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Ongoing debates about Waldorf Education

and homeschooling...

Needless to say there's a lot of debate and discussion about what is or isn't "Waldorf". Well, more discussion than debate. One of the things that most Waldorf Homeschooling Mama's (and Papa's) tend to forget is that Steiner never meant the curriculum to be set in stone. Its supposed to be (somewhat) fluid and reflect local culture. Its also supposed to come from the teacher.

Now take the debate about recorders. And this is a debate, not a discussion. Some people insist that the instrument taught in the lower grades be a very expensive wooden recorder (less than $100.00). A pentatonic recorder would be even better. Proponents give the impression that it would be a more "purer" Waldorf. Heaven forbid you can't afford the expensive instrument and need to substitute a cheap plastic one. I'll admit the $80.00 pentatonic recorder does sound better than the $2.00 one you can find at Michaels. But I found a really nice plastic recorder for $7.00 and sounds just as nice as my $80.00 one. Either way, a family shouldn't have to decide between paying the electric bill for a month and a musical instrument. The whole point of a "blowing instrument" (not recorder, Steiner didn't specifically call for a recorder) is to strengthen the lungs, to teach the child to get some control over the breath, and teach them to play music by ear.

Recently, a Waldorf Homeschooling Mama released a music curriculum based on the American Penny Whistle and American Folk Music. Some people can't stand it. Its not "right", but the ongoing discussion on this music course brought up some interesting points. First of all, we live in America. Why shouldn't we be playing American made/traditional instruments? And using traditional American Folk Music? The recorder was probably chosen by the first school because it was what was played locally. Second, if we are homeschooling...why shouldn't we bring in more Americana into the curriculum.  For example, Second Grade is the year of Aesops Fables, Jataka Tales, and Native American Folklore. Okay, so the American element is in the Native American tales, but what about adding American Tall Tales? In Third Grade, how about a Pioneer block instead of a Farming Block,  and adding American colonalization and Revolution to Fifth Grade in addition to Greece.

It intrigues me to the point that I dropped one of my original blocks (Trickster Tales) and changed it to American Tall Tales. We will study George Washington and the Cherry tree, Molly Pitcher, John Henry, and (probably) Johnny Appleseed. One of the Mama's had a good point. We need to make the curriculum our own.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
Waldorf Debates
I totally agree with you, as I am also adding American Tall Tales to our 2nd grade blocks! And I also use the penny whistle and we love it. The recorders we bought we falling apart and the tone was not good. I like some American Folk Music in my home, as you said this is where we live.

Would love to hear what others think on this subject.

Donna A
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 8th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
It very much is so...in fact one of the mottos in the teaching is "Whole to parts". Wish I could afford both tuition and the insanity of the commute. I can do one or the other...but not both.
Aug. 13th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
Speakin' of Waldorf, the Waldorf methods charter here is having a big "moving party" to get people to help them move from one school building to another. I wanna go, so I might. It's on the 14th. I've talked to
David about it. He's still pretty much against any charter school on principle. We'd have to do some kind of lottery thing. Luckily, it's moving to a bad neighborhood, so maybe that will scare off other parents.
Aug. 13th, 2010 03:37 am (UTC)
What's he got against Charter schools?
Aug. 13th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
Well, he seems to just basically be against turning your back on the "real" public schools. He thinks that parents, I dunno, are too picky or want every school to cater to their child, so they yank them out. He doesn't like that a lot of charter schools are run by businesses (I'm also a little iffy about that). He also says there's a difference in quality among charters (true for public, too!!), and that they're "exclusive" because not everyone can got to the charter of their choice (also true for public).

Actually, I get confused on his dislike. On one hand, he says that if you don't like our broken school system, you should stay and fight for change. On the other hand, he says parents are picky and want special schools and they just need to, I dunno, get with the mainstream program.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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