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#61 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 02:53 PM
 
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What we parents who are making education decisions right now are hoping to find here at MDC is an understanding of the overall experience our kids are likely to have if we make a certain choice. It is very difficult to discern what is a specific problem limited to one school or family and what is an inherent problem that we are likely to have to deal with at any Waldorf school.

Public school is fundamentally based on beliefs and systems that I don't agree with. I am not saying they are bad. I know that many are wonderful. But, I know that for our family there will be things we just can't accept.

So, with any school decision, it is a matter of will the problems be ones we can live with and work through? Obviously, cultish, alienating, judgemental and abusive behavior are beyond what I and most people are willing to tolerate. Are we to believe that these are issues we should all expect to deal with? I'm still trying to comprehend how your experiences reflect on the whole of Waldorf education and why I should accept your experiences as a "reality" that I should be basing decisions on.

Again, I am grateful for the honesty of critics. I believe you 100%. That does not mean that I can know that these issues will effect our experience.
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#62 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 06:10 PM
 
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I don't have a problem with people describing the negative experiences they personally have had with a particular school.

I do think that the explanations for WHY whatever happened happened can be debated and should be debated.

Deborah
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#63 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 07:12 PM
 
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I completely agree, Deborah.

One area that's challenging regardless of the setting, be it school or family or workplace (or neighbor relations! yie! we have a very challenging neighbor) is the area of conflict resolution. We don't handle conflicts well in this culture, period, or wouldn't need all these thousands and thousands of attorneys taking every little thing to court these days.

In a Waldorf school there are inevitable conflicts, between faculty, between parents, and between children and every possible combination between them. But its primarily only the faculty of the school have any real structure in place to engage in any kind of rigorous self-reflection or peer consciousness about their behavior or role or what have you. But there is a lot of attention given to the subject in the Waldorf movement, and interest in exploring various models of building community concensus, resolving conflicts, etc. I've seen many articles on the subject published by AWSNA, and I've seen a lot of buzz about a book published by Hawthorn Press called "Confronting Conflict". John Cunningham, a former Waldorf teacher, is working to bridge Marshall Rosenberg's methods, "Non-Violent Communication", to Waldorf school communities. I've attended a few workshops on this--it's very impressive.

So I see the movement as brimming with healthy energy toward learning and growing and creating even more harmony in the community life of the schools. This is the reality--not as juicy and salacious as the tabloidy-"Nazi-Cult Lures Children into Satanic Seance" nonsense, maybe. But it's MUCH closer towards resolving the real life problems that really arise.
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#64 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 07:59 PM
 
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Hi Mijumom,

I agree with you completely. My bottom line has always been that Waldorf has great potential, but it needs to be honest with itself.

I will add, though, that if a group of people repeatedly hurt children, and support others so they thrive, you have a big problem. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Heck, many people in history benefitted some people while hurting others. What are you trying to say, really, that some children thrive? Okay, so what? It's all for naught when you are hurting others.

This is the way og the world, and not okay with me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
Beansavi- I'm trying to figure this out. My kids are happy and growing beautifully at a Waldorf school. I still have some qualms with it but in "reality" I have major issues with every school we've been to and the doctrine of the public schools can be really scary. What "reality" should I base our choices on? What I see my kids living and other kids or your accounts? Have you ever seen what happens to kids in public schools that don't fit in? Or, kids that don't read early enough etc.? Where are we better off if we care about what our kids are exposed to and the food they eat and the way in which they are treated?

I appreciate your presence and your sharing of your experiences. As a result of your honesty and others, I am extra vigilent about looking out for signs and evidence of potential issues and we have not yet commited to going throught the grades.

All of that said, the kids that I saw, for whom the school was "right" for were exceptional.

This is very hard for many people who love the idea of Waldorf but are trying to determine if we can reconcile the potential downside. Any info. helps and I was just sharing what I perceived.

Peace.
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#65 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 08:14 PM
 
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I don't disagree with you. Still, your expression of what happened to you does not necessarily reflect on what is happening at my kids' school. I, as a parent, am trying to figure out if the broader issues are going to present in any Waldorf School or if the incidents are isolated. I am very aware of the propensity for certain attitudes to flourish in a "community" like Waldorf. I think it is a tough line to walk, keeping a cohesive and supportive community while addressing and acknowledging issues in an open straightforward fashion. I agree that as a society, people are way too complacent in the name of "unity" etc. Still, I want our kids to be part of a functioning community where there are differences and there is compassion. I want them to fit in where they are but not conform, challenge authority without isolating themselves and living in a constant state of rebellion and to feel safe and secure while still dealing with reality. What institution accomplishes this?

One thing I have noticed at our school is that there is an awareness of the criticsm and we have all been encouraged to ask questions and address grievances in a straightforward manner.

Given the experiences I had at various schools, I can attest that yes, in this cruel world, people do get hurt. What some perceive as serving their community well, ends up hurting and alienating someone else.

I don't have the answer but, do you just think that Waldorf should cease to exist? Or, is it possible that the issues you and others bring up are actually being examined and slowly addressed? I'm putting my money (heart, time etc.) on the latter at least for now.
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#66 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 09:26 PM
 
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One of the problems, as I see it reported most of the time, is that there's a lot of misunderstanding about what anyone in the broader "movement" can be expected to do to resolve some particular problem with a teacher or school.

Healthy schools can't know what's going on in other schools. They have no power to investigate claims, issue judgements or make changes. I'm not sure why the Waldorf movement is perceived as this powerful administrative overseer capable of operating like law enforcement or something. It's a little like blaming really good public schools for the abuses perpetrated in the bad ones.

And the closest there comes to any broader Waldorf "agency" of any kind is AWSNA. AWSNA is an extraordinarily tiny organization that has no resources to investigating complaints against a teacher or school, nor is it in the least degree realistic in the case of serious allegations like abuse. That's a job for law enforcement, not curriculum experts. About all AWSNA can really do in the case of complaints is to help parties identify who they might go to in disputes like this.

Waldorf schools are independent schools that are faculty run institutions that operate in a peer-to-peer mentoring model, not a top-down administrative model from any formally structured movement.

To reform the unhealthy schools, people that witness the unacceptable goings-on have to take on the schools and teachers directly. No one else *can* do it. There has to be evidence, there has to be names, dates, specifics. There has to be direct accountability, and those that DO know can't pass on the responsibility to act to those that don't, and couldn't know, what's gone on.
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#67 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 09:27 PM
 
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Mijumom,

For answers to all you have said here, I suggest you read through the "Safe, Healthy Haven" thread. It truly addresses very clearly your questions and many of your points made here, and gives you clear responses.

I am directing the rest of this post to all readers, not singling you out or anything.

I am a 38 year old woman, who has three kids (one I just home-birthed nine weeks ago), who lives in a southern town where my family has remained since the Revolutionary War, got my undergrad degree in French, taught myself Spanish and taught both in public school, went to graduate school for Elementary Ed. until I bailed out during my second year and did my Waldorf teacher-training instead, and helped found a Waldorf school here. I simultaneously attended an Anthroposophical study group with some original Anthropops that used to be in Spring Valley, NY, the first Anthropop incarnation in the USA, a country most Anthropops worldwide consider to be the destiny and future of Anthroposophy. I served on the personnel committee and board of trustees at the school I helped to found while I also taught French, was a Kindergarten assistant, and later a second grade teacher and a third grade teacher in the Waldorf School. I was also a Waldorf parent and PA member. (All this I did while breastfeeding three times a night!--ha ha!)

Why so much info on myself?

Because I have seen a lot of Waldorf, inside and out. I have spoken to many people associated with Waldorf and Anthroposophy on many different levels.

I have to say with all honesty, the amount of smugness and energy put in denial that Waldorf has any problems here on MDC literally makes me get sick to my stomach.

I have so many things that bring me joy in my life. I will not enter into verbal matches with anyone here to see who can hold out the longest and who can be the most clever. It is all so childish, and I am too grown up for all that. I don't have to have the last word, I don't have to have anything. I am not that needy. I know who I am.

I know what happens to literally hundreds of children in Waldorf schools in this country and I know that Waldorf could really become a healthy, happy movement if they would grow up and come to grips with the weak links in their chain. I know Waldorf could do a heck of a lot better job teaching our children conflict resolution skills by how their grownups deal with each other.

I know that Waldorf makes people cry. Cry. Like, Boo hoo, laying on your bed sobbing, or crying on your friend's shoulder, or crying to the parent association, bla bla bla, yet never receiving an inkling someone was sorry or thought they could have done better.

No clever words are going to take that away. Only honesty will. It is not an isolated problem. It is a common problem, that keeps popping up all over the world and all over the US. People can stereotype people with Waldorf concerns. People can say "that's not true" all they want. The problems in Waldorf will still be true. Period.

If anyone has questions or needs my support, they can always chime in on the "Safe Haven" thread. I have given my life over to helping others in many forms.

I am trying not to project my other experiences onto this forum's contributors. I guess I get a little sensitive because I have never seen anyone pro-Waldorf openly discuss Waldorf's problems yet on MDC. Why not? Why choose to feel threatened? I think it would do a world of good for both "sides".

Sincerely in Peace,
Beth/Beansavi

Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
I don't disagree with you. Still, your expression of what happened to you does not necessarily reflect on what is happening at my kids' school. I, as a parent, am trying to figure out if the broader issues are going to present in any Waldorf School or if the incidents are isolated. I am very aware of the propensity for certain attitudes to flourish in a "community" like Waldorf. I think it is a tough line to walk, keeping a cohesive and supportive community while addressing and acknowledging issues in an open straightforward fashion. I agree that as a society, people are way too complacent in the name of "unity" etc. Still, I want our kids to be part of a functioning community where there are differences and there is compassion. I want them to fit in where they are but not conform, challenge authority without isolating themselves and living in a constant state of rebellion and to feel safe and secure while still dealing with reality. What institution accomplishes this?

One thing I have noticed at our school is that there is an awareness of the criticsm and we have all been encouraged to ask questions and address grievances in a straightforward manner.

Given the experiences I had at various schools, I can attest that yes, in this cruel world, people do get hurt. What some perceive as serving their community well, ends up hurting and alienating someone else.

I don't have the answer but, do you just think that Waldorf should cease to exist? Or, is it possible that the issues you and others bring up are actually being examined and slowly addressed? I'm putting my money (heart, time etc.) on the latter at least for now.
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#68 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 09:36 PM
 
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PS Mijumom,

My second to last post was typed while a thunder storm was rolling in and I was worried about losing my computer AND my baby was screaming his head off like he usually does at that hour. I hope I didn;t sound too harsh...

Fondly,
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#69 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 09:43 PM
 
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#70 of 109 Old 04-03-2006, 10:40 PM
 
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Beansavi- I want to make it clear that I am NOT a Waldorf advocate. I am a parent who is on the fence. I love most of what we have experienced thus far but am unnerved by what I read and hear soemtimes. So, I come here to try to gain more insight. It is always futile because ultimately it becomes about Waldorf being the best thing in the world or the worst.

I think it would be disingenuous for people to say that Waldorf is not more prone to herd mentality and I can see that it would be very difficult to go against the grain. No point in denying it. What I wonder as I mentioned before, how do we do this? How do we balance reverence for harmony and community with honesty even in the most difficult of circumstances. It is a struggle in any closeknit community or family.

I am so sorry for your struggles. i wonder why, in your exploration of Waldorf and anthroposophy you weren't turned off before even sending your kids by some of the doctrine you say is plainly taught to teachers.

Is that part of the problem? That we have instincts and feelings about it but don't act upon it because it looks so inviting?

I AM trying to have an honest discussion about this. And, I do value your input and I don't think it behooves you to avoid offending anyone, that's not your responsibility. I want to learn something here that will really help me (and others) figure this out and make decisions.

Thanks.
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#71 of 109 Old 04-04-2006, 12:11 AM
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At the risk of being flamed, can I ask if there are any other bad experiences with waldorf school that could be explained other than beansavi's? I just skimmed as best I could through this and the other waldorf concerns thread and the only problem experience I found was beansavi's. Granted, I did skim about 15 pages and likely missed something, but the two threads are getting rather long. It would be nice if other problems were outlined in brief for us to consider. I would be particularly interested in problems that have nothing to do with plans arguments:
# 1. Waldorf Schools are Religious Schools
# 2. Waldorf Is Based on Occult Theory
# 3. Publicly Funded Waldorf Programs Violate the First Amendment in the United States

I have no issues with any of the above. If anyone has any negative experiences that do not relate to the plans arguments and are problems not isolated to an individual school, I would like to hear them.
Thanks
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#72 of 109 Old 04-04-2006, 12:33 AM
 
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boongirl- My kids are in a Waldorf school and we love it. That said, if you search some of the other threads, there are a multitude of claims ranging from abuse and neglect of the children to alienation of those who speak up. I believe the accusations but am trying to determine how much has to do with individual experiences and how much is inherent to Waldorf.
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#73 of 109 Old 04-04-2006, 01:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
I believe the accusations but am trying to determine how much has to do with individual experiences and how much is inherent to Waldorf.
I have read some of this as well and am also seeking the questions you are. THis is why I asked the question the way I did. I would like to know if there are arguments against waldorf that have nothing to do with philosophical or religious objections to anthroposophy and also are problems with more than just an individual school. I am not arguing or debating, but I have only seen problems that are either completely unique to one school and/or have to do with objections to anthroposophy.
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#74 of 109 Old 04-04-2006, 01:14 AM
 
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Like I said, if you look at some of the other threads, you can find some pretty detailed accounts. The implication, as I interpret it, is that things happen and there is little accountability and that the person speaking up suffers the most. I think that it is perceived to be a universal problem within Waldorf because of the way the schools are structured and from my own pov, I think, as I said before, it's tightknit and if you have a grievance or something serious goes down, there is so much at stake socially and emotionally. This is just what I have gleaned but again, I'm not swayed because I really love what we've experienced so far. I keep my eyes and ears open and try to remember that the school is for my kids and that it should not be my life and my social scene so that should something come up, I can put my kids best interest first and not have my ego, reputation and community destroyed. I want to find the right balance between being active and not being too emotionally invested in fulfilling my own needs. I hope that makes sense.

So far absolutely wonderful experience for my kids.
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#75 of 109 Old 04-04-2006, 09:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
I think, as I said before, it's tightknit and if you have a grievance or something serious goes down, there is so much at stake socially and emotionally. This is just what I have gleaned but again, I'm not swayed because I really love what we've experienced so far. I keep my eyes and ears open and try to remember that the school is for my kids and that it should not be my life and my social scene so that should something come up, I can put my kids best interest first and not have my ego, reputation and community destroyed. I want to find the right balance between being active and not being too emotionally invested in fulfilling my own needs. I hope that makes sense.

So far absolutely wonderful experience for my kids.
I think you have hit the nail on the head here. Many, many people get caught up in the community aspect of the schools. If Waldorf or their school isn't working for their child, it becomes very hard to leave because they feel like they are losing their community too. I have had friends leave our school for various reasons. The ones who left when they realized it wasn't working for their child, have the best relationship with the school and community and still participate. Those that hung on past when everyone else said to them, your child needs something that the school can't provide, they are the ones who end up in a bitter separation. Their child inevitably is happier somewhere else but the parent ends up bitter and disillusioned about the whole experience.

I do think Waldorf schools need to be more realistic about who they can serve and who they can't. There just aren't the resources to help children with severe behavioral issues or serious learning disabilities. I can think of one child who was admitted to 1st grade who should never have been accepted because the school was not equipped to deal with his behavior. It took until the end of 2nd grade to convince the family that the school could not give this child what he needed and the child was causing intense turmoil in the class. Meanwhile, the class lost other children because of this child and this child's behavior got worse and worse. It didn't help that the parents were in total denial about their child's behavior and how it was affecting everyone else in the class. The child is now in a public school getting the help he needs, the parents are bitter and the class is still reeling from the aftereffects. It is interesting to note, that there have been recent articles in the Waldorf magazine Relections about enrollment and how that given a school's resources they may not be able to educate all children that come to them. Some older schools might have those resources available but many younger schools do not.
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#76 of 109 Old 04-04-2006, 03:26 PM
 
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I think that other's complaints have been that when problems arise or accusations are made that the people speaking out become alienated and mistreated for the benefit of keeping the cohesion of the community. It just seems like a predictable problem in such closeknit communities.
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#77 of 109 Old 04-04-2006, 05:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
I think that other's complaints have been that when problems arise or accusations are made that the people speaking out become alienated and mistreated for the benefit of keeping the cohesion of the community. It just seems like a predictable problem in such closeknit communities.
One of the issues I've considered is that, since ours is only one of maybe 6 Waldorf schools within driving distance, that many of the conflicts that come up are treated more like personal issues than "Waldorf" issues. For example, if a parent and teacher clash over something or other, parents sometimes withdraw to a different Waldorf school. I've heard that we're one of the more desired schools for prospective teachers, so perhaps that makes it easier for a faculty to decide not to renew a particular teacher, confident other good candidates will appear. The school is pretty healthy financially, which helps minimize the school-wide impact of removing a teacher or student.

I'd characterize the community as a strong and healthy one, but there certainly isn't this "don't rock the boat" energy evident from my perspective. It seems like the faculty are a strongly opinionated bunch that are sometimes highly contentious with one another, more like a college or university faculty than a typical public school faculty which often deals more as a worker's group facing up against management/administration powers. There are strong disagreements sometimes, but enormous collegiality too. The peer support is tremendous. But they're just like people you find working together in other spheres, in that some are stubborn and forceful, some are the peacemakers, some are go-with-the-flow, others are "my way or the highway".

I'm a parent who tries not to be a "micro-manager" and don't expect the teachers to defend to me much why they do this or that in the classroom. If the teacher puts my child out of the class for talking or whatever, I'm not one to march to the school to inquire about who did what or that kind of thing. I remember an occasion where middle school students (including mine ) were ordered to detention for showing up a few minutes late for a very tightly scheduled rehearsal, and after the third or fourth parent of a straggler had interrupted the rehearsal to questioned the teacher's strictness or offer excuses, the teacher grew very crabby and short tempered with them. Well, this later blew up into a Very Big Deal. I was inclined to side with the teacher for the simple reason that she had established the rule and the consequence, this was detention, not a firing squad, that the students aren't going to break into pieces, and 7th and 8th graders don't benefit in issues like this to have mommy or daddy step in to fix it. They're capable of being their own advocates in issues of this magnitude. Maybe not all issues with a teacher, but certainly this one.

But my view didn't win the day. The teacher was forced to withdraw the detention as a result of the parents speaking out.

There was a large problem that came up not long ago with some classmates in the high school. I don't want to go into specifics, but they were high school students who were completely in the wrong and committed a serious school offense. Many of us, faculty and parents, have real deep concerns, though, that the problem was very clumsily handled in many ways, and are working towards opening a dialogue and finding cutting-edge solutions for what's in reality a very complicated dilemma in adolescence. It is an issue that arouses strong emotions in people, (in some cases, strong differences of opinion which mirrors the divided opinions in the larger society). That just makes it that much more difficult to deal with the complexities involved.

So we're deep in the middle of working on a serious concern we have right now. It's a serious issue, but it's not an "us against them" issue. There is no "bad guy" vs "good guy". Nobody in the school did anything "wrong", per se. We have met with a bit of defensiveness from some, but enormous openness from others. It's just a process to work through to build trust that this isn't an "attack" against anyone. I'm going to have to use that word "complexities" again, but the situation is chock-full of them. There are issues of confidentiality, of privacy, of administrative procedure, of peer-social dynamics, and of potential vulnerabilities which a school may open itself to if anyone says something wrong or fails to act in a specific way. That's just the tip of it.

But even in the midst of a difficult problem in the HS community, I am *not* feeling any vibes to hush or back-off. I'm completely optimistic that real constructive new insights will come from this process, because everyone involved wants to find the best possible path laid out for handling an extremely difficult, and not uncommon, problem teens can easily get involved in today.
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#78 of 109 Old 04-05-2006, 02:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
At the risk of being flamed, can I ask if there are any other bad experiences with waldorf school that could be explained other than beansavi's? I just skimmed as best I could through this and the other waldorf concerns thread and the only problem experience I found was beansavi's. Granted, I did skim about 15 pages and likely missed something, but the two threads are getting rather long. It would be nice if other problems were outlined in brief for us to consider. I would be particularly interested in problems that have nothing to do with plans arguments:
# 1. Waldorf Schools are Religious Schools
# 2. Waldorf Is Based on Occult Theory
# 3. Publicly Funded Waldorf Programs Violate the First Amendment in the United States

I have no issues with any of the above. If anyone has any negative experiences that do not relate to the plans arguments and are problems not isolated to an individual school, I would like to hear them.
Thanks
I think the only other issue with Waldorf, apart from what you mention above, is the slow/different academic pace. I think there were one or two posts in the other thread about this (I think 'jalilah' was one of the posters?). For example, Waldorf schools don't teach reading until age 7. They argue that most public schools in the industrial world do not teach reading until age 7 but this is in fact misleading, because this lumps reading and pre-reading together. Most public schools in the western world do teach pre-reading skills well before age 7 (letters, sounds associated with letters, spelling one's name) and many start reading in grade 1, which in most systems is at age 6. In France, children learn the letters, the associated sounds and writing (cursive writing, not printing!) in ecole maternelle (pre-school and kindergarten) and reading in grade 1. In Waldorf, you don't learn about a single letter or associated sound until you are 7.

There are lots of arguments for and against starting at age 7. I have read all kinds of stories on the internet about Waldorf children who missed the "window of opportunity" by starting reading and writing too late and not being able to spell or print their name at the age of 9 or 10, etc. and lots of other stories about how well-rounded, artsy, intellectual, etc. Waldorf kids turn out in addition to being excellent spellers, so there you have it. The first Waldorf family that I ever met had a boy who had just turned 7 and and was just finishing kindergarten! I observed him with his kindergarten class and he looked and acted soooooo bored.

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#79 of 109 Old 04-05-2006, 03:52 PM
 
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My granddaughter just turned six in December. She'll be starting first grade next fall. She will start with learning letters and sounds at the beginning of first grade, so she won't be waiting until 7. Several other children in her class have November and December birthdays, so most of the first graders will be six at the beginning of the year.

Now, due to her own demands, she already knows how to write all the letters in caps and most in small letters. She is also beginning to catch on to the concept that letters represent sounds. However, she also knows that she will be learning how to read in first grade and is quite happy with this. In the meantime, her parents and her grandparents get to read to her, and she memorizes the books and "reads" them to her little brother.

My experience is that the pre-reading happens in first grade and then the first steps towards actual reading occur by the end of first grade. Serious work on actual reading happens in second grade. Many children are good readers by third grade, most waldorf kids are reading at grade level by fourth grade.

All of this varies by school and by teacher. I only have direct experience with 4 schools at this point, all of which were effective at teaching reading. I do have experience of one failure of the system: when I was going to a waldorf school in the 8th grade (1964), many of the kids in the class were not good readers. That was one of the earliest classes at that particular school and I think they just had a lousy teacher. It didn't strike me at the time, because most of the kids I knew in public school weren't good readers either. In fact the only good readers I knew were in my own family, plus a very small group of kids I ran into in my constantly moving childhood. Perhaps one or two in each class were really fluent.

That same school was doing an excellent job by the time my daughter attended 1st grade (1974?). She loved her school, learned how to read really well by 3rd grade and has been an enthusiastic reader ever since.

The problem nowadays doesn't seem to be that the majority of children fail to master reading (except, perhaps, in really awful schools, which tend to fall, unfortunately, in really awful neighborhoods), but many children are not enthusiastic readers. They have mastered the mechanics, but never had, or have lost, the love of story and literature.

Deborah
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#80 of 109 Old 04-05-2006, 10:05 PM
 
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The Waldorf movement isn't "sick". It is thriving. Every Waldorf school in this country has been initiated by highly motivated families. It isn't perfect. It is growing too fast in some ways. There aren't enough resources, especially good teachers, to meet this demand, and that's a symptom of too much success, not too little. . . .This is an extraordinarily difficult undertaking, starting a school like this. The fact that there continues to be so many new ones is a sign of their success.
Today I came across older Waldorf school counts put out by AWSNA back in 1992. Back then there were 91 schools, now there are 151, as well as another 30 "initiatives" aspiring to become official Waldorf schools.

A growth of 150%, and all of it springing independently, from the grass roots. The challenges aren't those of a sick "system", though there certainly seem to be some sick schools. The challenge is how each of these independent schools can gracefully and capably negotiate through the difficulties, conflicts, and even natural growth pains, and mature into the solid, healthy, and inspired institutions they should be.
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#81 of 109 Old 04-06-2006, 02:57 AM
 
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Dear "CLMP,"

After reading your post, I can only assume that you aren't very familiar with the teaching of reading/pre-reading in Waldorf education. I would like to talk about this in a separate thread...so, bee-bop on over to the one I'm about to call "Waldorf and Reading"

Lucie
(who believes strongly in signing posts - it's sort of like taking responsibility for your words)

Edited to fix typo
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#82 of 109 Old 04-06-2006, 03:46 AM
 
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Dear "CLMP,"

After reading your post, I can only assume that you aren't very familiar with the teaching of reading/pre-reading in Waldorf education. I would like to talk about this in a separate thread...so, bee-bop on over to the one I'm about to call "Waldorf and Reading"
Er, you are going to have to provide a link to this thread if you want me to read it. Going through the entire Waldorf subfile to find it myself will take a bit of time.

I have read a LOT on Waldorf and I have talked to parents who have sent their children there. While Steiner schools typically will at least begin teaching the writing of letters at age 6, the reading (and even the learning of the sounds associated with the letters that the children have been learning to write) begins in grade 2. That's one year (at least) behind the vast majority of Western countries.

Here is a typical explanation regarding reading in Waldorf schools:

From: http://www.steiner-australia.org/other/Wald_faq.html

Quote:
How is reading taught in a Waldorf school? Why do Waldorf students wait until 2nd grade to begin learning to read?.

Waldorf education is deeply bound up with the oral tradition, typically beginning with the teacher telling the children fairy tales throughout kindergarten and first grade. The oral approach is used all through Waldorf education: mastery of oral communication is seen as being integral to all learning.

Reading instruction, as such, is deferred. Instead, writing is taught first. During the first grade the children explore how our alphabet came about, discovering, as the ancients did, how each letter's form evolved out of a pictograph. Writing thus evolves out of the children's art, and their ability to read likewise evolves as a natural and, indeed, comparatively effortless stage of their mastery of language.
From: http://www.rudolfsteinerschool.org/grades123.htm

CMLP (who believes that initials are just as good as the first name, thank you very much)

Roman Goddess, mom to J (August 2004) and J (April 2009).    h20homebirth.gif signcirc1.gif
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#83 of 109 Old 04-06-2006, 04:02 AM
 
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Dear CMLP,

It's right at the top of the Waldorf room for now...and I totally agree with this part of your RSS quote:

"Writing thus evolves out of the children's art, and their ability to read likewise evolves as a natural and, indeed, comparatively effortless stage of their mastery of language."

That is totally my experience with this. I watch so many friends who started drilling reading skills at four then struggle with a child who either is disinterested in reading or unable to comprehend well enough to take on interesting literature...but then that's why I think we should do a separate thread just on reading.

Regards,

Lucie Smoker
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#84 of 109 Old 04-06-2006, 10:52 AM
 
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On the growth of the waldorf movement: When I was attending a waldorf school in 1964 there were 8 (eight!) waldorf schools in North America.

Deborah
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#85 of 109 Old 04-07-2006, 11:19 AM
 
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Well I was not going to get involved in but since I am being quoted ([QUOTE=cmlp]I think the only other issue with Waldorf, apart from what you mention above, is the slow/different academic pace. I think there were one or two posts in the other thread about this (I think 'jalilah' was one of the posters?). QUOTE]) I feel I should.

I have issues with Waldorf but not the same ones as PLANS. It has been over a year now that we left Waldorf.I left on good terms with the school thinking it was still a good system but not for my son. A year has passed and I have gone over allot of what happened in my mind and am now less enthusiastic about Waldorf than before although I still think it can be good for some children
Boongirl I already gave you an answer before so why are you saying Bensavi is the only one with negative experiences? I am pasting parts of what I said to save time: This was last November:
<Boongirl <So, this all brings me to some more questions for those who are critical of WaldorfLet me first say that I am asking respectfully.
Just curious because religious beliefs could explain a lot about why some have strong negative opinions of Waldorf and some do not.>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rhonwyn, I feel rather hurt that you imply that only children "with severe behaviour issues or serious disabilities" don't do well in Waldorf.
My son had motor and coordination delays from sensory issues. His drawings and pencil grip were behind for his age. That and the fact that he did not follow instructions led the teachers to think he was too immature to stay in first grade. As I have written about before (and will not again) the move back to Kindergarten was a disaster and he became even more unruyly. Now I know he was angry and bored. In fact he was developing severe behaviour problems from being in Waldorf School. Once he was out he had no problems following instructions from his new teachers. My son IS NOT special needs. He just found it difficult to focus in the Waldorf classroom, as there was too much sensory stimulation for him as well as the fact it was not engaging. The teachers at Waldorf implied that he needed to go to a waldorf special needs school, but since we left no one else has said that and he has learned to read and do math in a short time. I have since heard of allot of children who don't do well in Waldorf. My son's best friend also left as well as many many others in the time we were there.
Why do we get upset?becasue it is concerning our children!
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On waldorf and children with learning challenges--

there is an organization in the U.S. that focuses on such problems and provides an excellent training for teachers and specialists. I've posted the info before. I'd suggest that anyone who's waldorf school is falling short in this area push this organization to the school administration/teachers. They also publish a newsletter and books. Unfortunately, they do not have much in the way of an online presence, but they do excellent work. I wish more waldorf schools would invest in sending at least one staff member to their training program (which now includes a master's program).

Association for a Healing Education
Main Phone Number (248) 356-5003
Country USA
Street Address 24228 EDGEMONT ST
City SOUTHFIELD
State / Province MI
Postal Code 48034

Email Address mjoresti@aol.com
Purpose Education Children Remedial Special Needs

Deborah
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#87 of 109 Old 04-07-2006, 10:58 PM
 
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Jalilah made a lot of good points that have been true for me and/or close friends and acquaintances.

And as for children with learning disabilities being the main ones not fitting in, I know for sure that isn't true. One example to the contrary was a bright and capable student whose mom had her in two different Waldorf schools between kindergarten and 7th grade. She hated not being able to do her own artwork instead of always having to copy the teacher's. She was frustrated to come to school and find that her handwork had been taken apart and redone (by a circle of volunteer handwork parents) to take the imperfections out. She was bored daily with what she felt was mindless copying of the teachers' writing from the blackboard into her lesson books. She was frustrated at not being able to use the compass and protractor to experiment with geometrical shapes - being able to make only the lines the teacher dictated. She longed for more intellectual stimulation and creative opportunities. After the last personality clash with a teacher, she demanded that she be allowed to go to public school. Her mom gave up and let her go, and she was thrilled - she actively appreciated the intellectual stimulation and artistic freedom she found there. She went on to excell in public high school and college.

And it's true that there are also children who do very well with Waldorf schools and have none of those complaints! But I think those who are doing really well there could be instrumental in helping resolve some of the other very real problems that do come up over and over again - if only they could listen to and trust those who are going through them instead of turning their backs in order to discourage people from making waves. A friend of mine bumped into a mom the year after we were there, and was told in a dreamy tone, "Oh, it's so nice now that the people who didn't really want to be there are gone..."

- Lillian
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#88 of 109 Old 04-08-2006, 12:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Lillian J
Jalilah made a lot of good points that have been true for me and/or close friends and acquaintances.

And as for children with learning disabilities being the main ones not fitting in, I know for sure that isn't true. One example to the contrary was a bright and capable student whose mom had her in two different Waldorf schools between kindergarten and 7th grade. She hated not being able to do her own artwork instead of always having to copy the teacher's. She was frustrated to come to school and find that her handwork had been taken apart and redone (by a circle of volunteer handwork parents) to take the imperfections out. She was bored daily with what she felt was mindless copying of the teachers' writing from the blackboard into her lesson books. She was frustrated at not being able to use the compass and protractor to experiment with geometrical shapes - being able to make only the lines the teacher dictated. She longed for more intellectual stimulation and creative opportunities. After the last personality clash with a teacher, she demanded that she be allowed to go to public school. Her mom gave up and let her go, and she was thrilled - she actively appreciated the intellectual stimulation and artistic freedom she found there. She went on to excell in public high school and college.

And it's true that there are also children who do very well with Waldorf schools and have none of those complaints! But I think those who are doing really well there could be instrumental in helping resolve some of the other very real problems that do come up over and over again - if only they could listen to and trust those who are going through them instead of turning their backs in order to discourage people from making waves. A friend of mine bumped into a mom the year after we were there, and was told in a dreamy tone, "Oh, it's so nice now that the people who didn't really want to be there are gone..."

- Lillian
Hi Lillian,

No, the difficulty I have is that none of what you are describing actually matches up with my experience of waldorf education.

I'll take it bit by bit.
Artwork. My daughter has stacks of notebooks filled with her original artwork. Certainly she spent time copying pictures off the blackboard and if that had been everything, she would have been bored. But it wasn't.

Handwork. No, her handwork was never taken apart and redone.

Copying into main lesson books. No, although there was some copying in the early grades, the older she got, the less there was. She was expected to write a fair bit of her own material by the time she was in 5th grade and it continued expanding on through high school. She was better prepared to do original research and writing in college than most of her peers who attended public schools.

Geometry. Yep, kids are expected to learn how to reproduce the forms that the teacher is producing. However, there is nothing to stop them taking the equipment home and experimenting. Further, once you've got the skills and the concepts you can do anything you damn well want.

So, my daughter doesn't want to revise waldorf schools because the two she attended were great. I'm sorry the one you are talking about was not great (to put it mildly). The one I worked at in Chicago was pretty good, too, so I didn't feel any particular urge to give it an overhaul in the pedagogical realm.

How about this. I acknowledge that there are some waldorf schools out there that are doing a bad job, if you acknowledge the possibility that there are some waldorf schools in the world that are doing a good job.

And yes, my daughter did go on to excel in college. She has excelled in her various professional and volunteer undertakings. Hey, her marriage seems to be working. Her kids are super (but I am their doting grandma, so you can discount that). She liked waldorf so much that she is putting her kids into the local waldorf school. SHE WOULDN'T HAVE LIKED IT IF IT WAS ANYTHING LIKE WHAT YOU ARE DESCRIBING. NOT ALL WALDORF SCHOOLS ARE LIKE THAT!!!!!!

end rant

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#89 of 109 Old 04-08-2006, 03:08 PM
 
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And it's true that there are also children who do very well with Waldorf schools and have none of those complaints! But I think those who are doing really well there could be instrumental in helping resolve some of the other very real problems that do come up over and over again - if only they could listen to and trust those who are going through them instead of turning their backs in order to discourage people from making waves. A friend of mine bumped into a mom the year after we were there, and was told in a dreamy tone, "Oh, it's so nice now that the people who didn't really want to be there are gone..."

- Lillian
What?

I think there are issues with in Waldorf schools that are healthy for parents to complain about, and there are others that aren't. If parents discover they don't like the Waldorf educational philosophy, they shouldn't chose Waldorf. In those cases it isn't healthy to complain in those situations--it's just a contentious distraction.

If parents agree with the goal of the education, and at least have agreement in a broad, general sense with Waldorf's concept of child development, of course it's perfectly valid to complain if the school or teacher gets off track, or even if there are important adjustments that should be explored if something just 'isn't working'.

But if, as I've heard some parents do, the complaints are about practices that are fundamental to Waldorf, I could agree that 'they really didn't want to be there'. But that's a very different level of 'complaint'. Sometimes I think parents are looking in Waldorf for a mainstream education or a prep school education dressed up in pretty pictures, charming stories, and quaint festivals. They behave at times as if Waldorf faculty are silly little creatures that just don't 'know any better', rather than committed educators that have chosen to teach in a Waldorf school because they subscribe to the pedagogy, not because they're ignorant of educational practice.

But very often I see problems where both sides are right, especially those problems that involve a particular child, or even a group of children. The Waldorf system isn't easily customized to meet the needs for every student.

For example, if a kindergartener is way ready for 1st grade, and is actually taking away from the kindergarten more negatives than positives, not every teacher is gifted enough how to handle this. I've know one great teacher who handled this particular problem well, remaining consistent with Waldorf practice, but I've heard of many other instances where the teachers essentially ignored the problem, continuing to focus on the class as a whole. Of course that parent has to complain! (Though maybe "complaining" isn't the best approach toward a solution, but you probably kwim).

But everywhere we go in life, we can expect to get cr~p for making waves. It's human nature. (Or is it? I had a conversation with a co-worker once who was French, working in the US for only a year. He remarked how difficult it was to criticize or correct or offer feedback in professional life in the US because, as he put it, it's always taken personally here. In France, he said, you can go head-to-head all day with colleagues, and come five o'clock, everybody's put it away, are friendly, social, and having a good time together over a drink on the way home or whatever. In the US, he said, he was struggling to learn how to tip toe carefully through work related disagreements because he said in the US, everybody he worked with couldn't handle disapproval well. In my work life, I've noticed this too. People behave pretty childishly, gossip, form cliques, pout--I'm talking highly educated professionals! Sorry if this is too OT. I think it relates at one level, though.)
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#90 of 109 Old 04-08-2006, 03:32 PM
 
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Rhonwyn, I feel rather hurt that you imply that only children "with severe behaviour issues or serious disabilities" don't do well in Waldorf.
My son had motor and coordination delays from sensory issues.
I in no way meant to imply that all children who have difficulty at a particular school have those difficulites due to severe behavior issues or serious learning disabilities. Also, when you had your thread on your son's particular issues, I was one of the ones who said that moving him back to Kindergarten was the wrong thing to do. I think your school messed up. My own child has sensory integration issues which are being addressed by the school and the teacher. Fortunatlely, the issues are not so severe as to be a disruption to the class or to limit my child's ability to learn.

What you experienced however, is not what I have seen at our school. Our school is by no means perfect but they are working on identifying issues that different children have and trying to determine if Waldorf or our school or the child's class or teacher is right for that child. Out of the children we have lost in my oldest child's class, only two left because their needs could not be met. All others have left because they moved or for financial reasons. Of the two that left due to difficulties, one is going to a school that specializes in dyslexia and the other is going to a public school where he can get help with his behavioral issues which were disrupting my oldest child's class.

Our teachers, for the most part, are trained to teach in public schools and Waldorf schools. They have received some training on identifying learning issues in children. The teachers are by no means perfect but they are trying to improve so that they can serve more children.
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