For Diana

Public Waldorf

 

From: Frank Thomas Smith
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 6:05 pm
Subject: RE: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Public Waldorf

Hello Christine,

There is a very great difference between using "Waldorf techniques" or "Waldorf methods" in a public school setting and trying to establish an entire school based on Waldorf Education within the public school system here in the United States.

That may be - but assuming that you agree that using the techniques is beneficial, isn't the establishment of an entire school using Waldorf methods the inevitable outcome? And what's wrong with it?

Also, I never said that "...it should be limited to a select minority who can afford it." I have a very long and full article posted in this groups files that I wrote called "Waldorf Economic Proposal." In which I clearly explain at length what I have thought out as the right paradigm for the funding of Waldorf Schools in this country and anywhere else in the world. It is extremely radical and I haven't even discussed it with anyone else on the planet yet. No one has even given me feedback about it. Why must there be only two sides to an issue? "Free" education which is state funded and therefore tax funded and therefore definitely not free financially and certainly not free in practice. Or the archaic private school system which reserves the "benefits" of a "better" education (many meanings possible here) for the wealthy, relatively weathly who are willing to make financial sacrifices or the "deserving poor" who qualify for an individual schools "charity" or "scholarship" program?

I didn't see your "World Economic Proposal", but would appreciate a "digest" of it. I have some ideas of my own on the subject - which I have communicated to a (relatively) lot of people on the planet

Not only IS there a third way - but it is the way the first Waldorf School was created and funded and it sets the paradigm that, as far as I am aware (and I would love to be wrong) has not been implemented fully by a single Waldorf School since Stuttgart.

As far as I know, the first Waldorf school was financed in its initial stages by Herr Molt, i.e., an individual with mucho moola. Steiner launched the idea of a "World School Association" - but, though tried several times (once by me and a few others) it never got off the ground, or, more precisely, crashed.

Your last two statements are the exact statements that set the Waldorf Critics nerves on edge and get them running for the legal hills.

To use one of your favorite expressions - I don't give a rat's ass about the WCs.

[Frank:]

If a public school, or system (or in the U.S. charter schools), decides to use certain aspects of WE, how can it be anything but beneficial. In fact, this may be the main raison d'etre of Waldorf education as such: to transform the education of the world.

[Christine:]

..."how can it be anything but beneficial." is a value judgement wide open to criticism and (to a certain extent) justified opposition. Obviously, there are people who feel that there are aspects of Waldorf Education that are a. not beneficial for their own child or children and b. are not beneficial for other people's children as well. They have challenged us to "prove" the benefits that Waldorf Education as an educational philosophy makes claims for and perhaps it is our responsibility to work on establishing those "proofs." But it isn't a two minute proposition, as I have said here extensively already. There are avenues of research, both in the field of educational psychology and in a broader sociological framework that have yet to be activated and the very nature of such research is a question of rather extensive time periods and much time being dedicated to the work.

There are millions of parents the world over who are certain that the various puiblic school systems are not only not beneficial but are injurious to their children and society at large. Public education is a disaster everywhere. Here in Argentina the provincial education authorities are enchanted by our little rural W-school and would love to apply certain "techniques" in the public system (see: http://southerncrossreview.org/gift.html for the inspector's report. Granted, they know nothing about anthroposophy or the spiritual background, but they will because we have organized a Waldorf seminar this year. But if they want to initiate a Waldorf pilot project (the idea was mentioned but probably won't happen) I for one would welcome it.

The last sentence,

....In fact, this may be the main raison d'etre of Waldorf education as such: to transform the education of the world.

Is the real earth-trembler as far as the Waldorf Critics are concerned. They no more want to see Waldorf Education, "transform the education of the world." than they want to see Fundamental Christianity transform the politics of the world. And again, I say for myself that they have some justifiable reasons. Your statement comes much closer to the meaning that was INTERPRETED by my use of the word "mandate" and I wasn't talking about using Waldorf or any other educational philosophy to invoke change. I was "perhaps"ing that in a far future, Waldorf Education would be adopted by the society at large as a RESULT of changes within it that originate elsewhere.

I think that parents should be able to send thier children to whichever school they want and all should be financed through tax money. If the U.S. charter system forces children to attend those schools, then there's a problem, and there should be alternatives in the area - I assume there are. In any case, that the Plans people are even able to initiate legal procedings is the result of the US Supreme Courts misintepreting the consitutional separation of church and state - IMO.

Now, to try to be very, very clear here (it is so difficult not to be misunderstood) - I PERSONALLY think that:

1. Waldorf Education is POTENTIALLY beneficial for every child who comes into contact with it (sorry for the caps - I've explained that before).

2. Waldorf Education is MOSTLY beneficial for the greater percentage of children who come into contact with it - say, in my opinion, about 90 - 96% - certainly numbers that have no research attached to them and can be debated.

3. Waldorf Education has used and developed principles and practices since 1919 that were in great opposition to many mainstream ideas in European and United States education through say, the fifties and early sixties. We were "earthy-crunchy" long before the hippies burst on the scene. Starting in the sixties and seventies, however, there were relatively larger segments of the general population open to concepts like "whole language", mythology as a valid teaching tool, the "Uses of Enchantment" by Bruno Bettleheim and "The Plug in Drug" by Marie Winn came out; Joseph Campbell became popular; and other "new" movements of thought almost re-invented the wheel we were already riding on. It is my personal opinion that the best minds in the educational psychology field will continue to produce both research and experiential knowledge that will continue to support Waldorf Education methods and practices. It is also my opinion that if the "mainstream" educational psychology researchers were to study Waldorf Education directly, they would find both ideas and practices that have been in effect for almost a century now that would "speed up" their present day research considerably and there would be a great deal of mutual support.

These three opinions of mine based on what I consider a relatively wide reading of educational theories besides Waldorf and what life experience I have had so far, are as fair as I can make them. They allow room for errors - both in theory and in human practice. They allow for fair criticism and challenge. And they allow for open-minded dialogue that may take as its theme Art, Religion, Science or any combination of these motifs.

Agreed.
Frank

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From: golden3000997
Date: Wed Feb 11, 2004 6:34 pm
Subject: Re: [anthroposophy_tomorrow] Public Waldorf

In a message dated 2/11/2004 9:31:26 PM Eastern Standard Time, franksmith writes:

I didn't see your "World Economic Proposal", but would appreciate a "digest" of it. I have some ideas of my own on the subject - which I have communicated to a (relatively) lot of people on the planet

It's called "Waldorf Economic Proposal" - it's posted.

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