Sunday, March 06, 2016

If the shoe fits


As Tom mentions on his blog, it used to be that a business with a website was exceptional. Now every enterprise has one and it's hard not to judge the business by the look of its website. I'm especially attuned to this when it comes to schools as we've been in the private school world for decades and are always interested in what jobs might be out there. Lately I've been looking at Waldorf school websites because I'm trying to convince my oldest daughter that this might be a good fit for my middle granddaughter. The website of their local Waldorf school is not very well designed, so the school does not look particularly enticing. I've been sending her links to schools around the country to give her a more favorable impression of this pedagogy which she knows very little about.

Reading about the Waldorf movement on Wikipedia is not the best way to learn about the actual school experience. It's easy to be put off by the spiritual talk and for two parents who are engineers it must sound pretty wifty. Anyway, they are probably not going to even visit private schools even though they agree with me that some kids are cut out for traditional school and others, like this daughter, aren't.

I once heard someone say that schools are like shoes. Sometimes a pair of shoes fits perfectly and you can wear them all day. Other shoes do not fit well, and they pinch or rub your feet whenever you wear them. Some kids are just made for school. It's a perfect fit. They are good at doing school. For some though, school just doesn't fit no matter what they do. There are lots of different kinds of shoes, but not many different kinds of schools.

10 comments:

  1. I sent my daughter to the Waldorf Astoria, and I haven't seen her since.

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    1. It's what we do in the University of Life that matters.

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    2. Of course it is, but try telling that to an overachieving mother of a free-spirited 8-year old!

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    3. Tom, I thought I had replied to your comment, but it is nowhere to be found. I suggested that maybe her disappearance had something to do with bedbugs, for which the hotel is infamous.

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  2. My friend has 4 daughters, and all went to Waldorf and after that studied successfully medicine, law and veterinary medicine. (The youngest is still in communication design).
    Having said this, I want to add that I deeply plunged into R. Steiner's eclectic philosophy - and I mean reading - and visited for half a year the "evening for mothers" - fathers didn't need to come -- and was -- well, let's put it politely - surprised...
    When I learned that our son, a complete left-hander, was born left-handed as a punishment for his former excessive life (karma?) - that was it. Though I have to add, that they will force them to use the right hand "if they love their mother dearly".
    But: it depends - as everywhere - which teachers you get. In Hildesheim it was a 100% old-fashioned school. In England I saw that they developed a lot further. Some teachers are really lovely. I found out that what Waldorf does, often was quite good - the explanations were weird.
    PS: You know why they all have outside those little knitware caps on? "To gather their thoughts under it" - that is a family saying now, when husband as a typical professor is absentminded, we say "You should put on your cap" :-)

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Britta. There is a lot of weirdness in the Waldorf approach. As you so rightly point out, different schools adhere more or less rigidly to Steiner's philosophy. I'm guessing the American ones are less old-fashioned, but who knows? We certainly see a wide range in adherence to the methods of Maria Montessori, who originally worked with disabled and inner city children.
      I would have run a thousand miles had they told my son's left-handedness was karmic punishment! It's

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  3. If I had had children I would have sent them to Summerhill School near here. If I could not send them there I would have home educated them. If that had not been an option I would have sent them to the toughest inner city school to build character.

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    1. Summerhill and an inner city school couldn't be more different. Much as I love my children, I never ever considered home schooling. Quite simply I would have gone crazy if I had had to spend all my time with them.

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  4. I have just realised that what you are calling Waldorf is what I know as the Steiner. Steiner schools are the place to go in the UK, well away from the state system. I very much approve of Steiner education.

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  5. Yes! I'm glad to hear you think well of the Steiner schools. Sadly, so many private schools are just posh versions of the state schools.

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