The Well Trained Mind and Waldorf
What on earth have they in common? WTM teaches academics to kindergarteners, does not teach via art, does not teach via the body, does not explicitly work from a spiritual perspective, has a totally different view of the developing child and human being…. Its methodology is organized according to beliefs about the different stages a child goes through – but these stages and the implications of them are as different from those in Waldorf as one could get! In Waldorf the curriculum is crafted according to developmental changes in the child – why Old Testament stories are given in third grade, why physics in 6th, why Parzival in 11th arise out of what is happening on a physical, soul, and intellectual level in the child.
I’ll give some examples – Page 67 (WTM) “Remember, you want the child to read quickly, easily, early. Many children are ready to learn long before they have the muscular coordination to write. Why delay reading until the muscles of the hand and eye catch up?” Why indeed.
Page 79 “Spelling is the first step in writing. Before you can put a word on paper, you have to know what letters to use”. Diametrically opposite to the Waldorf approach which is not merely “whole word” (mainly) in orientation – but whole sense of the sentence, paragraph etc.
Page 85 “try to give the child simplified versions of the original literature that he’ll be reading in the higher grades…” In Waldorf one would never water down literature – either you read it to the child in confidence that the power of what you are reading will speak on some level to the child or you wait until s/he is capable on his own to read the work.
Page 235 “A classical approach first explains the properties of brick, wood,concrete, plaster, steel; then teaches the prospective builder to read a plan; and only then sets him on the task of house building”. Classical goes from part to whole – it is absolutely intrinsic to Waldorf that one goes from whole to part.
I could go on…. and I have no wish to embarrass anyone or poo-poo anyone’s choices – but let’s be really clear. Classical and Waldorf go together like oil and water! Which doesn’t mean one can’t take from wherever one wants when creating one’s own homeschool. But let’s be really clear on the foundational basics of the methods of education being discussed – they are about as far apart as one could get! Their very orientation, their very ideas as what a child is and how he learns and what and how he should learn are poles apart.
Posted on October 10, 2006 in General Homeschooling