives federal funding so children with SN get IEPs, there is a special ed teacher on residence at the school to help tailor the programs of any children there with special needs (and at my school there are quite a few), and funding for outside help like aides or special supplies, etc. This makes a huge difference. Plus, the school where I work is really dedicated to helping all children benefit from the Waldorf philosophy of teaching even if it has to be changed around a bit.

As you say, this doesn't normally happen, and I've heard other stories that back that up. But the charter schools are different. It also depends on the personality of the school leadership and teachers. You have to find the gems out there (like at my school!)

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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#12 of 62 Old 09-07-2005, 02:02 AM
 
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to the op- i think if you want to know, you should go find waldorf schools in your are and visit and ask questions and feel the vibes you get. really, as you may tell by the varied responses here, it really depends on the school and teacher what your son would get. i know what i feel waldorf education to be, but i could spend a lot of time telling you and in the end it would only be MY interpretation of it. and thats what youll get at any waldorf school, one particular teachers interpertation. the waldorf teachers i know personally are lovely people. full of love and joy for every child, as the child is. plenty of laughing and fun. a few of the teachers i have met professionally lean toward the dogmatic side- and i just ignore them .

for what its worth, two of my buddies are practising pagans and happy with the waldorf preschool their children attend. i do feel that spirituality is practised and taught- but what i see feels like a blend of paganism and christianity. as much reverence for the earth as for the heavens. to me, it all seems sweet and helpful to a childs sense of well being and increases their trust in the goodness of the world. dd comes home with stories of fairies and angels that love and protect her. from school dd brings home stories about how mother earth cares for her children. from home she brings stories of jesus to school. :LOL

i am sorry to hear a previous posters bad experience with the teacher letting dogma get in the way of helping a child. i know this is out there. such a shame because much of the waldorf approach is lovely. it is so dependent upon the teacher.
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#13 of 62 Old 09-16-2005, 03:35 AM
 
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As someone trained in Waldorf Ed. and who helped found and taught in a Waldorf School, I would say that all you need to know to answer your question is that

Waldorf Education is Anthroposophy. Literally.
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#14 of 62 Old 09-16-2005, 01:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
As someone trained in Waldorf Ed. and who help found and taught in a Waldorf School, I would say that all you need to know to answer your question is that

Waldorf Education is Anthroposophy. Literally.


Ah, the truth is sooooo refreshing. And so, the next question of course is "What is Anthroposophy?" - and I'm thinking it is the absolute responsibility of every parent interested in a Waldorf education for their child to find out.

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#15 of 62 Old 09-22-2005, 10:56 PM
 
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[QUOTE=jalilah]Pikku,
The school where you work sounds interesting. I personally think schools loosely based on Steiner's teachings might be the future for Waldorf schools. Honestly I think the problem with many of the "real" Waldorf Schools is that they feel they have adhere so strictly to everything Steiner said and wrote. They become too rigrid and closed-minded and this is in part where allot of the problems arise.

What in particular impressed me was:

Quote:
Originally Posted by PikkuMyy
Hi Sntm,
<So when the children were learning about straight and curved lines on their first day of kindergarten, the teacher showed them on the board, had them draw them in the air, draw them on their neighbor's backs, draw them with their feet and chins, then draw with chalk, then go outside and find them in the buildings and nature.>

Wow, in both of the Waldorf schools that my son attended there was never as far as I know, any guidance like you described for the drawing and painting.
At 6 my son was still just scribbling and held the crayons or brush with an immature writing grip. They never corrected this. In fact they discouraged me from helping him, saying that this would all improve on his own when he was ready.
It did not. So when my son was 6 the teachers concluded that he was too immature to go on to first grade. Staying back in Kindergarten was a big mistake. My son was bored out of his brains with another year of kindergarten. He started acting up and refusing to participate in the circle games and eurhytmy(spelling?)(which he never really liked to begin with), which only made the teachers even more convinced that my son was still not ready for first grade. I finally got outside help and took my son to see an occupational therapist who confirmed that he had both fine and gross motor skill delays known as dyspraxia resulting form sensory integration problems. The OT confirmed that his motor skill delays, his inability to write or draw well would not get better on his own.
It is ironic that it was one of his kindergarten teachers who first suggested that my son see an Occupational therapist for once he started going to one they,the Waldorf teachers, disapproved of what she did. The OT usually liked to visit the schools of the children she was treating to see how they were doing and then give the teachers advise, but my sons teachers refused to even allow her to visit the class room! Finally some so called Waldorf "expert" on children with learning problems saw him and even made fun of the OTs report saying "what is dyspraxia? I can't even pronounce it!" This was the final straw for me. I pulled him out of Waldorf into Montessori. We continued seeing the OT. My son has made wonderful improvements since then. His writing and drawing are still "behind" his age level however to my great relief the Montessori teachers have no problem getting him to learn an to follow and do the work.

So it is interesting to read your post that Waldorf addresses fine and gross motor skills because I was under the impression going from our experiences, that they did not. Anyway the charter W schools sound like they might be better than the traditional ones!
Lorraine
I just wanted to comment on this: Waldorf (traditional types) addressing fine and gross mortor skills...... it was only in FIRST GRADE that my sons teacher taught straight lines, circles etc. and focused on the actual skills involved there. If your son was being taught these in K then maybe it was too early for him. perhaps time was the helper and it wasnt necesarily the school and their opinion that he needed more time. Of course, I understand he had OT and PT to confirm/evaluate (but it's not like they're god's either.) What I'm trying to say is Each school is different, each teacher. While I do think the rididity in some 'traditional' schools can be a hindrance-- it is not always.
Therefore, No, Maybe charter schools of the waldorf type arent 'better'- simply different.
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#16 of 62 Old 09-23-2005, 11:28 AM
 
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Hi sntm
Plain english coming up - i'll tell you the things I like about how I see anthroposophy affecting how teachers at a waldorf school treat my child (IMHO as a parent expert only)

waldorf teachers believe that children are not in their class by coincidence - that they have all been brought together purposefully(ie by divine means) - that includes the whole class, their families and the teachers (and indeed that flows into the entire school community) How is this useful to me as a parent: it means that my sons kindy teacher treats the children with respect and there is an underlying feeling of rightness, community and purpose in their interactions.
Anthroposophists believe that after you die you experience all your interactions from the other persons perspective. How is this useful to me as a
parent: It means they are very kind to my child!
The teachers believe that children come with a destiny, that even as a small child they are a person to be encountered and understood for who they are and what they are bringing into this life. How is this useful to me as a parent: It means that my son's unique self and being is honoured, celebrated, cherished, nourished, upheld, protected and guided.

the teachers believe children should be given the opportunity to grow up slowly, take their time being "socialised" and "educated". They believe that excessively premature intellectual teaching methods are depleting to a childs life forces and they become prematurely aged as a result.(ie he will learn to read and write in class one instead of kindy!) How is this useful to me as a parent: it means my child in kindergarten gets to be in a peaceful oasis for a few hours each week before we plunge back into the everyday world of supermarkets and noise and the violent and overly sexual media imagery all around us. it means he gets to play and dream and watch bugs and paint and dig holes and cook and eat good food and get dirty and muddy and just be the kid that he is without any pressure to take on all the schoolwork,exams and rigorous testing which is just around the corner for the rest of his long life. it means he gets to slow down - and hey he is only five!

These beliefs also mean that some of the things they do in the school can seen odd, oldfashioned and unusual to the rest of us. You will have to work out for your self if you can see how the big beliefs translate intothe smaller actions and if you can live with them. For me it makes it so obvious why the walls are painted in soft shades, why the teachers are calm and constant intheir manner, why families are asked to restrict tv, why junk food is discouraged, why festivals and community is celebrated, why it is so right for our family.

Hope some of this helps and I hope it was plain enough. follow your heart and your hopes for your son
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#17 of 62 Old 09-23-2005, 02:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by littlebearsmum
Hi sntm
Plain english coming up - i'll tell you the things I like about how I see anthroposophy affecting how teachers at a waldorf school treat my child (IMHO as a parent expert only)

waldorf teachers believe that children are not in their class by coincidence - that they have all been brought together purposefully(ie by divine means) - that includes the whole class, their families and the teachers (and indeed that flows into the entire school community) How is this useful to me as a parent: it means that my sons kindy teacher treats the children with respect and there is an underlying feeling of rightness, community and purpose in their interactions.
Anthroposophists believe that after you die you experience all your interactions from the other persons perspective. How is this useful to me as a
parent: It means they are very kind to my child!
The teachers believe that children come with a destiny, that even as a small child they are a person to be encountered and understood for who they are and what they are bringing into this life. How is this useful to me as a parent: It means that my son's unique self and being is honoured, celebrated, cherished, nourished, upheld, protected and guided.

the teachers believe children should be given the opportunity to grow up slowly, take their time being "socialised" and "educated". They believe that excessively premature intellectual teaching methods are depleting to a childs life forces and they become prematurely aged as a result.(ie he will learn to read and write in class one instead of kindy!) How is this useful to me as a parent: it means my child in kindergarten gets to be in a peaceful oasis for a few hours each week before we plunge back into the everyday world of supermarkets and noise and the violent and overly sexual media imagery all around us. it means he gets to play and dream and watch bugs and paint and dig holes and cook and eat good food and get dirty and muddy and just be the kid that he is without any pressure to take on all the schoolwork,exams and rigorous testing which is just around the corner for the rest of his long life. it means he gets to slow down - and hey he is only five!

These beliefs also mean that some of the things they do in the school can seen odd, oldfashioned and unusual to the rest of us. You will have to work out for your self if you can see how the big beliefs translate intothe smaller actions and if you can live with them. For me it makes it so obvious why the walls are painted in soft shades, why the teachers are calm and constant intheir manner, why families are asked to restrict tv, why junk food is discouraged, why festivals and community is celebrated, why it is so right for our family.

Hope some of this helps and I hope it was plain enough. follow your heart and your hopes for your son
I think the question was - How does Anthroposophy affect what kids are taught? - I don't think the OP was asking about how it affects how kids are treated. And we've really explored how Anthroposophy affects what kids are actually taught in the Waldorf curriculum in the thread "Waldorf Curriculum - Good or Bad". It may be worth a look - because what kids are taught, as well as how they are taught and when they are taught, and even what they are not taught is greatly influenced by Anthroposophy - and as we have discovered in some cases, what they are taught IS Anthroposophy. And I'm not making a judgment here about whether Anthroposophy should be taught to children - but only that parents should know that it IS being taught.

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#18 of 62 Old 09-24-2005, 08:24 PM
 
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Yeah, IMO, Waldorf is Anthroposophy made into an educational curriculum.

We (trianed Waldorf teachers) were taught to respect the child's Karma with us more than the child's parents.

So, if the parents had problems with religion (i.e. 3rd grade Old Testament stories), then we were told to just teach the kid the "Truth" anyway, if not more subversively...
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#19 of 62 Old 09-30-2005, 04:18 PM
 
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Sorry this is off topic from the original poster's question however I need to address this:
<I just wanted to comment on this: Waldorf (traditional types) addressing fine and gross motor skills...... it was only in FIRST GRADE that my sons teacher taught straight lines, circles etc. and focused on the actual skills involved there. If your son was being taught these in K then maybe it was too early for him. perhaps time was the helper and it wasnt necesarily the school and their opinion that he needed more time. Of course, I understand he had OT and PT to confirm/evaluate (but it's not like they're god's either.) What I'm trying to say is Each school is different, each teacher. While I do think the rididity in some 'traditional' schools can be a hindrance-- it is not always. >

I wrote in my previous post that in Kindergarten my son was did NOT receive any guidance in drawing (not taught straight lines ect.)
When children have significant delays in their motor skills they need help early on. My son needed help much earlier than he received it.

Lauraess, in one of your earlier posts you wrote about how you were worried that if your son were kept back a year it would be a psychological blow to him. My son is the same age as yours. He was kept back in Kindergarten last year and it was a great blow to his self esteem and it was completely unnecesary. It should not have happened.
Lorraine
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#20 of 62 Old 10-01-2005, 02:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jalilah

I wrote in my previous post that in Kindergarten my son was did NOT receive any guidance in drawing (not taught straight lines ect.)
When children have significant delays in their motor skills they need help early on. My son needed help much earlier than he received it.

Lauraess, in one of your earlier posts you wrote about how you were worried that if your son were kept back a year it would be a psychological blow to him. My son is the same age as yours. He was kept back in Kindergarten last year and it was a great blow to his self esteem and it was completely unnecesary. It should not have happened.
Lorraine
What you wrote was that iN K he was shown different lines and shown , iN the same ways my son was in 1st, different ways to 'do' this. He Then appeared to be lacking in the ability to draw in a 'mature' way. (?)no(?) or was there other areas he was immature in? At six most kids here are still in K- only when they are 6.5 do they become eligiable for first. At the same time here they 'learn' the lines.
I am simply trying to point out that It might POSSIBly be that your sons fine motor skills were 'tested' too early in that particular Waldorf school since our school doesnt teach the actual skill at the k level. Nothing is "taught" at that level. So, once again it is a matter of individual waldorf schools as opposed to the whole general 'traditional' vs. charter school when comparing.
I do not know your sons entire situation so i am not judging the evaluation of his skills-- only keeping open to the possibliity that sometimes time IS necesary. I certainly appreciatie the use of PT and OT, as i have worked beside them in the past, but i am also aware of the potential for 'God complex' or 'pedestal putting' much like happens all the time with Dr.s.
.... Okay, back to the regularly scheduled topic...

Ps. btw: my son is now in second grade, never did stay behind but is recieving a little 'support' from a special teacher reccommened by his teacher and Only has been going there for a few weeks now. personally, I see a lot of improvement in his skill and still believe it is maturity/time.
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#21 of 62 Old 10-02-2005, 05:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
Yeah, IMO, Waldorf is Anthroposophy made into an educational curriculum.
IMO too.
Quote:
We (trianed Waldorf teachers) were taught to respect the child's Karma with us more than the child's parents.
This is confirmed by many, many parents and their experiences. I have personally experienced this in a very negative way in a situation where the teacher was actually trying to separate me from my child - even suggested to one of my children that she would love to adopt them. This coming in the middle of a difficult divorce. :
Quote:
So, if the parents had problems with religion (i.e. 3rd grade Old Testament stories), then we were told to just teach the kid the "Truth" anyway, if not more subversively...
And that's exactly the problem with a religious or faith-based school system that doesn't clarify to parents it's religious underpinnings.

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#22 of 62 Old 10-03-2005, 03:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
So, if the parents had problems with religion (i.e. 3rd grade Old Testament stories), then we were told to just teach the kid the "Truth" anyway, if not more subversively..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
IMO too.

And that's exactly the problem with a religious or faith-based school system that doesn't clarify to parents it's religious underpinnings.

Pete
The 3rd grade Old Testament stories are no secret in our school. Since it is my understanding that they've been pretty standard in the traditional Waldorf curriculum forever, its very peculiar to hear that attempts are made by some teachers to keep this from parents. AWSNA lists it as if it were pretty standard.

"Primary Grades 1-3 ..[]..Folk and fairy tales, fables, legends, Old Testament stories."

http://www.awsna.org/education-class.html


I do understand, though, if teachers teach it to the class even against a particular parents wishes. The curriculum in a Waldorf school is set by the teachers, and a parent doesn't have veto power over a particular course in the curriculum. If parents don't want their child to hear these stories they shouldn't chose a school that always teaches them, imho.

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#23 of 62 Old 10-03-2005, 03:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LindaCl
The 3rd grade Old Testament stories are no secret in our school. Since it is my understanding that they've been pretty standard in the traditional Waldorf curriculum forever, its very peculiar to hear that attempts are made by some teachers to keep this from parents. AWSNA lists it as if it were pretty standard.

"Primary Grades 1-3 ..[]..Folk and fairy tales, fables, legends, Old Testament stories."

http://www.awsna.org/education-class.html



I do understand, though, if teachers teach it to the class even against a particular parents wishes. The curriculum in a Waldorf school is set by the teachers, and a parent doesn't have veto power over a particular course in the curriculum. If parents don't want their child to hear these stories they shouldn't chose a school that always teaches them, imho.

Linda
It isn't so much that they teach these stories that is the problem - I certainly don't have a problem with the teaching of stories from the Old Testament and yes, I agree a parent shouldn't have veto power over the curriculum if it is made clear to them (although "clear" may be debatable). The "religious underpinnings" I was referring to are the ones that allow teachers to decide this is the "truth" as Beansavi pointed out, and that it should be taught as truth. Is there something at the AWSNA website that describes that the Old Testament will be taught as "truth"?

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#24 of 62 Old 10-03-2005, 10:55 PM
 
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But Pete, everything is taught as 'truth'. My child is studying Native American culture in the 4th grade with a special emphasis on the Northwest Coastal Indians and the stories they are taught are treated as truth as were the fairy tales, the saints and hero tales, the fables and the Old Testement stories. Everyone of these is a 'truth' to someone. I haven't seen any preference given to any of these.

What I like about Waldorf is the respect given to all 'truths' because they are universal 'truths' of mankind. The Native American storyteller came to my child's class and told his 'truth' about Raven. Last year, the Jewish families in the class shared their 'truth'. Next year it will be the Greek 'truth'. Until 8th grade when my child will have been exposed to the 'truth' from many cultures.
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#25 of 62 Old 10-04-2005, 02:05 AM
 
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But Pete, everything is taught as 'truth'.
Well, some parents have a problem with this... and Waldorf schools need to make this clear to parents. And the reason, I contend, that these myths are taught as "truth" and not myths (which would be just as - if not more - valid for children) is that myths about the spirit world, generated by Steiner, are truths to Anthroposophists. It prepares children to believe that myths are truths - it sets them up for a religious belief system that Steiner believed was absolutely necessary for children.
Quote:
My child is studying Native American culture in the 4th grade with a special emphasis on the Northwest Coastal Indians and the stories they are taught are treated as truth as were the fairy tales, the saints and hero tales, the fables and the Old Testement stories. Everyone of these is a 'truth' to someone. I haven't seen any preference given to any of these.
I think you have missed my point here. I'm not saying anything with regard to the content of the myths - indeed I specifically said that the "religious underpinnings" I was talking about has to do with relating these stories as truth. By suggesting myths, any myths, are truth, are to be treated as truth, it moves the curriculum from a fact-based to a faith-based curriculum. It promotes the acceptance of truth based on myth and softens the kids up for Steiner's own truths and Steiner's own confused representation of "facts".
Quote:
What I like about Waldorf is the respect given to all 'truths' because they are universal 'truths' of mankind. The Native American storyteller came to my child's class and told his 'truth' about Raven. Last year, the Jewish families in the class shared their 'truth'. Next year it will be the Greek 'truth'. Until 8th grade when my child will have been exposed to the 'truth' from many cultures.
This is a spiritual education - nothing more. Call it "universal truths", call it "wisdom traditions", call it "universal knowledge" - it still has no basis in fact - it is spiritual. Nothing wrong with a spiritual education - except that parents need to be informed when this is what is being provided to their children. When AWSNA says the children will study myths and the Old Testament, that doesn't tell parents that they will be expected to believe it.

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#26 of 62 Old 10-04-2005, 03:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, think that what I was asking was answered. That was part of my concern -- that interpretations/beliefs would be taught as Truth, and that my wishes regarding my child's education would not be respected or that I might be misled/manipulated into allowing something I don't want.

I still can't decide about anthrosophy as a philosophy/belief system, as the descriptions I've read so far all seem so nebulous that I can't pin it down. I don't object to it, certainly, but I still don't understand it. Regardless, the above concerns give me pause about enrolling my son.

I will probably still go to the open house, but will be more likely to investigate the Montessori schools now.

Wishing I could find a preschool with a blend of Waldorf creativity and imagination and emphasis on the natural, Montessori independence and development of intellect, and common-sense "let kids be kids" without a lot of restrictive philosophical dogma or New Age trappings. Can't there be a happy medium between the traditional battery-operated, paste-the-precut-grin-on-the-pumpkin-drawing, stand in a straight line preschools and the other extreme??? Oh, while I'm dreaming, let it be free, with long available hours to accomodate my heinous schedule, organic meals prepared by a chef, and Jack adores it.

Shannon, mama to Jack :
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#27 of 62 Old 10-04-2005, 08:34 AM
 
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When I say 'truth' I do not mean literal truth. I do not believe that the children become adults who literally believe that the world was created in 7 days or that Raven brought the sun to the people. It is more in the Jungian frame where these are universal truths within all mankind that are told in many different forms around the world.

I don't think Waldorf has ever said that they were not spiritual. To me there is a difference between spiritual and religious. Spiritual is a recognition of the spirit within all humans while religious is holding to one particular religion's tenets. My husband is spiritual in a Native American way but he is not a Christian. I am a Chrisitian and my children go to Sunday school to learn about being a Christian as well as practicing it at home. At school, they learn about many religions and many spritual beliefs. In many ways the learn about other religions by living them for a short time. Last year the 'lived' as Hebrews and celebrated Shabat and all of the holy days. This year, they are living as Native Americans and celebrating their culture.

To me, it is like going to another country and actually living there as opposed to just going as a tourist. You don't really understand another group of people until you experience their day to day lives.

If you are an atheist and you have difficulty with how Waldorf does things, I would speak to an atheist at the school. I am sure there are some. There are several at our school. As well as Buddhists, Catholics, other Christians, Pagans and Jews. What we don't have a lot of is, is fundamentalists who believe in the literal truth of the Bible.
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#28 of 62 Old 10-04-2005, 09:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
Well, some parents have a problem with this... and Waldorf schools need to make this clear to parents. And the reason, I contend, that these myths are taught as "truth" and not myths (which would be just as - if not more - valid for children) is that myths about the spirit world, generated by Steiner, are truths to Anthroposophists. It prepares children to believe that myths are truths - it sets them up for a religious belief system that Steiner believed was absolutely necessary for children.

It promotes the acceptance of truth based on myth and softens the kids up for Steiner's own truths and Steiner's own confused representation of "facts".

<
Quote:
"softens"? -frankly if you've noticed most of what most kids are exposed to in daily life, including school of course, they could use a bit softening. "Confused"?? now, that is YOUR interpretation and one quite judgemental of this man and his thinking.
[QUOTE PETE]
This is a spiritual education - nothing more. Call it "universal truths", call it "wisdom traditions", call it "universal knowledge" - it still has no basis in fact - it is spiritual. Nothing wrong with a spiritual education - except that parents need to be informed when this is what is being provided to their children. When AWSNA says the children will study myths and the Old Testament, that doesn't tell parents that they will be expected to believe it.

Pete
-PETE, is there testing in school that you are aware of that shows the children are 'beleiving' it? -- I mean, lets face it, most parents dont realize their kids are growing up to believe in this 'confused' system of consumerism and Greed and selfishness yet when they are at school anywhere in the country thats what they're getting. It's not so much in the books of course, Sntm, but all around them with the other kids, the lifestyles, the talk, the clothes, the media, the food. It's just my opinion ( and others I know too) that Anthroposophy isnt what you need to worry about.
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#29 of 62 Old 10-04-2005, 11:53 AM
 
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-PETE, is there testing in school that you are aware of that shows the children are 'beleiving' it? --
:LOL In Waldorf schools? You're kidding right? :LOL
Quote:
I mean, lets face it, most parents dont realize their kids are growing up to believe in this 'confused' system of consumerism and Greed and selfishness yet when they are at school anywhere in the country thats what they're getting.
Really, THAT'S where they're getting consumerism? In school? Any parent that has ever taken their kid to the market knows where consumerism comes from - and it isn't from schools - it's from TV. But that's really not the topic here.
Quote:
It's not so much in the books of course, Sntm, but all around them with the other kids, the lifestyles, the talk, the clothes, the media, the food. It's just my opinion ( and others I know too) that Anthroposophy isnt what you need to worry about.
Again, consumerism isn't the topic - the topic is the teaching of myth as "truth". But while we are on the topic of discussing consumerism, Waldorf schools are producing great little consumers - children who will take every bit of nonsense they hear and believe it is the truth. And what will they be ready to consume - Anthroposophy. Sure, eurythmy can straighten crooked teeth - why wouldn't kids need to believe that by the time they're adults?

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#30 of 62 Old 10-04-2005, 04:12 PM
 
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Why would one demand that children be kept from listening with open hearts to the myths, sagas, legends and tales from our rich world cultures? How could it possibly harm them to drink in the wisdom of these stories?

If there were any evidence that Waldorf kids were turning into budding little anthroposophists, I could understand the concern. But overwhelmingly they are not.

The evidence just isn't there to make this highly emotional (and irrational) argument geared to frighten parents away from Waldorf Ed.

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