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Hi,

I wonder if it is possible to stay true to Waldorf beliefs while incorporating other beliefs? If you chose to follow some of the Waldorf beliefs and not others, are you really doing Waldorf?

I am struggling with this idea.
 

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that is a really great question!!! i'm so glad you asked!
for our family,personally, (and again i wantto fully stress this is just for my family!) we follow waldorf as strictly as possible. i say as possible b/c i live no where near a school but i do have the help of 2 very wonderful former waldorf teachers and great online friends
we are moving this summer to be near a schoo land i plan on following everything to a T. i'm usually not such an all or nothing personality but for waldorf i tend to be this way. everything i have seen,experienced,read... just leads me this way. i have not found one thing i do not agree with. that doesn't mean i won't in the future and we'll cross that bridge if/when we come to it. i don't want to water anything down. it's just so very important to me. hope that made sense! again saying 1 more time- this is how I feel and not how i think everyoen should be or anything like that!
:
i can't wait to seewhat everyone says!!
:
 

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I personally believe one of the most wonderful aspects of Waldorf is that it provides so much to take in and interpret on a very personal, spiritual level. I think it is also dependent on your own commitment level and whether or not your children will be attending a Waldorf school or will be experiencing Waldorf-inspired homeschooling through your own direction.

I love so much about what Steiner has written, what I've experienced first hand raising my children in a very Waldorf-friendly atmosphere and what I've seen both online and in person from Waldorf-friendly families. Nevertheless, I think and do things a little differently as an agnostic former-pagan and I know that influences how my children view, for instance, the seasons. Instead of Christmas, we celebrate the Winter Solstice and incorporate some more pagan aspects into that. Nevertheless, I like to believe that Waldorf is extremely friendly to these type of celebrations (the reciting of a verse, the lighting of a candle to make a wish for the coming sun, etc.) And my children still receive Christmas presents from my in-laws and my own extended family so they know about Christmas.

I have to disclose that I was originally enrolled in a post-graduate Montessori education program before the birth of my first son so I'm coming from a very different background than others as well. I also have a BA in both anthropology and history and I know that I tend to gravitate towards the less spiritual, more tangible applications of Waldorf in our home because of this--our nature table, our morning verse, our deep appreciation for the seasons, art, outdoor play, handwork, limiting of screen time, etc. We will also be homeschooling because of the cost of our local Waldorf school but I hope to utilize its resources as much as I see fit.

Whew, I hope that wasn't too long and personal!
 

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My honest thoughts are no, you can't take what you want and still be Waldorf in principle. Waldorf education stems from the anthroposophy beliefs and while a Waldorf school should never teach children about anthroposophy, in order to truly be a Waldorf school in the sense that Steiner intended, you can't just pick and choose. There is a fundamental process at work in the developing child according to Steiner's research - he took it as his life purpose to study the science of a man's soul.

With that said, I do not adhere to all of Steiner's beliefs and I prefer it that way. I think Steiner was one of the most [generally unknown and] amazing thinkers of his time. Much of what he says just blows my mind and then there are ideas that he presented that leave me going "huh???" I consider myself Waldorf inspired and I try to adhere to some of the core principles that underlay the reason why wet-on-wet watercolor painting is used or why baking bread is incorporated or why form drawing is a major focus. I don't just look at the current output of what has come to be known as Waldorf but I look at what Steiner said that led people to consider these qualities as Waldorf and then I am set free to bring his principles into my son's home education in a way that fits us while still remaining closely aligned to Steiner's thoughts.

But these are just my thoughts, just a little bitty mama in a small little farm town who is still trying to figure out how to get around...lol
 

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Oh, loki, I just read your reply and noticed that your post count is low enough to consider you a new poster here! Welcome, welcome
) This board has been so helpful to me in my own personal Waldorf journey, I hope you find that it encourages you in some ways as well.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Aeress View Post
Hi,

I wonder if it is possible to stay true to Waldorf beliefs while incorporating other beliefs?
I have a better answer for this part than for the last part.


I keep thinking, "Yes, of course!" until I come upon a discussion that reminds me that the actual answer is "no". Just as PrincessDoll, I consider myself "Waldorf inspired", but to stay true to CORE Waldorf beliefs, I would have to accept Steiner's stance on how child's spirit/soul is developing, and what it needs to develop as it should. His theories do not integrate well with my own understanding of a soul. Is that a problem?

My guess is, some religions might be a better fit with Waldorf than others?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aeress View Post
If you chose to follow some of the Waldorf beliefs and not others, are you really doing Waldorf?

I am struggling with this idea.
I don't know any more.

The more these questions come up, the more ties to religion I see in Waldorf. Can you be a little bit Christian? Or a little bit Muslim? Can I be Jewish and still believe Steiner's take on soul and energies? Do I have to accept his view to be able to say "we do Waldorf", or do I always need a disclaimer: "We embrace this part of Waldorf, but not this."

Maybe someone else will have a better answer.
:
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by PrincessDoll View Post
Oh, loki, I just read your reply and noticed that your post count is low enough to consider you a new poster here! Welcome, welcome
) This board has been so helpful to me in my own personal Waldorf journey, I hope you find that it encourages you in some ways as well.
Thank you! I've been a long time lurker here at MDC (I joined before my son was born almost four years ago!) but I haven't really had much to talk about until we've delved more deeply into how we want to move forward with our children's education. I'm really loving the atmosphere here so far.
 

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This is such an interesting question. I think it really depends on what you think of as the core beliefs of Waldorf/Waldorf education. For me, there are the core beliefs of anthroposophy, the core beliefs of Waldorf schools (different at different schools) and the core beliefs of Waldorf living, for lack of a better phrase.

To a certain extent, I can't untangle my way of life from the core beliefs of Waldorf living, as I experienced them in Waldorf schools for my entire educational career. That said, I do not agree with many of the core beliefs of Waldorf schools (particularly much of the pedagogy; I'm an educator and educational researcher so have seen lots in this domain) or anthroposophy. But, I'd say that much of what I think of as the core beliefs of Waldorf living are very much a part of my day-to-day life and my family's life.

So I think it's a tough question, actually. I believe that one can define Waldorf and what the core beliefs are personally, to a certain extent. And then it's up to you to decide whether you're true to those core beliefs. (And no, I'm not a complete relativist!)
 

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I think everyone in life is on a journey so there is always more to learn.
I like to know the reason why things are done so I can understand the purpose.
I know that many people pursue a Waldorf type of education because they enjoy the simpleness, the crafts, the rhythm, or they put their child in a Waldorf school just because it's private and they dont want their child to go to public school.
Sometimes when they learn about the anthroposophical background, they might freak out. I went to an Anthroposophical 101 seminar and the gentleman was talking about Egyptian pyramids, the Akashic records, spiritual initiation, astrology, the ages of the angels, the 4 parts of a person (physical body, etheric body, astral body, and then the "I"), reincarnation of saints and other pretty esoteric stuff. I could see people rolling their eyes. I just found it interesting.
So there is really a lot more to it than just knitting, and having your child be TV/media free.
I personally find that I agree with a lot of things, some stuff I'm only learning about now. The ultimate goal is to help your child become someone who actually wants to be of service to humanity.
Anyway, I wouldn't say that I'm a true follower of Steiner as I have other authorities whose spiritual teachings are more important to me, but I would say that he was on the right track, especially because he is appealing to those from a Western/European culture. A lot of what he is saying already existed in Eastern thought, but the practical and cultural aspects of teaching children are different.
Good luck on your Waldorf-inspired journeys
 

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It really depends on how you look upon Waldorf.

There are those who see it as something to "believe in" much as other believe in a religion. These folks feel that following every tenet of Waldorf education is the way to go, they tend to like studying Steiner and really digging into anthroposophy. It is more of a lifestyle for them. For them it is, in the OP's words, all about "staying true" to Waldorf beliefs. There were lots of families like this at the WS I went to.

Other people very much like certain aspects of Waldorf philosophy: the limited media, the early childhood stuff like gnomes and nature, the wooden toys. But when their 5yo asks to learn to read, they go ahead and teach her. These folks take a "what works for our family and our kid" approach. (That would be my parents.)

So, OP, I would say the answer to your question really depends on how you position yourself within the world of Waldorf. If you look on Waldorf ed as something to "believe in" and you interpret "staying true to Waldorf beliefs" to mean crossing every anthroposophic T and dotting every Steiner I, then you'd consider it wrong to incorporate other methods.

If you are more of the "I really like many aspects of Waldorf education and I take the ones that work best for my kids" type of Waldorf parent, then of course you can easily incorporate other approaches.
 

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in nearly every aspect of our lives, we take the approach of "take what works, leave the rest." this comes from within, but is also reflected in this teaching of the buddha: believe something not because it was written in a great book, taught by a great teacher, or spoken by a god or through a messanger; believe only what you have experienced.

so, if whatever we're experiencing matches up, then we go with it, and if it doesn't, then we let it go.

when it comes to steiner, i don't care either way about a lot of it. i find a lot of anthrosophistry to be interesting. much of it fits in with other philosophies of our experience, particularly yoga and buddhism where we find our heaviest influence. so, there are mirror images between the two, IME.

what we have discovered is that much of our food and lifestyle/living is biodynamic, our methods of child rearing fitting within steiner philosophy, our doctor anthrosophic. much of this we 'fell' into, because there is a steiner community here (we have camphill village, a waldorf school, and a myriad of biodynamic farms, etc). so, we didn't know a thing about it until we went looking for food we wanted, and then discovered, bit-by-bit, the rest of it, and along the way, read a fair bit of steiners stuff.

so, in a sense, we were doing our thing, and noticed that a lot of what we were doing, steiner-folks were doing.

we just keep on keepin' on. we don't worry about much. if we're experiencing unhappiness, we explore what is going on and change accordingly--either becoming "more" stiener or less as needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
: Thanks everyone! I really appreciate your input- I just picked up a book on Waldorf over the weekend and it (don't have it in front of me) said that how Waldorf has evolved in the states is very different than in Europe and while some schools are very true to anthroposophy, many have evolved in a similar thinking to Steiner but don't adhere to every aspect of his teachings.

I also wonder how you can say that by doing Waldorf that you aren't teaching anthroposophy? Just curious....

I plan to visit our local (well relatively local) school this summer.

I am a take what you want and leave the rest person, usually, but this just feels different. I feel, for ME, that I either have to embrace all or just not call myself Waldorf. Does that make sense?

Still, I have respect and appreciate Steiners approach to the child.
 

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well. i suppose that depends upon what "embracing it all" means.


for example, when we were in the waldorf school, or when i've been to other waldorf-er's homes, their personal decorating style is very different from mine. while we all like natural materials, etc, i like modern furniture while most of the other families prefer a more traditional/country style.

so, you know, it could be argued that i'm not "full on" waldorf because i like my sofa to be this way rather than that way. stupid, i know, but some people get like that.
i mean, sometimes, i get extreme like that. LOL

so. yeah.
you'll find what you want/need.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Aeress View Post
Hi,

I wonder if it is possible to stay true to Waldorf beliefs while incorporating other beliefs? If you chose to follow some of the Waldorf beliefs and not others, are you really doing Waldorf?

I am struggling with this idea.
I've been a Waldorf parent for a long time, and as far as I'm concerned, there is no struggle about "staying true" to Waldorf beliefs. The struggles I worry about are staying true to my children, my family and myself. Waldorf is a philosophy and method of education of children...it is not a *thing* anyone needs to be faithful to. If one is a Waldorf teacher, they would have some responsibility to be consistent and faithful to the mission and objectives of the school, but that's as far as it goes. And is it possible to blend Waldorf with other educational philosophies without compromises? Certainly! Is it always best that parents and other educators remain faithful to some "pure" path and resist all compromises? Almost never! And once being faithful to the "pure" and resisting any changes or alternatives is the "true Waldorf", Waldorf isn't about real people anymore and thus would be of no use to educating children at all.
 

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hi, Aeress,

as a Waldorf teacher, it's my job to take what I've learned about the developing human being through anthroposophy and MY OWN OBSERVATION AND EXPERIENCE (v. important. Steiner was very clear that he didn't want his work to be taken on face value, with no questions, but that one must make one's own decisions and decide for oneself what is true) and apply it to my teaching. I don't give the children lessons on karma, spiritual development, or the workings of the angels, but that learning infuses what I do, just as being a political progressive, member of the Episcopal church, daughter of a paraplegic veteran who flies small aircraft and of a physical therapist who goes to science fiction conventions infuse what I do. anthroposophical insights assist the teachers in our understanding of the children and in the choice of curricula and manner of teaching, but they are not taught to the children as such.
 

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Wow, I've been thinking about this question for awhile, then I read Lindacl and Tigermiep's responses and have found them VERY wise.

I honestly believe that Waldorf can work harmoniously for a wide variety of people and that it can look different in every home. Ultimately, Steiner's views on child development inspire and fortify my parenting, but do not define my parenting, IYKWIM. When I find myself in doubt or in question on how to approach a situation with my DS, I usually find a lot of comfort and success in trying a Waldorf approach. But in the end, I can not (and should not) answer every question with a "What would Steiner do?" but rather with a "What would my best self do?"

So my short answer is yes, you can adhere to the core beliefs of Waldorf while incorporating other beliefs. The beliefs of Steiner/Waldorf/Anthroposophy need not be mutally exclusive to any other belief system you have.
 

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Tigermiep

"I don't give the children lessons on karma, spiritual development, or the workings of the angels, but that learning infuses what I do, just as being a political progressive, member of the Episcopal church, daughter of a paraplegic veteran who flies small aircraft and of a physical therapist who goes to science fiction conventions infuse what I do. anthroposophical insights assist the teachers in our understanding of the children and in the choice of curricula and manner of teaching, but they are not taught to the children as such."

If this learning "infuses what you do"- karma angels spiritual development, this must mean you believe it?
Do the parents of the children know that these anthroposophical "insights" assist the understanding and teaching of their children?

The difference between a political progressive, or an Episcopalian is that these people are transparent and open about their beliefs, and anthroposophy is wishy washy and not fully disclosed- particularly to parents.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by blissthreetimes View Post
The difference between a political progressive, or an Episcopalian is that these people are transparent and open about their beliefs, and anthroposophy is wishy washy and not fully disclosed- particularly to parents.
I'm pretty new to Steiner/Waldorf, and quite skeptical of its spiritual foundations. I find much of what I've read about anthrophosophy fussy and self-absorbed.

However, I've found that most of the people in my local Steiner group don't buy the whole system, either. With one exception, everyone I've met is happy to use what works for them in Steiner's philosophy without clinging to it rigidly. I became much more comfortable with our particular group (which is hoping to start a Waldorf school, but hasn't yet) when I realized that none of us were fanatical or fundamentalist about Waldorf methods, just felt that this was a good choice for their kids' early education because of the crafts/outdoors/natural emphasis etc.
 

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Hi Aikigypsy,

Like you, I'm very sceptical about Steiner's spiritual science and the beliefs and truths it entails. We pulled our kids out of Waldorf when we realised how much a role anthroposophy plays in these schools, and how little our children were learning, how they were expected to sit and copy rather than be proactive, questioning and lively. In fact, they were discouraged from being creative in the wide sense of the word.

Having said that, we miss aspects of the school, and there were some good things!

Call me cynical...I often feel that the anthroposophy is deliberately played down. If you ask too many questions, particularly with a less experienced teacher, they become muddled or close down.
The schools are usually affiliated or belong to a central Steiner Waldorf association such Association of Waldorf Schools North America - AWSNA - in US or Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship in UK, which in their turn take a lead from the central anthroposophical organisiation in Switzerland at the Gotheneum.
Research shows that although the schools are widely scattered across the world, they all link back to the central organisation, and are extremely similar in method, curriculum, buildings, colours, etc etc.

Tigermiep's open post about how anthroposophy guides her in the classroom is refreshing.
I only wish all teachers were so open with parents before they put their children in the schools.
 
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