Waldorf--looping for 6 years? pros/cons - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 09-29-2005, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, we went to our Waldorf open house last night and I only have 2 reservations. One, how effective & positive is it to stay w/the same teacher grades 1-6. And, #2, I wonder how qualified the teachers are at our NEW school and how qualified are they to teach ALL the grades?

Huge question I'm sure about looping but I've just never experienced having the same teacher and the same classmates repeatedly. I'd love to hear about your experiences of this.

My dh thinks NO as he had the same teacher for 3 years. I'm ambivalent.

Thanks!!
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#2 of 32 Old 09-30-2005, 12:45 PM
 
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Hello busymommy

Our school tries to have the class teacher take the students through 8th grade. There are a variety of problems that can crop up that can intervene - for example serious illness or conflicts between the teacher/school/or parents. Many times schools place teachers who indicate right up front that they will only commit themselves for a specific timeframe.

From our personal experience, the looping is very effective and positive from the perspective of the relationship between the class and the teacher~~BUT we've had great teachers. In Waldorf, the personal character of the class teacher is everything. And the parents and teacher HAVE to work together. I do not believe that Waldorf education is a good option if the parents and teacher relationship is a tug-of-war.

And I went to a small school myself as a child and *really* like that my children have the same classmates year after year. My children that went through public school don't have that close bond to their class that my husband and I enjoyed. Their schools were too big, and the students were reshuffled on purpose from one year to the next. I never understood the point to that.

As far as qualifications to teach all the grades, the Waldorf teacher has to work very hard every year to master the new material. It is a lot of work, but the teachers I know best *loved* preparing for main lessons. You have to love to learn to be a good Waldorf teacher. We also have a pretty solidly established school, and starting maybe 6th grade or so, sometimes the Main Lesson is taken over by another teacher on the faculty who perhaps has a mastery on that particular subject. I don't know if this would be the case in other schools.

I would personally have misgivings about a potential Waldorf teacher who isn't also trained or otherwise qualified to teach in traditional elementary schools. So much depends on the teacher. Frankly there's more demand for Waldorf teachers than there are good teachers to fill the demand. And as parents of potential first graders, it's not easy to evaluate the capabilities of the teacher the school has selected. Waldorf teacher training is not enough, by itself, in my opinion. I know that the Waldorf teacher training program on the west coast prefers its applicants have already earned a college degree. Anyway, it would definitely be something I'd ask about in the interview process. I would ask a lot of questions of the teacher about his or her qualifications, experience, etc. Entering parents should approach it as something of an interview when they meet with the new teacher.

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#3 of 32 Old 09-30-2005, 01:29 PM
 
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Hi...this is my first post here...somebody told me that there is some strange stuff flying around this discussion board, so maybe I can help a little.
The looping thing is in flux.
The original Waldorf school used class teachers for 7 years, now many have an 8-year cycle that fits our school system. One school I know of has 2 "loops" that are 1-5 and 6-8, but I haven't heard of 1-6; unless the school only has 6 grades.
Anyway...to your questions.
The potential for the 8-year relationship is incredible. Imagine what a teacher can bring to a child when their relationship is so deep. I have students that I can tell whether or not they had a good breakfast just by shaking their hands and greeting them.
Imagine how you would feel if your child's teacher was practically a member of your familywho would be available to discuss any aspect of your child's home and school life.. The benefits can be enormous.
When people ask me why I don't give tests, I tell them that I don't have to; I know what my students know.
You may hear, or even ask, this question, "What about personality conflicts?"
A good Waldorf teacher will be on a fairly rigorous path of self-development and reflection, and should understand that an awake adult has no excuse to have a 'personality conflict' with a child. We work it out.
This is not to say, of course, that a child can't have antipathy toward the teacher, or other classmates This is all part of the process. A valuable skill that Waldorf students learn is to cooperate in a community...we do not, in life, get to change the people we are around every year.
I sometimes tell people that my drunken uncle Bill used to come from Denver every year for Thanksgiving, drink and eat us out of house and home for a week, and we would finally tell him it was time to go home. Did we invite him again the following year? Of course...he was part of our family.
As for the qualifications of the teacher...in a nutshell, there is nothing in the 1-8 curriculum that is beyond the understanding of an educated adult.
The challenge is to make it interesting.
Oddly enough, I find teaching the subjects ithat I am most interested in to be difficult because my interest is just *there*. When it comes to teaching such a subject, I often have to cultivate interest where it doesn't already exist in the students as it does with me.
What teaching all subjects does, is to keep the teacher interested and learning WITH the students. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to class with the attitude of "check out this cool thing I learned last night!"
This is something your child will likely not get from someone who has taught 6th grade Math for 17 years.
Now...the caveat is...there are many more Waldorf jobs than there are Waldorf teachers, and any one who really wants a job can pretty much get one--as long as relocation is an option. So Waldorf schools often have to choose teachers with little or no experience, and, of course, as with any profession, there is a wide range of abilities.
There is no guarantee that a trained, experienced Waldorf teacher is a good Waldorf teacher, and there is no guarantee that an old, established school is a good one.
You have to go into these things with eyes wide open.
The harshest Waldorf critics are the ones who were not paying attention and it took them years to realize that there were problems or philosophical differences with the school, and most of their anger is with themselves and, of course, very destructive.
Imagine, for instance, how angry you would be with yourself if you were an atheist, and you found out, after your child has, for several YEARS, been in a school where the existence of God and the spiritual nature of mankind is openly acknowledged.
Hope this helps.
Gotta go.
WT
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#4 of 32 Old 09-30-2005, 02:05 PM
 
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At the Waldorf school I went to, we had the same teacher for 8 years. My sister and brother had wonderful, talented, empathetic, smart teachers. They received nurturing and academically rigorous educations. They still think fondly on those teachers today.

I lost out. For eight years I was stuck with a woman who looked like a German fairytale princess, but had a smallminded, petty, cruel soul. She humiliated children, played favorites, yelled, and basically took out a lot of her own issues on us.

My advice is, check out the teacher very carefully. Talk to parents who have had him or her before. And most importantly, listen to your child. When kids in my class told stories about our teacher, parents shrugged them off as typical complaining that kids do. (It was the 70's and people weren't as on top of these things as they are now).

For what it's worth, my sibs and I all went on to be happy, college-educated adults who don't own televisions.

Edited to add: Despite my teacher's huge flaws, she was quite capable of conveying the material for the range of grades. Same with my sibs teachers. I had no trouble transitioning to PS and then a Quaker school when I left after 8th grade, and no problems with college, either. There's been talk floating around here that Waldorf grads somehow can't cut it in college or don't go. Almost everyone at my WS went to college, and my brother and sister stayed in WS for the whole 13 years.
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#5 of 32 Old 09-30-2005, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for sharing. I hadn't thought about the idea of the teacher being excited as well to learn new material.

Boy, lots of points to ponder. Our school is new this year and it's public. As you've said, lots of demand but not a lot of qualified staff to apply.

And, interesting re: people not fully understanding the program before entering it. We didn't receive much info just a page of links and general ideas. I could see that happening to someone in a hurry.

So, which is more important in a looping teacher...a Waldorf cert and teaching experience or lots of enthusiasm for the program. I tend to go w/the enthusiasm but gosh, it's a risk.

Thanks again!
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#6 of 32 Old 09-30-2005, 03:17 PM
 
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So, which is more important in a looping teacher...a Waldorf cert and teaching experience or lots of enthusiasm for the program. I tend to go w/the enthusiasm but gosh, it's a risk.
I agree that the enthusiasm HAS to be there. The teacher's enthusiasm for the subject is essential in Waldorf ed--its a very human-to-human type of education. The teacher is the "guide" as it were to the learning. Through the teacher's eyes and feeling the student is guided to form a personal relationship, to attach themselves to this greater knowledge of the world out there that the student is being led to discover through school.

As I see it, the teacher has to have the enthusiasm, but unfortunately enthusiasm isn't enough. There are some people who are enthusiastic but just don't have the personal qualities like leadership, patience, insight, or vision that it takes to be a great teacher. I don't know how you can tell ahead of time who *has* it and who doesn't. Certainly these qualities don't come from any certificate. A great teacher can develop and improve these qualities with experience, but not all do. I think these issues are critical in ANY teacher though. Not just Waldorf.

In my state, public schools that use Waldorf methods have to hire teachers who meet all the public school standards, and on top of that prefer to hire teachers with some background or training in Waldorf methods. But I don't know if this true in every state.

Linda
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#7 of 32 Old 09-30-2005, 07:44 PM
 
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Below is a recent news article about looping; I've seen three or so similar articles this fall. If you read further in the article the writer goes into some of the potential pluses and minuses of looping.

In my grandchildren's Waldorf school in Germany, they now only loop until the 6th Class, reasoning that there is so much more to be covered by one teacher than there was in the past. I think this is a sensible solution!

Serena


http://www.tri-cityherald.com/tch/lo...-6914340c.html

Getting in the loop

Sunday, September 25th, 2005
By Stacey Palevsky, Herald staff writer

When Dakota McDonald woke up for the first day of fourth grade, there wasn't a single butterfly in her stomach.

Eliminated from her list of worries: make new friends, find her classroom, get to know Ms. St. John-Garcia's rules.

The usual first-day jitters didn't plague her because she started fourth grade at Pasco's Maya Angelou Elementary School in the same classroom and with the same teacher as the year before.

"It's cool because I already know who is in my class, and I don't have to worry about doing things differently," McDonald said.

Educators call it looping. The concept requires that a teacher move with his or her students to the next grade level instead of sending them to another teacher at the end of the school year.

[................]

Looping is derived from what is now called Waldorf education, which was introduced in the early 1900s by Rudolph Steiner, a European educator. Students in Waldorf schools typically are taught by the same instructor from first through eighth grade.

[................]
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#8 of 32 Old 09-30-2005, 11:37 PM
 
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Imagine, for instance, how angry you would be with yourself if you were an atheist, and you found out, after your child has, for several YEARS, been in a school where the existence of God and the spiritual nature of mankind is openly acknowledged.
Are you saying that is how it is in a Waldorf school?

If so, it's interesting that in public school I was taught that some people believe in God and some people don't and that it's up to each person to decide what they believe.

"openly acknowledged" sounds like fact, or truth or some such thing. Belief in a god and/or the spiritual nature of mankind seems pretty subjective to me...not a fact to be assumed by a school that claims it is not promoting religion. I've looked at a number of Waldorf school websites and I haven't seen that promoted or even mentioned on any of them.

I guess I'm quite surprised to hear this line of thinking from a pro-Waldorf Waldorf Teacher.

And yes, if I were to send my child to a Waldorf school, thinking it was all about wooden toys and art and not pushing reading at too early an age, and found that it was based on the belief of God and the spiritual nature of mankind, I wouldn't be very happy about it.

Waldorf Teacher, does the school you teach at mention this in its brochures, website (if it has one) or other promotional or informational material?
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#9 of 32 Old 09-30-2005, 11:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by zinemama
I lost out. For eight years I was stuck with a woman who looked like a German fairytale princess, but had a smallminded, petty, cruel soul. She humiliated children, played favorites, yelled, and basically took out a lot of her own issues on us.
Yeah, that is really the risk of looping for so long. Also, I've seen some posters mention that they didn't like a certain Waldorf teacher or class for some reason and they were not allowed to switch classes. I can't imagine having my child stuck in a teacher's class where he/she did not thrive for 8 YEARS!

As a contract, a friend of mine with a child in public school, decided she didn't think the teacher her child had been assigned to was a good fit for her child, so she spoke with the Principal and she was able to choose which teacher's class her child should be in.

With my limited knowledge of Waldorf, it seems to me that looping is derived from Steiner's belief (and quote) that teachers are karmically meant for their students and are more important than their parents. As good as a teacher may be, I definitely don't want a school trying to propose that my child's relationships with his/her teacher is more important and beneficial than her/his relationship to me.
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#10 of 32 Old 10-01-2005, 01:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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And yes, if I were to send my child to a Waldorf school, thinking it was all about wooden toys and art and not pushing reading at too early an age, and found that it was based on the belief of God and the spiritual nature of mankind, I wouldn't be very happy about it.
Not to debate this philos, but that's an interesting thing to consider when you have a public Waldorf. I happen to be comfortable w/that belief, but I do wonder how they integrate it w/a public school district.
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If so, it's interesting that in public school I was taught that some people believe in God and some people don't and that it's up to each person to decide what they believe.
"openly acknowledged" sounds like fact, or truth or some such thing. Belief in a god and/or the spiritual nature of mankind seems pretty subjective to me...not a fact to be assumed by a school that claims it is not promoting religion. I've looked at a number of Waldorf school websites and I haven't seen that promoted or even mentioned on any of them.
As an atheist, it doesn't really bother me because I feel like the U.S. is so steeped in Christianity as it is that it's present in just about everything. Even in the public school the pledge of allegiance has you pledging yourself to God. And before congress meets, they always say a prayer. Not that I agree this should be happening! Maybe it's naive, but I don't see my dd becoming an anthroposophist.

My school, by the way, makes no secret of it's somewhat religious nature: http://www.waldorfinnorthcoastal.org..._questions.php

Janine
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#12 of 32 Old 10-01-2005, 01:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RiverSky
Yeah, that is really the risk of looping for so long. Also, I've seen some posters mention that they didn't like a certain Waldorf teacher or class for some reason and they were not allowed to switch classes. I can't imagine having my child stuck in a teacher's class where he/she did not thrive for 8 YEARS!
I have trouble signing a 2-year cell phone contract, so looping every 8 years or so isn't very attractive to me. So then what is the alternative? Parents are pretty much forced to leave the school rather than be stuck with a bad teacher for 8 years (and yes, I believe there are bad teachers - but I'm using the term here to mean incompatible, incompetent, dogmatic, polemic, underskilled, burned-out, or even crazy). The other option, depending on how bad the teacher is, is to try to have the teacher removed, put the school in crisis, and divide the parent body. This happens all too often in Waldorf schools. I have seen this happen a dozen times. Two of my kids, 7th and 8th grades have had more than a dozen grade teachers between them. It's horrible for the kids and horrible for the school.

If, instead, a teacher stayed with a child for a year, having a bad teacher wouldn't have such a devastating impact on the students or the school.
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As a contract, a friend of mine with a child in public school, decided she didn't think the teacher her child had been assigned to was a good fit for her child, so she spoke with the Principal and she was able to choose which teacher's class her child should be in.
In most Waldorf schools - a single grade is represented - there are no choices in 3rd grade. You take the teacher and that's it through to the 8th. I regretfully allowed my son to be held back a year in 2nd grade rather than see him continue on with an incompetent teacher. Little did I know the good teacher he ended up with would be removed by the school for political (non-teaching) reasons over the objections of every parent in the class.
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With my limited knowledge of Waldorf, it seems to me that looping is derived from Steiner's belief (and quote) that teachers are karmically meant for their students and are more important than their parents. As good as a teacher may be, I definitely don't want a school trying to propose that my child's relationships with his/her teacher is more important and beneficial than her/his relationship to me.
And this, when taken to the extreme (which I have experienced) can get really creepy. It turns into talking the children into keeping secrets from the parents and weird stuff like this. And sometimes even beyond.

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#13 of 32 Old 10-01-2005, 03:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BusyMommy
Thank you so much for sharing. I hadn't thought about the idea of the teacher being excited as well to learn new material.

Boy, lots of points to ponder. Our school is new this year and it's public. As you've said, lots of demand but not a lot of qualified staff to apply.

And, interesting re: people not fully understanding the program before entering it. We didn't receive much info just a page of links and general ideas. I could see that happening to someone in a hurry.

So, which is more important in a looping teacher...a Waldorf cert and teaching experience or lots of enthusiasm for the program. I tend to go w/the enthusiasm but gosh, it's a risk.

Thanks again!
If I had to distill it down to one, overriding gesture for a teacher, I'd take the love of children over everything.
WT
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Originally Posted by RiverSky
Are you saying that is how it is in a Waldorf school?

If so, it's interesting that in public school I was taught that some people believe in God and some people don't and that it's up to each person to decide what they believe.

"openly acknowledged" sounds like fact, or truth or some such thing. Belief in a god and/or the spiritual nature of mankind seems pretty subjective to me...not a fact to be assumed by a school that claims it is not promoting religion. I've looked at a number of Waldorf school websites and I haven't seen that promoted or even mentioned on any of them.

I guess I'm quite surprised to hear this line of thinking from a pro-Waldorf Waldorf Teacher.

And yes, if I were to send my child to a Waldorf school, thinking it was all about wooden toys and art and not pushing reading at too early an age, and found that it was based on the belief of God and the spiritual nature of mankind, I wouldn't be very happy about it.

Waldorf Teacher, does the school you teach at mention this in its brochures, website (if it has one) or other promotional or informational material?
At the risk of opening the "is Anthroposophy a religion?" thing...especially with Pete around........
At the center of Anthroposophy is esoteric Christianity, so you will find that Aththroposophist Waldorf teachers believe that there is a God; that people consist of body, soul and spirit; and we are the way we are partially because we've been here before.
It's not just plant-dyed silks and beeswax.
And...don't get me started on the "disclosure" issue.
IMHO, it's sad how few Waldorf schools openly acknowledge their spirituality.
Mine included.
Although, anybody who does even the most minimal research on Rudolf Steiner/Anthroposophy/Waldorf will come across the spiritual stuff.
Charter schools, though, are a different story.
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Hi...this is my first post here...somebody told me that there is some strange stuff flying around this discussion board, so maybe I can help a little.
Welcome to MDC! Nice to have you here.

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Not to debate this philos, but that's an interesting thing to consider when you have a public Waldorf. I happen to be comfortable w/that belief, but I do wonder how they integrate it w/a public school district.
There is huge debate on this in and out of the Waldorf community, and I am not familiar with the public Waldorf teacher training.
My opinion is that in order to take Waldorf to the public school, you must remove all of the spiritual stuff and reduce Waldorf education to nothing more than a method---a pedagogy.
The question is then, "Can you still call it Waldorf?"
I also think that the pedagogy of Waldorf, even when stripped of its foundation, is still excellent, and much better than what is happening in mainstream public school.
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At the risk of opening the "is Anthroposophy a religion?" thing...especially with Pete around........
Thank you for firing the first shot over the bow. :yawning:
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At the center of Anthroposophy is esoteric Christianity, so you will find that Aththroposophist Waldorf teachers believe that there is a God; that people consist of body, soul and spirit; and we are the way we are partially because we've been here before.
And along with reincarnation - which you have suggested above, will you acknowledge a perceived karmic connection with the children of their class?
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It's not just plant-dyed silks and beeswax.
And...don't get me started on the "disclosure" issue.
IMHO, it's sad how few Waldorf schools openly acknowledge their spirituality.
Mine included.
Thank you for this - I'm starting to like you.
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Although, anybody who does even the most minimal research on Rudolf Steiner/Anthroposophy/Waldorf will come across the spiritual stuff.
Charter schools, though, are a different story.
wt
I don't agree that this is always easily found when researching "Waldorf". You yourself said this above. Waldorf schools don't openly acknowledge their spirituality - certainly not in PR literature and only rarely do we get a glimpse of it in websites.

So we are left with an expectation that parents will research "Steiner" and "Anthroposophy". But how do parents KNOW they have to research Steiner when most Waldorf schools - especially in their websites and other resources - brush over Steiner as if he was an educator and scientist who started Waldorf and nothing more. How do parents KNOW they have to research Anthroposophy when they are told it is not in the schools. There is clearly a much bigger problem here than can be solved by you and I wishing Waldorf schools would openly acknowledge their spirituality - don't you agree?

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#18 of 32 Old 10-01-2005, 04:17 PM
 
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There is huge debate on this in and out of the Waldorf community, and I am not familiar with the public Waldorf teacher training.
My opinion is that in order to take Waldorf to the public school, you must remove all of the spiritual stuff and reduce Waldorf education to nothing more than a method---a pedagogy.
The question is then, "Can you still call it Waldorf?"
I also think that the pedagogy of Waldorf, even when stripped of its foundation, is still excellent, and much better than what is happening in mainstream public school.
I would agree. I think what most people expect, based on the information they have received from Waldorf sources, is the stripped down version of Waldorf. I think the stripped down version is what Waldorf schools, both public and private, advertise. I don't see anybody anywhere accurately advertising the Waldorf that is in the private sector (except people like me perhaps). Wouldn't it be better if Waldorf was more careful to accurately project what it is really about and attract a population of students and parents who are really interested in the education they are delivering?

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So we are left with an expectation that parents will research "Steiner" and "Anthroposophy". But how do parents KNOW they have to research Steiner when most Waldorf schools - especially in their websites and other resources - brush over Steiner as if he was an educator and scientist who started Waldorf and nothing more. How do parents KNOW they have to research Anthroposophy when they are told it is not in the schools. There is clearly a much bigger problem here than can be solved by you and I wishing Waldorf schools would openly acknowledge their spirituality - don't you agree?

Pete
In these times of information being a keystroke away, it is hard to imagine that the words "Waldorf" "Anthroposophy" or "Rudolf Steiner" wouldn't get an immediate web search from a prospective Waldorf parent, yet, somehow, this is often not the case.
My years in Waldorf education have shown me that many parents spend much more time researching a new car or home purchase than an educational choice.
Heck...many families spend MORE money in LESS time on education than they do buying a home!
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In these times of information being a keystroke away, it is hard to imagine that the words "Waldorf" "Anthroposophy" or "Rudolf Steiner" wouldn't get an immediate web search from a prospective Waldorf parent, yet, somehow, this is often not the case.
There are Waldorf websites that mention neither. When they mention Anthroposophy and provide a link, parents are wisked away to a supportive website or a Q&A page that doesn't really explain anything.
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My years in Waldorf education have shown me that many parents spend much more time researching a new car or home purchase than an educational choice.
I'm sure that's probably true. One assumes a school to have certain standards of integrity and not a hidden agenda (as you said - Waldorf's spiritual side that Waldorf schools aren't up-front about). When one buys a car, one expects that the car radio will receive all the normal radio stations and not just a few religious stations chosen by the manufacturer. If the consumer buys a car that only get's a few religious stations, the consumer might feel cheated or deceived.
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Heck...many families spend MORE money in LESS time on education than they do buying a home!
All the more reason for Waldorf school to ensure that they are honest about what they are providing for the parents who choose them. While I agree that parents are obligated to find out about Waldorf before enrolling their children (that's why I'm here) I don't agree that they have been getting an honest treatment by Waldorf. It's expected that a school will reveal that it is based on a religious/spiritual/esoteric Christian philosophy right from the start. People shouldn't be expected to ask whether their new car comes with brakes.

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#21 of 32 Old 10-01-2005, 09:08 PM
 
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I have a friend with a degree in childhood education who is active in a preschool Waldorf playgroup and when I first started reading about Waldorf here, I asked her about it and she had never even heard of anthroposophy, though she did know about Steiner and his racist history...she'd always been told that no one pays attention to that, sign of the times type thing, and that it certainly isn't part of her Waldorf leanings. She picks and chooses what she likes about Waldorf and never ever quotes Steiner.

So I think that some people supposedly educated in things Waldorf (but not by Waldorf schools) do not have any idea of the anthroposophical connection.

When I was trying to do my own googling about anthroposophy and Waldorf and Steiner, I found anthroposophy sites that didn't mention anything about Waldorf and Waldorf sites that didn't mention anything about Anthroposophy. And very few of them mention Steiner at all.

I definitely agree with Pete in that it is not an advertised connection at all. And at one point, I would never have gone to a message board for information, thinking that would be a completely unreliable way to find out the truth. I think differently now...I take things from message boards with a grain (or shaker) of salt and use them to help further my research into certain topics.
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#22 of 32 Old 10-02-2005, 11:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by RiverSky
I have a friend with a degree in childhood education who is active in a preschool Waldorf playgroup and when I first started reading about Waldorf here, I asked her about it and she had never even heard of anthroposophy, though she did know about Steiner and his racist history...she'd always been told that no one pays attention to that, sign of the times type thing, and that it certainly isn't part of her Waldorf leanings. She picks and chooses what she likes about Waldorf and never ever quotes Steiner.

So I think that some people supposedly educated in things Waldorf (but not by Waldorf schools) do not have any idea of the anthroposophical connection.

When I was trying to do my own googling about anthroposophy and Waldorf and Steiner, I found anthroposophy sites that didn't mention anything about Waldorf and Waldorf sites that didn't mention anything about Anthroposophy. And very few of them mention Steiner at all.

I definitely agree with Pete in that it is not an advertised connection at all. And at one point, I would never have gone to a message board for information, thinking that would be a completely unreliable way to find out the truth. I think differently now...I take things from message boards with a grain (or shaker) of salt and use them to help further my research into certain topics.
Getting back to the topic of looping, I realize that I may be at a very troubled school - it is very rare for a teacher to actually complete the 8 year loop (only two that I know of in 13 years with the school). Most classes, by 8th grade have had at least 2 and as many as 7 or 8 grade teachers. So, my first question is - how is it at other schools? Do most classes in other schools really follow through with an eight year loop with a single teacher?

The next question I have has to do with class sizes and school sizes. The local Waldorf school is a well established - 50 year old school. It has, as most Waldorf schools do, a single 1st, 2nd, 3rd - through 12th grade class. IOW, the students are with the same 20 or 25 kids from first grade through 12th - with the normal amount of student turnover. Basically, from a building strong relationships point of view, I think this is a good thing - the kids know each other pretty well.

However, when relationships become unhealthy, one child teasing or picking on another for course of a lifetime, this can be a nightmare and can really affect a child's self esteem. And the familiarity of their surroundings sometimes allows children, IMO, to grow deeply into certain behavior patterns. The opportunities for growth that come from a change in surroundings, in friends and relationships, from being in a different, challenging environment are not plentiful. For some kids, it's the same boring school with the same boring teacher and the same boring friends, day after boring day.

I'm not a big fan of overstimulating kids, but I think some stimulation is necessary when one is seeking to open up the avenues of learning. For kids, sometimes, there's nothing more exciting than a new teacher, with a new set of rules and priorities and teaching techniques, and life experiences. Waldorf kids are sometimes stuck in an admittedly beautiful never-changing environment. I get that the change is supposed to be coming from them as they grow, but that growth, I feel, may be better effectuated in an environment that offers challenges of new teachers, new friends and new circumstances from time to time.

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#23 of 32 Old 10-02-2005, 02:55 PM
 
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At our school we have had the following results:

8th grade teacher has had class from 1st - 8th grade. Parents overall are happy with the teacher and the children are doing well. The class is very full with 25+ kids.

7th grade teacher has had class from 1st - 7th grade. This teacher has been more controversial with some parents very happy with them and some very unhappy. By and large, the students love the teacher. The class is small at ~15 kids. Most of the parents who were unhappy have left. The parents that are left say they will leave, if the school fires the teacher. It is telling though that several of the children who have left for highly academic private schools have skipped a grade and are now 8th graders.

6th grade teacher is a new teacher to class but not to school. The previous teacher had the class from 1st - 5th grade and was fired because it was perceived that so many of the students were not doing well academically. The class parents were evenly divided over this issue. The class is around 20 students now with some who didn't like the old teacher leaving and some leaving because the old teacher was removed. The new teacher is well liked and is considered very academic so there is great hope for this class.

5th grade teacher has had class from 1st - 5th grade. This teacher had a very rough first year due to pneumonia and other class issues but has really blossemed into a wonderful teacher. The parent body as a whole likes this teacher very much. The class is full.

4th grade teacher has had class from 1st - 4th grade and has already taken one class from 1st - 8th grade. Overall, parents and students are happy with the teacher. This is one of my children's classes. We have had some ups and downs as a class but overall it has been a great experience. This teacher is also considered to be very academic. This class is very full.

3rd grade teacher has had class from 1st - 3rd grade and is very controversial. To be fair to this teacher, a student was in the class who never should have been there. The school overlooked obvious personality disorder signs in the child and it has caused much havoc in the class. This student has left but so have many other students. This will be a make or break year for this teacher. The class is very small around 12 students.

2nd grade teacher has had class from 1st - 2nd grade and is also already taken one class from 1st - 8th grade. They are well loved by the children and the parents. This is my other child's class.

1st grade teacher is a first time Waldorf teacher but is a trained public school teacher as well as a trained Waldorf teacher. They have taught many years in public schools as well as having a Waldorf preschool. So far so good.

The teachers at our school are on a year by year contract so their contracts can be terminated at the end of the year and they can also terminate the contract.
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#24 of 32 Old 10-02-2005, 03:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by waldorf teacher
In these times of information being a keystroke away, it is hard to imagine that the words "Waldorf" "Anthroposophy" or "Rudolf Steiner" wouldn't get an immediate web search from a prospective Waldorf parent, yet, somehow, this is often not the case.
My years in Waldorf education have shown me that many parents spend much more time researching a new car or home purchase than an educational choice.
Heck...many families spend MORE money in LESS time on education than they do buying a home!
WT
It wasn't hidden from us. While I wouldn't in a million years choose a school based on what I read on the internet, when we chose Waldorf, 12ish years ago, Waldorf was described all over the internet linking Waldorf to Steiner and Anthroposophy. But back then, hardly any schools had their own website.

At the open house (I went to 1 open house, and to 1 meeting), the connection was discussed, and there were easily ten books about Waldorf spread out on tables describing the system, and its philosophical foundation, in quite elaborate detail.

Today this is unambiguously declared on the AWSNA website: "The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) is an association of independent schools working out of the pedagogical indications of Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf Education is devoted to contributing to spiritual, social, and economic renewal. It should be understood by any school or institution seeking affiliation with AWSNA that Waldorf Education is based on Anthroposophy, the philosophy initiated by Rudolf Steiner." (All private schools using the name 'Waldorf' in the US must be affiliated with AWSNA. Public "Waldorf methods" type schools are completely different kettle of fish.)

Some complaints I've seen seem to spring from this idea that its Waldorf's responsibility to take things much further and put each prospective parent through a full semester course or something because these parents may not yet be familiar with Steiner or Anthroposophy and may decide they don't like it when they learn more. I don't know of any school system or philosophy which goes to such extreme lengths with new parents, but ......... some seem to think Waldorf is remiss somehow.

I don't get it. In my experience, the Waldorf school my children attend has gone to greater lengths to inform parents than any school I've ever seen--not just new parents, but Waldorf continues to do so as the students progress through the grades.

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#25 of 32 Old 10-02-2005, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some complaints I've seen seem to spring from this idea that its Waldorf's responsibility to take things much further and put each prospective parent through a full semester course or something because these parents may not yet be familiar
I would agree w /this. I researched my car before buying it. I shopped for weeks before buying my house. Yep, I'll take responsibility before buying into a school for my kids' educations.

Boy, still on the fence re: looping. I think it does come down to individual personalities. Our school is brand new so of course they all intend to stay there "forever." Now, to find out who would be "our" teachers.
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#26 of 32 Old 10-02-2005, 03:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl
Some complaints I've seen seem to spring from this idea that its Waldorf's responsibility to take things much further and put each prospective parent through a full semester course or something because these parents may not yet be familiar with Steiner or Anthroposophy and may decide they don't like it when they learn more. I don't know of any school system or philosophy which goes to such extreme lengths with new parents, but ......... some seem to think Waldorf is remiss somehow.
I would say that Anthroposophy is a very complex topic. Additionally, it is represented by over 40 books and 6,000 lectures - and that's just Steiner. Others representing Anthroposophy have written books too. When parents sign up for a Catholic school, they know what to expect pretty much.

When parents sign up for a Waldorf school, they generally have have no idea what to expect - and Waldorf schools don't make it any easier for them to know what to expect. Because Anthroposophy is so complex, and because Anthroposophists are not abundant in society (I think there are only about 25,000 world-wide) and because so many schools experience parents who sign up only to realize that they have gotten into something they weren't prepared for or didn't expect, it is absolutely Waldorf's responsibility to be up front with lots and lots of information including (sorry to say) information that is controversial about Waldorf - so that parents can reasonably decide whether or not Waldorf is right for their children.

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#27 of 32 Old 10-02-2005, 03:55 PM
 
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Linda what you have experienced is what I have experienced. At the request of the parents, our teacher had someone from the Anthroposophical society come to our parent meeting to discuss Anthroposophy. The school has offered many classes (as have the other Waldorf schools in the area) and we have a teacher training group that also offers classes.

Finally, our school calls itself a non-sectarian school.

Main Entry: non·sec·tar·i·an
Pronunciation: -(")sek-'ter-E-&n
Function: adjective
: not having a sectarian character : not affiliated with or restricted to a particular religious group

Which means that it is spiritual but not affliated or restricted to any particular reiligous group. Not belonging to one specific religion. It does not mean without spirit or atheist. Waldorf recognizes the head - intellect, heart - spirit, and hands - will of the child.

Our school has a rich diversity of religions in our student body. In our 4th grade class I know of several Jewish families, several varieties of Christian families, several Budhist families, a Pagan family and an atheist family. The only main religion not represented is Islam. I have personally talked with the atheist family and they are fully aware of the spiritual content of the education and they do not have any problem with it. They choose to celebrate many of the same holidays as a celebration of the seasons and nature.
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#28 of 32 Old 10-02-2005, 04:06 PM
 
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This isn't exactly about looping because it's about high school (Waldorf high schools don't loop, but instead have your more classic 'subject specialists'), but it is related to the discussion about differences between small schools and larger ones.

Our school goes through 12th grade, but after 8th grade, both the school and the students are expected to reassess whether or not the Waldorf high school is the best place next, or if another school is a better match. The students have to reapply and go through an interview process. For a variety of reasons, many students choose another option, and one of my son's friends did so because in his words, the work load in the Waldorf high school was just too much. (It is a lot here!)

But he returned this year, and I asked him why he changed his mind. He said that the high school teachers in the larger school were just completely bored with their own subject by about midweek, and the classes just "talked" while "the teacher typed on the computer" or whatever. He thought they were good teachers, that they were very knowledgable, etc., but he described them as so 'specialized' that they are forced to rehash so much of the same material period after period that they acted as if they were sick of it themselves.

It seems like an easy thing to remedy in these larger schools....does a teacher REALLY have to teach the same Civics lesson 5 times a day or whatever?

Anyway, I thought it related to some of the questions raised here.

And I think one aspect of Waldorf's looping that hasn't been mentioned yet is that there is one class teacher, but many special teachers throughout each school day. By 4th grade, the students here have something like seven or eight special teachers giving special classes in addition to those by the class teacher.

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#29 of 32 Old 10-13-2005, 07:37 PM
 
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Just a few things to ponder about having the same teacher for many grades.

I see some negatives for these reasons:

1. each year, with the change of teacher and class, a child often feels the ability to recreate themselves. they can choose to be a better student if they were known for acting up last year. they can get a "fresh start." I see very often that in any classroom (regardless of philosophy) kids find a way to define themselves within that group. as they grow and mature, some make a new start when given the opportunity. its harder when everyone already "knows you as the class clown."

2. in my view, life is all about learning to deal with all kinds of people. the hardest test in college was always the first test with a given teacher because you didnt' know what to expect. you didn't know their style, or the format of the test, etc. after the first test, you knew how to prepare. how that teacher did things. this to me was a valuable learning experience. to learn how to adjust to different teaching styles, expectations, etc. I think I'd prefer to have different teachers for this reason.

3. how involved IS this teacher going to be in your lives? do the teachers follow the children after graduation? how close do they remain? I wonder about this because its very nice to make a strong bond with someone, but it also a job..... don't get me wrong. i'm not trying to be cynical here. I just know with some of my long term nanny jobs, it was important to that child that I still kept in touch after I was no longer working for the family. I wonder how things work out that way.

4. This point is both a negative AND a positive. The trust factor. I'm not sure how close I want my kid's teacher to be to my child. I think its great to nurture and teach, but its a little creepy to me how much influence someone would have that is in my child's life almost as much as the parents. I completely agree with the trust thing. I think a good fit could be wonderful, but this is a tricky thing.

5. another negative and positive simultaneously. learning a new grade level each year. on one hand thats fantastic because it keeps things fresh and new and keeps the teacher from getting in a rut. on the other hand, my friends who have changed grades (from a 3rd grade to a 2nd grade, etc) find the first year of the switch to be a little overwhelming. They don't quite have it together. They are lacking materials, experience, etc. teaching that grade. My favorite teachers at my school are the ones who give their all, aren't burned out, but also have experience with the grade level to know the tricks and tools of teaching that grade. They can see predictors of things that will yield problems later. They have a million songs and activities up their sleeves to make the learning fun. Its a nice balance of having a file cabinet full of stuff, so that you can spend more time being creative rather than just being prepared. Does that make sense? On the flip side, there is one grade at my school where you see the SAME projects on the SAME book each year at the SAME time. Kids with siblings already know all of what they will do in that grade cuz it NEVER changes. My co-worker there has a daughter who just graduated college and she did the SAME projects as the kids are doing now when she attended our school. How stale can you get?! So it can go both ways.

I also worry that some teachers are not good at all subjects, and have strengths and weaknesses like the best of us. I had a few teachers who clearly hated grammar and we didnt spend much time on it. Then I had a teacher who taught me Grammar 101 for most of the year and REALLY rounded out my rough edges with writing. I really think each teacher brings their own skill sets and knowledge to the table. So for this reason, I'm more apt to choose a new teacher each year. However, if I loved a school that looped, and I liked the teacher, I'd prolly change my mind.
XOXO
Beth

mama to Milena Anjali (4/26/06) and Vincent Asher (4/13/09) ~ married to the love of my life since 2002.
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#30 of 32 Old 10-13-2005, 08:01 PM
 
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Wow Beth, Awesome post!


Pete

Quote:
Originally Posted by BethSLP
Just a few things to ponder about having the same teacher for many grades.

I see some negatives for these reasons:

1. each year, with the change of teacher and class, a child often feels the ability to recreate themselves. they can choose to be a better student if they were known for acting up last year. they can get a "fresh start." I see very often that in any classroom (regardless of philosophy) kids find a way to define themselves within that group. as they grow and mature, some make a new start when given the opportunity. its harder when everyone already "knows you as the class clown."

2. in my view, life is all about learning to deal with all kinds of people. the hardest test in college was always the first test with a given teacher because you didnt' know what to expect. you didn't know their style, or the format of the test, etc. after the first test, you knew how to prepare. how that teacher did things. this to me was a valuable learning experience. to learn how to adjust to different teaching styles, expectations, etc. I think I'd prefer to have different teachers for this reason.

3. how involved IS this teacher going to be in your lives? do the teachers follow the children after graduation? how close do they remain? I wonder about this because its very nice to make a strong bond with someone, but it also a job..... don't get me wrong. i'm not trying to be cynical here. I just know with some of my long term nanny jobs, it was important to that child that I still kept in touch after I was no longer working for the family. I wonder how things work out that way.

4. This point is both a negative AND a positive. The trust factor. I'm not sure how close I want my kid's teacher to be to my child. I think its great to nurture and teach, but its a little creepy to me how much influence someone would have that is in my child's life almost as much as the parents. I completely agree with the trust thing. I think a good fit could be wonderful, but this is a tricky thing.

5. another negative and positive simultaneously. learning a new grade level each year. on one hand thats fantastic because it keeps things fresh and new and keeps the teacher from getting in a rut. on the other hand, my friends who have changed grades (from a 3rd grade to a 2nd grade, etc) find the first year of the switch to be a little overwhelming. They don't quite have it together. They are lacking materials, experience, etc. teaching that grade. My favorite teachers at my school are the ones who give their all, aren't burned out, but also have experience with the grade level to know the tricks and tools of teaching that grade. They can see predictors of things that will yield problems later. They have a million songs and activities up their sleeves to make the learning fun. Its a nice balance of having a file cabinet full of stuff, so that you can spend more time being creative rather than just being prepared. Does that make sense? On the flip side, there is one grade at my school where you see the SAME projects on the SAME book each year at the SAME time. Kids with siblings already know all of what they will do in that grade cuz it NEVER changes. My co-worker there has a daughter who just graduated college and she did the SAME projects as the kids are doing now when she attended our school. How stale can you get?! So it can go both ways.

I also worry that some teachers are not good at all subjects, and have strengths and weaknesses like the best of us. I had a few teachers who clearly hated grammar and we didnt spend much time on it. Then I had a teacher who taught me Grammar 101 for most of the year and REALLY rounded out my rough edges with writing. I really think each teacher brings their own skill sets and knowledge to the table. So for this reason, I'm more apt to choose a new teacher each year. However, if I loved a school that looped, and I liked the teacher, I'd prolly change my mind.
XOXO
Beth
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