What is Waldorf
- Mr Cutting posted the following as part of his comment on Alicia's blog:
"You are a highly intelligent and creative person who is clearly an experienced blogger and who has also had at least part of her education in a Steiner School. Even if some aspects of that education was not to your liking you are, like most of those that I know who have had that experience, a credit to that system of education."
To which, Alicia responded:
"How would I counter that claim? Except, perhaps, by saying that what we learn in school is precious little, and what I learnt in waldorf was even less than that. We are all influenced by our genes and our home environment. For example. And I've had many years of education (and life experience, thank Dog) since I left waldorf school more than 20 years ago."
As Alicia, as I understand it, spent most of her secondary education in the Swedish non-Waldorf state system (after her disaster with Waldorf) I would have expected her to laud it. What she actually says is "what we learn in school is precious little" - ie she thinks that *all* schools are pretty much deficient. Perhaps Alicia's negative experience at Waldorf spurred her to want to educate herself, something, it seems, she continued to do throughout her adult life. Maybe Waldorf, inadvertently or otherwise, gave her a sense of independence and allowed a love of learning to develop. But many kids are put off education for life by their school experience and never gain such a love.
My view on leaving school was similar to Alicia's: it seemed to me mostly to be a place where parents could leave their kids while they were at work; the quality of the education one got seemed an after-thought. I've often thought, looking back, that my education would have benefited if it could have been self-directed (and much of my choices at university involved trying to get round the constricting specialisation of a prescribed syllabus). What I needed to learn was how to learn, how to find and assesses resources and, most of all, how to put them in context. It's seemed to me that for some time the internet, wisely used, presents a good source of learning opportunities and ought to be useful learning resource for young people. Furthermore, it's interesting to observe that Mr Sagarin's Great Barrington Waldorf school aims to teach their students to be independent learners:
"What teachers provide, more important than any knowledge about a way of life or a worldview, is a pathway or method for discovering these ideas and ideals, should a student wish later in life to pursue them. Choosing this path, following it, and putting into practice the results of such a journey involve human freedom, moral imagination, ethical individualism, call it what you will.
All we can give of value as teachers with regard to spiritual realities is a path that can be followed or retraced. In geometry, I can show how the steps of a proof lead to a logical conclusion, but you must take that final intuitive leap yourself. If you do not "see" that these steps constitute a proof, all I can do as a teacher is retrace the path, perhaps using different language or different symbols in order to help you again to the brink of intuitive understanding. Anthroposophically-gained knowledge of the world, given to us in Steiner's books and lectures, for example, can provide stepping stones akin to the statements in a geometric proof. They attain meaning, however, only as we use them to focus our attention, to trace and retrace a path to the spirit, to meaning, and to understanding."