the importance of school experience vs. life experience...thoughts wanted - Mothering Forums
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 9 Old 01-27-2005, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
newmainer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: midcoast Maine
Posts: 1,582
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
i'm having an educational dilemma, and maybe its a bit premature but i figure the only way to stop the running dialogue in my head about it is to post here and have a discussion

So, my dd is only 19 months and we're on the whole waldorf track right now. we're in a parent-child class, which I really like and I think she really likes though I mean, at this age, any place she can play and eat is pretty good :LOL
I've known kids who have been through Waldorf, have a working knowledge of the philosophy (at least the major stuff, but am learning more that i am wondering about on the Waldorf subforum...) Long and short is- there' s much that I really appreciate and like about it and can see sending dd and future sibling. We have a local school, about 10 minutes away on a beautiful wooded campus. My feeling about this school inparticular is good but there is always more research to be done.

here's the catch, mostly springing from the cost. At 7,000 a year (which i know is cheaper than many in other parts of the country) it would be a *huge* stretch for us to send 2 kids. I mean, we could do it (by the time both kids are in school, i'll be working again. Ironically, teaching in a public school ) But if we commit those kinds of funds to sending our kids to Waldorf, then that's kind of IT. Trips, both domestic and certainly international, would be very, very limited. Extra curricular activities that require money, like music lessons or sports etc... would also be very limited. In general, it would really restrict our ability to do/have other things. We are alos striving for some simplicity and long term financial independence in our lives, and spending 100,000 over 2 kids primary education seems well, frivolous? not responsible in the long term? I don't know.

So my question is: is it worth it? Are quality daily experiences day in and day out more meaningful than a childhood/teen years punctuated by varied, enriching activities?

I could go on, but this is getting long. I hope I'm getting my thoughts out there succinctly. Thanks for reading thus far. I hate the thought of my kids sitting in desks and doing worksheets... ugh. But, I hate the thought of spending so much money on school that it pushes out other activitites that could be equally important, if for a shorter period of time.

Granted i have a lot of time to think about this (being that i only have one child and she isn't even 2 :LOL) But, whatever. i obsess.

I am a homeopath, offering acute and constitutional consultations for children, babies, and parents. Long-distance treatment is easy, either phone or skype! I also am certified to offer Homeoprophylaxis, a vaccine-alternative program. Message me for more details. www.concentrichealing.com
newmainer is offline  
#2 of 9 Old 01-28-2005, 11:56 AM
 
lauren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: In a state of grace
Posts: 6,779
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
I don't think it's premature to wonder about this at 19 months! I'm amazed at how fast time goes by and how these choices do need to be made (my children are 9, 6 and newborn). I am not a Waldorf parent, and as you've seen from the subforum there are several very articulate and well spoken parents who will help you see the value in Waldorf.

I am wondering if you could say more about your own educational experiences that led you to your current value system. My guess is you have more to say than just that you reject the notion that your children will sit and do worksheets all day. What kind of education are you seeking for them? Would homeschooling work for you if you want it to be more child led and stimulating? What other choices do you have in your area?

In my neck of the woods there weren't major choices beyond public school and homeschool. I originally thought we might homeschool, but through a series of choices, that is not what we are doing. Luckily our public school is pretty cool, and I feel that my children are getting a good education. But we take it year by year. I do know parents that invest in Waldorf, and for them, it really does feel like an investment. There are many things they need to sacrifice, but they believe in it wholeheartedly. I think that would need to be the difference. If you believe in it so strongly that you feel led to use your resources in that way, then you should do it. If there are other options, evaluate them equally.

 
lauren is offline  
#3 of 9 Old 01-28-2005, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
newmainer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: midcoast Maine
Posts: 1,582
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
thanks lauren, those are some good questions to consider. I guess I thought my school experience was more or less fine until I really started to reflect on it. I think mostly it was lacking in richness...i was always bumped up a grade in reading, or put in a "gifted and talented" class which made a difference, but everything else was fairly blah. I struggled with math and in retrospect, no wonder considering how it was taught. I have some teachers and experiencs that stand out, but mostly it was pretty ho-hum. Luckily i loved reading and writing and so I was happy doing those things. This is elementary-middle school. In highschool i did an amazing semester at an environmental edcuation center that was pivotal in my life. There are tons of options for high school, and I'm not worried about that. I am more concerned about the early years. (I also wonder if i had had a more "rich" elementary experience how much that would have made a difference for me. i'd be interested in other's thoughts on their own experiences).

I think that Waldorf is definitely an investment, and its a good one. But I also think doing and creating that richness as a family is also an investment and an important one. I realize that those 2 things are not mutually exclusive, and our family things do not have to cost money. There is a lot that can be done with very litle money, no question, but forking over 14,000 a year would limit us. It would mean working longer, taking longer to pay off the house, etc..etc..

To be fair, I have only mildly checked into our public schools. I have one acquaintence who has children in the ps and she likes the schools and feels they are responsive and she is very involved. that's good to hear. Homeschooling will not be for me. I know i could do it and do it well, but honestly, I want to be working again and teaching in schools myself. Plus, I feel strongly about the school experience- being with other kids from different backgrounds, meeting new adults and role models, etc...

I guess my question is kind of more a more philosophical discussion. I am intrested in other mother's opinions of whether they feel the daily school experience is more valuable (for lack of a better term) than being able to provide other experiences in the family, if one is going to supersede the other. assume non-monetary family events/enrichment will occur.

I am a homeopath, offering acute and constitutional consultations for children, babies, and parents. Long-distance treatment is easy, either phone or skype! I also am certified to offer Homeoprophylaxis, a vaccine-alternative program. Message me for more details. www.concentrichealing.com
newmainer is offline  
#4 of 9 Old 01-28-2005, 02:46 PM
 
Kirsten's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Washington state
Posts: 5,463
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmainer
I am intrested in other mother's opinions of whether they feel the daily school experience is more valuable (for lack of a better term) than being able to provide other experiences in the family, if one is going to supersede the other.
I think it really depends on what type of daily school experience you are talking about. In your first post, you said your feeling about the Waldorf school was "good". I wouldn't make severe financial sacrifices for "good". I agree that being able to provide other experiences (travel, participation in sports, dance, piano, etc.) are wonderful. BUT, I would give - actually, am about to give - those up for a daily school experience that I feel is WONDERFUL, EXCEPTIONAL, life-changing, absolutely not to be missed. If you feel that way, the sacrifices (IMO) are worth it. If you are anything less than absolutely 'in your gut you know it HAS to be', then I would not make that kind of severe financial sacrifice.

I am actually in your position but a few years down the road. My girls are 8, 4 and 1. Dd1 was accepted into a great multi-age program of the public school district here - started in kindergarten and is now in 3rd grade there. Dh went to public school; I went to public school - we were very happy with and committed to public school. I have friends who homeschool; I have friends whose kids go to private school - I was not the least bit interested in either of those options for my kids. I especially could not understand how my friends who used private school could justify spending that kind of money on something that I felt could be done well by the public system with a bit of research about your options and putting in some volunteer hours.

Well, fast forward to now - dd1 has had the MOST INCREDIBLE teacher for 2nd and 3rd grade. He is leaving and opening his own private school to open this fall. I am giving up my kids' spots at our alternative program (very hard to get into) and making severe financial sacrifices to send them to his new private school. It took me all of about 20 seconds to make this decision. I am happily, joyfully making the financial changes needed to make this happen - because I am so thrilled, so sure, that it will be amazing for my kids. And I am coming from a school that we've really loved, not a bad experience at all.

I think you should follow your gut. If you spend some time in the public school and any alternative programs it may have, and some time in different areas of the Waldorf school, I think you'll get a gut feeling about what is right for your family. It may be Waldorf - I don't know. I just think that you should be overwhelmingly convinced that it is right in order to justify not being able to provide other experiences for your kids that you find valuable to their childhood.
Kirsten is offline  
#5 of 9 Old 01-28-2005, 03:15 PM
 
EFmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 8,103
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think like any kind of major decision, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis weighing what is of value for your family.

Personally, I can't imagine spending that kind of money on a private school, no matter what kind of wonderful it is. That is why we did a careful evaluation of school districts before we bought our house, to make sure our kids would go to a high quality public school.

I guess I'm not all that interested in my kids going to school in a "magical environment." I'm interested in them getting a good, solid education that will provide them the tools they need to do well in college and in life. I have relatives who have sacrificed a great deal to send their kids to very exclusive and expensive private schools, and at the end of the day, I don't see how it was worth it.

I'm very committed to providing a college education for our children. I do not want them to start out their lives tens of thousands of dollars in debt. We won't pay full freight at Princeton, but they will be able to go to our excellent state university system and be debt-free, while being able to concentrate on their studies, rather than trying to balance a bunch of part-time jobs at the same time. Dh's and my parents both did this for us, and we consider it to be by far the best gift they could have given us.

That's what is important to us. There is no way I could be saving for college and paying private school tuition at once.
EFmom is offline  
#6 of 9 Old 01-28-2005, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
newmainer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: midcoast Maine
Posts: 1,582
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom

I guess I'm not all that interested in my kids going to school in a "magical environment." I'm interested in them getting a good, solid education that will provide them the tools they need to do well in college and in life. I have relatives who have sacrificed a great deal to send their kids to very exclusive and expensive private schools, and at the end of the day, I don't see how it was worth it.

I'm very committed to providing a college education for our children. I do not want them to start out their lives tens of thousands of dollars in debt. We won't pay full freight at Princeton, but they will be able to go to our excellent state university system and be debt-free, while being able to concentrate on their studies, rather than trying to balance a bunch of part-time jobs at the same time. Dh's and my parents both did this for us, and we consider it to be by far the best gift they could have given us.

That's what is important to us. There is no way I could be saving for college and paying private school tuition at once.
EFmom this is exactly the train of thought that drove me to post this thread.
I'm not necessarily looking for a magical environment either. The things that appeal to me about Waldorf have nothing to do with the fairies, gnomes, etc... its more about the results I see when I interact with kids going to/have gone to Waldorf. That being said, I often wonder if those kids woudl be like that regardless of where they go. Waldorf appeals to a certain kind of parent and family, and I think those families would be taking a strong interest in their children's education and development no matter where they go. But then I think about what you said- isn't what's important a solid education and then we'll go from there? And then I see some Waldorf play or something and I melt about what the kids are doing. I think I need to visit some public school stuff.

Private schools in general don't appeal to me. Its the Waldorf philosophy in general that appeals. I am not interested in Montessori either, which we also have here. We're pretty lucky; for a fairly rural area (maybe 20,000 out of 5-6 towns in a 30 mile radius) we have Waldorf (2 campuses, actually), Montessori, and another private school. An alternative high school just started that i am crossing my fingers is still around when dd is high school. Its awesome.

The college issue you raised is also big for me. Dh's parents paid for him to go to public college, mine didnt'. My mom would have, but she didnt' have the money, and my dad felt like it was something i needed to pay on my own. Now i have 16,000 in loans, in addition to mortgage and other debts, that we are just now able to pay off. I do want to be able to contribute a considerable sum to our children's college tuition, if they choose to go.

I appreciate eveyone's thoughts and sharing their experiences. This isn't a decision that we'll make overnight but its helpful to see where other families have landed.

I am a homeopath, offering acute and constitutional consultations for children, babies, and parents. Long-distance treatment is easy, either phone or skype! I also am certified to offer Homeoprophylaxis, a vaccine-alternative program. Message me for more details. www.concentrichealing.com
newmainer is offline  
#7 of 9 Old 01-28-2005, 10:29 PM
 
Oh the Irony's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: grateful for truth
Posts: 3,880
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I think it also has a lot to do with the temperment of your child.

My son did not enjoy his Kindergarten experience. He was miserable.

We are homeschooling this year and hope that next year he will go to a Friends School. This is contingent upon some financial aid. Even with financial aid it is a huge committment for us. One that I believe will be totally worth it.

A simple example: If I showed up to school, my six year old would hide behind my back or try to get under my shirt. The teacher could not get him out. When we visited the Friends school he started doing that. In about 2 minutes they had him out from behind my back! They work on interpersonal skills and consensus building with the kids that I just have not seen in public schools in my area.

He is an extremely sensitive child. I really want him to see in a place where people can handle and appreciate his sensitivity, but also not let him use it as an excuse.

I also had so many issues with public school. The state recommended character education was a joke. It had nothing to do with our values. Quaker schools are in line with our values. I could go on...

To your question about having one or the other: We have had all those "extras" for the last 6 years. We travelled up and down the east coast and our son has been exposed to some wonderful artistic creations. He still will be as my husband works in the theatre. It is not all or nothing.

Sports don't have to be expensive. Most private schools have some music instruction. You could also look into camping as a cheap travel alternative.

Life is cyclical as well. If you try a private school it doesn't mean forever. I know many people only do elementary or middle school.

Anyways, I'm rambling and not nearly as eloquently as some of your other replies. At this point in my life (after having ps drive me crazy) and with this particular child I have to say that YES it is worth it to me.
Oh the Irony is offline  
#8 of 9 Old 01-29-2005, 11:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
newmainer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: midcoast Maine
Posts: 1,582
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
thanks, wolfmama. I appreciate you sharing your experience.

I am a homeopath, offering acute and constitutional consultations for children, babies, and parents. Long-distance treatment is easy, either phone or skype! I also am certified to offer Homeoprophylaxis, a vaccine-alternative program. Message me for more details. www.concentrichealing.com
newmainer is offline  
#9 of 9 Old 02-03-2005, 12:56 AM
 
jannan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: san francisco
Posts: 2,407
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
i thought about all of this when i was deciding on schools for dd. waldorf seemed to "new age" to me . as i am a deep believer in liberation theology and that the "haves" have an obligation to the "have nots" , i sent her to a working -class catholic school in the mission district. it is pretty homogenius, which is ok , i guess. she is doing well and will have plenty of life experience. she has twice been to central america and to other parts of the U.S. i teach first grade so i know what tools she'll need to be prepared for each grade. I do want her to get a college education as it is the great equalizer. education,that is.
jannan is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off