Defending Oak Meadow
Likewise, OM, although founded by Waldorf teachers – and so having a few small things in common with Waldorf – is not, at essence, Waldorf. And despite some people’s reluctance to define Waldorf out of fear of perhaps sounding dogmatic, it is entirely possible to say "what is Waldorf"! One can easily identify things about Waldorf pedagogy which are clearly discernible and which do not feature in Oak Meadow.
Again – this does not mean that by using OM someone forever loses any karmic Waldorf cred they might have ever had or might ever earn in future!! I , for one, have used all sorts of things – and adapted them as I see fit. One could imagine a model Waldorf homeschooler (you all do realize I’m being playful here I hope!!) who uses no Waldorf curric of any shape or kind! She might be able, out of her own relationship to anthroposophy and to Waldorf to be able to create a wonderful Waldorf homeschool for her children! So it’s not the materials themselves, necessarily, which determine whether one is really working deeply – or at all – with Waldorf. In all my publications I repeatedly stress where I think things from Waldorf might or might not be easily adapted at home and give suggestions for how one might do that. And I often suggest materials that are not Waldorf in the slightest. Further, I also list OM as a possible resource for people to use so that they can truly create the homeschool they want.
So for me, this is not a matter of purity – it is a matter of clarity. For instance: OM use form drawing, but do not put it into a proper context (which could only be done with a clear explanation of Waldorf pedagogy). One is therefore left with a very shallow and misleading relationship to this therapeutic art. Again, in the kindergarten book there is a paragraph where Steiner is actually mentioned – but misleadingly so, leaving one with the impression that he advocated teaching letters in kindergarten!So there are these fragments of Waldorf – but no summary of their relationship to Waldorf is printed in the books or in their catalogue so parents who are looking for Waldorf buy OM thinking they have found it. This is what I have a problem with. If parents buy and use OM because they like it, because it’s right for them – and know that it’s not Waldorf but that’s fine with them – then that’s wonderful!
So for me the point is not "Is OM a holistic curric?" or not – it clearly, in its own way, is. And that’s fine. But it has this unclear relationship to Waldorf which is not explained – and although one might be able to find articles like the one posted on their web site which give something of their background, there is no clarity about this either in their catalog or in the books themselves – or at least not the many volumes from the grades which I have looked at. And for me the problem is that parents are left thinking that OM is a Waldorf curriculum when it is clearly not.