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  #1  
Old 09-21-2011, 06:58 PM
Bamboo Boy Bamboo Boy is offline
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Thoughts/opinions on Waldorf schools, please!

I wasn't quite sure where to post this, there is no factual answer, so not GQ but nor am I necessarily looking for a debate. I just want to hear what kind of take Dopers have on Waldorf Schools.

My niece is in the 8th grade and has attended a Waldorf school since Kindergarten. I have my opinions and ideas about the Waldorf system from what little I have been exposed to, and I have no problem airing them here.

Before that though, I would really like to hear what others here have to say before I pipe up. Just to reassure myself that I am not biasing whatever replies I may receive here.


Thank you,

BB
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  #2  
Old 09-21-2011, 07:29 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Once as a law clerk long ago, I worked on a custody case where the child was in a Waldorf school, and I reviewed the brochures -- it seemed like an impressive, intensive curriculum, but I wondered what this "rhythmic dancing" thing was about. Turns out it's this eurythmy thingy invented by Rudolf Steiner, the father of Waldorf Education, and is supposed to be in some way connected (I'm not clear on how) with Steiner's philosophical/mystical system, Anthroposophy. But, hey, if we're going to discount an educational tradition just because its underlying belief-system is whacky, well, heck, I won't even bother.
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  #3  
Old 09-21-2011, 07:32 PM
Palo Verde Palo Verde is offline
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In my town there are two main Waldorf schools and they are vastly different, which leads me to believe there is not only one kind of Waldorf school.

The schools were started on a philosophy called Anthroposophy. This rejects modern medicine and psychiatry and promotes a belief in things like astrology and spiritual mysticism.

But how much a school accepts this varies. One of the ones in my town has all the teachers wear long flowing skirts everyday and talks a lot about reincarnation as plants. The other takes a gentler than average method of education, but doesn't get all into the woo.

In general, the schools seem like a crock of hooey to me.
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Old 09-21-2011, 07:37 PM
ENugent ENugent is online now
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I have an anecdote about a friend of my mother's. He had his children in a Waldorf school, and worked out a deal where he would teach a semester of physics in exchange for a break on tuition (they had a semester of chemistry followed by a semester of physics).

Sometime during his first week, he made a casual reference to the periodic table, and no one knew what he was talking about. He probed a bit, and discovered that they had spent an entire semester of "chemistry" learning about the healing properties of different kinds of crystals. Even more disturbing, the administration was completely unaware that they were not learning mainstream chemistry (and were horrified when they found out, but still, it seems like the sort of thing that should come to the attention of a principal before the class is over).

He ended up teaching both chemistry and physics for his semester, then withdrawing his kids from the school.
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  #5  
Old 09-21-2011, 07:41 PM
Farmer Jane Farmer Jane is offline
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Not teaching your children to read until they're older is a turn-off for me.
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  #6  
Old 09-21-2011, 07:46 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Statler schools are slightly better, but neither is especially charming or forgiving.
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  #7  
Old 09-21-2011, 08:58 PM
Ruken Ruken is offline
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Not teaching your children to read until they're older is a turn-off for me.
AFAIK there aren't really many problems with this so long as the children aren't suddenly thrust into a different school environment before they catch up. However, I would have been one bored little boy if I hadn't had my books. They do study other things earlier than usual (e.g. multiplication and division starting in 1st grade.)

FWIW I went to one of these schools for two years of elementary school (after I'd learned to read). While I can't say for sure that it would have been the optimal place for me long term, it was certainly a delightful portion of my childhood. There was definitely a lot of woo going on (which annoyed me), but I was adequately educated. We moved at the end of my second year there and I was ahead of my peers at the new school, although I think that has more to do with moving to bumblefuck Illinois.

I do value some of the experiences that I probably wouldn't have gotten elsewhere (planting, harvesting, and processing wheat, then baking bread with the flour.) Not that those are at all necessary, but I really did like that stuff. The woo bugged me then and still bugs me now, although I think often the parents (NOT mine) were more into that stuff than the faculty/staff.
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:19 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is online now
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Originally Posted by Ruken View Post
AFAIK there aren't really many problems with this so long as the children aren't suddenly thrust into a different school environment before they catch up. However, I would have been one bored little boy if I hadn't had my books. They do study other things earlier than usual (e.g. multiplication and division starting in 1st grade.)
I'm not sure that is that unusual now. My kids go to an ordinary public school and got that starting in first grade. Not in a complex fashion, but the concepts.

They started getting the concepts of algebra in 3rd grade.

Spiral math.....
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  #9  
Old 09-21-2011, 10:48 PM
Farmer Jane Farmer Jane is offline
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Originally Posted by Ruken View Post
AFAIK there aren't really many problems with this so long as the children aren't suddenly thrust into a different school environment before they catch up. However, I would have been one bored little boy if I hadn't had my books. They do study other things earlier than usual (e.g. multiplication and division starting in 1st grade.)
But it makes a huge difference if the child has a learning disability or some such issue. A huge difference. I'm afraid too many kids could easily get lost in the woo.
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  #10  
Old 09-22-2011, 06:35 AM
Ruken Ruken is offline
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But it makes a huge difference if the child has a learning disability or some such issue. A huge difference. I'm afraid too many kids could easily get lost in the woo.
It can make a huge difference, but again, AFAIK, there is no evidence showing a long-term deficit for most children. Given the number of children I've dealt with who have easily correctable reading and math problems that were never addressed, I have little faith in the public schools catching and correcting these problems.

Anyone considering one of these schools can find plenty not to like about them, but the reading thing is seriously minor. Obviously if your child has learning problems, somewhere else might be better. Otherwise, if your child is ready to read and the school isn't doing it (either because the child is too young for school or the school delays formal reading instruction,) then teach him! It's not hard; anyone who doesn't yet have children and doubts one's ability to do this should think very hard about whether reproduction is appropriate.
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  #11  
Old 09-22-2011, 01:04 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Originally Posted by Palo Verde View Post
In my town there are two main Waldorf schools and they are vastly different, which leads me to believe there is not only one kind of Waldorf school.

The schools were started on a philosophy called Anthroposophy. This rejects modern medicine and psychiatry and promotes a belief in things like astrology and spiritual mysticism.

But how much a school accepts this varies. One of the ones in my town has all the teachers wear long flowing skirts everyday and talks a lot about reincarnation as plants. The other takes a gentler than average method of education, but doesn't get all into the woo.

In general, the schools seem like a crock of hooey to me.

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Originally Posted by ENugent View Post
I have an anecdote about a friend of my mother's. He had his children in a Waldorf school, and worked out a deal where he would teach a semester of physics in exchange for a break on tuition (they had a semester of chemistry followed by a semester of physics).

Sometime during his first week, he made a casual reference to the periodic table, and no one knew what he was talking about. He probed a bit, and discovered that they had spent an entire semester of "chemistry" learning about the healing properties of different kinds of crystals. Even more disturbing, the administration was completely unaware that they were not learning mainstream chemistry (and were horrified when they found out, but still, it seems like the sort of thing that should come to the attention of a principal before the class is over).

He ended up teaching both chemistry and physics for his semester, then withdrawing his kids from the school.
[shrug] Still sounds like a better education than you'd get from the Full Gospel Pentecostal Day School. Or from (most) homeschooling.
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  #12  
Old 09-22-2011, 01:59 PM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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  #13  
Old 09-22-2011, 04:17 PM
Bamboo Boy Bamboo Boy is offline
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Thanks for the input. I have a niece who attends a Waldorf school and I am shocked at the lack of real core education. They sort of seem to pretend to have math and language, but my niece knows almost nothing for her age, it's tragic as she is a smart kid and my sister and her husband are shelling out all this money for her 'education'.

When I was there for a visit earlier this year her teacher assigned my niece a biography of Turkey. A BIOGRAPHY. Of a COUNTRY. I was flabbergasted. I was sure my niece misspoke, but I looked at her papers and sure enough, he refers to what is a standard research paper on a country/culture as a biography. The teacher doesn't seem to know the definition of 'biography'. WTF? It still completely baffles me as I sit here and write it.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm pretty good at math, and tutoring her drove me nuts as her assignments just didn't make any sense. Often vital data were left out, making the problem unworkable, unless one assumed things which weren't given. Each and every time, it turned out that the teacher expected it to be assumed, because it was 'obvious'. It was maddening. Again, TIP OF THE ICEBERG.

Is this atypical for Waldorf, as far as any other dopers know?

-BB
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  #14  
Old 09-22-2011, 04:20 PM
Bamboo Boy Bamboo Boy is offline
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
[shrug] Still sounds like a better education than you'd get from the Full Gospel Pentecostal Day School. Or from (most) homeschooling.
Perhaps, but those are vastly cheaper and don't AFAIK make grandiose claims of superior instruction.
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  #15  
Old 09-22-2011, 04:51 PM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by Bamboo Boy View Post
Thanks for the input. I have a niece who attends a Waldorf school and I am shocked at the lack of real core education. They sort of seem to pretend to have math and language, but my niece knows almost nothing for her age, it's tragic as she is a smart kid and my sister and her husband are shelling out all this money for her 'education'.

When I was there for a visit earlier this year her teacher assigned my niece a biography of Turkey. A BIOGRAPHY. Of a COUNTRY. I was flabbergasted. I was sure my niece misspoke, but I looked at her papers and sure enough, he refers to what is a standard research paper on a country/culture as a biography. The teacher doesn't seem to know the definition of 'biography'. WTF? It still completely baffles me as I sit here and write it.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm pretty good at math, and tutoring her drove me nuts as her assignments just didn't make any sense. Often vital data were left out, making the problem unworkable, unless one assumed things which weren't given. Each and every time, it turned out that the teacher expected it to be assumed, because it was 'obvious'. It was maddening. Again, TIP OF THE ICEBERG.

Is this atypical for Waldorf, as far as any other dopers know?

-BB
Wow.

None of my business and dealing with family is different than dealing with others etc etc but this really sounds like a good case for some kind of verbal intervention. If your description is accurate the kid is being irreparably harmed IMO.
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Old 09-23-2011, 09:22 AM
Bamboo Boy Bamboo Boy is offline
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Wow.

None of my business and dealing with family is different than dealing with others etc etc but this really sounds like a good case for some kind of verbal intervention. If your description is accurate the kid is being irreparably harmed IMO.
I totally hear you, man. I love my niece so much and it makes me sick to my stomach when I think of how she isn't vaccinated and how little she knows. Sometimes it's shocking. She's a bright kid. Definitely above average. She learned to read before she was "supposed to", which the school actively discouraged, thinking it was harmful to read before some later point. But that was then- now, if she were mainstreamed tomorrow, she would be way behind, I think. No, I'm sure.

However, despite all that, I know that talking to my sister would be all for naught. I DO express my dismay sometimes, it's impossible not to- like how the teacher apparently didn't really have a firm grasp on that super difficult concept- what a biography is. But as far as actually challenging her beliefs, she's so far gone it would never be constructive and she certainly wouldn't change her ways with how she's raising her daughter.

Did I mention the alternative doctors, homeopathic vaccines (oxymoron!), etc? Don't. Get. Me. Started. It makes me want to scream, but I don't see that there's really anything I can do.

But this thread was opened to find out more about the general take on Waldorf Schools. The school has it's good points, and I DO think they seem to produce 'nicer' kids, they are really polite and loving children. I just don't think that's worth the trade-off of no real education. Also, they socially exist in this blissful environment, which makes them super sweet (AFAICT), but as I try to tell my sister, "it ain't a Waldorf World." I guess I'm saying I'm not sure this aspect is doing them favors in the long run.
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  #17  
Old 09-23-2011, 09:28 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Statler schools are slightly better, but neither is especially charming or forgiving.
I laughed.
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  #18  
Old 09-25-2011, 10:23 PM
iamnotbatman iamnotbatman is offline
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I went to a Waldorf school. I am now a physicist. My opinion:

Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy, eurythmy: all crazy. The science curriculum was weak. The size of my class (25) had its upsides, but also a lot of downsides (we didn't have a sports team, a prom, AP classes, etc). Some of the teachers were a bit woo-woo. That said, I'm glad I went. The teachers were generally pretty cool people, my fellow students were really wonderful (and many ended up quite successful), and I think getting to work on a farm, and a lot of the artsy stuff they had us do, was pretty neat, looking back (at the time I didn't appreciate it). I'm not sure I would send my own kids there, but on the other hand I'm not sure I wouldn't.

Last edited by iamnotbatman; 09-25-2011 at 10:23 PM..
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  #19  
Old 09-26-2011, 04:43 AM
Bamboo Boy Bamboo Boy is offline
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Originally Posted by iamnotbatman View Post
I went to a Waldorf school. I am now a physicist. My opinion:

Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy, eurythmy: all crazy. The science curriculum was weak. The size of my class (25) had its upsides, but also a lot of downsides (we didn't have a sports team, a prom, AP classes, etc). Some of the teachers were a bit woo-woo. That said, I'm glad I went. The teachers were generally pretty cool people, my fellow students were really wonderful (and many ended up quite successful), and I think getting to work on a farm, and a lot of the artsy stuff they had us do, was pretty neat, looking back (at the time I didn't appreciate it). I'm not sure I would send my own kids there, but on the other hand I'm not sure I wouldn't.
Thank you very much for your input- It's encouraging to hear of an ex-Waldorf student who went on to become a physicist! Did a lot of the science you learned at Waldorf turn out to be wrong and/or antiquated? Much of her science curriculum seems this way.

Was there a bent for alternative medicine at your school?

How many years ago was this?

Were the concepts of Anthroposophy thrown around a lot? That seems like some kind of secret at my niece's school. They get all weird when you bring that stuff up- kind of defensive and dismissive.

If you don't have the time or inclination to entertain my questions it's ok, but I'm very curious!

Thank you,

BB
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  #20  
Old 09-26-2011, 05:01 AM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is online now
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Thanks for this thread. Being a non-kid-centric person, I had no idea about the Waldorf schools, even with one across the street from where I've been living for over a year. The only observation I had made was the kids seemed above average for city school kids, and there are a lot of Mercedes and Range Rovers picking them up. The school shares a parking lot with a large Catholic cathedral, I wasn't sure whether they were affiliated. The school seems very involved with the neighborhood, too. It's very different on this block when school lets out, compared to city schools - much preferred!
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  #21  
Old 09-26-2011, 12:31 PM
iamnotbatman iamnotbatman is offline
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Thank you very much for your input- It's encouraging to hear of an ex-Waldorf student who went on to become a physicist! Did a lot of the science you learned at Waldorf turn out to be wrong and/or antiquated? Much of her science curriculum seems this way.
At my school, I wouldn't say the science was wrong (I think it greatly depends on the specific teacher anyhow), but it was pretty watered down. Let me explain. In place of learning a lot of formulas and being rigorously tested on them, the focus was more on just "experiencing" the process of basic science (observation, hypothesis, prediction, etc), and thinking about it, whether right or wrong. There were probably more poems about science and drawings of experiments done than in a normal school . But I'm not sure this is really so bad. IMO a lot of pre-college science/math at any school is, in a way, worthless if you just memorize a lot of formulas. This may be unfair (certainly some teachers at any school are better than others), but I think in general it is true that most students even at public schools come away from science without having really "learned" a whole lot, even if they are technically further ahead than Waldorf students in standardized testing.

For myself, I learned virtually nothing in my science classes at Waldorf school, but I was self-motivated and ahead of everyone anyways, so it wasn't their fault. The sense I got was that, as a private school, they had a whole lot more leeway in teacher hiring than a public school. Yes, you could get some bad teachers who want to teach homeopathy etc, but you can also have some very good teachers that you wouldn't ordinarily get at a public school. It is probably highly variable, and really they are just hiring teachers who are sort of good intentioned hippies (they are not all anthroposophists). A lot of time good intentioned hippies are competent, and a lot of times they are not.

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Was there a bent for alternative medicine at your school?
Yes, it was clear that many of the teachers subscribed to such beliefs, but it was not shoved down our throats. I don't think any of us students ended up being brainwashed in this regard, beyond what their parents had done to them anyways.

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How many years ago was this?
I graduated the high school in the late 90's.

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Originally Posted by Bamboo Boy View Post
Were the concepts of Anthroposophy thrown around a lot? That seems like some kind of secret at my niece's school. They get all weird when you bring that stuff up- kind of defensive and dismissive.
Yeah, it was "in the air" but not openly discussed. A lot of the art, the architecture, and of course the Eurythmy, were clearly Anthroposophic. But it was low key enough that you could easily mistake it for just any sort of silly new age thing, you know? There were a couple times when someone came to sort of guest lecture us with some propaganda, but it was not worked into the core curriculum. For example, our reading lists were pretty good in high school, nothing more out of left field than Hermann Hesse, and I don't recall reading any Rudolf Steiner or his followers.

Ultimately I think these guys are harmless. I mean, yes, alternative medicine can be bad, but this is not restricted by any means to anthroposophy. It's also just a hippy sort of thing. The Eurythmy is really silly, but hey, that's not so bad, it's even kind of cute and disarming. I mean, imagine taking a jock you yells 'fag' at people, and making him do eurythmy. Couldn't hurt in my book. I also personally think that most real academic learning is done in college. And the Waldorf school, while not ostensibly the best in terms of college preparation, did seem to get a lot of students into some prestigious schools, who seem to do just fine. Go figure.
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:11 PM
beachbetch beachbetch is offline
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[shrug] Still sounds like a better education than you'd get from the Full Gospel Pentecostal Day School. Or from (most) homeschooling.

Perhaps, but those are vastly cheaper and don't AFAIK make grandiose claims of superior instruction.

Not necessarily and Pentecostal/Evangelical/Mennonite/Christian schools absolutely make claims to superior instruction. Superior instruction in maths and sciences, no. Biblical teaching, creationism, indoctrination, sexism and bigotry? Oh yes. That's kinds the main point. My sister was sent to a private christian school in 9th grade. Non-accredited. 2% of graduates went on to college. High school educated teacher, also not accredited. My parents somehow seemed shocked when it was pointed out that this type of schooling is not exactly conducive to success in college or life in general. Luckily they pulled her out, although she had to repeat the grade since you know, that whole not really getting any actual education thing.

Crystals, dancing and homeopathy? Doesn't sound nearly as harmful as learning forced female subservience, how to picket clinics and 6000 yr creationism.

Last edited by beachbetch; 09-26-2011 at 01:15 PM.. Reason: Meeeehhh, I don't know how to do quotes...
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  #23  
Old 09-26-2011, 09:45 PM
Farmer Jane Farmer Jane is offline
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My dad sent me to a full on religious school of the Christian variety. And he made me picket abortion clinics when I was about eight years old. :/

My sciences up to about 8th grade were pretty good. I can still remember some of my lessons. My math was great, my English was superb. My Bible history was (vomit) extremely solid. Most of us were in the 97th-99th percentile for ITBS tests. They aren't all terrible, and these were the kinds of people that thought only freaks and blacks got AIDs and that God made the world in 7 days. Yes, there was the box in in the book that talked about the 'holes' in evolution and it was rather unfortunate to be brought up in the typical myths of American history (which are nearly identical in public schools), but I'm glad I had that over the other schooling options in my area. As my mom put it, "They may be Evangelical assholes, but you also had to read three Dickens books and three Shakespearean plays in the seventh grade."

I think that any school with a focus on excellence and academics -- even if it's religious -- will suit a child well enough. Waldorf doesn't really emit that, though.

Last edited by Farmer Jane; 09-26-2011 at 09:46 PM..
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  #24  
Old 09-27-2011, 05:51 AM
Bamboo Boy Bamboo Boy is offline
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Thanks for all your interesting answers, especially iamnotbatman. Perhaps I'm being a worry wart. But I cannot help wondering where she would be and what kind of kid she would be if she had had a 'real' education. Maybe worse off, who can say?

Still, I think the whole Waldorf thing is super wacky. And I find their standoffish stance to their own core philosophy (Anthroposophy) highly suspicious. What gives?

-BB
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Old 09-27-2011, 04:36 PM
iamnotbatman iamnotbatman is offline
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Still, I think the whole Waldorf thing is super wacky. And I find their standoffish stance to their own core philosophy (Anthroposophy) highly suspicious. What gives?
My guess based on my experience within the system is that they have difficulty attracting students/teachers if they push their core philosophy too hard, so in practice they have compromised in order to keep themselves afloat. If I had to guess, fewer than 20% of the teachers at my school were true anthroposophists, and fewer than 5% of the graduated students ended up subscribing to the philosophy.

Think about how it would work if you wanted to start some school based on some obscure philosophy. Well, you'll have to hire teachers, and get enough students so that your school can be financially sustainable. You would have to adjust and compromise in various ways in order to make a successful school. And certainly many of the teachers you would hire wouldn't hold your exact philosophy, though they may have enough overlap so that they feel comfortable with the job, so long as you don't push them too hard. There will be some friction, and be some higher-ups with a more hard-line about the philosophy, but they will quickly find that they only have so much control, and that if they push too hard they risk alienating the parents of students who are just trying to find a liberal/hippy private school for their kid, and who, while they have a few overlapping sensibilities with your philosophy, don't subscribe to it wholly as you do. Most parents are going to be like this, considering that anthroposophy is so obscure. It's not like Catholicism, which is common enough to attract a large student/teacher population, most of whom may actually call themselves "Catholic." Not so with an obscure philosophy like anthroposophy. It is inevitable that in order for such a school to survive it will probably have to adapt in such a way so as to be sensitive enough to its patrons that it's core beliefs are not flaunted. That said, nothing is really "hidden." They say straight-up on their websites what their core beliefs are, and where they are coming from.

Just my 2c

Last edited by iamnotbatman; 09-27-2011 at 04:37 PM..
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  #26  
Old 09-27-2011, 07:12 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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When I was there for a visit earlier this year her teacher assigned my niece a biography of Turkey. A BIOGRAPHY. Of a COUNTRY. I was flabbergasted. I was sure my niece misspoke, but I looked at her papers and sure enough, he refers to what is a standard research paper on a country/culture as a biography. The teacher doesn't seem to know the definition of 'biography'. WTF? It still completely baffles me as I sit here and write it.
Now see, I can almost sort of get this. It's not as unusual prospect as it might seem at first glance, though by biography, it is usually meant as a "biography." Witness, Havana. Such titles aren't all that uncommon. They're usually a more conversational take on history, trying to evoke the "flavor" of the geographic entity, almost like they were a person.

However I'd regard that sort of thing to be a kinda advanced project for an 8th grader. Given the circumstances I think your skepticism is well-founded.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 09-27-2011 at 07:13 PM..
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  #27  
Old 10-05-2011, 07:54 AM
Shin Ji Shin Ji is offline
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My daughter (who just turned 4) has been attending a Waldorf school for the last year or so, and I must say that I am quite happy with it. Now, this is in Khon Kaen, Thailand, so I have no doubt the curriculum is vastly different from what you'd get in the EU or the USA.

The way it works here is that the little kids (less than 7 years old or so) basically play, do arts and crafts, and practice telling stories all day. My daughter loves it, and the teachers there are the best I've found in the entire city. I'm not a huge fan of actively discouraging the kids from learning reading until they are 7, but I have read the research supporting it regarding brain chemistry changes and such, and it seems not crazy. The best things about it are clearly the lack of pressure put on the kids, the freedom to play and be creative, and the fact that the kids are not sitting in desks all day.

Would I go with this option in America? Hard to say. It would depend on what else was available.

The only woo I have noticed (and believe me, I've looked!) is the fact that they do Buddhist prayer and some meditation in class, despite the fact that their teacher comes from a Muslim family. I'm OK with that, though. There was one incident where the teacher, who is just amazing generally, was apparently having a bad day and threatened a kid that a ghost would eat his liver or something if he didn't stop doing something.

I was floored when my daughter told me about this - but my wife assures me that this is actually a normal thing to say to kids in Thailand. I've armed my daughter with a good question if it ever comes up again, though. I've told her to ask the teacher if that would really happen. My guess if the teacher would back down after that.
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:00 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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So what's this about research supporting the idea of discouraging kids from reading until 7?

Is there supposed to be some actual harm that comes from letting them read earlier than that?
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:27 AM
iamnotbatman iamnotbatman is offline
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Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
So what's this about research supporting the idea of discouraging kids from reading until 7?

Is there supposed to be some actual harm that comes from letting them read earlier than that?
I don't know about real research, but my impression is that they have developed some rationalization based around the vague notion that pushing them to learn to read at an early age rather than the more natural-for-them oral learning and creativity, is stifling. I'm skeptical and would hesitate to keep my own children from learning to read at an early age, but I can't say they are wrong; certainly the students I know who have come out of the system are accomplished readers, and don't appear to have any systematic deficits. They are also more creative and deeper people IMO, though personally I attribute that simply to coming from more affluent and quirky families.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:53 AM
hogarth hogarth is online now
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Thank you very much for your input- It's encouraging to hear of an ex-Waldorf student who went on to become a physicist!
A fellow student of mine in grad school (studying mathematics) went to a Steiner school as a kid, too. I think her experiences were similar to iamnotbatman's (i.e. it was a bit flaky, but not ultimately harmful), although she had the extra flakiness of living in some kind of hippie commune at the time.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:58 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is online now
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A little late in the game, but I think this is a better fit for IMHO than Great Debates.
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  #32  
Old 10-05-2011, 02:06 PM
Colophon Colophon is offline
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I hear their salads are excellent.
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  #33  
Old 10-05-2011, 05:33 PM
Unauthorized Cinnamon Unauthorized Cinnamon is offline
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I used to think they sounded cool. Then I found out they're full of woo, to the extent that many involved literally believe in elves and shit. And they evidently have racist underpinnings. So they quickly graduated to "oh hell no" in my book.
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  #34  
Old 10-05-2011, 06:27 PM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
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My mother student taught at a Waldorf school in the early 50s and speaks very highly of it. She went on to be a career public school teacher. She's not a nut or into Anthroposophy. The way she'd explain the school was that it taught by doing and becoming involved in the entire process of something (carpentry or whatever). This was at kindergarten level and I don't think there was a high school (or at least she never mentioned it).
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Old 10-05-2011, 07:38 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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We have a Waldorf school in town that's a public charter, so that probably cuts down on the woo a little bit. The people at the school (teachers and parents) are very nice, very hippie-dippy. A friend of mine teaches there and has his son in the school; son is very ADHD and seems to be happier there because they allow more movement and often integrate movement into learning.

They have some things that I consider to be very cool--they recite math facts in an order that has the kids stepping from the floor to their chairs, to onto their desks, and down again. They do other language work while walking along balance beams that get higher with grade level. So some kind of neat things.

But they also have the traditional Waldorf dwarf math that tells stories about the numbers. Way too woo for me. Their test scores are not high. I have no idea what their science is like, but their handicrafts are great (and I'm not saying that handicrafts are bad, they are excellent for brain development and such). I'm pretty sure every pot grower in town sends their kids there.

I would not send my kids there, but my goals are not Waldorf goals (I do classical homeschooling). Some people love it. Also, the school doesn't go into high school.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:20 PM
cherry cherry is offline
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My husband and his brother went to one up until middle school and spoke very highly of their time at that school. They are both very successful in their fields - engineering & computers. If one was closer to me I might send my own daughter to one but she is going to go to Montessori instead.
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