Wild Waldorf Ride

Wow.  I visited The Waldorf School over the weekend.  It was really a game-altering experience for me.  Their program is like nothing I had ever seen or heard of before.  One of the teachers that I spoke with summed up the uniqueness in their program stating that ‘The most impoverished public school has more in common with the most well-endowed private school than we do.’  It was really true.  Most schools that I have ever been exposed to follow very similar teaching approaches with minor differences.  I am not sure whether the Waldorf philosophy is in any way superior or inferior, but their pedagogical philosophy is certainly very different than any other school I have visited, public or private.

For several reasons, I think that the school itself is not going to work for my family.  [EDIT–Here’s why I am not elaborating on that statement].  Even so, I am very happy that I went to the open house.  I am not an expert on childhood development, learning styles, or pedagogical philosophy. As a lay person, I can’t make an evaluation as to which pedagogical approach is better.  What I can say is that seeing the school and hearing the teachers, students, parents, and administrators discuss their program was eye-opening.  I will no longer hold steadfast to the assumptions I have about how children learn or how a school should be structured.  Even if I never go back to Waldorf, my visit there will make me evaluate schools and pedagogical approaches differently than I ever would have.

What is so different about Waldorf?  Well, I am not an expert in the philosophy, so here are some resources so you can read about it for yourself if you are interested.

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5 Responses to “Wild Waldorf Ride”

  1. Len Lipkin Says:

    People are discussing this post over on the Philadelphia Speaks Forum. http://www.philadelphiaspeaks.com/forum/parenting-education/9556-wild-waldorf-ride.html

  2. mary ginnane Says:

    hi mt airy mom to a 2 year old here..what are your reasons why the school won’t work? can you elaborate? I’m just wondering…thx for doing this blog! Mary

  3. girlfiend Says:

    I went to the open house last year, looking for a preschool for my (now) almost 4 year old. The preschool was incredible, a magical fairy land. I was in love. I couldn’t think of a place that would be better for his soul.

    But then I went on the small guided tour of the school while it was in session. A fourth grade teacher (maybe fifth?) was guiding her students through a page of the portfolio. She was telling them which color to use and where. Every child was drawing the same exact picture. Each portfolio was identical to another child’s. It really creeped me out.

    I wanted to love the school. I love the idea of it. But as an educator (I am currently on hiatus, but I’m a reading specialist, also certified to teach secondary English and elementary school) I don’t really buy into the notion of Waldorf education as progressive.

  4. gw Says:

    We’ve been at the school for 5 years, and I don’t know that I’d say “progressive” either….it is actually quite traditional in a way that mainstream education has grown further and further away from. The art lesson you encountered entails a great deal of discipline and keen observation, and if you look at the actual work done this way side by side you will see that there are great differences in the way each child sees the same thing. It is really fascinating. My husband and I both have backgrounds in fine art (and I in education) and are astounded by the skills our daughter is learning….in no way is her creativity hindered. In fact, she is enormously confident and daring.

    Having met quite a few teenage graduates of the school, I’m always impressed by how poised they are, at a time when most kids are grappling with issues of identity.

  5. Public versus Private Open Houses Part 2 « Philly School Search Says:

    […] I have now been on almost a  dozen school open houses in the last eight weeks.  (Yikes!)  Some made my head spin, some schools met my expectations, some did not.  Some were after school hours, some were during […]


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