bringing forward Waldorf/Steiner issues

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How is reading taught in a waldorf school?

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How is reading taught in a Waldorf school? Why do Waldorf students wait until 2nd grade to begin learning to read?

Waldorf education is deeply bound up with the oral tradition,(of Europe) typically beginning with the teacher telling the children fairy tales throughout kindergarten and first grade (All very Eurocentric which is inappropriate in Aotearoa NZ) The oral approach is used all through Waldorf education: mastery of oral communication is seen as being integral to all learning (they pay little heed to the oral traditions of our country).

Reading instruction, as such, is deferred. Instead, writing is taught first (nonsensical in the extreme). During the first grade year the children explore how our alphabet came about (German at Christchurch), discovering, as the ancients did, how each letter’s form evolved out of a pictograph. Writing thus evolves out of the children’s art, and their ability to read likewise evolves as a natural and, indeed, comparatively effortless stage of their mastery of language (my step-daughter needed private tuition).

So much for the natural and effortless way in which steiner schools teach children to read. You can read more here at waldorf answers.

waldorf education

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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.

Read more from Waldof Education.

A teacher’s view

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Fullfledge Ecology School Suffolk – a teacher’s view

Filed under: Uncategorized — ukanthroposophy @ 7:27 pm

This post was written by Esther Fidler, a teacher in a mainstream state school. The views she expresses here are her own and should not be taken or implied to be taken to be representative of her employers. But you can take them to be representative of mine, Mike Collins.

WOW! New School! Ecology n’ Stuff! Oh, hang on a minute…

A few weeks ago I read an article in my local paper, The East Anglian, about a proposed Free School. As a local state school teacher I was quite interested and decided to take a look at their website, which from my first impressions seemed nothing out of the ordinary. My attention was drawn to one sentence, however, ‘…our school will bring together the best practice from Steiner and state-school approaches…’ Hmmm, note to self, find out about Steiner approaches. I read of ‘joy and wonder’, ‘passion for learning and life’, ‘…honours the diversity of all the individuals within it and responds to their changing needs accordingly…’
All fairly standard school-speak, lots of good words which to the uninitiated sound really great but when you think carefully (and have a teacher’s perspective) actually tell you nothing about what really goes on at a school. Most schools create a ‘healthy, warm, safe, nurturing environment’ and all want to instil joy and wonder and a passion for learning and life. They’d be pretty poor if they didn’t, and that was my problem with Fullfledge; what it is presenting as NEW already exists in other schools. They want to teach children about sustainability – so do we, they want to teach children about gardening, cooking and being creative – so do we, they will be working with Forest Schools – WE DO IT ALREADY! Which led me to question: – what is so good and different about this school that it should remove children (and therefore funding) from the nearby state schools, and do I want my taxes spent on it?
As Rudolf Steiner features prominently on the Fullfledge Ecology School site I decided to follow my instincts and do some research, it took about five minutes on the web for me to become extremely concerned. Since you’re reading this on UK Anthroposophy you will have access to other articles which explain Steiner Waldorf Education more comprehensively than I can here. But most importantly for me, Fullfledge Ecology School states in its FAQs that ‘our curriculum arises out of Steiner’s picture of child development’ so it is vital to know exactly what that is. It seems most Steiner schools are not entirely upfront about anthroposophy, Steiner’s ‘philosophy’ (or more accurately belief system) which underpins every aspect of their pedagogy. This reticence is compounded by the fact that anthroposophy is esoteric and based on knowledge gained through Steiner’s clairvoyant abilities. Their ‘hidden knowledge’ is thus ‘need to know’. Well, I do.
The Steiner view of child development is that children are on a journey of reincarnation and we should teach them differently at different stages on that journey. Rudolf Steiner taught that up to the age of around seven, children could be harmed (in karmic terms) by learning to read and write, that they are unable to think in a reasoned way until they reach their teens. I learned that children in a Steiner school have no textbooks, no access to computers until they reach 14 (damaging to karma again) that they have the same teacher for eight years, that they have a two hour lesson daily from the age of seven, and that in the lower years the class teacher dictates work to be written by children in their books.
Now, coming from a state school I found this worrying. I have been a teacher for fifteen years. I currently teach year two, have recently been rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, in a school with outstanding attainment, progress and behaviour. I lead Science and ICT within the school and teach a creative, child-led curriculum. The children I teach are happy, lively and interested; they have a thirst for knowledge and know where to find it. Every single one of the children in my class (aged from 6-7) writes independently, reads well and loves it. They also love finding things out for themselves using the internet or a book, they can reason and question evidence, and they are most certainly not harmed by any of it – in fact I would go so far as to say that it enriches their lives. I am in no way qualified to teach these children when they are 14 and would not want to, my specialism is Key Stage one. I cannot see how any teacher can have the subject knowledge to teach from ages 7-14.
I sent the proposed Free School an email expressing my concerns and the next day had a reply, one of the founders would like to meet with me. The following weekend I met with Ewout Van-Manen with the aim of finding out how much the Steiner pedagogy was to influence his ‘Ecology’ school. I wanted to reassure myself that the school was needed in the area, that all of the staff would hold qualified teacher status, that science was being taught properly and that the school would be accountable.
We met on a farm near Woodbridge, a beautiful part of Suffolk full of lofty barn conversions and four-wheel drives, where a woodcraft day was being held to promote the Ecology School. I took my best friend for company (I don’t usually go meeting strangers in the woods), a note book and a week’s worth of reading, talking and fact finding.

Read more ……….

steiner education

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So concerned did he become that he took his children to be assessed by educational psychologists. The results shocked him. Matthew, when first examined in 1994, was judged to have an average IQ of 101 but was considered to be “seriously disabled in terms of literacy acquisition, with his reading and spelling lying a full three years below his chronological age”. Less than two years later, Matthew was retested. The educational psychologist found him to have “flourished” outside the Steiner system; his retested IQ was now 124. (Confidence can make a difference to a child’s scores on intelligence tests.)

Read more here.  by CASSANDRA JARDINE, Education section, The Daily Telegraph

This is the kind of thing that has been happening to my step-daughter at Christchurch steiner school. It has had a huge impact on her self-esteem. She started as a five year old who was bursting at the seams to learn. Now she has a private tutor. She is slowly learning but has no confidence in her ability no matter what we say and do. What Christchurch steiner has done to her is immoral and abusive.

pedagogy for class one in a steiner school

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Class 1: Little or no reading. “It is a mistake to try to learn to read before learning to write.” [11] Children can play with illustrated books having moving parts. “The themes of these are fairy stories, seasons, nature.” The kids can also be exposed to “such delightful creations as “The Song of the Elfin Miller” … and “The Fairies”.

From Waldorf Watch HERE

I know 6-7 year olds who have not been taught a thing about reading in class one. I accept that it is fine for some children. But not for children who are eager to learn. Christchurch rudolph steiner do not differentiate between children. They employ a ‘one size fits all’ methodology that failed my wife, her sister, and several of their friends. Now it’s some of their children.

Written by wiremu shane

September 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm