Mothering Forum banner

1 - 20 of 66 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
496 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last year my son attended a very well established Waldorf school (one of the oldest). He was in kindergarten. Though I had always been drawn to Waldorf, we ended up leaving for numerous reasons.<br><br>
I am still confused by some of what went on. I don't mean to suggest it was awful or that my son was negatively impacted (though I'm much happier with our new non-Waldorf school), but, I still can't figure this out.<br><br>
One day I overheard my son chanting-<br><br><i>Water water wildflower growing up so high<br>
We are all God's children and we all must die<br>
Except for [child's name] and [child's name]<br>
Turn your back to the wall...<br>
They can dance and they can sing and they can wear a shiny ring.<br></i><br><br>
I asked him about it and he said that all of the kids going on to first grade were singing it. So, I went right to the teacher just to try to understand. She gave me a condescending smile and told me that yes all of the older kindergartners (from three different classes) were coming together and singing this daily. She said it symbolized the death of early childhood and something about the losing of teeth.<br><br>
I thought it was interesting that I had recently had a conversation with a parent who was mortified that my son had been talking about death a lot. She had asked me with a judgemental tone, "Where did he get <i>that</i> from"? She would've keeled over if she knew it was from our school!!!<br><br>
In retrospect, my son came home a lot speaking about Jesus and God looking down on us from heaven...we are not religious and I understand that some people are religious therefore "don't mind" these kinds of things. But, my question is a. how is a parent, religious or not, supposed know if they are ok with it if the school is presented as "non-religious" and b. how does it make sense to be so protective of the children and their exposure to intense/mature concepts, yet have them singing about they're mortality daily (plus, the "except for" so and so part; except what? Except if you accept Jesus? How can there be exceptions?) c. why wouldn't parents be prepared for and consulted with on such matters?<br><br><br>
I asked the teacher a few times for a more in depth explanation as to why they were singing this and how it fit in with the overall pedagogy and I was told I would get something in writing but never did. I let it go because it was the end of the year and I didn't want to make a fuss.<br><br>
But, it still kind of baffles me and along with some other things that in retrospect were less than ideal, it still lingers for me...<br><br>
Any thoughts?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,492 Posts
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/privateeyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="private eyes">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,823 Posts
Hey, in many, many, many years of exposure to waldorf I've never encountered either of the things you are describing: songs about death or mentions of Jesus. None of the waldorf schools I've been involved with, and there are several, have done stuff like that.<br><br>
For example, my daughter's teacher wanted to include a historical/mythical discussion of Jesus (maybe in 6th grade, can't remember) and the rest of the teachers asked her not to.<br><br>
My granddaughter was in a waldorf kindergarten last year and moved into first grade this year. Absolutely nothing of what you are describing occurred.<br><br>
Could you PM me with the name of the school? I know some people who are deeper in the waldorf movement and I'd like to ask them about this. It seems to me to be totally out of line with what I know of waldorf education.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,069 Posts
Holy cow!<br><br>
They were taught songs about "all children must die" except "so-and-so" schoolmates? And it's supposedly about losing baby teeth?<br><br>
That sounds seriously psycho to me.<br><br>
Linda
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
496 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I had the same reaction you are. None of the other children told their parents as far as I know so I kind of expected the teacher to deny it or clear it up. She did neither. She was very nonchalant about it. There were three teachers involved as there were three kindergarten classes...I asked a couple of other teachers in the nursery that I was friendly with and they did not react with shock but did express that they would not use that particular song.<br><br>
As far as overt references to Jesus, I can't say for sure if they came from the teacher or other kids and I found it pretty benign. I can say that since we have left and are at a non-Waldorf school, I NEVER hear about Jesus...I know they told the nativity story last winter without mentioning Jesus, I chose to tell my son who it was about because I think it is interesting and I find the story and Jesus very inspiring. But, I was not prepared for dealing with this. The God looking down from heaven, I'm pretty sure cam from the teacher but I can't remember. I just know I heard a lot of references to these things when he came home from school.<br><br>
Deborah, I understand that you have never heard of this type of thing but how do you know it doesn't happen? I was shocked that out of 30 children my son was the only one that I know of that came home reciting the verse. My son has a remarkable memory and I hear details that most parents don't (lucky me, he tells me EVERYTHING). I figured he had remembered it wrong or something but the teacher confirmed that this was perfectly normal and pedagogically appropriate. I cannot get involved in revealing the school even privately. It was hard enough to post this on here. I was torn because I really want to move on and I have a decent relationship with some of the teachers and parents and don't want that threatened.<br><br>
I assure you this type of thing was not an aberration. I spoke to a few other more experienced parents who told me that, though they hadn't heard of that song, there would be many things that came up in the grades that I wouldn't understand and that if I didn't just trust the teachers and the pedagogy, I would end up really miserable. They were not as shocked as thought they would be though they thought it was a little extreme.<br><br>
All I can tell you is that in all of my years of posting on here I have tried to figure out Waldorf and what to expect. I was sincerely shocked by this one. At the time, I kept it from most parents (especially newer ones) because I did not want to stir up controversy and I kept it off of here for the same reason. If I was going to keep my child there, it really wouldn't be worth it to get the parents all worked up and create drama. I'm willing to take the risk of coming on here now a. because I think it is a worthwhile conversation to have publicly (Waldorf and religion) b. for my own personal resolution of what Waldorf was; what the heck did we just experience?<br><br>
Linda, the bummer is that it is a very prominent, well established school and it was three classes involved. It was not a secret. It wasn't regarded as so strange by the other teachers or parents with older kids I spoke to...<br><br>
I think it would be interesting if you guys could seek to find out if anyone has heard of that verse and knows what it's about.<br><br>
The teacher we had was a very well regarded, experienced teacher whom I actually still have a great deal of affection for.<br><br>
I hope this can be a constructive conversation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
971 Posts
Waldorf comes out of anthroposophy. Anthroposophy is a spiritual science. The song to me isn't nec. Christian (ie, no Jesus) as someone else mentioned. If anything it reminded me of reincarnation.<br><br>
Spirituality is part of Waldorf.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,823 Posts
Mijumom wrote:
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Deborah, I understand that you have never heard of this type of thing but how do you know it doesn't happen? I was shocked that out of 30 children my son was the only one that I know of that came home reciting the verse. My son has a remarkable memory and I hear details that most parents don't (lucky me, he tells me EVERYTHING). I figured he had remembered it wrong or something but the teacher confirmed that this was perfectly normal and pedagogically appropriate. I cannot get involved in revealing the school even privately. It was hard enough to post this on here. I was torn because I really want to move on and I have a decent relationship with some of the teachers and parents and don't want that threatened.</td>
</tr></table></div>
Hi,<br>
I didn't say that I know it doesn't happen, just that I'd never encountered anything like that song or talk about Jesus in a waldorf kindergarten. Darned weird and inappropriate it seems to me. Although you did say that the Jesus talk may not have come from the teacher, but from the other children, which could happen easily enough. My granddaughter definitely picks up ideas and vocabulary from other kids in and out of school and it isn't always easy to tell where something is coming from.<br><br>
I understand why you don't want to tell me which school it is.<br><br>
Don't know what else to say.<br><br>
Well no, I do have one more thought, depending on the structure of the school. If the school has a college of teachers, this group should also have a chair who organizes the meetings. You could ask for a private meeting with the chair, lay out the whole story including the verse and ask for an explanation of where this is coming from and why it is considered a good idea for the children. It would be appropriate to go one level up at this point, since you already tried talking to the teacher, who didn't come up with an explanation that made sense to you.<br><br>
As you have moved on from the school you may not want to bother, but I'd love to see this addressed within the school where it is happening, rather than on mothering. We just don't have enough of the picture to form a clear judgement of the situation, although you have done a good job of describing what you know.<br><br>
Thanks and good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
496 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Cassiopeia</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6510257"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Waldorf comes out of anthroposophy. Anthroposophy is a spiritual science. The song to me isn't nec. Christian (ie, no Jesus) as someone else mentioned. If anything it reminded me of reincarnation.<br><br>
Spirituality is part of Waldorf.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
I know about anthroposophy and I chose Waldorf because of the spirituality and holistic nature of the school.<br><br>
The premise of being "God's children" is a religious concept and may very well defy many families' interpretations of God. The reality that "we all must die" is a concept that most parents would not anticipate being addressed in a kindergarten and in such stark terms. I am not saying it is bad, I am saying it is totally unpredictable given the information we are given as incoming parents. The suggestion that there are exceptions to the rule of mortality is really difficult for me to wrap my brain around, except conditional upon something (most logical to me is acceptance of Jesus which would assure eternal life).<br><br>
I know a bit about anthroposophy and though I do feel it has it's roots in christianity, I believed that most of that was more subtle and reduced to it's very basic and spiritual form.<br><br>
Deborah- Thanks. I didn't mean to be defensive. Like I said, I'm not sure what I am looking for since we have moved on from Waldorf. But, you know, we had such high expectations and I'm disappointed about a few things that I just have to get over. But, I feel I was misled on this front. I remember reading a lot about whether or not Waldorf was religious and I think this experience is a valid one to share and analyze. Again, the other parents and teachers sort of validated to me that things come up that are strange or provocative and that you take it or leave it.<br><br>
This, by the way, is not why we left. There is much that I loved about Waldorf and still do...but, this lingers with me as a topic of which there is some level of misrepresentation. You are right though that to pursue it with the school (along with some other issues that came up) is probably more energy than it is worth as we are at a new school and happy. I suppose this is the last remnant of my attachment to the whole thing (hopefully).<br><br>
Food for thought I suppose.<br><br>
Thanks for the discussion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,069 Posts
Mijumom, I remember once you sharing another song (nap group I think) which sounded much more religious than any songs coming home with my children except for maybe the traditional carols at Christmastime like "Silent Night". Yesterday I asked my children and their two friends who were at our house if they knew or had any memory of the "water, water wildflower" verse, and they all said no. One helpfully suggested, "It's probably a nursery rhyme" but he was guessing. He didn't remember it. But the boys are all older now and probably won't remember every song they heard then.<br><br>
It's weird, but from every Waldorfy angle I can think of, this verse sounds off-base to me. (BTW, my children never heard about Jesus in school in K, even during Advent the coming child was more of an "everybaby".)<br><br>
But from the Waldorf philosophy I learned through the teachers at our school, this feels very "off" to me to sing songs about specific classmates escape from death or the "death of God's children". I fail to "get" why this would have any kind of association, even metaphorical, to the change of teeth which, if anything, would seem more akin to a 'birth' (i.e. 'birth' of the etheric aspect).<br><br>
I don't even understand it from a "religious" perspective, except to recall the phrase "all God's children" as a traditional refrain in gospel music or spirituals and so forth. So this sounds more to me like some kind of "jump rope" song children would chant at a Southern Baptist church camp or something, referring to those who are "saved" through Christ.<br><br>
This really has me curious. I think I'd be very creeped out hearing my kindergarten child come home singing this song. Maybe it just sounds creepier typed out than it really is when people sing it? And I just do not get what it has to do with the change of teeth.<br><br>
Linda
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,680 Posts
It is religious and it is very odd. I don't even think during the Shephard's Play do they mention Jesus' name. It is like someone said, an everybaby. Our kids when they were preparing to go onto 1st grade learned to knit and went on a special hike. My dd tells me everything and more and she never sang anything like that.<br><br>
If anyone belongs to a Waldorf list elsewhere you might want to post the verse and see if anyone recognizes it. I lost my link to the list I used to belong to but I will ask our Kindergarten teacher. They are good friends of ours.<br><br>
The death thing kind of creeps me out because that isn't normal in kids that age. It is more appropriate for the 9 year change.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
496 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Linda- The losing of teeth was a sort of "death"...loss, relating to the death of early childhood...like I said, I was given a quick answer in a kind of condescending tone.<br><br>
I actually don't think it is such a big deal but, in conjunction with certain other things, even the choice to tell the story of the birth of Jesus without mentioning him by name, I think it is dishonest for the schools to say that Waldorf has no religious tendencies. Again, I'm not judging it, just saying it is different than all inclusive "spirituality".<br><br>
A while back, I think I had given some examples as to why I felt their was more of a religious tone than some people acknowledged and I felt a very Jesus based tone around Christmas. It seemed weaved through the program in subtle ways. This particular verse was toward the end of the year and was more glaring. Being in a completely non-religious school now, I can promise you it is completely different and I don't hear about Jesus or other religious concepts whether from other kids or the teachers (which in first grade is appropriate to me as those conversations will be facilitated and encouraged at a later age).<br><br>
I can't be any clearer about the fact that this is a well-established school in a very liberal multicultural city. And, many teachers were aware of it and the few parents I told, though not familiar with that verse, were not shocked and warned me that a lot of Waldorf would be ellusive to me and I would have to relax and trust the teachers if I wanted to have an easier time.<br><br>
This leads to more of the crux of why we left which foremost related to an inability to get straightforward answers and a clear message not to rock the boat.<br><br><br>
****Linda, yes, I remember the song now! It was something lilke "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless this bed that I lay on..." Weirdest thing though is that this school is multi-religious, multicultural and in a big city with a very spiritual, nonreligious contingent. I think all things looked at in conjunction, if presented to the parents before-hand would be a major turn off and that's why they don't do it.<br><br>
I also now remember reading info about the "christ body" in anthroposophy...I think that Christ, whether as a metaphor or literal influence, shapes much of anthroposophy and the basis of Waldorf. That is my sort of resolution at this moment. I realize this gets sticky. But after our experience, I can't see any reason all of that stuff would be at our school (a highly diverse crowd with Jews, agnostics etc.) any more than another except that it came from anthroposophy.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
496 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Rhonwyn- I posted as you were posting. I am hesitant to pursue this further. And I'm sorry I opened a can of worms. But, maybe those interested can pursue it as far as looking for further explanation or meaning. I simply wondered if others felt it is consistent with "non-religious" or their understanding of Waldorf in general.<br><br>
The Shepard's Play at this point in conjunction with everything else, with or without Jesus, indicates to me that there are religious influences that aren't really acknowledged going in. I didn't mind at the time, I like the story and I talked about it with my son, but, I think in retrospect it just all ties in together. It's kind of like Jesus without the "Jesus"...hmmm. Still, my son would come home talking about Jesus and God a lot and God looking down from heaven etc. And the St Nick thing was a big deal because we didn't know it was coming and I had to learn about it and reinact it at home...again, in contrast to our current experience, it is glaring.<br><br>
Thanks for validating my feelings about this. I don't expect you to relate it to Waldorf since it is not part of your experience. But, I have come to the conclusion that it is representative of the anthroposophical influence and the derivation of Waldorf, it just usually is toned down as not to be so overtly religious.<br><br>
Ultimately, it doesn't matter if it works for a particular family. I promise you that there are many facets that parents I know would never have signed up for from the get go but sort of accept or go along with or perhaps aren't even aware of so they stay.<br><br>
I used to describe Waldorf as "spiritual" rather than "religious", I just don't think I can do that anymore. Perhaps, dogmatic with a subtle Christian influence. But I still recommend it as very right for certain families.<br><br>
I'm rambling now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,680 Posts
Here is a link to the full poem that I found with Google:<br><br><a href="http://sniff.numachi.com/pages/tiWALLFLW2.html" target="_blank">http://sniff.numachi.com/pages/tiWALLFLW2.html</a><br><br>
It appears to be Scottish. It is not exactly the same.<br><br>
I can't find the exact poem that you have written in the OP but it is obvious it came from this old Scottish one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
496 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow! Very interesting. I couldn't find it when I tried last year. I wonder why they changed it to "we are all God's children"...<br><br>
There is no indication to me whether or not Steiner may have adapted this. It is very old and has had many incarnations. There is a mention of Greig, Nicholson Golspie and others.<br><br>
If it is Edvard Grieg, Steiner was a big fan...<br><br>
Relevant? I'm not sure. But very interesting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,680 Posts
The original one sounds vaguely Pagan and may have been Christianized at some point. I am going to do some more digging just because my curiousity has been peaked.<br><br>
My eldest has never heard the poem in his Kindergarten or in the grades. It is such a strange poem to be teaching to any kid but I guess in some respects, it is no weirder than Ring around the Rosie.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,419 Posts
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lurk.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lurk">:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,069 Posts
Interesting. I think Hannahsmummy lives in *******. Maybe she has heard the song. Now everything points to this as an old folk song, probably went with a dance once upon a time, that morphed in some places into a Hide and Seek verse. The original was all about maidens and finding a husband before they're too old, and it seems to have been "updated" or "gender neutered" into the "God's children' and losing baby teeth.<br><br>
(Greig refers to a published Scottish folklore collection, I think.)<br><br>
But I still don't get what it has to do with teeth. The changing of teeth was never characterized to us as a "loss", funny as that sounds since they're literally "losing" teeth. Not like the nine-year change, which we were told Waldorf believes many children suffer as a kind of "loss". That was the time for many of them when the world no longer feels like such a harmonious, magic cloud, when they can feel a sad, lonesome kind of disillusionment about it. The changing of teeth was a celebrated passage.<br><br>
I think this is a case where I'm guilty of "thinking too much". Maybe it's just about growing older, as it seems to be in the original. "Ashes, ashes, we all fall down" was a song about a deadly pestilence, wasn't it? But now it's come to be just a song about skipping in a circle, falling to the ground on cue, and having a good giggle at the fun of it all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,270 Posts
I've been following this thread with interest. Then couldn't believe this...<br><br>
My DD and I are making pizza. We have Lavender's Blue Dilly Dilly (Mary Thienes-Schunemann) on in the background.<br><br>
In between Sally Go Round the Sun, Sally Sunshine, Let the Sunshine In, and Oh how lovely is the evening is....<br><br>
Water, Water Wallflower!<br><br>
It says it's for ages 3-5 and that it's "English Traditional"<br><br>
Water, water wallflower, Growing up so high. We are all God's children and all of us must die, except for Johnie and lauren, Fairest of them all, They can dance and they can sing And they can do the highland fling, Fie, fie, fie for shame (all brush pointer fingers together) Turn and face the wall again.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/yikes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="EEK!">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,823 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mijumom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6515203"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Rhonwyn- I posted as you were posting. I am hesitant to pursue this further. And I'm sorry I opened a can of worms. But, maybe those interested can pursue it as far as looking for further explanation or meaning. I simply wondered if others felt it is consistent with "non-religious" or their understanding of Waldorf in general.<br><br>
The Shepard's Play at this point in conjunction with everything else, with or without Jesus, indicates to me that there are religious influences that aren't really acknowledged going in. I didn't mind at the time, I like the story and I talked about it with my son, but, I think in retrospect it just all ties in together. It's kind of like Jesus without the "Jesus"...hmmm. Still, my son would come home talking about Jesus and God a lot and God looking down from heaven etc. And the St Nick thing was a big deal because we didn't know it was coming and I had to learn about it and reinact it at home...again, in contrast to our current experience, it is glaring.<br><br>
Thanks for validating my feelings about this. I don't expect you to relate it to Waldorf since it is not part of your experience. But, I have come to the conclusion that it is representative of the anthroposophical influence and the derivation of Waldorf, it just usually is toned down as not to be so overtly religious.<br><br>
Ultimately, it doesn't matter if it works for a particular family. I promise you that there are many facets that parents I know would never have signed up for from the get go but sort of accept or go along with or perhaps aren't even aware of so they stay.<br><br>
I used to describe Waldorf as "spiritual" rather than "religious", I just don't think I can do that anymore. Perhaps, dogmatic with a subtle Christian influence. But I still recommend it as very right for certain families.<br><br>
I'm rambling now.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
Hi Mijumom,<br>
Just want to say that I feel that the conclusions you are coming to here aren't really supported by the broader picture. Let me lay out what I see.<br><br>
Your child learned some strange songs and got a lot of Jesus and God talk in kindergarten at one waldorf school. You weren't able to get an explanation out of his teacher.<br><br>
Those are the particular facts that you have to work with and I want to emphasize that I am not doubting your story at any point!!!! I'm absolutely convinced that everything happened just as you describe.<br><br>
Moving up one level, you add in the Oberufer Christmas plays, and the St. Nick celebration. This is the broad picture, commonly acknowledged at all waldorf schools (except for probably schools in Israel, Egypt, Japan, Thailand, etc., etc.) and not debated by any of the other waldorf parents here on Mothering.<br><br>
Combining the two sides (your own experience and the broader Christian content mentioned just above), you conclude:
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">indicates to me that there are religious influences that aren't really acknowledged going in.</td>
</tr></table></div>
This doesn't follow, based on the whole discussion, because it is pretty clear that your particular experience is unusual.<br><br>
So, the real question is:<br><br>
How many parents here feel that they didn't get a clear picture of the religious aspects of their school going in?<br><br>
Unfortunately, I can't answer this question, because my daughter started at her first waldorf school roughly 36 years ago and I can't remember anything at all about the enrollment process or what sort of information I was given. Since I had already attended a waldorf school, and had a younger brother and sister attending the same school, and had an aunt who was a waldorf teacher, it would be hard to sort out what I already knew versus what I was told upon enrollment. Sorry!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 
1 - 20 of 66 Posts
Top