Thursday, May 1, 2008

In the shadow of the Valley.

Waldorf education has been around for a long time. But if you read the newspapers you won’t find a mention of it in the NY Times very often. If you do find a it mentioned, the comments are usually incredulous or at least lukewarm in there appraisal of the philosophies and educational practices.

Waldorf education was begun in Germany in the beginning of the 20th century at the waldorf factory. Mr. Waldorf was a successful German business man who wanted to provide a decent grade school for his employees children. He founded the first Waldorf school with the help of teachers inspired by the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.

Steiner was a spiritual theorist who believed that it was possible to apply scientific principals to an internal investigation of the spiritual world. A brilliant man his ideas caused a renascence in physical application of spiritual principals in multiple fields including politics, arts, education, agriculture (biodynamic) and retirement communities. Each of these separate fields have developed over the past hundred years until today where there common roots remain hidden for many people.

In education Steiner asked the question – how does the soul grow in the body over the first 21 years of life and what form of education would support the full growth of soul in to the body of a child? (My words not his.) He rejected and current Waldorf schools still reject the philosophy that the mind should be the primary target of a grade school education and he instead set about creating a community of students and staff that worked together to help children have a full experience of childhood.

Some adults are turned off by the repetitive nature of the Waldorf classes, but grade school children find the repetition soothing and a very safe environment. Most of all I have found that Waldorf children make the best listeners – I can perform almost any level of complexity material for a waldorf audience and they will take it in with relish while your average pubic school audience would have been talking in there seats with out my simple connection and constant management.

On visiting a Waldorf school as a dyslexic person the first thing I noticed is that Waldorf school does not punish the slow reader – most children learn to read by fourth grade with out any pressure in a Waldorf school environment. As some one who learned to read in fourth grade with LOTS of pressure – I would like to tell no pressure is a much better system emotionally speaking. (Said the nail to the hammer.)

Waldorf school are part of the public school system in Germany – but here in the U.S. there ideas are to radical for public acceptance and they remain privet with all the problems associated with private schools. Cost – elitist associations in potential families minds – poorly paid teachers etc…

If you live close to one such school –
Investigate as a possible place for your student to enroll full time.

If your home schooling your LDS or dyslexic child. Waldorf exercises can be very soothing and helpful to integrate the left – right brain stuff that just seems to break down in us – “gifted” individuals.

Good Luck

Eric Wolf

Here is one small piece of the study conducted on Waldorf Graduates...

Comparison of Waldorf and US Population
Declared Majors General US Population (GUSP) vs Waldorf Graduates from 1991–2002
Arts & Humanities GUSP - 14.6% Waldorf Graduates - 39.8%
Social & Behavioral Sciences GUSP - 10.9% Waldorf Graduates - 29.9%
Life Sciences GUSP - 6.2% Waldorf Graduates - 9.9%
Physical Sciences & Math GUSP - 2.0% Waldorf Graduates - 2.8%
Engineering GUSP - 6.4% Waldorf Graduates - 1.8%
Computer & Information Sciences 6.1% Waldorf Graduates - 2.5%
Education GUSP - 7.3% Waldorf Graduates - 2.1%
Business & Management GUSP - 19.3% Waldorf Graduates - 4.6%
Health GUSP - 11.6% Waldorf Graduates - 5.6%
Other Technical & Professional GUSP - 9.7% Waldorf Graduates - 0.4%
Vocational , Technical, & Other GUSP - 5.9% Waldorf Graduates - 0.6%

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