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Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Waldorf education

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  • golden3000997@cs.com
    Dear Sisters and Everyone, When I first came into contact with Waldorf Education and Rudolf Steiner s work at the age of 16, it was at the Threefold Farm
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 30, 2003
      Dear Sisters and Everyone,

      When I first came into contact with Waldorf Education and Rudolf Steiner's
      work at the age of 16, it was at the Threefold Farm community in Spring Valley,
      New York. I was fortunate enough to live and work with other teenagers who had
      grown up in Waldorf schools and communities. My very best friend there was a
      Jewish girl. Her father (who lived and worked and studied in the Threefold
      Community) was a survivor of Auschwitz. That above all else forever answered any
      question of racism or bigotry for my mind in regard to Rudolf Steiner and
      Anthroposophy. This was certainly nothing I was able to discuss with such a
      person, but just knowing that he was there made me certain that such things could
      not be contained within it, or he could not have lived there and worked hard to
      put two daughters through Waldorf Schools all their lives.

      Many ideas were put forward by Rudolf Steiner regarding "Root Races" and
      "Folk Souls" and many other ideas that are foreign to modern thinking. But
      everything that he said had and has a context and there are many "shocking" ideas in
      Steiner when taken out of that context. How about "bat dregs"? That it is
      dangerous to go out in the evening when there are bats around. As a nature lover,
      I know that there are many people who work to save bats and educate the public
      as to their importance in bug control and other aspects of nature's
      harmonies. What can we make of what Steiner then wrote about them? (Man As Symphony of
      the Creative Word.)

      What about homeopathic medicine? If you examine it using today's laboratory
      methods, you only find water. Yet, there is science behind it and it requires
      study to understand.

      Waldorf Educators make mistakes. Myself included. I once said something to a
      child in my classroom with no ill intention, but it was thoughtless and caused
      the parents to pull the child out of the school. I am deeply ashamed. There
      needs to be a careful examination in such cases as to whether the fault lies in
      Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy, Waldorf Education or the very, very inadequate
      people who try to put it into practice.

      It would be wonderful if no teacher ever made a mistake. It would be
      wonderful if no doctor ever made a mis-diagnosis. It would be wonderful if every judge
      were able to decide every case justly. This is not our world.

      I personally agree with PLANS that Waldorf Education has no place in the
      public school or state school system and I believe that Rudolf Steiner would more
      than agree with this. I also agree that every parent should be made fully
      aware of the spiritual background of Waldorf Education before choosing to enroll
      their child. I agree that Waldorf Education is too Christian for fervent
      Paganists and too Pagan for fundamentalist Christians. The decision should be a
      totally concious one on the part of the parents after being given as much
      information as they can possibly stand. If this means fewer schools and less
      enrollment, so be it. Creating and maintaining schools under misunderstanding can come
      to no good. We cannot say to parents "We know what is best for your child and
      you do not." We have to say, "We want to do what is best for your child
      educationally. This is what we do and why. If you agree, we would love to be of
      service to you and your child."

      There are methodologies within the schools that were appropriate for the
      children of Europe in the first part of the twentieth century that I found to be
      totally inadequate for the children of American at the end of the twentieth
      century and the beginning of the twenty-first. The direction that I always took
      the most to heart from Dr. Steiner was to OBSERVE and to act from that
      observation first and foremost. We must work to reach the children (and parents)
      where they are in life and in their own development and respect this before
      offering guidance. We must, as teachers, always first be ready to LEARN from both
      the children and the parents. We must learn to be adaptable and flexible while
      remaining true to the beating heart of a living Anthroposophy.

      I have posted on this group my article, never published elsewhere, on Waldorf
      Education and Religion. Perhaps the outline of the curriculum it contains may
      put in perspective the "religious" aspects of Waldorf Education.

      I am deeply sorry that parents have had bad experiences with their children
      in Waldorf Schools. Actually, teachers have had some very bad experiences, too,
      myself included. But I believe that the fault lies in the people, not in the
      ideology or spiritual science within Waldorf Education. I know that whatever I
      have done in the past or may do in the future that is good or has value for a
      child or an adult comes from Rudolf Steiner. The mistakes are all my own.

      Best wishes for 2004,
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