Just read Rudolf Steiner's The Kingdom of Childhood: Introductory Talks on Waldorf Education. That is the last book I will ever read about Waldorf. I am too shocked and angry to rewrite this in an emotionally healthy way. Here is my angry review:
This is one of the most depressing books I have ever read. A personal thing. I really wanted to like Waldorf because one of my close friends is really into it. Instead, I think it is one of the greatest evils done to children in this day and age. Many Waldorf ideas have made it out into Standard American Parenting practices and are to blame for many of the problems in parenting today, not to mention the problem with kids, teens and adults who suffer from such major self-esteem problems.
But first, let's talk about what's good: I totally agree that how we relate to children (and with each other and with ourselves) should involve more awareness of our whole person and our emotional selves. Totally agree all people who work with children need to observe more. Totally agree children should learn things that apply to real life.Totally agree there should be shoemakers and papermakers at every school. Totally agree that only the most heroic people should work with children. Totally agree that one should put their relationship first, always first, with another person. Totally agree that teachers should be autonomous--well... there should be as great a variety in education opportunities as there are restaurants so some schools would have autonomous teachers and some would not. But there would be that option for parents to choose from.
And now what sucks a lot about Waldorf: Steiner gives lip service to authenticity but actually wants teachers to be inauthentic. He wants them to be actors. Actors who can manipulate children into feeling in certain "right" ways. Waldorf education uses song and dance to "get children to do, learn and be" but that is exactly what is wrong with every other form of education. Just because you are manipulating with song and dance does not make it any less a manipulation.
He gives lip service, like everyone else, to allowing children to be who they are, but then goes on to describe all the "lessons", all the things they will have to do with their day whether they want to or not. And if the child doesn't want to--the teacher isn't being enthusiastic/manipulative enough.
His ideas about age-appropraiteness of different learnings are laughable (if they weren't so depressing). "You must observe how, little by little, curiosity and longing for knowledge begin to show themselves....between 7 and 14. " ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Have you ever met a baby? I have never met even a newborn who wasn't working its ass off to understand the world. Not to mention the most curious people on the planet--toddlers.
And the worst of the worst, the reason I want to travel back in time and smack this man silly: "As yet the child has no reasoning powers and anyone who tries to appeal to the intellect of a child of seven is quite on the wrong lines. The child has fantasy, and this fantasy is what we must engage....It is important to speak of everything around the children--plants, animals and even stones--in a way that all these things talk to each other, that they act among themselves like human beings, that they tell each other things, that they love and hate each other..." LIE TO CHILDREN FOLKS! CONFUSE THEM ABOUT REALITY!! THAT'S HOW YOU WILL RAISE A CHILD WHO FEELS CONFIDENT IN HIS ABILITIES TO UNDERSTAND LIFE!!! THAT'S HOW YOU WILL RAISE A COMPETENT ADULT, SOMEONE WITH HIGH SELF-ESTEEM!! THAT'S HOW YOU HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CHILD... LIE TO THEM!!!!!!
Sorry. Wow. I feel so angry at this man. And all the innocent people who have not studied this subject as much as I have and go around destroying their children with good intentions.
Well, now at least I understand why Disney movies are the way they are.
The problem is that Steiner, like most people, have never met or studied real children. They only meet and study the messes parents create. Children who are 7 are confused about reality because their parents destroy their ability to understand reality when they were first trying to understand it--back when they were 2. Yes, they often revert to fantasy because they assume they are too stupid to understand reality. The fantasy world was a world created for children by the Victorians who didn't want their kids to know about real life. In the history of the world, in cultures all around the world, children are extremely competent and rational beings. Read The Lifeways of Hunter Gatherers or The Case Against Adolescence or The Secret of Childhood or Dear Parents: Caring for Infants With Respect or The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.
Children do not "demand" we turn everything into fantasy for them unless we first make them morons who think they are unfit to understand reality. Study history, Steiner. SMACK.
Read John Holt! We CREATE those children. Children don't want to be that. Children want to be competent at life. And that is exactly why we have had so many generations of insecure, miserable automatons who don't have the self-esteem in their own ability to understand reality so they just become sheep and do what they are told. NEVER lie to children. That is how you destroy your relationship with them and their self-esteem.
His ideas about not teaching kids to read until they are much older are retarded. Because they think letters are demonic? Really?! My two-year-old is obsessed with reading and can sound out almost the entire alphabet and not because I have ever asked him to but because he sees me reading and asks me about it. Reading and writing are not suited to humans until they are 11 or 12? How about whenever the kid wants? How about there are no rules and when the kid is interested, he IS suited.
"It is bad indeed to take notice of something that is negative." REALLY??? Yes, let us again deny reality to children. Let us teach them to disown all non-positive feelings so they turn to escapism whenever they feel something they are not supposed to ever feel.