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 »

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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.

Open House at the Waldorf School

This was posted by a user to the Fairmount Parents Forum.

For those who are interested in finding out about The Waldorf School of Philadelphia, there is an Open House this Saturday, January 30th at 10 AM. You are welcome to come with your family to visit the classrooms, view students’ work, and ask questions of the faculty, staff and parents. During the morning, the faculty will present an overview of the Early Childhood and Grades programs. There will also be a puppet play for the younger children and activities available for older children.

Unique aspects of the school are that they purposefully do not have computers because

By delaying the regular use of television, video games and computers, children develop a strong foundation in using their own capacities and experiences for imagination, research and analytical and critical thinking. (Waldorf Website)

Also, students have the same teachers follow them through their whole academic career there (first through eighth, though they have a preschool and kindergarten).  See more in the NBC-10 video on the school.