Monday, July 23, 2012

Learn More About Waldorf Schools!

Why are so many people hesitant to learn more about Waldorf Schools? Years ago this educational philosophy was completely new to me too. It was. But somewhere along the way I didn't think it was entirely "out" or "other," nor did I lump it in with other educational philosophies as if it was simply a copycat. I gave it a look. Six years later my oldest son is about to be a 3rd Grader, my baby is about to start her first year in the 3 & 4 year-old Nursery class and I couldn't be more grateful for this wonderful school.

The mythology surrounding Waldorf schools continues to surprise me. It seems that in this time of internet research, there should be very few urban legends surrounding Waldorf education. In fact, with books like A Whole New Mind and Creating Innovators, I am more surprised we don't hear more about Waldorf schools. This article was great, but it is almost a year old. So, I'm feeling like Snopes-Meets-Waldorf and want to share what I know.

First, I have to share a couple of videos here that the new-to-Waldorf parents might like to see:

Then also, if you want to know what I think about not introducing the alphabet in Kindergarten, please read my earlier post. Here are two pages of my son's 2nd grade writing work:

Any other questions? Please ask and I will answer in the comments. Please note these questions will be answered specific to the Charlottesville Waldorf School in mind. It is the only Waldorf school I know well. 

If you would like to learn more about American Waldorf Schools, I highly recommend going to the AWSNA site and even reading The Story of Waldorf Education in the United States. It will debunk quite a bit of things you might be too shy to ask me. Even easier than reading that book is to read this interview with the author and Waldorf alumnus, Stephen Sagarin.  


Anonymous said...

I have to say I was terrified by all the things I read about Waldorf critics but after my youngest child (who is adopted--at age 3 from a foreign orphanage and turned out to be 'highly gifted') had a horrendous experience at public and 2 private schools. This was after 2 amazing years of no problems and such at a daycare center.

My pediatrician recommended Waldorf saying that she knew a kid with similar background who did really well there: she meant his super sensitive personality and need for firm, scheduled, and fair teachers. As in the ideal firm, scheduled,fair teacher who never ever snaps at a kid.

Anyway he LOVED it and learned so much. I kept apologizing that first year he was there to all my friends and family because of my embarrassment over putting him in a school with such vocal critics. I'm sure the critics did have horrible experiences for themselves or their kids. But, my experience was totally similar to your.

My son graduated the 8th grade and went to a local college prep school where he is in 10th grade now and doing fine. Everytime I hear a critic say 'but Waldorf is racist or indoctrinating your child' it just doesn't fit my experience at all.

But, it seems like every time I read waldorf blogs a critic pops up and just will not listen to what someone who has a positive experience is saying! They can't see past their negative experience and seem to think anyone who had a child like the school or not have any issues is living out in lala land or an anthroposhist.

The whole time my child was at Waldorf I cringed when people asked me where he went to school and tried to divert them with 'he goes to a private school. I don't give out that never know what kind of whacko is out there going to kidnap your child, etc...' But really it was embarrassment and fear of having to defend the choice. As he got older I was able to say 'it just works for him' (but only to some people).

I think the critics just do such a good job scaring people like me who know little about the school/never heard of it. If my MD hadn't suggested it and my son hadn't hated and showed severe anxiety in 3 other schools I'd have not enrolled in a Waldorf school. After the doctor mentioned it I hit google and I almost didn't do it based on all the critics.

The only downside I see for me is that I'm lazy and hands off so I just pay the exuberant fee ($20 per hour) to not volunteer 40 hours a year. Another downside which didn't really affect me was the tuition was really high (higher than the gifted/elite private school).

So, I think most people never give Waldorf a chance due to critics and due to high fee. A lot of high income families(but not all) don't want to risk money on a school with so many critics and go instead for private schools with what critics say have 'delayed' academics. Most who might want child centered I think go to Montessouri schools which are much more positive and I never see any critics and many of which are free(although my son hated his school, was disciplined through shaming which due to his extreme sensitivity caused near agoraphobia around school but which other parents found 'normal' discipline--I would say it was normal too but just not right for this particular child).

Sylvan and Ember's Mum said...

Hi! What are your thoughts on feminism and Waldorf? I'm the mom of two girls - the older one is 5 and will be starting kindergarten at a Waldorf school in the fall. On one hand I love their use of story but on the other hand I struggle with the stories (from K all through 12) being deeply patriarchal. I just found your blog, by the way and am thrilled! I identify as a feminist mother and have many similar interests - thanks for your words!