Public versus Private Open Houses Part 2

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 the school day.  All of them were run differently.  I have been given tours by school principals, PTA volunteers, admissions officers, and teachers.  I have visited private schools and public schools (no charter schools yet).

There are three big things that I have learned. Read the rest of this entry »

Words from a Waldorf Parent

The following was posted to a Philadelphia Speaks discussion thread on Waldorf.  It is a testimonial from an (unverified) Waldorf parent.

I have two daughters at Waldorf. My eldest spent some time at a Friends school before moving over in 2nd grade.

The Philly Waldorf School is fairly liberal when it comes to the Waldorf curriculum/philosophy. That is, teachers interpret as they see fit, some families have TV sets in their houses, and the gnomes are only allowed in the school on Thursdays.

That is to say, it’s a pretty laid back place in many ways, and welcoming to different views. The families are normal, CC and Mt Airy types – not zealots or cult members.

There are no cellphones, no computers, no Mickey Mouse t-shirts (or other corporate/logo clothes). And if your kid brings Oreos as a snack you’ll get a polite note asking you to please refrain from sending sugary snacks. The cookies are fed to the gnomes.

Of course you wouldn’t ever send Oreos, Read the rest of this entry »

Language Immersion And Philly Primary Schools

In the book, Critical Issues in Early Second Language Learning: Building for Our Children’s Future Myriam Met collected a series of essays and studies on foreign language study in early childhood (abstract).

In sum, the essays assert that learning a second language at an early age…

  • Has a positive effect on intellectual growth.
  • Enriches and enhances a child’s mental development.
  • Leaves students with more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and a better ear for listening.
  • Improves a child’s understanding of his or her native language.
  • Gives a child the ability to communicate with people he or she would otherwise not have had the chance to know.
  • Opens the door to other cultures and helps the child understand and appreciate people from other countries.
  • Gives the child a head start in language requirements for college.
  • Increases job opportunities in many careers in which knowing another language is a real asset.

An interesting point that is made in the book is that Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Another Argument for Going Local for Education

Back in one of my original posts, I wrote about how community is an important factor that my family is considering in our selection of a school.  It turns out that another Philadelphia blogger who writes about their public and private school experiences agrees.  Here’s what “A Very Public Education” has to say on the subject.