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Mollybeth 12-01-2001 12:29 AM

I was wondering, for those of you who are part of a Waldorf school... Do you believe in the tenets of Anthroposophy? Have you read them or studied them? Did you choose a Waldorf school based on these beliefs, or for other reasons? I understand (through reading, not experience) that Anthroposophy is not taught out-right in the schools...but how do these beliefs transfer into the classroom?


Sierra 12-01-2001 05:51 PM

No. In my opinion, there is very little good for me to find in anthroposophy.

stClaire 12-01-2001 08:47 PM

I have studied some beginning anthroposophy and no i don't "believe" in it. I found some points of interest and i enjoy many of the thoughts written by others who study anthroposophy. I find that those whose ideas i gravitate towards are those whose thoughts have evolved with the times (not just going "by the book" of one mans ideas)

Many of the further out there writings of Rudolf Steiner have been a little hard for me to penetrate, though , i hold judgement (or at least try to )

I chose a Waldorf school based on other things and not the originating philosophy. If the school becomes rigid to a belief structure or is not meeting my son where he is at then i would reconsider and each school (and teacher) is unique.

Alexander 12-23-2001 09:59 AM

Actually, there was a thread on the old boards started by Sierra that revealed a lot of nonsense with in the walls of Waldorf. Here is a snippet:


posted 09-25-2000 11:30 AM **
I have a problem with a few of the aspects of the Waldorf method of educating children.

One thing that bugs me is the philosophy that children ubder the age of seven shouldn't be taught how to read, write, work with numbers or do any physical 'grown-up' activites (such as washing dishes, sweping, etc.). The reason (according to the Waldorf method) being that
these children are still adjusting to being on earth. They are angels and any hard work would be damaging to their spirits.

The reason I have a problem with this aspect of the Waldorf method is because it seems awfully silly. Research has shown that from birth, babies are taking in all the stimulation the world offers via their senses. There are periods within a child's life when one of their senses are more suseptable to absorbing information, this is known as sesitive periods.

There were more interesting comments from people describing the weakness of this "system", but here Skya seems to have hit the nail on the head for many. This "philosophy" may or may not be relevant to you, depending on where you are coming from.

For me, there are 2 main objections:

1) the first is that this looks too much like a cult for me to be happy with. This is debatable of course, and I am sure that there are plenty of well meaning teachers and parents who have not encountered this.

2) The second problem is a broader one that encompasses much of modern Industrial Age Model education. That is that it, and its philosophy are no longer relevant to the current era, The Information Age. It is harder to say that this is a debatable issue. The case for Waldorf is made all the more difficult when we consider that the movement was born as a reaction to the Industrial Age, possibly at a time when most change was occurring in the industrialization of Europe, and there was a sophisticated elite of classically educated idealists who were unhappy with the way industrialization was taking humanity.


momacat 12-23-2001 01:43 PM

We researched Waldorf for our children......I attend a mommy and me type class with my boys, and have been for over a year now. The school is very of this point it has preschool classes up to 3rd grade. I asked about the Waldorf philosophy of not teaching reading until the milk teeth fall out......and it is just that, they do not 'teach', per say, reading, but the children are read to several times through out the day.....and *Many* children learn to read in a very natural way before they turn 7 years old. Most of the children were writing in the second grade class....They were making books, with beautiful illustrations to express their ideas about adding and subtracting. Art and nature is the foundation of the program taught in the school that I was considering. Mind you, we had come from a wonderful Montessori school that my daughter had attended for five years. She started there when she was 2 1/2. We ended up not choosing the Waldorf program for her, not because we were upset by the environment of the school.....It was really lovely.....But because the school itself was so young, that they did not have a second grade teacher, and were in the process of hiring. I was not comfortable committing to the school, without knowing everything I could about the class that Kaitlyn would be in.

As far as being cult like, that was not what I saw at this Waldorf school.....There was a wide mix of religions, Pagans, Christians, and Jews, all together, honoring nature. They believe in turning off the TV....Wearing simple, natural clothing.....Eating healthy, organic foods......Making whatever you can, rather than buying.....Loving and caring for Mother Earth.....Surrounding yourself with natural and wholesome items in your home. Everything about the philosophy that this school offered, I believe in. The whole of Anthroposophy was *not* pushed at you....I asked about this with the head of school, and other mothers, and I was told that the school does not, and would not, bring religion into it's environment. So, while some school may have a strong Anthroposophic base, not *all* Waldorf schools do. If you are interested in the Waldorf philosophy, go to one of the schools in your area, and find out yourself what their environment is like. It is like Montessori.....Sadly, anyone can tack on the name Montessori to their school name, and they do not need to be AMI, AMS, or IMS accredited. You need to ask out right if they are. You need to look at the classrooms, and see for yourself if they actually have proper Montessori tools. Research is the key to finding any good school for your children. Never rule out an entire methodology based on the opinion of a few people. You can always find someone to argue both sides of any argument.....It is always best to search things out for yourself.

mamakarata 12-30-2001 12:21 AM

To answer your question Mollbeth, the anthroposophy is taught to the teachers as an additional tool to help them understand children and their developmental stages. Waldorf school doesn't involve the children at all with the philosophy. In our experience, the transfer to the classroom was a devotion to understanding and nurturing our children.

Waldorf was a nice fit for my parenting style in many ways and it held my child in a secure and creative learning environment like no other school seemed able to.

She did run into a funky teacher in 4th grade, so we put her in a small public school for the first time at 5th grade, and she integrated beautifully.

I posted on another link, that the education seems more like a slow cooking marinara sauce, as opposed to a fast food public education. The end result being very rich and very wonderful.

Good luck in your research.

reverendmother 01-16-2002 10:29 PM

I had to comment on a couple of points here...

First of all someone stated that Waldorf doesn't think children under 7 should do grown up activities like read, sweep, dishes...
Well reading is correct. They don't believe in awaking the intellect too early, but they do beleive that children should be allowed to do imitative behaviors -- i.e. sweep, dishes, pounding nails, digging. The idea, in part is to involve the whole body.

Second. In regard to Anthrop.
We we in a Waldorf school for 4 years. We are mainline Chrsitians. I find Steiner to be rather "new age Chrsitan light" and I don't agree with most of it. So I was very concerned that my child might be taught these ideas. There never was a problem. It is not a religious school. They are, however, open to the child's spirituality, and so my child could share exciting things she had done at church without someone thinking she was evangleizing. The same was true of the other children of other faiths.

I would say the best thing about Waldorf education as compared to other educational methods is that it doesn't follow trends. From my relgious perspective it is as if they say "God created children to grow in a certian way and that doesn't change, no matter what the latest findings of the NEA may say."

The teachers do not have to beleive in Antrop. Infact one of the teachers in our school was Anglican. But they need to understand it.

momofgurlz 01-31-2002 01:10 AM

Hello, Molly (and everyone else!)

I spent six years as a Waldorf school parent, and have spent the last two years (since we withdrew our children and enrolled them in what most would consider more "mainstream" schools!) studying Waldorf education, Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy.
My conclusion? Waldorf schools are the "parochial" schools of Anthroposophy. The two -- Waldorf and Anthro. -- are intertwined; they cannot be separated. Anthroposophy, in fact, determines almost everything about Waldorf, from the color of the classroom walls in each grade to the way teachers talk to children (or don't!) to what snacks the children eat on a given day. Anthrop. determines how the teachers "categorize" the children (a system of Medieval "temperments" is used), and even the way that the children are taught to draw and color. (Trees are drawn from the roots up; people are drawn with no faces at all. )
Waldorf teacher "training" is perhaps best described as "Anthroposophy 24/7." If you ever have time, check out the list of courses that first and second year teacher trainees have to take and the books that are required reading. They are Steiner, Steiner and more Steiner. Thus, a course titled "child development" is child development according to Rudolf Steiner, a mystigogue and occultist (he is thus described in anthro literature; to prospective Waldorf parents he is called an "educator" and "scientist.") The science taught is Steiner science ... much of it nonsense.

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