‘we do not agree with modern day songs’

I’m making an attempt to keep my mind off things. Roger has found a poem, on a waldorf school’s website. It aims at explaining what waldorf is about.

By protecting our children’s youth
We feel we help them gain truth
We do not agree with modern day songs
We believe they are immoral and wrong

See Roger’s comments in his news section. (There are several verses, do read them.) Not only is it disastrous poetry, the contents are despicable, although perhaps honest. They don’t agree with modern day songs and they do have all sorts of wacky beliefs about what’s immoral and wrong. I don’t see how it would be helpful for anyone to grow up in an environment which espouses these ideals, though. And so much for an education towards freedom, which waldorf schools brag about. It’s not a question of freedom; moralizing over certain aspects or choices of life is, in reality, much more common. This verse, not quoted by Roger, is quite telling:

The curriculum calls for no scientific explanation at early ages
For doing so will limit students to cages
We want to give students time to interpret the story
Before we confuse them and cause it to become blurry

Knowledge is a cage; it’s confusing and makes children blurry. That’s an interesting attitude. It’s interesting, by the way, how much waldorf education felt just like that — a cage. No, not even a cage — more like being locked inside a cupboard. At least a cage is see-through. Being involuntarily kept away from knowledge and learning creates a mental prison. I don’t understand why waldorf educators are so incapable of seeing this. But you have to praise their honesty:

If we had to teach to Traditional Educational standards we would faint

The author hopes that the poem will help people make informed choices. Oh, I’d say it does…


20 thoughts on “‘we do not agree with modern day songs’

  1. Alicia – I am really perplexed about something. I teach children how to read. I see reading as cumulative. It is a skill that builds on itself and it generally takes years for a child to become a proficient, confident reader. So I wonder, if a child attending Waldorf is just starting to read in 3rd grade does it then take them until grade 6 or 7 for him to become a proficient and confident reader? Is it also more difficult to learn to read at this later age? Is the ability to comprehend subjects such math, science, history or any other subject compromised?

  2. or do they just stay blurry?

    What terrible poetry! What does this say about the talent in the school? ‘I have wrote the following poem’. Indeed you have – it is your crowning glory, you can do no better – it’s time to retire. Quit while you’re ahead.

  3. Margaret, that’s a huge topic. A late start in reading potentially puts a child behind not just in skill but in content. For some children this is no problem, they quickly make up for lost time. For others it puts them at a disadvantage that it is very difficult to catch up on.

    Content builds on content quickly past third grade – or at least, it should (it doesn’t necessarily in a Waldorf school). The conventional wisdom is grades 1-3 are for learning to read; after grade 4 the child should be reading to learn. Skill building comes first for a reason. Only with solid skills in place can the child move effortlessly to learning from his/her reading. A child who is still struggling to read, can’t learn from reading. This is another reason the transition from Waldorf to another school can be so difficult.

  4. Oftentimes I have read that Waldorf views early reading as detrimental to children for many reasons one of witch is that the child will tire with reading if taught early.
    I have witnessed the exact opposite, that is that children who want to read earlier become proficient and confident readers AND learners throughout the school years.
    Conversely I have experienced late readers who never seem to ‘catch up’ and suffer from a lack of confidence in how to decode/read.
    Confidence is key in learning to reading.
    Withholding learning how to read from children who want to learn is just plain cruel.
    I have witnessed tensional outlets that manifest in children who are bored.

  5. Margaret — yes I do think some kids reading comprehension is compromised. Children who have difficulties in this area don’t get the training they need. It may not make a huge difference to kids who learn to read prior to starting school or who learn it, in waldorf eyes, prematurely by themselves. Reading proficiency would depend on the child reading — and if the child reads for pleasure, that’s still reading and helps the fluency in reading. I guess such a child would not be hit so badly by the late reading in waldorf. Such a child compensates for the deficits in reading and writing education in school.

    But children who don’t learn to read on their own and who don’t read for fun — when are they going to get the practice they need? I don’t know. The may start to read poorly in third or fourth grade and they continue to read (and write) poorly.

    I can’t imagine they don’t suffer from this lack of proficiency when it comes to other scholl subjects as well. Of course waldorf doesn’t require them to read in books; they copy from the blackboard. And this continues until the children are old. I left after 6th grade and we had never had printed school books then as far as I can remember. There was one fairytale book but we didn’t read it. Or perhaps it was so ridiculously easy at the age we were when it was introduced that I can’t remember reading it. It was stuff for small children. 1st grade or so. But we were much older. Perhaps in 4th.

  6. Ah. Diana already wrote a brilliant answer to Margaret’s question. Children in waldorf often need to continue to learn to read well past fourth grade, thus they can’t really use reading to learn. Not that waldorf expects them to. What I learned, I learned on my own. And I could read before starting 1st grade an never had to struggle with it. This said, I feel so many years were wasted doing and learning nothing useful.

  7. Margaret — I agree completely with your latest comment.

    Waldorf proponents often make a case that in mainstream education children are forced into reading before they’re ready. I think they don’t realize that most educators probably understand such an approach would be counterproductive, in particular with young children. Of course you’d have to be sensitive to a child’s level of maturity. On the other hand, reluctance to learn reading and writing might be an indication that the child has issues that are better dealt with sooner rather than later — in an appropriate way preferably. One that encourages the child and helps the child both with attainkng these skills but also with self-esteem. Falling behind would be the worst thing for self-esteem — but how, in a school which delays reading and writing, will you detect a child who has more difficulties than ‘normal’? Before it’s already to late to provide efficient help?

  8. Yes ~ and so it seems that in telling parents that most children in traditional learning environments are taught reading too early and become tired of it is actually one more example of false advertising for their restrictive stance on reading. I really think that the main reason reading is withheld has more to do with the the Anthroposophical philosophy although they never seem to ‘come clean’ on this ~ do they?
    I have worked with children as young as 3 or 4 who have obvious dyslexia issues. This can present in young children in many different ways. Only with ‘proper training’ could an adult actually recognize this in a young child. Here is where appropriate education beyond Waldorf teacher training is required!
    I cannot imagine the struggle involved if this same child was not helped until age 10.

  9. It’s a bizarre argument. Kids who like reading don’t become tired of it. And kids who don’t like it probably need practice the most. I would guess that people who are poor readers do find it boring — reading too slowly, e g, must be tedious. But how do you tire of reading? If there were only one book on the world, sure… But if one book is boring or bad, there’s plenty to choose from.

    The argument is even more ludicrous coming from people who force children to paint the same damn wet-on-wet painting year in year out. Watery colour blobs aren’t boring?!? Oh yes they are… And eurythmy. It bores most kids to despair. It doesn’t evolve you can’t do something like pick another book. Most kids don’t voluntarily continue with eurythmy. Most people who are avid readers as children continue to read as adults. If waldorfs are worried about what forcing a certain kind of activity on children — why do they do this when it comes to activities waldorfs favour? Because, in a way, they’re right: they bore children crazy with these paintings, the eurythmy and the darn flute play and singy-songy blah blah. And, I assume, many children never go near any of these things again once they aren’t forced to. None of these activities are necessary to life in the 21st century; reading, writing and basic knowledge — at the least — in other areas is absolutely necessary. Or you’ll be profoundly incapable of taking part in society.

  10. Thetis wrote:
    What terrible poetry! What does this say about the talent in the school? ‘I have wrote the following poem’. Indeed you have – it is your crowning glory, you can do no better – it’s time to retire. Quit while you’re ahead.


    Looks like you all fell for a cute AWSNA troll. There is no such school as the “Sunshine Waldorf School” except as a fictitious name that AWSNA uses in their templates of sample generic forms for Waldorf school office personnel to fill out. They have Suzi Queue as the chair of the college of teachers. Now that’s poetry!

    As for who composed the song lyrics, I don’t know, but somebody had some fun — and even a good sense of satire, writing imaginative generic lyrics for an imaginary generic Waldorf school.

    I posted on WC about it.

  11. Agreed! The poetry is terrible. But what is not clear is its connection to Waldorf, other than the use of the imaginary “Sunshine Waldorf School.” So I took a look at the author’s profile.

    She claims to be a Mom in Ohio with a degree in agriculture and Special Education. I see nothing else there to connect her to Waldorf in any way. Indeed, 2 days later, she wrote another terrible poem about another school called Bellwether School, which is not Waldorf at all, as far as I can see. But she uses the same generic intro as she did for the SWS. Curiouser and curiouser!

    What this calls for is a comment on her blog to let her know that she has been entangled in the Waldorf Critics web and then invite her to ‘splain herself. She could become a new Alice in Waldorfland.

  12. I just posted this comment on her blog

    Greetings Ag-78!

    I am curious about your connection to the Waldorf Education movement because your poem here about the Sunshine Waldorf School has caught the attention of a few people involved with Waldorf criticism and critical evaluations of Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy which is the foundation of Waldorf. Here is a link to start you off.


    What’s curious about your poem is your using the name “Sunshine Waldorf School” because such a school does not exist except as a generic imaginary name given by AWSNA, the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, which is the national umbrella organization for the independent Waldorf Schools in Canada, US and Mexico.

    With your degree in Agriculture, I wonder what you know about Rudolf Steiner’s Bio-Dynamic agriculture, and with your degree in Special Ed, what you know about the anthroposophical Camphill curative home system in both North America and in the UK.

    Hollywood Tomfortas

  13. No response yet. When you google “Sunshine Waldorf School,” you get its usage in the generic forms that AWSNA has available for download. There is no physical address given. And it’s clear that by 2011, if there were an actual school with that name it would have a website with a real geographical address. But it doesn’t. Then you get this Ohio Mom’s site and now your blog post along with the WC Yahoo posting.

    However, the source for the Ohio mom may come from this link
    because both the Sunshine WS and the Belwether school are mentioned in this book that was published in 2003. The 3rd school is called SAU = The School Around Us. Quite clever, and maybe it was this book that inspired the Ohio Mom’s poetry.

  14. Aaah. I’ve missed lots of posts.

    Edit: I guess the thread is dead, but I commented anyway. Copy here:

    Did AWSNA create this waldorf troll school? If so, great idea (stupid or genial, I have no idea) and totally appropriate (for them). Maybe the anthroposophy trolls teach in this imaginary institution?

    The joke would be more obvious if there weren’t waldorf teachers who write atrociously and who hold completely bonkers convictions.

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