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