bad hats

Steiner schools in The Daily Mash.

THE Waldorf-Steiner education method is responsible for a piece of headgear that offends all aesthetic sensibilities, it has been claimed.

I hope that hat is felted wool and not polyester fleece (see picture; I included it here first, but it was so ugly I had to remove it, lest it destroy the aesthetics of this blog). Because if it is (the latter, that is), they’re totally off with this joke.

23 thoughts on “bad hats

  1. Actually, hats are more important to waldorf thinking than one would first think… not just the design (which is important along with material) but the wearing of hats as such. I’ve seen some quite peculiar anthro-physiological-spiritual explanation as to why hat-wearing is important even if the child is not cold on the head. I wish I remember where and how to find it again. Someone else who remembers anything about hats?

  2. That is interesting. I don’t know what the kids wear nowdays at our local Waldorf, but in our day, that hat wouldn’t have been acceptable. Nothing so … interesting was allowed. It would have been considered astral, intellectualizing, un-reverent, damaging to the etheric body etc. Hats should be: woolen, solid, dull color (nothing bold or psychedelic), no pattern, or if you really must go wild and crazy, stripes might be okay as long as they were not big, bold stripes; perhaps a tiny flower would be okay. No images. No words. You could add a small pom-pom. Jester and clown hats became the rage a few years later and I’m certain they were not considered appropriate by Waldorf teachers (not “reverent”).

    And the trend for ANIMAL hats, oh my God, Steiner is turning over in his grave. Our teachers told parents explicitly no animal hats. (The whole man/animal thing … children should not be allowed to identify with animals, because we’re NOT animals, we’re, you know, the “crown of creation”).

  3. I had panda ear-muffs. But this was in school, which was more ‘liberal’ than kindergarten. In school, it became popular with these hats with huge pompoms, as well.

    But this

    ‘Hats should be: woolen, solid, dull color (nothing bold or psychedelic), no pattern, or if you really must go wild and crazy, stripes might be okay as long as they were not big, bold stripes; perhaps a tiny flower would be okay.’

    was the ideal. Woolen, solid, dull are the hats sold in anthro/waldorf shops. But many kids just had plain non-anthro/waldorf hats, I guess, since proper waldorf fashion is quite expensive.

    Apparently, the waldorf kindergarten teacher disapproved of my hat. I think I’ve said that before. I don’t know what kind of hat it was; something fancy and french, much nicer than the waldorf hats, presumably. But the hat on the picture would not have appealed either to my mother and proper waldorf folks, I would think. On the other hand, I think freaky hats like that barely existed when I was a child… things were simpler a few decades ago, more basic… in general. Is my feeling.

  4. Saw a girl the other week who had an entire dog head on her own head. I was quite impressed, I have to say. Wanted to ask her where she’d got it; thought perhaps mr Dog would look at me differently if I wore such a thing. I’d prefer a new foundland dog head since that would go very well with my fake fur.

  5. But, but, but … children DO identify and role-play being animals? And what about all fairy-tales with animal-human transformations, were they censored too? Were your teachers some kind of anthro fundamentalists or is similar ideas practiced elsewhere in Waldorf schools?

  6. Well, they select the appropriate fairy-tales pretty fastidiously, I suspect. But I’m not at all sure if this kind goes. Maybe Diana remembers if there were fairy-tales with human-animal transformations?

    I don’t think that, in general, children role-playing and identifying as animals is a huge problem; I don’t think they’re generally stopped from doing it. But I don’t know. I don’t think pretend play as animals was instigated or led by teachers, although I think there was a ‘game’ where you were supposed to play rocks. I e dead. But I have very strange memories of that one.

  7. Our lead kindy teacher, I suspect, was fairly fanatical on this topic – children must not play animal. It was heavily discouraged. I seem to recall that she kind of hassled the other kindy teachers about this (they were a bit more liberal). I’ve heard it from plenty of other kindergartens, though, so I don’t think it’s unusual.

    I’m trying to remember about the fairy tales. I am guessing animal-human transformations are acceptable when the moral of the story somehow reinforces human superiority.

    As for patterns on clothing, our teachers were nuts. Plaid was considered too stimulating for small children. Plaid!

  8. Also, it depends on the animal. At one point, our kindy teachers decreed that it was acceptable for children to pretend to be a few specific animals. Butterfly was one. The butterfly, of course, Steiner recommended as an image of reincarnation.

    Also, in fairness, children playing animal tends toward wildness much faster than human role playing. Certain boys would always be lions, which means roaring and chasing prey, etc. I can kind of see why butterfly is preferable :)

    Anyway sorry to hijack away from weird hats … I just have to say our Waldorf school was not guilty on this count! No weird hats. Only plain wool hats, preferably knitted by mama, or purchased in the school store (knit by other mamas).

  9. Could it (telling such stories) be a way of illustrating humans who lack higher I? Since animals, supposedly, do. I e, a slightly differnet use than that of reinforcing human superiority. (‘Human superiority?’ asks mr Dog, puzzled.)

    I wish I remembered more, but I didn’t play a lot. If people were stopped from certain kinds of play, it’s possible I wouldn’t know about it. But at least I don’t think it was a big deal.

    Butterflies, oh yes. Butterfly-like movements were even part of the program, I think. Organized butterfly-flapping around the room. Not sure how it was explained, but there were these movement exercises bordering on eurythmy. Certinly more butterfly than lion.

    ‘Only plain wool hats, preferably knitted by mama, or purchased in the school store (knit by other mamas).’

    These hats look truly weird to people used to very colourful hats, funny-shaped hats, hats with prints, hats made from polyester…!!

  10. At our local school some of the children would wear their mother’s badly knitted and fitted creations.

    Sorry to hijack the thread but staying on a loose theme of rhymes and bad (choices)…..

    The link below could explain why my kids struggled with maths!

    What is the point and could it be classed as bad maths or am I missing something?

    There’s also the morning verse as well as lessons on that channel.

  11. The very next question from Waldorf students should be… “How do we use this circle math in real life”. The ONLY correct answer is – “you don’t”.

  12. I can’t think of any reason to use it in real life, and I kind of wonder if it helps learning at all… I find it confusing. And I know the multiplication table already…

  13. As an adult I find the circle multiplication extremely confusing and useless, practically or theoretically. How children could use this to learn maths is beyond me. There was a time when such “out of the square boxes” activities could have been seen as bold experiments in making maths a more interesting subject. At least concerning swedish mainstream education, many critics agree that it has been too “mechanical”. But I feel waldorf has lost it’s window of opportunity here. “Thinking Math” is a very promising approach implemented in schools in the region where I live. Lessons learned from comparing e.g. Japanese and US ways of teaching math is another (I found that through a thread in swedish here). But of course such methods would involve dangerous amounts of exciting thinking in the early years …

    Thanks to Alicia and Diana for providing more details on the human-animal-story subject! I am a bit surprised and amused by my strong emotional reaction here, I can feel my werewolf blood boiling, checking the calendar for the next full moon ;-) People interfering with such healthy and “normal” activities as identifying with animals shouldn’t be paid for working with children. It indicates a dangerous lack of empathy.

    One of my fondest memories from my work as a psychologist is a canineodramatic play, staged in a home for children with emotional problems. One of the kids played a “shy dog”, anxiously hiding under the kitchen sink. I was instructed how to play her carer, and very slowly and patiently encourage her to leave her hiding-place and face the outside world. I can still hear her heartbreaking whimpers changing into bold and proud barking.

  14. ‘I am a bit surprised and amused by my strong emotional reaction here, I can feel my werewolf blood boiling, checking the calendar for the next full moon ;-)’

    Very canineosophically appropriate! Very!

    A lovely story about the canineodrama! Very clever, actually.

    I think that for me the circle would only add confusion, but Nick explained how it doesn’t have to, in the other threat (I made the video into a separate post).

  15. Here’s the most profound statement in the article – by a Waldorf pupil:

    “When everyone around you is wearing bad hats, it seems normal.”

    And there, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with Waldorf environments.

  16. It is actually. And it’s not about the hats; were it restricted to the hats, it would be relatively benign. But it applies to everything. You don’t know that what you see all around you, what you experience, what you learn, the attitudes you meet… are not ‘normal’, are not what you’d see/meet elsewhere.

  17. Of course, we haven’t even touched on the huger issue about HATS … the requirement to wear it even when you don’t need one. The most basic way of understanding this, I think, is that required headgear is a factor in a great many religions. But Waldorf teachers are well known for insisting that young children wear hats even in weather that very clearly to a sane person does not require a hat. One of our kindergarten teachers required children to wear hats out of doors IN ALL WEATHER EVERY SINGLE DAY without exception. (It can easily hit 90 degrees fahrenheit here in September or June …) This, of course, was quite comical. Obviously, the children took them off. We (teachers and aides) were required to chase around after them putting them back on.

    (Something to do with the spiritual importance of “warmth” in helping young children incarnate. They are always supposed to be warm.)

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