bringing forward Waldorf/Steiner issues

waldorf education

with 2 comments

The following paragraph seems to be about what is a fundamental difference between “State” and “steiner/waldorf” education. As a state trained and experienced teacher of some 20 years, I can indeed challenge the ‘party line’ that state education is about pouring facts into an impressionable brain. State education is about empowering children to make good decisions. It is about giving children a set of tools with which they can investigate things they are interested in. It’s about supporting the individual to shine.

Waldorf education tries to place all children (no matter their individual need) in the same seven year reincarnative state. No one learns to read until they are 7 or 8. Not even those who are ready to learn at 5. It might over tax them as they try to incarnate fully. There is nothing supporting the individual in that process. How do I know this? It happened to my step- daughter who through an idiocy in the family courts has to remain in the school. She at 8 has lost her natural inclination to learn. Seems depressed and is currently seeing a child psychologist. The effect on her self-esteem has been tragic. Yes, it is a parents responsibility to remove hindrances to a child’s development. Trouble is, many parents do not see that steiner/waldorf education is a major obstacle.

How many saw “Waiting For Superman”? In one scene there is a cartoon picture of students in a row with the “good teacher” opening their skulls and filling their brains with information, lots of facts. Although viewers disagree, my impression was that the director equated quality education with filling up an empty brain. In sharp contrast, the Waldorf philosophy is not to cram information in, but to draw information out, to draw out the individuality of each student. We do this when we provide a nurturing, rich, enjoyable classroom atmosphere for students. We do this when we teach subject matter when children are developmentally ready to understand it. If children are secure and confident then they are open to learning. If children have hindrances to learning, be they emotional or physical, then it is the teachers’ and parents’ responsibility to remove the obstacles/hindrances by employing every strategy from nutrition to extra lesson work and curative Eurythmy to academic tutoring.

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2 Responses

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  1. No method can guarantee results — so much depends upon the teachers themselves. If your daughter is in the midst of a situation that involves the family courts, however, the supportive environment of a Waldorf school might be just the right thing. If you don’t mind me saying so, sometimes putting positivity into a situation (given that you apparently can’t change it) helps — it especially helps a depressed person to hear affirmation rather than negativity.

    Affirming life

    September 19, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    • Unfortunately, we have found Christchurch steiner to be most unhelpful. Their insistence on sticking to their flawed teaching process even when a young student shows without doubt that she wants to learn to read now, has resulted (according to the psychologist) in a depressive state (there are of course other issues). As for their so-called supportive nature? That only applies when you are a good steiner family living anthroposophically. If you have a non-eurocentric culture and beliefs, you ask questions because their culture makes no sense in Aotearoa NZ in the 21st century, you become an object of derision. As I am Maori, of course I can’t help it, as I am spiritually inferior to the aryans they are so enamoured with. The fact that I have a degree in education and 20 years in the classroom has also allowed me to spot the idiocies they called pedagogy.
      They have denied my step-daughter an education because she is tall, pale skinned and red haired. Please do not tell me that that is the correct thing to do. It is abuse. The only reason she is there and they have not kicked the family out for asking questions, is, it is a family court order between her biological parents. Her mother has seen the light with regard to steiner/waldorf education and anthroposophy in general. But being anthroposophically raised, she lacks the will and the courage to do something about it. It has not mattered how positive we have been, she is still bored, she is still wondering why her 5 year old cousin who is not at steiner, is able to read. In Aotearoa NZ the state system of education in one of the most enlightened in the OCD. We sit at the top in so many factors. To deny this to a little girl who wants more is immoral. Instead they try to put her in their anthro box with all the other non-thinking followers of this cult. Not good enough. Not good enough at all.

      anthroposophical behaviour

      September 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

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