Poor Academic Standards


Posted to the waldorf-critics list, April 19, 2005

Although I’m not Waldorf trained, I’ve been working as a subject teacher at a W school for more than five years, and still am – thus the pseudonym. Please bear with the awkward generalizations about my subject area. Naming the subject would probably make it possible to identify me, because (and this next part comes from a Waldorf-supporting source) teachers in my subject area rarely stay in a W school for as long as I have.

I am very interested in seeing an answer to Pete’s question.

Assuming it’s true that a W charter school is not working from Anthroposophy, then what *does* influence the school’s methods? What is the source inspiration for the design and content of the W charter curriculum? If not Anthroposophy, then what? If there are Waldorf-accepted curriculum influences *other* than Anthroposophy/Steiner, I would love to know about them. (I am aware of making a sloppy assumption that if Steiner wrote something, then by default it has to do with Anthroposophy – but that is the gist of my understanding at this point.)

Speaking as someone with teaching experience (both Waldorf and non-Waldorf), with a degree and teaching license in my field, and with a substantial amount of (non-Waldorf) specialized pedagogical training in my subject area, it burns my grits that my school expects me to follow those of Steiner’s suggestions that are in direct conflict with commonly-accepted best teaching practices for my subject. When I ask why I should do this or that, or why the school does not allow this or that, I’m told that it “prematurely hardens” the child, or “sets a bad precedent, as we do not do such things here”.

I and my colleagues in my area of specialty (outside my school) recognize certain methods as effective because we’ve seen the results. I recognize certain people as experts in my field — but Steiner is not one of them. I’ve tried to remain optimistic about the possibility of introducing change at my school, but now I realize that the way my school has structured their program for my subject is actually a direct reflection of Steiner’s profoundly limited understanding and vision in this specific area.


P.S. It’s an interesting concept, the premature “hardening” of a child. It didn’t come up in any of my college human-development or child-psychology classes. (Actually, Steiner himself didn’t come up either.) Can someone here point me toward a non-Steiner, non-Anthroposophical source that explains what it means for a child to be “prematurely hardened”?