A Safe, Healthy Haven: Waldorf Questioners/Concerns Thread - Page 7 - Mothering Forums

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#181 of 801 Old 04-03-2006, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Copied from a post in the Waldorf Critics thread:

Are we scared as a whole to look at the big picture? We continue to debate, give witticisms (sp?), and even occasionally argue about Reality in the Waldorf world.

No amount of words between people can change the reality of what is going on in Waldorf as a whole. For an educational pedagogy that claims to support the "whole child", it is important to view our "whole reality".

We should discuss this matter in the manner we choose to rear our children. Are we setting the kind of example here we would like for our children to emulate? for the world at large? especially in today's climate?

Only through honesty and calm, peaceful discussion, exuding personal humility, can we heal the Waldorf movement.

It has so much potential!
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#182 of 801 Old 04-03-2006, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's accessible to some. Lauren will be getting back to me on what's going on...

In the meantime, I'm not reading posts in any other thread in Waldorf. I'm not stoopin' down and getting into any --- "whatevers"...
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#183 of 801 Old 04-03-2006, 03:19 PM
 
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Beansavi- I sincerely hope you will go to the other thread. Your opinion is VERY valuable to me and others trying to figure this out. I am not a Waldorf advocate. I am a parent trying to make a decision. Your words and insights have an effect on people and it would be so helpful if you would be willing to dialog so that we might better understand. I assume you haven't posted all that you have only for your own benefit but to educate other parents. Please don't misconstrue questions as attacks. I am here to try to make the best decision I can for my kids.
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#184 of 801 Old 04-03-2006, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mijumom,

Understood. I will definitely go check out the other threads again. I didn't construe anything you said as an attack, etc. Hopefully I didn't come across that way, either.
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#185 of 801 Old 04-04-2006, 04:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am too happy a person now to really get involved in anymore debates on other threads, especially since I say things and people just repeat the question like I never said it... it all just goes in circles.

It actually makes me feel like I am back in my old Waldorf school.

I definitely learned from past experiences to take care of myself and to have a sense of Dignity and Grace, recognizing early on those situations that may lead me away from those qualities.

So, if anyone needs me regarding support for negative Waldorf experiences , you can post here or PM me. I'll be around, hanging on the activism, homebirth or talk amongst yourselves mostly.

Peace and joy!
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#186 of 801 Old 04-04-2006, 07:47 PM
 
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Oh Dear! When will I learn to write my posts into Word first!
I have just done quite a long post in answer to your recent ones beansavi and have lost the lot:

It is late for me in the UK so I will have to try and remember everything and write again soon.

I did want to thank you for your support here though beansavi, I am sure I cannot be the only person to feel this.
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#187 of 801 Old 04-04-2006, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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QUOTE:
Oh Dear! When will I learn to write my posts into Word first!
I have just done quite a long post in answer to your recent ones beansavi and have lost the lot:


Man, I HATE it when that happens!

Good to "see" you again, Columbine...
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#188 of 801 Old 04-08-2006, 09:52 PM
 
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Okay, we will be finding out next week about the magnet school, and there are still concerns rattling around in my brain. I didn't metnion all of them before, just because I wasn't bothered by things, but now I am more bothered by them as time goes on. First of all, I feel that "huge" issues such as potential religious/spiritual indoctrination, bullying, abuse, etc. will most likely not come into play as the school is public.

Now my concerns are more minor, but still there. The school does a homevisit prior to the start of kinder so that the teacher can get to know your family. While this is a nice idea in theory, I wonder how the teacher will react to the TV being right in the center of our living room, the first room in our home you see as you enter. The tv and computer useage is something I'd like to limit, not restrict. I am concerned about the "sameness" of things. Same snack every Monday, same types of art all over the school, children potentially classified into one of four temperments, room for imagination, but only if you imagine what we want you to.

I worry because all the Waldorf grads I know (and I only know 3 personally) didn't enter into successful careers. My close friend tells me that none of her classmates did. While my daughter can be whatever the hell she wants to be as an adult, I want to make sure the OPPORTUNITY is there for her to do it (so if she wants to be a physicist, she can). But all of these people graduated from private Waldorf schools, not the public one.

A huge worry is the delayed academics, as my daughter will be a young kindergartener and may be asked to do another year of kinder. Which means she would begin first grade at nearly 7 and may not read well until 8 or 9. She already knows all her letters, the sounds they make, and can sound out a few simple words. Will she be relentlessly bored by the age of 9? Don't they have to meet certain standars as a public school?

I am concerned about the same teacher for several grades and the transition to a large public high school with several teachers throughout the day. And if we have to move during elementary school, we can't afford and actually don't believe in paying that kind of money for private school, so would she be horribly behind academically and a social outcast?

I am concerned about all these Waldorf lifestyle changes without explaining to me why. If my kid doesn't want to wear a coat, why do you insist that she isn't warm enough? Why only grains as snacks? Why do you have to imagine gnomes and fairies and not dinosaurs and spaceships or doctor's offices? Will there be a problem with my daughter being vaxed? Being left handed?

I guess I will know if we even got into the school on Tues or Wed next week, so maybe I will try not to stress about until then. But if anyone can offer insight on this, I'd be thrilled.
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#189 of 801 Old 04-09-2006, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Lousli,

I am so glad to see your involvement, your questioning, your active participation in this child's education, rather than just blindly following along. I can chime in about a few things you mentioned in your post.

Let's see...

You're right that you should be told why the curriculum is the way it is, why the pedagogy (educational style) is so firm about the very precise way things are done in Waldorf.

Let me say this: If you find that regardless of how and how often you ask your questions, it remains difficult to understand why something is done in a school, you should see this as a big red flag. I am speaking from my own experience, of course. It is human nature to want to fit in, to want to feel special or that you are helping the world, but it is more important not to follow any group blindly...

Regarding the Waldorf Pedagogy:

From my training and experience, I can say that I learned that most Waldorf (private sector) kids do not enter into first grade until the age of seven. This is because by seven most children have lost their "milk teeth" and Steiner said this was a sign that the spirit of the child was at a developmental stage where the child has become ready for abstract thinking and learning (i.e. numbers, letters). In Steiner's view, when the spirit is ready it effects the physical, thus the milk or "baby" teeth begin to come out. In Waldorf schools, signs like these are given more value than the actual age of the child.

Regarding the Teacher Visit and the TV in Your Home:

I would be sure to be exactly who you are, and not alter your home whatsoever prior to the teacher's visit. This happens a lot. If the teacher has issues with the TV and your child's academic success, she should tell you. Watch out for this, as well. Make sure the teacher expresses her concerns, or at least ask her point blank at parent-teacher meetings if she has any concerns. This will help you a great deal in the long run if problems arise. (See this part of my story in the beginning of this thread).

Most Importantly:

Lastly (and I don't want to assume this will happen, just be alert to it), make sure that you always feel comfortable when asking your questions. Take quiet time to check in with yourself, and ask yourself if you feel guilty when asking questions about why things are done the way they are in the school. I did not do this and things got worse and worse for me, until the only answer was to leave/be forced to leave.

Best of luck and keep us posted.

Sincerely,
Beth
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#190 of 801 Old 04-16-2006, 01:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lousli
would she be horribly behind academically and a social outcast?

I attended Waldorf for Grade 6 only and then went on to high school (another private school, but not a Waldorf school) and for me personally, I was extremely behind academically. I needed tutorials for Math for my entire grade 7 year in order to catch up, and even with that it was a struggle. Luckily I had learned to read way before grade 6 (in public elementary school) and I was a total book-worm and read on my own so I wasn't behind on that at all. I missed a year of Social Studies / Georgraphy type class because we didn't do that at Waldorf, and also missed a year's worth of French class because we had no text books and all the teacher did was say basic words (which we learned in public elementary school) and we'd repeat them.

Socially I think I was fine, though I know it would have been different if I'd attended Waldorf for longer. The whole lifestyle and way that the kids were trained to act is so specific and you must be that way, otherwise there's something wrong. I remember the first day of school there for me and I wore a Bart Simpson t-shirt (which was cool back then, seriously!) and I was humilated in front of the class by my teacher for wearing something with a picture and words on it into school. Really great way to welcome a new student who is already totally nervous and anxious.

I have actually tried to forget some of the weird stuff because it was just not something that is a good memory for me. Anyways, just wanted to offer my experience as someone who went to Waldorf for a short period of time and how it affected me. BTW, my sister had a much harder time catching up academically post-Waldorf - she is 3 years younger than me and her reading, writing, math and other skills all were compromised due to Waldorf.



Good luck - follow your instincts!



- Kira
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#191 of 801 Old 04-16-2006, 01:22 AM
 
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Kira- Wow. Thanks for your input. I hope you don't mind if I ask you a couple questions. First, how many years ago was this? Also, did you keep in touch with any of your friends from Waldorf, and if so, how did they turn out?

It is rare to read criticsms of Waldorf without there seeming to be an extremism or agenda behind it. Thank you so much for being straightforward.
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#192 of 801 Old 04-16-2006, 05:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
Kira- Wow. Thanks for your input. I hope you don't mind if I ask you a couple questions. First, how many years ago was this?

That was grade 6 for me... 1991 - 1992.



Quote:
Also, did you keep in touch with any of your friends from Waldorf, and if so, how did they turn out?

Yes, 4 people that were in my Waldorf class went on to the same private high school. 3 of them (all girls) had only gone to Waldorf for that one year, like I had. The other one (a boy) had been to Waldorf for several years.

Of the girls: 2 of them live in Vancouver and I see them on a semi-regular basis. One is married with a new baby, the other has almost finished her Masters degree. The last one lives in the USA and I've only seen her once since graduation and I believe she is doing well, but don't know the specifics.

The boy who went to Waldorf longer than the rest of us was actually somewhat of an outcast during high school actually. I don't believe Waldorf was entirely responsible for his mannerisms, he was not at all outgoing and often was in his own private world. I believe he went on to attend community college and works at a local theatre.



Quote:
It is rare to read criticsms of Waldorf without there seeming to be an extremism or agenda behind it. Thank you so much for being straightforward.

All I have is my own experience, and that in itself is totally unique. Waldorf wasn't a fit for me, but that doesn't mean it's wrong for everyone. I would just hope that people consider all the aspects when they look for schools for their children. Glad this forum is here, and glad that this thread is here as a safe place for those of us who have had negative experiences to share them and get support.




- Kira
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#193 of 801 Old 04-16-2006, 11:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mijumom

It is rare to read criticsms of Waldorf without there seeming to be an extremism or agenda behind it.
By the way, I wasn't refering to the posts on this thread but some of the other stuff I've read online. No offense to anyone here.
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#194 of 801 Old 04-16-2006, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No offense taken, mijumom. I do know what you mean.

And Kira, yes, thanks for sharing your experiences with us. We are glad you are here, too.

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#195 of 801 Old 04-18-2006, 12:06 PM
 
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Hi Kira, and thank you for sharing your experience here.

My son went into public school from waldorf as a non-reader at age 9yrs. He did manage to catch up well as the school was very sympathetic and the kids were great. I am in the UK so he took the SATS tests at age 11 and scored in the average for his age. However, his teacher thought he was still way below potential and that another two years would see him functioning at his true level. In his first year at High School I have seen his work come on wonderfully so I am confident her prediction was correct. He has also gone into the gifted and talented programme for sport which has kept his confidence levels good overall.
My daughter left waldorf at age 10, just after she had learned to read. She subsequently scored a reading ability of an 8 year old and the comprehension skills of a 14 year old with educational tests. The teacher who performed these tests stated that her confidence was very low because she had the understanding that she was not performing in accordance with her intelligence.
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#196 of 801 Old 04-19-2006, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son was held back for an extra Kindergarten year in his Waldorf school. What his teacher thought was immaturity ended up just being his personality. At 11, he still places making others in his classroom laugh as a top priority, but still gets good grades and has toned his comic routine down so it's done at appropriate times throughout the school day.

During his extra Kindergarten year, the rest of his friends were in first grade. These kids were the only friends he'd ever known-literally since the age of one.

He was bored, wanted to learn letters and "sit in a desk" (very cool by his standards). The other children in his KG class were younger and he felt lonesome. He began getting very frustrated, since he would create things on the playground out of acorns and sand, for example, like a chess board and wanted someone to play chess with.

The other children would come up and destroy it, and his teacher did nothing about it, refusing to even discuss the possibility of giving my son a six week trial run in first grade. Since he was acting out in KG (due to his frustration at the developmental age of his classmates) she took this as even more proof he was not ready for first grade.

It was like that Dr. Suess story where no one will move to the side and let the other person get by, and so both sides are just stuck, and an entire city gets built around them...

We took him out and enrolled him in our local public school, and he still needed to be in KG for public school. But, as many of you know, this was the equivalent of Waldorf first grade, with probably even more advanced academics.

He thrived, and never had one behavioral problem. Immediate proof to his father and I that our parental instincts were right on target with our own child (my hubby and I are also both teachers). I stress the "listening to your parental instincts" thing on this thread quite strongly.

It was like he was a flower wanting desparately to blossom, but was being held down, much to everyone's frustration.

He is a year or so older than his friends now, but he is happy and healthy, and is especially well-adjusted in his "new" school (he's in 4th grade now).
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#197 of 801 Old 04-19-2006, 04:52 PM
 
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Hello Everyone!

I have chimed in a bit above, as I check in only occasionally. I have two kids in Waldorf. My four year old is just in pre-K. My nine year old has been in Waldorf since he was 3. It has been a good fit for him in general, but I am almost sure he would be behind (at least somewhat) academically, if I transferred him into a public school (which may happen). However, this is not to say he is "behind" developmentally. The will, beauty, care, and imagination that he puts into his work is a rare find. A nine year old transferring into Waldorf from public school must typically work harder to cultivate the skills for, and sometimes the appreciation of, depth and meaning in thier work.

I have worked as a Waldorf class teacher. I did so for one year. It was definitely not a rosey year, as it was a crash course in everything you find on these lists! There were many wonderful experiences in the classroom, and the children I worked with are still dear to me, but it was unusuallly arduous (and with the added stress factor that I was pregnant with my youngest). Sometimes, I marvel that I didn't quit. Some parents and some faculty wanted me to and even tried to push me to that place. I could detail some very unsavory events, but those details aren't as important as what I will share. I was very dedicated after making a commitment to my class because I remained focused on the children I was teaching. However, I don't think the school should have hired me at that time to begin with. I do not say this because I'm not a true teacher and a valuable contributor to holistic education. I believe I am. My reasoning for making that statement is that I was not Waldorf trained at the time. I had a BA and background in Theatre Arts, an interest in Waldorf, some talent in the artistic areas Waldorf teachers need skill in, and a few courses under my belt related to WE. The school should not have hired me at that time because they were not sure they could keep a commitment to mentor me. They did make the commitment to mentor me, but did not follow through with suport and mentoring, and the parents of the students (who were understandably frustrated) took this out on me. This is not an entirely uncommon scenario, unfortunately. The parents wanted a fully trained and seasoned teacher. The school did not find one. I was 28 at the time, and learning as I went. Without support or even much curriculum material to guide me, I gave the class what I did have. Pioneering Waldorf schools can be wonderful communities full of spirit and vibrancy, but they can also be organizational nightmares. The growing pains can be unbearable. That was a painful exprience to say the least, but I came through it without compromising my character. We are still in the same school, and though it is not a perfect community, we love the school.

Since then, I have completed training. I substitute at the school in addition to my side jobs as a birth attendant and an artist. I did not choose to go to one of the AWSNA institutes for the entirety of my study. It was/is very important to me that my training be well rounded in the field of Holistic Education...because this is the reason I choose Waldorf for myself and my children. I choose WE because, all things considered, it mostly closely meets my ideal of a Holistic Education. A Holistic Education means, borrowing form the Holistic Education Network of Tasmania (and in a nutshell), education for Wholeness, Connectedness, and Being. I have an MA now in Human Development with an emphasis in Holistic Education and have researched thoroughly. As I look to carrying a class again, I have found that some Waldorf schools don't think my training is valid training because I didn't do it formally with certain antrhoposophists or anthroposophic institutions. Those are not the schools for me. Some Waldorf schools, however, do see my training as the best training I could get to this point, because it was self initiated and truly focused on my own inner development (I had a hand in designing some courses based on areas I knew I needed more training in). So, please note the differences in attitude, which are vast...but all included in WE.

All this I am sharing because I want everyone to know and understand that every Waldorf school is different. I also want to share my view that it really isn't anthroposophy that is the problem in some schools. It is the people practicing anthroposophy with fundamentalist perspectives. Anthroposophy is a spiritual philosophy that is valuable, deep, soulful, insightful, and holds wisdom that can contribute to the challenges of our time. It was however, established a very long time ago. Though Rudolf Steiner likely was intuitive and perhaps even prophetic, he was not God. Further, I don't believe he would support much of what he might see happening with WE in today's world. That said, I have visited about ten schools in various parts of the country and none are the same. Two schools in the same city can be as different as night and day though the curriculum is fairly specific. Also, and this is very important, your child's education experience depends a great deal on WHO THE TEACHER IS. You can love a school, and you can love Waldorf curriculum, and your younger/older child may have a near perfect experience, but if you have a teacher that doesn't work for you philosophically (or in any way) for you and/or your child, you likely to make another choice for your family or your child. Who the teacher is determines a great deal about your child's education. My older son was blessed with a teacher who reveres WE as I do, but also agrees with Steiner that children should not be abberations of the culture they are in. She stressed the importance of literacy, and my oldest was reading well in second grade, as were most of his classmates. If he'd had a different teacher who didn't believe in balance, we would not have come this far in the school.

For those of you who are interested in a more Multi-Cultural experience (which varies in WE from school to school and teacher to teacher) check out Enki education. As I understand, there is only one public school functioning inspired by Enki methods. It is called Mountain Mohogany and is in Albequerque, NM. However, www.enkieducation.org offers homeschool curriculum for the younger grades. I think Waldorf educators should all be in the know about Enki methods and take a look at what kind of innovative ideas this might offer them for the classroom. I think this type of education will be more of what we see in the future.

Hope all this helps someone!!
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#198 of 801 Old 04-20-2006, 01:36 AM
 
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"It was definitely not a rosey year, as it was a crash course in everything you find on these lists!"

I wish you would extrapolate a little as there have been so many allegations, some very extreme, and I wonder what the worst of it was.

Thanks.
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#199 of 801 Old 04-20-2006, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Browneyedgirl.

Thanks so much for sharing here, so articulately. It is much appreciated. I'd like to respond to two of your points:

A) My teaching experience shares much in common with yours, except that I went for a Masters in public ed. (which I still have a semester left to complete) and then attended Rudolf Steiner College full time. I also studied weekly with an Anthroposophical study group created by an Anthroposophical "old-timer" with many connections worldwide, including within the Goetheanum.

I had just had a baby when I started teaching and was nursing her several times a night on top of all the hours and responsibility teaching in and helping run a Waldorf school plus my schoolwork and observations of others within other schools. I was exhausted and had no support or even recognition of this fact from my "fellow" faculty members...

B) We have discussed many times the fact that many Waldorf schools are different "micro-cultures" in and of themselves, and I don't disagree with you on that point, having been exposed directly to many different schools, myself, including ones in New Hampshire, Virginia, Washington State, California, Oregon, Alabama, North Carolina, and more via my friends at teacher-training.

My continued point is, however, that what these varied schools do have in common ("culturally") is their membership with AWSNA (The Association of Waldorf Schools in North America). When a disagreement/crisis/problem happens within a school, any school, all Waldorf schools can look to AWSNA to guide them through the disagreement/crisis/problem. This element is a constant and since the members of AWSNA are Anthroposophists, Anthroposophy comes directly into play with Waldorf, which is Anthroposophy in a pedagogical form.

Although Steiner may not have agreed with many of the ways Anthroposophy is interpreted in the modern world, it is a fact that many Anthroposophists disagree with that. They each think they are carrying Steiner's "orders/intentions" out to the letter. There is much argument amongst themselves regarding who has interpreted Steiner better.

AWSNA is not an enormous organization. The higher ups are few, and these higher ups influence developing schools, and those within on how to deal with conflict resolution "The Waldorf Way". In my opinion, that "way" is very dysfunctional.

My proof of this cultural dysfunction within Waldorf (though I don't really feel the need to put it out there like that)? ...My experience and the stacks and stacks of paper documentation handing down my punishment and the "excommunication" of my child from our former Waldorf school. I am not opposed to taking it all out of my file cabinet and quoting it here. It is nothing short of abusive IMO (and that of my lawyer).

But I personally prefer to keep things positive, like, "What can we do to help Waldorf Education evolve into something mainly positive?", rather than debate opposite sides back and forth all the time.

C) Finally, I hope all of this information is helpful to anyone reading. Again, I'd like this thread to maintain it's tone of being intended to "support" those who need help healing from a negative Waldorf experience. (I'm not directing that at you, Browneyedgirl, just in general).

Whether or not those experiences exist on any grand scale is not up for debate in my personal "bottom line". My bottom line? It's all real, and I am here for you.

Sincerely,
Beth/Beansavi
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#200 of 801 Old 04-20-2006, 01:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
It was like he was a flower wanting desparately to blossom, but was being held down, much to everyone's frustration.

He is a year or so older than his friends now, but he is happy and healthy, and is especially well-adjusted in his "new" school (he's in 4th grade now).
That is really lovely to hear.

I felt very much that my son was starting to be a little over-mischeivous (a bit of rebellion we thought), not that the school was complaining. However, there have been no signs of this once starting at public school, although he still is a bouncy character.

For whatever reasons, neither of my chldren felt like they were learning in waldorf. In retrospect I wish that I had taken more notice of this instead of superimposing my own view that they were of course learning lots of wonderful things even if that did not seem to include reading and writing.

It does trouble me though when I hear parents local to me choosing to leave their children in waldorf (when there are difficulties) as they seem to think that if they are having problems there, things are sure to be worse in a public school.

However, I can also understand this as scary stories abound in our WS about the local public schools and even I felt very nervous consequently about trying them. Thankfully these fears have not been realised so far.

Trouble is we all want to get it right first time don't we? Flexibility and willingness to change seems to me to be a key aspect of parenting and guiding children through their education.
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It does trouble me though when I hear parents local to me choosing to leave their children in waldorf (when there are difficulties) as they seem to think that if they are having problems there, things are sure to be worse in a public school.

However, I can also understand this as scary stories abound in our WS about the local public schools and even I felt very nervous consequently about trying them. Thankfully these fears have not been realised so far.

Trouble is we all want to get it right first time don't we? Flexibility and willingness to change seems to me to be a key aspect of parenting and guiding children through their education.
Well said, Columbine. How gracefully put! I am so happy to have your input. I learn a lot around here!

I was guilty of this, myself. I have been pleasantly surprised that our public elementary school teaches knitting, foreign language, while also having a built in support system (counseling, academic support) run by really sweet, caring people. Even the aesthetics of the school are nice: lots of glass walls to let in the sunshine, blue-green or lavender, etc. walls.


Some things that are considered coming from Steiner he himself actually attributes to other cultures and public schools are listening to the studies that come out of them (i.e. color's effect on human behavior, the importance of natural lighting, multiple intelligences/different learning styles like hands-on/visual/auditory, etc.)

Bottom line, the children at our school are a happy, well-adjusted lot.

In my life, my story, by broadening my own horizons, my children thrived.

I, personally, was guilty of projecting my own baggage from childhood onto the present of my own children. Once free of all that, we all have blossomed.

Okay, the poopie-diaper fairy calls... gotta' run!

Beth
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I, personally, was guilty of projecting my own baggage from childhood onto the present of my own children. Once free of all that, we all have blossomed.
Beth
Almost every parent I have talked with who took their children out of Waldorf schools has told me something similar.I know for me as a dreamy artistic child who sufferd in Public school, I was moved to tears the first time I experienced a Waldorf school.. I thought it was exactly the type of school I would have wanted for myself. Unfortunately as I have related before,it was not the right school for my son.
Looking back I wonder if it would have really been right for me too. Now I consider sending my son to Waldorf as the biggest mistakes I made as a parent.yet at the same time had we not tried it, I would have wondered if it was not a big mistake not sending him there.We never would have known. I am constantly reminded of this because my son has become aware that he is still behind the other children his age academically (it has been a year since I pulled him out of a Waldorf Kindergarten at age 7.)and he is not happy about it.
Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences
Lorraine
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#203 of 801 Old 04-21-2006, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Lorraine. Gee, I could have written your post, myself! You have made a very good point.

My personal mantra/motto in life is that I would rather step out there and try something and regret it, than to live my life having never tried at all. That kind of regret is the very worst kind, IMO.

(Now, of course, "trying" a Waldorf school and it not being a "right fit" is a bit different than my personal experience in Waldorf and that of my son, since our experience was so dysfunctional.)

But in general, I stand by the above motto in my life, and I thank you for reminding me of that.

Beth
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#205 of 801 Old 04-27-2006, 12:49 PM
 
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Hi everyone,
I really appreciated reading about your experiences.I am feeling sad about my son and need some support. As I have related before in this thread,my son was kept back in a Waldorf kindergarten for another year which proved to be disasterous.I took him out of the WK just a few weeks before he turned 7 last year. He was behind not only because he was at Waldorf but also because he was kept back a year. He has really learned allotsince then. the teachers notice he has no learning difficulties except that he is just behind. The problem is he notices he is behind and it has really affected his self esteem.
For those of you who have had similar experieinces I am wondering just how long did it take your child to catch up?
How did you deal with it?
Did your child regain his or her self esteem?
I am just worried because I was speaking with some one who just got her degree in education and she told me that studies have shown that children that are kept back a grade really suffer emotionally and often don't finish high school!
I will do all I can to help my child catch up to the grade level he is suppoesed to be in!!
I really need to hear some positive success stories!
Thanks!
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#206 of 801 Old 04-27-2006, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dearest Lorraine,

You can do it, everything is going to be alright. As you know, our stories are very much alike.

With my son's experience, he did have very low self esteem, and still suffers from it occasionally. He is in fourth grade now, and he is finally starting to "come into his own". I think that has to do with consistency. It took him three years in the same school, with the same friends, the same administration, the same neighbors to really believe he was liked, was wanted and that he was good enough.

It is very difficult to have your first school experience, and teacher experience to be a negative one. It kind of frames in your perspective on what you think school is like, and how likeable and successful you are in that atmosphere-which is everything. This is where a lot of my personal anger and grief entered into the picture.

Working with my child, encouraging him every single day, even when I was so tired...., and truly connecting to his school made all the difference. We went in there and told them every detail of what he had been through at his Waldorf school. The guidance counselor not only counseled him, but the whole faculty chimed in, doing extra things like making him the Art Teacher's assistant (since he looooves art), and basically stealthily sliding in opportunities for him to be successful and to be praised for it openly. He wasn't aware we were doing this, but it really works.

Then, we have the family taking him to outside sports and coming to his practices, games, and taking pictures and making a big deal.

It is a full time job, but he is starting to believe and understand what a fantastic person he is and how much we all adore him.

He is by no means an "albatross" as his teacher in Waldorf described him in front of a hallway full of people.

Although it may not be politically correct, we have allowed him to be angry at his Waldorf teacher, to be angry at the school, and allow him to work through those emotions with zero guilt. He still talks about it all, and we chime in, saying, "Yeah! That was horrible! What kind of a person would do that to a child?"

He knows he did nothing to deserve their meanness, their slander, and their excluding him from their "club".

We fill him in on how his former Waldorf school is not doing so well, and talk about how people's actions do come back around to them, good or bad. We also are very spiritual and remind him that he is a child of God, and God thinks he is wonderful and worthwhile. After all, God made him just the way he wanted him to be: God is an artist, like him, afterall...

We also talk about college, and go to college football games. We explain how we expect him to go to college, and how fun it is: that's where his dad and I met.

You are asking such good questions and doing such good things for your child. I have no doubt you are the kind of parent that can help him overcome. With a parent like you, he is bound to be a happy, healthy person.

Blessings to you and yours,

Love,
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Hi Jalilah,
This is one of the tricky things about changing from waldorf for some children, including mine.
My daughter still struggles with her self-esteem as a teenager but she judges herself through the very harsh eyes of both her waldorf teacher and her own perfectionism. My son had a less extreme experience of waldorf and was removed at a younger age. I'd say that at 12 his self esteem is pretty good. It has not been too difficult to get him to understand that catching up just does take time and will happen (is happening) and that other things, like his sport, he is not behind in.
If your son can relax about the academic side, as it sounds as though his teachers are, he may find there is a lot about school that he can enjoy and feel confident in.
Don't be scared by statistics from your friend, they don't mean YOUR son won't do very well.
Good luck, I am confident that all will be well.

Oops must add that my children were older than your son when they left, aged 9 and 10. If they had left earlier then I am sure they would have caught up quicker, it has taken only 2 years to reach their grade level.
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#208 of 801 Old 04-28-2006, 04:46 PM
 
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Thanks so much Beansavi and Coumbine. I really appreciate your ideas.

I am just wondering did both of you put your children in the grade they were supposed to be in once you took them out of Waldorf?

When we took our son out we put him in a Montessori school the teacher was wonderful so supportive. She was horrified when she heard our story and was confident our son would be able to catch up to his age group this year. Unfortunately we moved (because of my husbands job) and the new Montessori school we found is not nearly as good. in fact non of the Montessori schools near us seem good (to show you how schools can vary.) We had put him in Montessori with the hope he could catch up at his own pace without standing out. The first teacher managed this wonderfully.
The new teacher does not seem to care and automatically puts my son in together with the younger kids (Montessori is mixed ages 6-9 in one classroom) the kids his age have noticed this and make fun of him.
Now for sure we are changing schools in September. The one we found is a classroom with one grade at a time. They say unless a child is really behind they encourage putting children in with their own age group. So he will be starting 3rd grade in September ready or not. We will work with him all summer.
Yesterday I was very anxious about it.
Thanks for being there for me!
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#209 of 801 Old 04-28-2006, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are definitely here for you.

When we put my son in Kindergarten, he would have been in the first grade by then had he started out in public school.

So now he's in fourth, but would have been in fifth grade. He will be eleven soon and his best friend will be ten in a couple of months. But they get along famously. I think for boys this tends to work out okay, since they take a little longer to mature, anyway.

Once in a blue moon he mentions that he is older, like it suddenly occurs to him, but being a little older has gotten "cool" with his friends. We also let him know he'll be the first to get his drivers license when he's a teenager.

The age difference just doesn't seem to sting as much as it used to. Thank goodness.

We moved a lot in the years right after Waldorf, too. he went to three other schools. The school he's in now he has been in since 2nd grade, so three years now.

I really think that having attentive, loving parents is the key factor in determining how a child turns out. I remember reading about that in graduate school, too, in a situation as extreme as abused children: the ones who had at least ONE person who believed in them were able to go on to lead healthy lives.

So, what I'm trying to say is that your son is way ahead of the game!

Take care,
Beth
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As an educator, I certainly have explored many different kinds of education, and unfortunately my children have been "crash test dummies" in some cases, I deeply regret our experience with Waldorf Education, as I feel it was the most harmful.

I know that for the most part "Waldorf" is a community filled with very well intentioned, caring, thoughtful folks- both teachers and parents- who wish to contribute to their child's learning, health, and life, as well as protect them from influences they feel may be harmful. There is much I celebrate and respect about Waldorf education, in particular the care and respect shown to children by the thoughtful choice of materials, and warmth of the classrooms. However, Waldorf philosophy, which all Waldorf teachers are trained in, has its foundation in anti-Semitism and racism. Steiner was doing his work in Germany just prior to the Nazi regime, and has written much on the superiority of Aryans to Jews, and the superiority of light skinned over dark skinned peoples. I don't doubt there are many innocent and well meaning people involved in Waldorf, and I don't doubt there is much good in the philosophy. It is simply that I am wary of any practice that has at its roots values that I am not in agreement with- just as although there are many individuals working in the public school system who are passionate and caring and making a difference in the lives of children, they are also doing it in a context of an institution that has it its core the desire to control and repress, and thus I feel doubtful those intentions could escape being felt. (see John Taylor Gatto's books for more info on that)

I really enjoy choice, trust, acceptance, and respect being offered to young people, and am confused and troubled when I see children strictly divided into groups that are defined not by who the individual children are and what they would enjoy learning, but by their ages; told what colors they can or can't paint with, not given honest answers to scientific questions until after age 7, etc. (when I visited a local Waldorf school last year, I was told if a child asked about where fog came from, unless they were over age 7, they could not understand how the world worked, and needed to be told that "the fairies brought the fog."). I also really value emotional safety and was told by several Waldorf teachers that it is natural for children to exclude and tease one another, and that until children are in the grades, their philosophy was to allow that to happen and to have a policy of non-intervention. One parent I spoke with pulled her child out because he was being regularly tormented and when she asked for more active protection of him at school, she was told they did not and would not do that, as it was in contradiction to Waldorf philosophy.
I love the idea of Free Schools, and have been involved in several but also feel that children are left alone too much, with each other, to work out problems and issues with not much adult care or wisdom. In our city, we have a democratic charter school which has lots of choice and respect, and several teachers with amazing warmth and communication skills, and a system for solving problems, maybe you have something like this near you? Check out this very old school/philosophy in CA, this, to me, is an ideal school environment http://www.playmountain.org/ and here's the website to the school (no longer in operation) that we created as an NVC (nonviolent communication) Free School a couple of years ago here in Portland http://www.familyfreeschool.com/ I think it has some key elements of an appropriate education. Here are links to a couple of charter schools with great philosophies... http://www.pacificaschool.org/ (I like their reading list too, it looks like one of my bookshelves) http://trilliumcharterschool.org/ http://www.bluemountainschool.com/

My general judgment of Waldorf that results in me choosing to choose another educational path for our family is that I perceive Waldorf is simply not in reality, but is based on a adult's fantasy of what childhood is or should be. I think children are naturally delightfully loud, wonderfully messy, avid explorers who can be trusted as fully capable of deciding what to paint and with which colors, benefit from trying all kinds of activities and using many different kinds of materials, can and do thrive on honest answers from the adults in their lives, and who naturally create their own magical world filled with wonder and awe, and do not need adults to fabricate it for them.

Choosing an environment for your child to learn can be agonizing and filled with choices that no matter what, involve compromise. I respect how hard it can be and what relief it is to find a place that resonates for your family and in which we each perceive our children's needs are best met. For us, Waldorf was/is not it, but I understand why it might work well and does work well for many families.

When my oldest son was in a Steiner first grade class in CA, it was hard to look past the huge painting of Mary and Jesus on the wall, not that I didn't think it was beautiful, but that, if you believe Waldorf theory, these images are internalized deep into the child, and, being a Jewish family, it was strange to have that as the centerpiece. We didn't want our son to be in a religious school, and if we had wanted that, we would have enrolled him in a religious school that was OUR own religion. We thought it was a secular school until we were invited to the (very lovely) celebrations of Michaelmas and Martinmas, and then as the year went on our son became confused about what we celebrated and what we didn't. We felt more and more uncomfortable as our son repeated to us the (religious) verses they chant together each morning. He was taking it all in! We explained to him that we have great respect for this other religion's beliefs and festivals, but that we celebrate our own (different) festivals at home. It's so beautiful (the materials, the decor, the curriculum) that is seems to draw you in and you forget that the religious teaching is not what you wanted!

When our son had a small conflict with a child in his class, his teacher told me that he was eating too many root vegetables ("the devil's foods") and when at some point he wanted to learn about "real" science (he was curious about electricity and didn't buy the "light fairy" story as he neared 7 years old) they assured me he wasn't yet ready as he had only lost 4 primary teeth at that time. When I would come to school, I would often see children sitting alone and tearful outside the classroom (being punished for not "behaving") and I often saw groups of children being hurtful to other children and blatantly exclude other children while the teacher smiled and knitted and pretended not to notice. I didn't see respectful conflict resolution happening there, but I did see several chronically unhappy children who were picked on by the more secure kids. It was mostly white kids at our Waldorf school, and they were mostly rich- (many were taken to and picked up from school by their nannies) and I wanted my children to experience more diversity and more of real life. I am sure that unschooling doesn't work well for every child, but I still wanted a little more freedom and variety and choice than Waldorf allows (certain art materials can only be used a certain way and at a specific time in the child's development, and all of the children end up learning to draw the exact same type of picture, kids were mildly punished for not being interested in knitting, there were no other shapes acceptable for bun baking, etc.) to me it's about a great deal of conformity and blind obedience, and especially after reading Alfie Kohn, Bev Bos, etc. I really don't want my kid to "do it just like all the other kids" or jump through my (or anyone's) hoops just to avoid punishment or gain reward/praise.

I don't think that anyone would attack Waldorf "just to attack it", I believe that the folks who wrote about their experiences actually were upset or hurt in relation to their experiences there. It's also interesting to me how strongly the Waldorf-supporters defend it, if it's "just a school", then what's the big deal? I think of it more as a religion, and that actually helps me stay in the mindset of compassion and tolerance. Again, I am sure it works really well for some families, especially if it fits in with your established religious beliefs.
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