Is Waldorf too "airy fairy" for some kids? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 04:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
My son was obessed with dragons. I think kids like dragons and dinosaurs and such because they are big and powerful unlike kids. They find them fascinating. My son was encouraged to play other things than dragon just as many of the girls were encouraged to expand their horizona when they became fixated on dogs.
Nothing intellectual about dragons - that's the difference. Ask a kid to draw a dragon and it could look like almost anything. Ask a kid to draw a Tyrannosaurus rex and he will draw one thing... ask them to draw a Stegosaurus and they will draw something completely different. Dragons are mythical, dinosaurs are real. Nourishing an interest in things mythical as opposed to nourishing an interest in things real is what we are really discussing here.

And we're also talking about nourishing an interest in things Waldorf-acceptable. Why would a kid want to be a paleoentologist when they could become a farmer? And, again, the whole idea of intellectual activity at a young age is something Waldorf finds problematic.
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Pete, a lot of modern research backs up the Waldorf beliefs on TV and screens not being good for young children.
Not the point - but yes I agree. Not to the point of never seeing ANY TV, but that too much TV is not good - yes modern research supports this - and I would agree with this even for adults.
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Personally, I don't care if the teacher believes they are protecting my children from Ahriman.
Why wouldn't you care about this?
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I agree with them. TV, videos, movies and computers are not good for children while they are developing.
At all? And why do you believe this?
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When it is okay for these things to be introduced is a matter of debate. I only have to look at my own kids and see how they respond to these influences. They become bored and antsy. They are much more creative and able to keep themselves occupied when they haven't been exposed to screen media.
That's, of course, your choice. Parents deciding on Waldorf should know that this is Waldorf's choice too and if they don't agree, there will be problems... and there will.
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Also, I have to say I like the way Waldorf encourages you to see live music with your children, to play music together, to sing together. That is much more human interactiven than listening to recorded music all of the time.
Great! That may be fine for your family.
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Also, if you aren't listening to music or the radio or the TV all the time, then there is time for silence or the songs of nature which is sadly lacking in our time.
So, then, assuming we don't all feel like you do, the answer to the OP's question might very well be Waldorf IS too "airy fairy" for some kids. Would you agree? Or do all kids have to do these things to develop properly? Should I feel bad that my kid watched an hour long documentary on dolphins with great interest? Should I be sure to turn off the TV before he watches another one about bees or elephants - or even dinosaurs?

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#32 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 04:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LindaCl
Maybe I'm confusing them with Calvin and Hobbs, but even in real life the T Rex seems to consistently trump its competition in children's popularity polls.
Hmmm... How about "Danny and the Dinosaur" - probably one of the most popular children's books about - featuring a plant-eating Brontosaurus?

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The "facts" we really know about dinosaurs aren't enough to captivate the imagination of the average five year old, imho. Even scientists are guilty of engaging in a lot of speculation about what they were really like.
I don't know where you're getting your five-year-olds, but I'd say there are plenty of facts for anyone. Because every scientist in the world doesn't agree (big surprize) doesn't mean the many things we know about dinosaurs should not be taught to children - certainly these things shouldn't be hidden from them. And really, if kids in Waldorf are taught about gnomes, I think speculating that a fast moving (fact) dinosaur with 9" teeth (fact) didn't develop by chasing and eating plants wouldn't really do all that much in the way of confusing kids.

From an earlier post:
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Dinosaurs, cartoon characters, robots, aliens, lasers and cyber pets and other such take children's imaginations *away* from the world they live in.
Again, how about gnomes and dragons and fairys? This argument doesn't make much sense to me.

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Barney aside :-), dinosaurs are usually huge reptilian (we think) giants with dangerous claws and enormous sharp teeth, we imagine them roaring and squawking, and we tend to be very intrigued which ones are the terrifying predators like Godzilla. Maybe the teachers would like to see this kind of dinosaur play diminish?
Maybe kids playing at (from Grimms) pushing a wicked witch into an oven and burning her alive is more appropriate?

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#33 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 05:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I didn't mean for this to turn into a big debate, I hope I'm not going to be seen as a trouble maker now (I've seen some of the other threads and realize there have been issues here with the various for and against posts). I just have so many questions since I'm not all that familiar with this style of learning and the school near us seems so great in so many ways, yet so completely unlike any school I've ever been to in others. I come from a standard public school background.

There are going to be issues with any school we send our kids to, imo. There are going to be things I like and dislike about ANY school. It is just a matter of finding the best fit. There are things I don't like about the school he is at now, as well, but overall I'm happy with it, I just feel that I owe it to my kids to find the BEST school for them, and I'm not 100% sure that where we're at now is the best fit for him.

The main thing I guess, for me, with Waldorf, is that it doesn't bother me if I don't agree with them on everything. I am fine with the dinosaur play, the vehicle play, the kids wanting to read earlier, some tv watching and video game playing, the live music as opposed to radio. I have heard the arguments and I just don't agree with the elimination of them. BUT it doesn't bother me if he could not do these things at school. I like all the wood toys and the fairy tales and the nature walks and music enrichment.

I think it's wonderful if they only include live music in thier curriculum. That's great. Dh and I don't play instruments though, so the idea of us all sitting around the fire with acustic guitars singing- well it just isn't going to happen:LOL We sing bedtime songs at night and that is the extent of our reperoie So my concern is, are they going to expect me to turn my home into a Waldorf environment? From some of these posts, from the parents who have kids currently in Waldorf school, it seems we'd not be expected to do that, and then from other posts, it seems that they do expect that. Maybe it just depends on the school, how strict they are. No amount of explaining of the "why" behind everything is going to make me purge our entire house of anything "unWaldorf" or discourage my child from doing things that *I* as a parent have no problem with at home.

It seems like friends I've had that have thier kids there, at first just said that the only thing they had to do is not have their kids watch tv/video/computer on weekdays then come to find out this thing with the dinosaurs. Small thing, but how many other little things are there that the school is going to encourage parents to steer their kids away from in their own home? Is there a list somewhere?:LOL Someone mentioned something about books in the home being possibly discouraged too and that won't happen in my home either. I just want to know what I'd be getting myself into before we signed up, you know?

And I don't mean to sound negative about it. It's just that I already know what I LIKE about the program, I'm just trying to anticipate what I might not like. I know how I am, and I won't like people at the school constantly suggesting what to do/not do with my kids in my own home. Does that make sense? That I like the way the classrooms look and the types of things they do with the kids, BUT that I am not prepared to turn our whole lives into some sort of replication of that?
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#34 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 05:58 PM
 
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I don't know where you're getting your five-year-olds
The usual way

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I think speculating that a fast moving (fact) dinosaur with 9" teeth (fact) didn't develop by chasing and eating plants wouldn't really do all that much in the way of confusing kids.
I'm sorry if I didn't explain myself well, but I think I did confuse you. Actually, scientists have argued lately that T Rex was not fast moving......there was an article about this in Nature magazine a few years ago, and the scientific research and analysis behind it (focusing on the muscular capacity of land animals with considerable mass) was very well received in the scientific community. I haven't heard that there's much argument that it ate plants, but there is much current speculation that it was a carrion eater, not a predator.

I guess this is getting far afield from the main question, sorry.
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#35 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 07:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LindaCl
I'm sorry if I didn't explain myself well, but I think I did confuse you. Actually, scientists have argued lately that T Rex was not fast moving......there was an article about this in Nature magazine a few years ago, and the scientific research and analysis behind it (focusing on the muscular capacity of land animals with considerable mass) was very well received in the scientific community. I haven't heard that there's much argument that it ate plants, but there is much current speculation that it was a carrion eater, not a predator.
Movement speed is determined by the length of the stride relative to the size of the dinosaur. But getting back to a point that seems to have gotten lost here, even if we concluded everything we claim to know about them is possibly wrong - I'll even say - even if we conclude they are completely mythical creatures that never existed, how is learning about dinosaurs (something kids are extremely and very naturally interested in) any more harmful than learning about gnomes and fairies which we all know are mythical? How is learning about something that is "dead" worse than learning about (and drawing, and sewing, and knitting) gnomes that never existed?

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#36 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 07:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by momsgotmilk4two
I didn't mean for this to turn into a big debate, I hope I'm not going to be seen as a trouble maker now (I've seen some of the other threads and realize there have been issues here with the various for and against posts). I just have so many questions since I'm not all that familiar with this style of learning and the school near us seems so great in so many ways, yet so completely unlike any school I've ever been to in others. I come from a standard public school background.

There are going to be issues with any school we send our kids to, imo. There are going to be things I like and dislike about ANY school. It is just a matter of finding the best fit. There are things I don't like about the school he is at now, as well, but overall I'm happy with it, I just feel that I owe it to my kids to find the BEST school for them, and I'm not 100% sure that where we're at now is the best fit for him.

The main thing I guess, for me, with Waldorf, is that it doesn't bother me if I don't agree with them on everything. I am fine with the dinosaur play, the vehicle play, the kids wanting to read earlier, some tv watching and video game playing, the live music as opposed to radio. I have heard the arguments and I just don't agree with the elimination of them. BUT it doesn't bother me if he could not do these things at school. I like all the wood toys and the fairy tales and the nature walks and music enrichment.

I think it's wonderful if they only include live music in thier curriculum. That's great. Dh and I don't play instruments though, so the idea of us all sitting around the fire with acustic guitars singing- well it just isn't going to happen:LOL We sing bedtime songs at night and that is the extent of our reperoie So my concern is, are they going to expect me to turn my home into a Waldorf environment? From some of these posts, from the parents who have kids currently in Waldorf school, it seems we'd not be expected to do that, and then from other posts, it seems that they do expect that. Maybe it just depends on the school, how strict they are. No amount of explaining of the "why" behind everything is going to make me purge our entire house of anything "unWaldorf" or discourage my child from doing things that *I* as a parent have no problem with at home.

It seems like friends I've had that have thier kids there, at first just said that the only thing they had to do is not have their kids watch tv/video/computer on weekdays then come to find out this thing with the dinosaurs. Small thing, but how many other little things are there that the school is going to encourage parents to steer their kids away from in their own home? Is there a list somewhere?:LOL Someone mentioned something about books in the home being possibly discouraged too and that won't happen in my home either. I just want to know what I'd be getting myself into before we signed up, you know?

And I don't mean to sound negative about it. It's just that I already know what I LIKE about the program, I'm just trying to anticipate what I might not like. I know how I am, and I won't like people at the school constantly suggesting what to do/not do with my kids in my own home. Does that make sense? That I like the way the classrooms look and the types of things they do with the kids, BUT that I am not prepared to turn our whole lives into some sort of replication of that?
Don't worry, Mom...you're not a troublemaker; you just have 1 or 2 near you
You're going to have to follow your heart on the Waldorf thing.
If you are meant to be there, you will be.
Waldorf is not just for people who 'follow the rules'. A healthy Waldorf school (and class) is one that understands its dedication to community, and everybody helps everybody else along on the journey.
There may be some who disapprove of things you do, but you may also disapprove of things that others do.
The real challenge is to cultivate love and TRUST so we can all help each other.
If you find yourself in an environment where you feel safe to say, "I really struggle with this; my kids are doing so-and-so, and I really don't see the problem", or "maybe someone else who is struggling with this can help me understand this," you're in the right place.
And maybe you can help someone who says something like, "my kids are so hooked on junk food, and I notice that your kids are eating such healthful food--how did you do that?"
To me, it is this kind of trust and understanding that is lacking, not just in Waldorf schools, but everywhere.
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#37 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 08:08 PM
 
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Okay okay, so until we build a time machine and travel back to find some definitive answers this is all an academic (intellectual) discussion.

I want to send my kids to Waldorf to learn how to learn. I really don't give a good goshdarn if they're studying fairies or dragons or alien spaceships as long as they're learning to pursue (research) their interest and learn to discern fact from fiction and apply it to their world at large. I am beginning to wonder, though, if censorship really does come into play. Maybe just at the purist schools? Sure, I think it'd be inappropriate for my kinder to wear a F* Bush (other thread here ) to school but I absolutely encourage him to learn about everything in his environment (natural & artificial) and to question question question.... I'm sure not going to censor him at home and I won't teach him to lie if it comes up at recess or sharing time at school.

I don't know. The censorship of ideas & exposure never ocurred to me before. Again, maybe this varies school to school. I'll have to do some more exploring.

Okay, case in point, my 4 y.o. is about to go watch Osmosis Jones for his "sick movie." Would I have to tell him he can't talk about that at school?
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#38 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 08:14 PM
 
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Okay, case in point, my 4 y.o. is about to go watch Osmosis Jones for his "sick movie." Would I have to tell him he can't talk about that at school?
As a Waldorf teacher, I definitely think that 4-year-olds shouldn't be seeing movies.
The ill effects of seeing a movie, though, are miniscule compared to the idea of asking a child to lie, omit or be otherwise deceitful.
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#39 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 08:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by momsgotmilk4two
I didn't mean for this to turn into a big debate, I hope I'm not going to be seen as a trouble maker now (I've seen some of the other threads and realize there have been issues here with the various for and against posts). I just have so many questions since I'm not all that familiar with this style of learning and the school near us seems so great in so many ways, yet so completely unlike any school I've ever been to in others. I come from a standard public school background.
I agree with Waldorf teacher - you are not sparking the debate here - there are some that are determined to debate everthing to death (literally). Your question was simple "Is Waldorf too "airy fairy" for some kids? The answer is equally simple - YES Waldorf is too airy fairy for some kids. Now if the question was "Is Waldorf too "airy fairy" for MY kid?" then I suppose some reasonable debate would have to ensue. But you are really the only one who can determine that for yourself.
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There are going to be issues with any school we send our kids to, imo. There are going to be things I like and dislike about ANY school. It is just a matter of finding the best fit. There are things I don't like about the school he is at now, as well, but overall I'm happy with it, I just feel that I owe it to my kids to find the BEST school for them, and I'm not 100% sure that where we're at now is the best fit for him.
I'd say, look at your son, look at your family and look at the school you are considering. See if you can see your family in that school. It's never best to contort a family into a lifestyle they resent or are not comfortable with (IMO). I'm an engineer, and I know that when I try to bend something out of it's own shape, stresses occur and there is always tension to return to its original shape - the shape it was intended to be. It's one thing when we are talking about a piece of metal, something else when we are talking about a child or a family.
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The main thing I guess, for me, with Waldorf, is that it doesn't bother me if I don't agree with them on everything. I am fine with the dinosaur play, the vehicle play, the kids wanting to read earlier, some tv watching and video game playing, the live music as opposed to radio. I have heard the arguments and I just don't agree with the elimination of them. BUT it doesn't bother me if he could not do these things at school. I like all the wood toys and the fairy tales and the nature walks and music enrichment.
Yes, Waldorf schools certainly have a nice feel to them - no denying this.
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I think it's wonderful if they only include live music in thier curriculum. That's great. Dh and I don't play instruments though, so the idea of us all sitting around the fire with acustic guitars singing- well it just isn't going to happen:LOL We sing bedtime songs at night and that is the extent of our reperoie So my concern is, are they going to expect me to turn my home into a Waldorf environment?
Every school is different, of course. I don't think anyone will tell you that you need to take guitar lessons, but you may wonder why the dessert was confiscated from your child's lunch before he could eat it. Some schools take this stuff too far, some are more lenient. It will depend on the school you have chosen. I know a few of the California schools - some are more lenient than others.
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From some of these posts, from the parents who have kids currently in Waldorf school, it seems we'd not be expected to do that, and then from other posts, it seems that they do expect that.
I've got 3 kids in Waldorf - the oldest is a senior in high school and has been in Waldorf since he was 3. At my particular school, there are expectations and some teachers and administrators want to stick their noses into things that are downright none of their business. I've told them to go fly a kite about some things (one year I bought each of my kids an electric guitar for Christmas - Ooohhh what a terrible Dad I am). I'm sorry if this sounds critical, but it is, I think, the type of information you are asking about.
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Maybe it just depends on the school, how strict they are.
Yes, you are right about this.
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No amount of explaining of the "why" behind everything is going to make me purge our entire house of anything "unWaldorf" or discourage my child from doing things that *I* as a parent have no problem with at home.
Sometimes, it's just not your choice. Waldorf schools have expelled children whose families insisted the children may watch TV. They want to create a community in which the children are all compliant - they don't want one child bringing in play or characters that they learned from TV.
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It seems like friends I've had that have thier kids there, at first just said that the only thing they had to do is not have their kids watch tv/video/computer on weekdays then come to find out this thing with the dinosaurs. Small thing, but how many other little things are there that the school is going to encourage parents to steer their kids away from in their own home?
Well, I can think of a few. Diet is important to them for sure so nothing sugary in lunches or before school. They have issues with vaccinations too. Out of school activities may be discouraged at young ages - especially soccer and martial arts classes. I don't know about how you feel about gun play for kids but gun play is not allowed - sword play is allowed however. So, if your child has a birthday party and wants to play laser tag or paint-balls, not too many kids from his class will show up.

There are lots of other things I can think of, but I see that this has become what some people will call a critical post and really I'm only trying to give you the information you are looking for. If you want to PM me for more, I'd be happy to provide you with more info.

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Is there a list somewhere?:LOL Someone mentioned something about books in the home being possibly discouraged too and that won't happen in my home either. I just want to know what I'd be getting myself into before we signed up, you know?
Books - as in you reading to your son - will not be discouraged - in fact they will be encouraged. Books for your son to read on his own (I'm assuming he's kindergarten) most likely will be discouraged. Books like coloring books will most likely be discouraged.

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And I don't mean to sound negative about it. It's just that I already know what I LIKE about the program, I'm just trying to anticipate what I might not like. I know how I am, and I won't like people at the school constantly suggesting what to do/not do with my kids in my own home. Does that make sense?
Boy, it sure makes sense to me. And I feel you have a very valid reason to be concerned.
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That I like the way the classrooms look and the types of things they do with the kids, BUT that I am not prepared to turn our whole lives into some sort of replication of that?
There are certainly some who do - I know we did. While it is not a requirement, it certainly IS an expectation with some people. So when you consider having play dates or sleep-overs and expect to have someone elses kid watching TV with your son during the weekend, you may be in for a surprize.

Again, apologies if this sounds critical... I'm telling it the way it is - and I would know about this at least as well as anyone here.

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#40 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by waldorf teacher
As a Waldorf teacher, I definitely think that 4-year-olds shouldn't be seeing movies.
The ill effects of seeing a movie, though, are miniscule compared to the idea of asking a child to lie, omit or be otherwise deceitful.
What would you do if despite you giving your opinion that children should not be seeing movies, a parent of one of your students decided to show them anyway? Or does your school just strictly forbid this so that it wouldn't be an issue?
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#41 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 09:29 PM
 
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I don't have time to type much now but I want to agree with Pete that yes, Waldorf is definitely to airy fairy for some children. Just as public school is too rigid, etc. for some children. But as he said, the real issue is whether it is right for your children or not - and you'll really have to research the school in your area, talk to teachers and other parents if possible, to see how he'd fit in.

I believe you mentioned that it is a public school. This means that you should encounter far less issues in terms of restrictions on and expectations of the family and home life than you would at a private Waldorf school. For example, where I work, there is no "TV talk" at school but aside from encouraging media to be limited, parents decide what's best for their children. Some kids in my class watch nothing, others watch a fair amount and play video games. While the school encourages healthy lunches in reusable containers, etc. some kids have organic sprouted wheat bread with homemade soup and others have gogurt blue yogurt tubes and cheese-its. There are no guns allowed at school - pretend or imaginary - in play or in drawings. But other than that, you should see the robots in their drawings! The only thing they are not allowed to play is babies for several reasons: 1) It gets too noisy, 2) Then children are crawling all over the floor, and 3) The teacher feels they are getting a little too old for that now. But mainly it's 1 and 2 that caused the ban on babies. They can still use the dolls for babies.

I also agree that it doesn't make any sense why dragons would be allowed but dinosaurs would be. Neither exist now, and at least dinosaurs did - you can see the fossils and go on archeological digs, etc. Same thing with robots or fairies. How is living in a world of gnomes and fairies any more real than robots, dinosaurs, and cyber pets? Not to mention that while violent play is stopped, the Grimm's stories are full of torture and horrible physical endings for various characters.

But back to your original question, I think that you'll find that the public school is a lot less affected by Anthroposophy than the private schools, and that's where you'd run into the troubles that Pete has. (I was raised in a similar religious organization, so I know exactly what he's talking about.) But since the school has to follow state laws and not all of the teachers will be Anthroposophists, you'll find more flexibility and more ideas and this may end up working out quite well for your family.

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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#42 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 09:33 PM
 
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Some schools will ask you to sign a no media policy, ours does not. A lot of parents choose Waldorf because they do not want TV, videos, computer games, movies, etc. in their children's lives and they are looking for other families who want the same thing. We have felt far more pressure from other families to keep the no media policy than I ever felt from any of the teachers.

My son played dinosaurs (he has a ton of the Carnegie dinosaurs and knew all their names and which period they were from) it was never a problem at our school. My son was obessed with trains. Same thing, not a problem.

For what it is worth, my husband and I are both engineers and one of the reasons we chose Waldorf was because of all the one-sided engineers we work with. Our son shows every indication that he too will be an engineer like his parents and his two grandfathers. It has never been a problem. In fact, he thoroughly enjoyed building in the sandbox and using the trestles in Kindergarten. He has always loved the handwork. In 3rd grade, he loved the house building and 4th grade he is loving the map making.

During his 7 years of Waldorf we have only been asked to do two things: 1) read more than fact books to him at bedtime and 2) not listen to the radio or music in the mornings before school. The first was asked because that is all he ever wanted. Facts, facts, facts. So his teachers requested that we read him one fact book and one storybook. It expanded his horizons and now he thoroughly enjoys both. The no radio or music in the mornings had to do with overstimulation.

I have never had a teacher take away my child's cookie. We were asked to not send sugary stuff to school in Kindergarten but a cookie ever so often was okay. In grade school it isn't even an issue.

My kids were allowed to play with stick guns outside at Kindergarten. No stick guns inside but the teachers didn't have a problem with them outside. During the buildup to the Iraq war and after it started, there was a lot of gun play that died out over time. Obviously the kids were processing something and the teachers recognized this. They kept an eye on it but they didn't ban it.

Personally, Waldorf is not for everyone but my son is not airy-fairy and it has been great for him. It has made him more well rounded. If I had gone the gifted school route as laid out by the public school, he would have been a total egghead like most of the engineers I work with. That is not what I wanted for my children.
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#43 of 114 Old 10-09-2005, 10:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Rhonwyn, for sharing some of your school's policies and for the others of you who did as well

Many of those don't sound any different than the things public school teachers ask of you. There is no weapon play allowed at ds's school and they ask you to bring healthy snacks as well. They also disallow certain types of pretend play, for similar reasons that the poster who mentioned the baby play said. Star Wars or Incredibles play isn't allowed because it gets out of hand and kids might end up hurt or upset. My nephew's teacher also asked his parents to talk with him about not talking about video games to the other children because it was hurting him socially. All he talked about was video games that the other children didn't play and no one knew how to relate to him. My ds doesn't have that problem though. Anyway, I understand and could get behind policies like that, that seem to make good sense
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When we did our earl;y childhood program, one of the children was totally into Mickey Mouse and DW. All her block play was about her trip and all her art work with the watercolors ended up being 'Mickey Mouse'. it was never an issue at all. the teacher was older, trained traditionally, talked about keeoing our kids heads covered etc., but the M Mouse kidlet was never an issue.

Those who wanted to play, played, and those kiddies who had no interest, played something else. I did this group for two years and it was really nice, and the teacher was very nurturing and accepting. She fed us and gave us tea.

She did wear those waldorf skirts and aprons, but she was totally cool.
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The thing I wondered with the dinosaurs, is that the teacher described what he had as a "fixation" on dinosaurs. Why is fixation on gnomes and knights and fairies good, but fixation on dinosaurs bad?
I don't know really. Waldorf ed incorporates this idea of cultural recapitulation (akin to that of an earlier philosophical theorist Herbart, who Steiner did know of), where each individual is thought to contain a 'germ' or seed so to speak of cultural memory. Cultural development is a motif, so to speak, for individual development and early childhood is thought of as the stage of the folk consciousness, thus the fairy tales and so on. This changes as the child gets older. Folk consciousness is left behind in 2nd grade. This is a philosophical view of the human as a cultural being first and foremost, rather than primarily an animal being. In this kind of framework, where early childhood consciousness is a recapitulation of the folk consciousness, folk images (including the fairies, gnomes, and witches) are sort of etched storybook moral archetypes. That's one reason why Waldorf ed is so comfortable with them.

Whether or not these images are worse, better, or the same as dinosaur images for children today, I don't know. If my child's teacher felt strongly about it one way or another, I would expect him or her to explain why. Waldorf teachers aren't supposed to simply follow a Waldorf script, so there's no reason at all why a parent should feel 'out of line' for asking for the teacher's own reasons for this or that, including dinosaurs. Ideally, the teacher and the parent should be partners, this means each should listen honestly and well-meaningly to the other. I truly believe that if a teacher can't explain it, then the teacher doesn't understand it either. I don't mean that you have to accept the explanation, just that they need to explain why they're asking this of you. As a parent, you don't have to defend yourself, but I think it's helpful to the teacher if you can share your own insights or views on a given issue.

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And as far as marketing goes, Waldorf markets certain toys too. I've noticed a whole lot of websites out there that sell Waldorf toys. I don't have a problem with it, but they *are* promoting material "things". I didn't want to bring this up with my friend because I didn't want to put her on the spot or make her defensive, it just left me with more questions than answers
There is too much "marketing" of Waldorf 'approved' toys, I agree. In my experience, this is parent energy, not school energy. We have Waldorf dolls now that come with as many outfits as a Barbie!

Margaret Gorman (sp?) wrote an article called "Confessions of a Waldorf Parent". She was a Waldorf parent (and so-called mainstream ed teacher) who later became an anthroposophist and a Waldorf teacher, but I think it's a pretty unflinching account of her journey. She winces as she recounts what she calls her 'pure' phase, where she seems to have driven her own family nearly insane with her episode of 99.9% pure Waldorf militantism. What she ultimately realized was that Waldorf really is about people, it's not about dogma nor about 'stuff' (including absence of it!).

Last night I had dinner with a friend of mine (100% non-waldorf, don't know that's she's ever heard of it) who is going to be a grandmother any day now. Her daughter, the mother-to-be, is a public school teacher (several years now) who when in college went through the standard curriculum of child psychology, child care, nutrition, and various unsundry expert-know-it-all indoctrination, and is currently suffering her own *pure* phase. At her own baby shower, she heard that her mother (my friend) occasionally gave her chocolate milk in her baby bottle when she was an infant, and she was mortified to hear this. Here she is, days from giving birth to her own child, and she's ready to strike her own mother from the list of approved caregivers for her soon-to-be-born baby. Over chocolate milk. I'm sure she'll eventually come to her senses ..... real life has a way of mellowing people, giving them a healthier sense of what ultimately matters and what doesn't.

I've been blessed because my children had human teachers, not insecure purists. I've always felt respected, and there's almost nothing Waldorfy about my home. Fellow parents have been a major irritant to me at times, but not the Waldorf teachers. Even the TV thing, which has always been a big deal to the teachers, has been dealt with enormous graciousness. One teacher did lower himself to beg once at a parent meeting , but with 100% sincerity he said he can't tell parents what to do, that each person must decide what's best in total freedom. Another teacher passed a sign-up list around the class for parents who did not want their own children to watch TV and movies at others homes simply so that parents could better respect one another's parenting choices.

My earlier post seems to be gone now where I itemized some on the 'what else might we be asked' question. In my experience, a lot is *suggested*, very little is *required*. In my experience, this is largely a result of parents who are eager for these suggestions. Almost too much so. It should be a partnership, not a dependancy.

In my experience, the Waldorf teachers give a lot of advice but they don't tell you what to do. I was a long time parent before I became a Waldorf parent, and as I think back I often wonder how I would have reacted to this advice if it was my first experience with teacher-parent relations. I didn't view the advice as 'judgemental', and felt perfectly comfortable in my own self to take it or leave it if I didn't agree with it or if it just wasn't workable for one reason or another. Oftentimes I didn't take the advice simply because I didn't get it then, but would do looking back now, in hindsight. It helps me understand now why they gave the advice, that's all.

So unfortunately I don't think there's an easy answer to your question. Not all schools are the same. Not all teachers are the same, or maybe they are but just at a different 'phase' at any given time that may or may not mesh well with the phase we're going through as parents. And a lot depends on the make-up of the parent body that happen to enroll the same time you do. Just in our one school, each class is truly *very* unique from another. My own boys have two completely different Waldorf experiences.

I hope this makes sense. So much about Waldorf is really about the people involved as opposed to some strict formula.

Linda
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. In my experience, a lot is *suggested*, very little is *required*. In my experience, this is largely a result of parents who are eager for these suggestions. Almost too much so. It should be a partnership, not a dependancy.

Linda

Linda I think you captured quite eloquently one of the issues about parents needing to be responsible for what they are signing up for, and being mature enough to weed through things. When I chose public school for my own children, I had to make sure I knew the educational philosophy of the country, my state, and the local school in particular before choosing it. The same thing seems true for Waldorf and ANY education.

Another thought--last night I had dinner with a mom who has her daughter in Waldorf education. We talked about Waldorf education philosophy and the spiritual underpinnings. Because she is a mature grown-up, she simply takes what she needs from the philosophy/anthroposophy and leaves the rest. She talks to her daughter about these values as well.

I think people can get into a "fundamentalism" or "pure" stage with Waldorf or anything else, just as you describe. I believe it is a sign of maturity when someone begins to see all the gray areas between the black and white.

 











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I don't know really. Waldorf ed incorporates this idea of cultural recapitulation (akin to that of an earlier philosophical theorist Herbart, who Steiner did know of), where each individual is thought to contain a 'germ' or seed so to speak of cultural memory. Cultural development is a motif, so to speak, for individual development and early childhood is thought of as the stage of the folk consciousness, thus the fairy tales and so on. This changes as the child gets older. Folk consciousness is left behind in 2nd grade. This is a philosophical view of the human as a cultural being first and foremost, rather than primarily an animal being. In this kind of framework, where early childhood consciousness is a recapitulation of the folk consciousness, folk images (including the fairies, gnomes, and witches) are sort of etched storybook moral archetypes. That's one reason why Waldorf ed is so comfortable with them.
This is very interesting Linda. Do you have a source for this material? I'd love to read about it - especially the "folk consciousness" stuff.

Thanks!

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#48 of 114 Old 10-10-2005, 10:08 AM
 
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Another thought--last night I had dinner with a mom who has her daughter in Waldorf education. We talked about Waldorf education philosophy and the spiritual underpinnings. Because she is a mature grown-up, she simply takes what she needs from the philosophy/anthroposophy and leaves the rest. She talks to her daughter about these values as well.
I wonder if children have the maturity to do the same. I know parents who have to supplement (undermine) what the school teaches their kids (because it is wrong) from time to time. If you're not 100% on board with the philosophy, children know it and that affects their own attitude about school. It is not a situation I would wish on anyone.

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"Folk Consciousness" refers to the "folk spirits" Steiner said influenced and watched over each culture/country. They are a part of the spiritual hierarchy of fairy/gnome folk, humans, angels, folk spirits, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, etc. up to God.

So, by saying the children have a "folk consciousness" until the age of seven (or 9 in relation to the "I am" consciousness) and dealing with them within this mindset or framework is interweaving Christianity/Judaism/Islam (all who believe and speak of this same hierarchy and beings) into the life of the child.
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#50 of 114 Old 10-10-2005, 10:16 AM
 
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Lauren,

I agree with your last post and the maturity statement. This is the same thing Eugene Shcwartz said about people in the Waldorf movement and Anthroposophists (which by the way, he included to be anyone working in a Waldorf School=inseparable).
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#51 of 114 Old 10-10-2005, 10:59 AM
 
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"Folk Consciousness" refers to the "folk spirits" Steiner said influenced and watched over each culture/country. They are a part of the spiritual hierarchy of humans, angels, folk spirits, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, etc.
Yes, that's what I believe Steiner meant by this - more of a "spiritual nationalism" - not something having to do with fairy tales or dinosaurs.
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So, by saying the children have a folk consciousness until the age of seven and dealing with them within this mindset or framework is interweaving Christianity/Judaism/Islam (all who believe and speak of this same hierarchy and beings) into the life of the child.
I think this is why Waldorf believes all children belong in Waldorf - i.e. the notion that Waldorf is not too airy fairy for some kids. If children are thought to have a folk consciousness (and not - or only partially developed or incarnated human consciousness) until the age of seven, then that would perhaps explain it. Steiner felt this way about other things too. There was, for example, a spiritual element that connected all things that might be considered a chair. Chairs were bound together by their chair characteristics... 3 legged stools could be a sub-category of chairs. He looked at these things as we look at nationalism. That's why I was asking Linda for a source for her comments, they don't appear to be correct or complete to me.

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See my updates on my last post for clarity.
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Out of school activities may be discouraged at young ages - especially soccer and martial arts classes.
Pete
Do you happen to know why they especially don't encourage soccer or martial arts classes in particular? How are these activities any more anti-Waldorf than other sports or activities?
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Yes, that's what I believe Steiner meant by this - more of a "spiritual nationalism" - not something having to do with fairy tales or dinosaurs.

I think this is why Waldorf believes all children belong in Waldorf - i.e. the notion that Waldorf is not too airy fairy for some kids. If children are thought to have a folk consciousness (and not - or only partially developed or incarnated human consciousness) until the age of seven, then that would perhaps explain it. Steiner felt this way about other things too. There was, for example, a spiritual element that connected all things that might be considered a chair. Chairs were bound together by their chair characteristics... 3 legged stools could be a sub-category of chairs. He looked at these things as we look at nationalism. That's why I was asking Linda for a source for her comments, they don't appear to be correct or complete to me.

Pete

Pete, I don't recall that Steiner (or anyone in Waldorf Ed) has stated uncategorically that every child should be in a Waldorf School. New schools depend on parent initiative for their founding; there is no organization that says "Lo, and there shall be Waldorf schools in every county in every state of every country!"

Nor do I recall that Steiner ever used the term "spiritual nationalism" anywhere. In fact, he was very outspoken in opposition to nationalism or nationalistic tendencies and would abhor (my opinion based on his voluminous lectures and books) the idea that nationalism would be good if it was somehow "spiritualized"!

He did use the term "folk souls" however, referring to the "group soul" of a people united by culture, language, locality, over-seen or overshadowed
or lead/guided by a spiritual being.

When I was in grade school, we read fairy or folk tales from many other
countries, not just the English, Irish, Scottish, German folk or fairy tales.

I think that most if not all cultures have a treasure trove of folk tales that people have told their children over the millenia. This is part of the rich cultural heritage of ethnic groups. Many of these folk tales include what we call fairies, elemental beings, sprites, house guardians, guardians of the forest and fields and lakes, and so on. These old tales might be said to reflect an earlier stage of human consciousness when we were able to see these beings at work all around us. But we've lost that capacity -- though it seems now that more people are becoming "sensitive" to them and their working again.

When my daughter was quite young, she built houses in the woods in Ireland for the fairies and gnomes and told me she could see them. I've heard this from other parents as well, and not just from Waldorf-oriented parents.

Of course, children don't (and shouldn't) stay in this folk tale consciousness; that's why they go on to map-making, house-building, farming and gardening, baking, and the maths and sciences.

In Ireland today, there are still many traditions that demand respect for the fairies -- and that newcomers break at their peril. I've experienced this myself when I lived there! They call it Tir na nOg - The Land of Youth...

Serena
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#55 of 114 Old 10-10-2005, 12:31 PM
 
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Do you happen to know why they especially don't encourage soccer or martial arts classes in particular? How are these activities any more anti-Waldorf than other sports or activities?
Getting a clear answer on these things is not always possible. But regarding soccer, the usual answer is that Steiner preferred that children do not look downward - as they must do in playing soccer - but instead suggested children should look upward. Steiner didn't like kicking games. That's why in many Waldorf schools we may see basketball teams and volleyball teams but no soccer or football teams. Some Waldorf schools are starting to get away from this because of parent pressure.

Martial arts and even tai chi are considered by some to be working against the important (to Waldorf) Eurythmy instruction. Also people in Waldorf sometimes see martial arts classes and think of robotic movement and thinking. Few will take the time to investigate the spiritual aspects of the martial arts and the beautiful flowing movements that are represented there. Some see only fighting which makes the task of keeping bullying in check even more difficult. I'll look in my files for a letter from our local Eurythmy teacher describing the evils of martial arts and if I can find it I'll post it here.

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I just have to say that I'm REALLY glad that there are people like Pete posting an alternate view of Waldorf. The presentation to the public vs. the reality of where the ideas/philosophy actually come from are QUITE different and misleading.

I know so many people who view Waldorf as a more open minded artistic and wholistic education....not realizing that there are pretty strict rules involved.

To my mind, it is doing our children a major disservice to not teach them how to use technology. The internet is so important in our world, to not prepare children (with supervision of course) to use this technology is limiting them IMO.

All this "it influences certain synapses" etc etc. is sketchy research at best. sure you can look at a brain map, but to know what that actually means as far as cognition is NOT CONFIRMED. People look so quickly to brain based stuff, without knowing the actual meaning. My brother was into videogames growing up and it helped him A LOT. He had poor hand eye coordination, and had to go for treatments at the AI Institute. When my dad saw the "therapy" he recognized it was in fact similar to Atari. Problem solved. His spatial abilities are incredible now.

Also, many of my friends learned to read playing Nintendo games like Legend of Zelda. It was motivating and interesting. I think thats great!

Too much of anything is excessive in my opinion. Too much technology is bad...as well as too much living in the dark ages. And yes, I would be LIVID if I sent my kid to a school that was teaching occultism under the table. That is not disclosure or informed consent. Parents are owed more honesty and the schools should be open and honest about the Steiner philosophy. Steiner is not Piaget or Vygotsky...as another parent on here stated. Parents would be wise to question where these ideas came from and on what basis.

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I think people can get into a "fundamentalism" or "pure" stage with Waldorf or anything else, just as you describe. I believe it is a sign of maturity when someone begins to see all the gray areas between the black and white.
As an educator, I can speak to the fact that theory drives practice. This is so key IMO. To recognize, that its not like going to church and deciding that you will take this and leave that. Your children are being taught a dogma here, that you either like or don't but it will influence every aspect of the curriculum. The underlying theory of any school is paramount for this reason. It permeates everything.

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#58 of 114 Old 10-10-2005, 01:04 PM
 
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Nor do I recall that Steiner ever used the term "spiritual nationalism" anywhere.
Yes, I'm sorry if the quotes implied to you that Steiner used this term. I didn't intend that meaning.

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In fact, he was very outspoken in opposition to nationalism or nationalistic tendencies and would abhor (my opinion based on his voluminous lectures and books) the idea that nationalism would be good if it was somehow "spiritualized"!
I'm speaking of "spiritual nationalism" in a different sense here - not as a political nationalism but more like a connectedness through a spiritual folk guide (as you describe below). I used the example of chairs to describe this connectedness.

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He did use the term "folk souls" however, referring to the "group soul" of a people united by culture, language, locality, over-seen or overshadowed or lead/guided by a spiritual being.
Yes, but not, AFAIK, referring to children who have not incarnated. I think the term has been misapplied here.

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When I was in grade school, we read fairy or folk tales from many other
countries, not just the English, Irish, Scottish, German folk or fairy tales.

I think that most if not all cultures have a treasure trove of folk tales that people have told their children over the millenia. This is part of the rich cultural heritage of ethnic groups. Many of these folk tales include what we call fairies, elemental beings, sprites, house guardians, guardians of the forest and fields and lakes, and so on. These old tales might be said to reflect an earlier stage of human consciousness when we were able to see these beings at work all around us. But we've lost that capacity -- though it seems now that more people are becoming "sensitive" to them and their working again.
I would suggest to you that these old tales are nothing more than old tales. That poeple could once see "these beings" is a speculative flight of fancy I'm not willing to allow as part of my kid's education nor is it something I would appreciate in the people who educate my kids. It's wishful thinking that more people are becoming "sensitive" to seeing these "beings" - and unless you are talking about UFO sightings, how can you suggest that people have lost this sensitivity in one breath but are becoming more sensitive in the next? Ghostwhisperer's notwithstanding, it makes for a great way to put other people down - knowing about things that don't exist. If you want to believe in fairies, that's fine - but I don't think it's healthy to push these ideas onto children who would rather play with real things - even if those real things (dinosaurs) have been dead for millions of years.

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When my daughter was quite young, she built houses in the woods in Ireland for the fairies and gnomes and told me she could see them. I've heard this from other parents as well, and not just from Waldorf-oriented parents.
There you go...

Quote:
Of course, children don't (and shouldn't) stay in this folk tale consciousness; that's why they go on to map-making, house-building, farming and gardening, baking, and the maths and sciences.
So you are saying that children should have the development of their consciousness manipulated by the people at Waldorf schools who know best what's good for them and when.

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In Ireland today, there are still many traditions that demand respect for the fairies -- and that newcomers break at their peril. I've experienced this myself when I lived there! They call it Tir na nOg - The Land of Youth...
Just because there's a tradition about something doesn't give it validity, nor does it confirm the existence of things that don't exist. Sorry to be so pragmatic, but pressured belief in fairies doesn't sit too well with me when we are talking about education.

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#59 of 114 Old 10-10-2005, 01:19 PM
 
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I just have to say that I'm REALLY glad that there are people like Pete posting an alternate view of Waldorf. The presentation to the public vs. the reality of where the ideas/philosophy actually come from are QUITE different and misleading.
Thanks Beth
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To my mind, it is doing our children a major disservice to not teach them how to use technology. The internet is so important in our world, to not prepare children (with supervision of course) to use this technology is limiting them IMO.

All this "it influences certain synapses" etc etc. is sketchy research at best. sure you can look at a brain map, but to know what that actually means as far as cognition is NOT CONFIRMED. People look so quickly to brain based stuff, without knowing the actual meaning. My brother was into videogames growing up and it helped him A LOT. He had poor hand eye coordination, and had to go for treatments at the AI Institute. When my dad saw the "therapy" he recognized it was in fact similar to Atari. Problem solved. His spatial abilities are incredible now.
Below is a link to a scientific study by Green and Bavelier, [Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York] that indicates that video game play is not only extremely beneficial to some types of brain development, but increases visual recognition skills by (as I recall) something like 1500%. The page has a link to the entire study - a great read BTW.

http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/videog.html

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I would suggest to you that these old tales are nothing more than old tales. That poeple could once see "these beings" is a speculative flight of fancy I'm not willing to allow as part of my kid's education nor is it something I would appreciate in the people who educate my kids. It's wishful thinking that more people are becoming "sensitive" to seeing these "beings" - and unless you are talking about UFO sightings, how can you suggest that people have lost this sensitivity in one breath but are becoming more sensitive in the next? Ghostwhisperer's notwithstanding, it makes for a great way to put other people down - knowing about things that don't exist. If you want to believe in fairies, that's fine - but I don't think it's healthy to push these ideas onto children who would rather play with real things - even if those real things (dinosaurs) have been dead for millions of years.

Pete
Here's what I observe in Waldorf Schools: a great respect for the cultural history and consciousness of other people, cultures, lands. This is the first and foremost consideration: to encourage children to be world citizens and open to what other human beings and cultures have to offer. This is the opposite of creating narrow, prejudiced people who think their own culture is the center of the universe. Whether the kids believe in fairies or not is secondary -- and not "forced". Human beings, their rich cultures and histories and the stories they tell each other are part of any good education.

Waldorf students will get tons of practical education about "real things".

You may not get away from your engineering desk enough, Pete! There are increasing numbers of people who have unusual perceptions these days.
Some of them may even be real!

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So you are saying that children should have the development of their consciousness manipulated by the people at Waldorf schools who know best what's good for them and when.
Pete
The word "manipulated" is really inflammatory, Pete, and in my experience creates a false picture of WE.

When I was a kid, we had folk tales in school, and studied the Babylonian,
Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures through the grades. And this was an ordinary elementary school. I doubt you would argue against the study of other cultures -- even though you might say they contained elements of what we today would call "ignorance" or lack of knowledge of what today we call "reality". Think of your marvelous Greek heritage that gave the world Greek myths!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PETE
Just because there's a tradition about something doesn't give it validity, nor does it confirm the existence of things that don't exist. Sorry to be so pragmatic, but pressured belief in fairies doesn't sit too well with me when we are talking about education.
Pete
In YOUR opinion, Pete!

But perhaps in your house you didn't talk about the Tooth Fairy or about Santa coming down the chimney at Christmas -- fantasy stories that most children grow up with and happily move beyond when they are ready.

I think that we can learn from traditional wisdom sources from other cultures. Of course, parents who reject magical folk tales will have a hard time in today's culture where we celebrate fantasy stories in the most varied and imaginative ways -- if you consider what sorts of stories are coming out for kids in movie land: Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings being two of the most obvious examples. Or the animated film "Spirit" or any of the incredible martial arts movies like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".

Have you prevented your children from seeing any of these movies on the basis that they are about things that don't exist? Are you lobbying Hollywood for creating these non-reality-based films?

Lighten up a little!

Serena
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