Waldorf: questions and answers from ece 205 participants

(Write your question, then follow it with the answer you have generated)

1. What happens when a child needs to move, and there is no Waldorf school available in their new area? Will they be equipped for a public school? (Johnson, Jelinski, Hamilton)
"Children who transfer out of a Waldorf school into a public school during the earlier grades probably have to upgrade their reading ability and to approach the science lessons differently. Science in a Waldorf school emphasizes the observation of natural phenomena rather than the formulation of abstract concepts and laws. On the other hand, Waldorf transferees are usually well prepared for social studies, practical and artistic activities, and mathematics. Children moving during the middle grades should experience no problems. In fact, in most cases, transferring students of this age-group find themselves ahead of their classmates. The departing Waldorf student is likely to take along into the new school as distinguishing individual strength, personal confidence, and love of learning". (http://www.tamarackwaldorf.org/faq.html#three)

2. How as a teacher can one ensure your meeting all the childs needs when they are all at such diverse levels in their education? (Brodner, Baker, Baade)
The teacher is able to observe the students progress over time because they do not just have one year with the children. As the teacher one must be very observant. "Becoming a teacher in a Steiner school is not for the faint-hearted, nor is it for a person who might be tempted by the prospect of an ordinary job, or an easy ride. On the other hand, if you are attracted by the idea and prospect of working in ways where individual initiative, creativity and commitment can be garnered into the working of a purposeful team dedicated to the care, learning and wellbeing of the whole child"

3. How is math incorporated into Waldorf's type of education?
The Waldorf education DVD mentionned very little about mathematics in this system. Upon further research, we learned that once the children turn 7 years old they enter the second stage where they begin to engage in the academic field of math. Fractions are introduced at age 9/10, decimal numbers and proportions at age 10/11, percentages and rates of interest at age 11/12, and allegbra at age 12/13. Further mathematics areas are pursued in Waldorf secondary education. The most important aspect of teaching math in the Waldorf system is where math begins, in the will of the child.
Math is taught in a number of different ways including through literature (stories, verses, etc.), movement (rhythm activities), and games (bean bag game where you practice patterns). (Waldorf School First Grade Curriculum) Waldorf schools teach the four math processess (plus, minus, multiply, and divide) through story, most commonly using four gnomes. An example of this can be seen here.
(B. Wagner, E. Toppings, S. Ramer, C. McLean)

4. Waldorf schools have had a great amount of success. Since this is the case are there any in Saskatchewan? No there are no Waldorf schools in Saskatchewan, however Canada does have several Waldorf schools. Most of these schools are found in British Columbia and Ontario. The total number of Canadian schools affiliated with Waldorf is 24, and these schools range from birth to grade 12. (Heinrichs, LeBlanc, MacGregor)

5. How do you meet the multitude of curriculum requirements within a grade one to eight classroom?(K. Oak, C. Oyka, J. Matheson)
My understanding of this article is that the same teacher is with the same group of students throughout their elementary school years, however; the group is approximately all at the same level of development. In this article it states the curriculum for grades (1-3) (4-5) and (6-8). I do not see how it would be possible to teach all these grades together at the same time with only one teacher. I think that the same group of students with approximately three years between the youngest and oldest progress through these grades together with some doing more challenging activites than others but all working on the same thing. If you would like to you can check out the website to see what you think they are stating regarding this question; http://www.ask.com/bar?q=how+to+teach+grade+one+to+eight+in+waldorf&page=1&qsrc=121&ab=1&title=Austin+Waldorf+School+-+Grade+School+1-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.austinwaldorf.org%2FGrade%2520School%25201-8

6. How do students coming from a Waldorf school adjust when going into post-secondary schooling where classes are set up to include mainly lectures, assignments and exams? (Bonick, Frick, Brubacher-Hines) According to the Toronto Waldorf School, "over 94% of North American Waldorf graduates are attending or attended post-secondary education. Professors report they can identify Waldorf grads in their classes by their clear thinking and interest in both context and the reasons for phenomena. Waldorf grads see behind the facts, seeking to understand the context and dynamic; they don’t focus on exam answers." (http://www.torontowaldorfschool.com/high_school/index.php)

7. How does the teacher evaluate the children as they progress into the higher grades? (Cody, Kirsten, Renae) In Waldorf schools the teacher is an observer who watches the students grow in all areas of their lives. They assess each student's development progress to help them further foster each student's developmental learning. The teacher's assessment of students is generally used to understand how each student is progressing and how the teacher can help build on where they are in their learning. "Even in the upper grades, most Waldorf schools hold off giving letter grades as long as possible. Teachers take a more holistic, formative, and interpersonal approach to assessment (ECE Text pg.326 by Roopnarine & Johnson).

8. Do the benefits of having the same teacher for multiple grade levels outweigh the benefits of having a new teacher each year? (Alison W., Jennette, Jerilee) "Between the ages of seven and fourteen, children learn best through acceptance and emulation of authority, just as in their earlier years they learned through imitation. In elementary school, particularly in the lower grades, the child is just beginning to expand his or her experience beyond home and family. The class becomes a type of "family" as well, with its own authority figure - the teacher - in a role analogous to parent. With this approach, the students and teachers come to know each other very well, and the teacher is able to find over the years the best ways of helping individual children in their schooling. The class teacher also becomes like an additional family member for most of the families in his/her class. It's worth noting that this approach was the norm in the days of the "little red schoolhouse"(http://www.waldorfanswers.org/WaldorfFAQ.htm#14). Although the students are comfortable in there classrooms and the teachers are able to foster each students specific needs in the classroom, the disadvantages of having the same students in a classroom for a number of years is that teachers need to be "extra sensitive to new students"; also, they feel a "heavy sense of responsibility for their students' progress and performance"; as well as "the separation period at the end of the cycle is difficult for both teachers and students" (http://library.adoption.com/articles/same-teacher-different-years-.html).

9.What would discipline look like in a Waldorf setting? (Braaten, Covey, Dales)
Waldorf teachers do not discipline the students the same as in a typical classroom. However, classroom discipline in this setting does occur. The discipline in a Waldorf classroom happens when correction in a child’s behaviour is needed. The teacher has to maintain the Waldorf reputation by only disciplining when it is needed. When the discipline action is required, the teacher must respect the child’s dignity.
Another form of discipline used in the Waldorf classroom setting is classroom responsibility and self-regulation. The children in the Waldorf classroom setting are taught to be self-sufficient. They are given adequate amount of opportunities to learn to be so with the care and supervision of teahcers. Waldorf teachers help their students to achieve self-sufficiency.

10. Why are many people who are educated in the Waldorf system so opposed to it? (McGillivray, Wagner, Slibinsky?)
I accessed the PLANS Website which stands for People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools. There is a lot of information to be found on this website, but the point most emphasized is the occultic/sectarian roots of this philosophy. Many of the articles on the site are not referenced, but there are links to other articles which are. Lots of food for throught here! I browsed quickly through a few other websites, such as a Wikipedia article, that presented both positives and negatives of this philosophy. Looking at it from the other side of the story, I found some quotes from Rudolf Steiner indicating that he never meant for anthroposophy to be taught to the students. Obviously, there is more to this educational system than meets the eye. A teacher should remember that each educational practice is grounded in its philosophy, and that some methods that seem innocuous may have deeper meaning worth investigating.

11.What is Anthroposophy and what is it in relation to Waldorf Education? (Todas, Meyer, Scherle)
Anthroposophy is a human oriented spiritual philosophy that reflects and speaks to the basic deep spiritual questions of humanity, to our basic artistic needs, to the need to relate to the world out of a scientific attitude of mind, and to the need to develop a relation to the world in complete freedom and based on completely individual judgments and decisions (www.waldorfanswers.org). It allows for the inner development of a person that aids in obtaining a spiritual experience. This spiritual philosophy is used in Waldorf education by recognizing the child as a whole being; body, mind and soul; and nurturing them all. This leads to helping children to view themselves as members of the whole human race. It also instills a sense of kinship in that everyone needs to work together to take care of mother earth. Waldorf education constantly strives to instill self discovery of one's place in the world and how one can relate to the world and its entirety.

12.) If the Waldorf ECE curriculum doesn't do standardized testing, then how do they asses their students? (Basler, Anderson, Dudragne)
First the teachers gather information about each student's development and how they learn from their parents. Through classroom observation, the teacher keep track of the student's growth. Once all the information is gathered teachers make an assessment data. Each teacher often has different strategies on fulfulling these assessments. An example from the textbook is that one teacher wrote a poem and drew a picture about each of her students at least once per year.

13.How are students affected as they move on into highschool or post-secondary education, as these institutions use much different methods than the ones they are used to? (Stocki, Pepper, Puszkar, Schmidt)
Teachers of the Waldorf style of teaching believe students who are prepared for the transition into a traditional school should face no difficulties in adapting to the different style of educating.
It is interesting to note that while the transition from highschool to post-secondary (or middle years to highschool) is thought to not pose much of a problem, younger children will most likely have more difficulty adjusting because of the greater gaps between reading and math levels. For example, traditional schools would have higher reading levels and Whaldorf schools would have higher math levels in the younger grades.
(wadorfanswers.org and whywaldorfworks.org: September 27, 2009)

14. How do you assign grades fairly or track process in such an independent environment? (Woiden, Rebecca, Schmelinsky)

Because the Waldorf environment is a very individualized one, the marking must also be individualized. Not everyone is graded on the same thing; rather the teacher closely monitors each student’s growth. The teacher does this monitoring visually as she tracks individual’s improvement. This takes away a lot of the “competition” in grades that we may see in public schools. The teacher will decide if an individual is ready developmentally to advance to the next stage of the program.
Grades in the Waldorf classroom are not nearly as important as individual growth and development of each student.
"Roots or Leaves?
Waldorf teachers are fond of characterizing their method of assessment by relating a story about a King and his trusted, though somewhat dull steward. One day the King, having to leave his palace and venture on a journey of several months' duration, asked his steward to look after his beloved rose garden. Unfamiliar with flowers and their care, the steward asked what his most essential task would be.
"Above all things," replied the King, "Be sure that the rosebush roots receive enough water."
Much to the King's great surprise, he returned some months later to a rose garden in which not one living plant remained.
"My instructions could not have been simpler!" he cried to the shamefaced steward, "What have you done?"
"Exactly as you commanded," was the steward's response. "Every day we pulled up the rosebushes to determine and examined their roots. If the roots were dry we watered them well and returned the plants to the soil."
As the King knew well, there are other ways to determine if the roots are receiving sufficient water! Wilting leaves, desiccated buds or withering flowers would all have been adequate indicators that water was needed. And, above all, using these indicators would eliminate the need to destroy the plant in order to understand it. Educators active in the Waldorf school movement are convinced that most contemporary methods of assessment of children in levels K through Eight take the "Pull Up The Roots" approach. With the zeal of the steward, they undermine the very abilities that they seek to evaluate.
The Waldorf method of evaluation might be characterized as the "Look At The Leaves" approach" (Retrieved September 30th, 2009 from http://knol.google.com/k/eugene-schwartz/discover-waldorf-education-assessing/110mw7eus832b/4#)

15. How is a Waldorf classroom different from a normal classroom? (Delorme, Burns, Diacon)
In the Waldorf classroom it is believed that elementary education should consist of experimental, imitative, and sensorary based learning. It also has an emphasis on practical activity. It is important to develop children's emotional life and artistic abilities through a variety of different activities. The curiculum includes music, drama, visual arts, and movement. They are often taught through stories and images.

16. Is it possible for a child who has attended a public school to transfer into a Waldorf school? (Jones, Krause, Lundquist)
Yes, it is very possible and recommended. The earlier a child has this opportunity, the better for the child. However, new children enter into the Waldorf schools at every grade level and can be fully integrated into the learning and life of the classroom and school community. Each school conducts interviews and evaluations with the child and parents to assess what is needed for a good transition in individual cases.

(http://www.waldorfschool.net/index.cfm?PID=13508&PIDLIST=13508: September 29, 2009)

17. If the Waldorf school does not use the "traditonal" means of assessment, how can they ensure they are assessing every child on a level playing field, especially since every child develops differently? (Amy McDonald, Alannah Vermeer, Mark Siemens)
Assessment techniques vary depending on the development and grade level, as well as what the teacher's goals are. Teachers have rough guidleines to follow, such as how a child walks in the early development stages, that they watch closely in their classroom rather than writing a grade on a report card. When reading about the Waldorf school, assessment seems very broad, but teachers know what they are looking for, and they look for the same thing in every child when they are at a certain developmental stage. Teachers have relatively small classrooms, so they are able to visually monitor rather than writing their assessments down. Also, many teachers will have the same children for years, allowing all the children to achieve the same level of education throughout the years. Before the teacher will allow the child to move on he/she ensures the child
understand what they are doing, and are competent in completing a numerous amount of tasks that will eventually increase in difficulty. (http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/03_NewsEvents/documents/AlternativeAssessment.pdf) Specifics on some forms of assessment in different developmental areas, such as emotional and gross motor, can also be found at the link provided above.

18. Is there any Waldorf schools in Canada? How does the grading system work? (Janna Mailhot, Joni Mailhot, Chelsea Holmes)
Yes, they are many found mainly in B.C. and Ontario. Complete list of Waldorf schools in Canada here. A grading system does exist, but it differs from other school although the school curriculum is met. The grading system aims to from a unity between students instead of singling them out. The Waldorf grading system tries to find a sense of individuality, self esteem and wholeness in the students. Observation is key to tracking the child's growth, and there is no grading or scale. [Information found in ECE text: Approaches to Early Childhood Education]

19. Is there any Waldorf Schools in Canada/ Saskatchewan/ Regina? (Skibinsky, McGillivary, Wagner)
There are no Waldorf schools in Regina or Saskatchewan. However there is a Waldorf school in Calgary, nine Waldorf schools in British Columbia, one in Nova Scotia, eleven in Ontario and two in Quebec. Waldorf education is one of the fastest growing independent school movements in the world. http://www.waldorf.ca/

20. In the textbook they talked about Waldorf schools being spiritually based, but it was not discussed on the DVD. Is it still a basis for the current Waldorf schools? (Burghardt, Davis,Bashforth)
Yes, the current Waldorf education is spiritually based. Waldorf teachers hold an anthroposophical worldview. This means that they believe that human relationships have a purpose and destiny. They believe that individuals are destined to come into their classrooms and both teacher and student learn important lesson from their interactions. If a student does not learn the Waldorf teachers believe that they may have to work out their issues in a reincarnated life. Waldorf teachers also have a desire to work out difficult relationships because they believe there is a cosmic reason for that individual to have come into their life. They see the relationship problem as a way to grow and learn more about themselves. The ideas of destiny and non-chance relationships provide the strong justification for respecting and enriching the interactions in their classrooms. Uhrmacher,P.B.(1997). Evaluating Change:Strategies for Borrowing From Alternative Education.Theory into Practice,36 (2),72-73. Retrieved September 29, 2009, from JSTOR database.

21. SInce Waldorf does not use standardized testing, how do the students get accepted into colleges and universities? (Amy, Broderick, Flaman)
Waldorf students will need to do college entrance exams in order to be accepted into a college. "Despite their sometimes controversial lessened exposure to standardized testing (such tests are generally absent in the elementary school years), U.S. Waldorf pupils' SAT scores have usually come above the national average, especially on verbal measures.[20] Studies comparing students' performance on college-entrance examinations in Germany found that as a group, Waldorf graduates passed the exam at double to triple the rate of students graduating from the state education system,[20][23] and that students who had attended Waldorf schools for their entire education passed at a much higher rate (40% vs. 26%) than those who only had part of their education at a Waldorf school." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education
There has not been a conclusive study on the success of Waldorf students, but many Waldorf students get accepted to and graduate from some of the most prestigious colleges in America.

22. How common is the Waldorf approach in North America? (Matheis, Manson, Mahlum)
Today, Waldorf schools are becoming more common. Recently, there are 100 schools in the United States and Canada with an additional 115 schools in the process of becoming Waldorf schools.

23. When a student that has been in the Waldorf school system and graduates from highschool are the requirements they need be accepted into a post secondary instituion the same? (Mann, Lam, Koli )
As far as higher education goes, Waldorf graduates have been accepted as students at, and have graduated from, some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the United States. [information found at http://www.waldorfanswers.org/WaldorfFAQ.htm#2]

24. How would an Waldorf school handle or adapt for children with learning differences, that may not be inclined educationally? (N. Gilmour, D. Desnoyers, S. Boychuk)
The Waldorf website had the answer it stated that they do not see children as either "slow" nor "gifted" but rather they look at the child as a whole (this is in part where the idea of teaching the "whole child" comes in). It states though a child may have weakness in one area, whether that be physically, mentally, or emotionally it is usually balanced out with an strength in another area. A teacher, parent, or tutor may give extra help or attention to the student in the area in which they are having difficulty in. On the other hand a child that excels in an area may be given harder questions, or be asked to help another student who may be struggling.

25. Do students stay with the same teacher?
Acording to the Waldorf webpage, the answer is yes. They view it as a teacher staying with the same group of children, know the strengths and weaknesses of the students therefore being in a better position to help them. The webpage quoted this as the reasoning. "Between the ages of seven and fourteen, children learn best through acceptance and emulation of authority, just as in their earlier years they learned through imitation. In elementary school, particularly in the lower grades, the child is just beginning to expand his or her experience beyond home and family. The class becomes a type of "family" as well, with its own authority figure - the teacher - in a role analogous to parent" http://www.waldorfanswers.org/WaldorfFAQ.htm
(Chris, Vanessa, Brittany)
26. How much does it cost to go to a Waldorf school(S.Hand, O.Holman, K.Koback)

We looked up various Waldorf schools and found the pricing to be very expensive. We saw as high as $16,000 a year. This is the Halton Waldorf school pricing.
Tuition for the 2009/2010 school year is:
$10,975 Grades 1 to 8 (sibling discounts for multiple children in the grades)
$ 9,200 Kindergarten/Nursery - 5-extended day
$5,975 Kindergarten/Nursery - 5 morning
$3,650 Kindergarten/Nursery - 3 morning
$192 - $336 Parent & Child (one morning/week, choice of Fall, Winter or Spring sessions)
Upon acceptance, an invoice for 10% (minus $100 application fee) of the tuition and an Enrollment Contract are submitted. The balance of tuition is to be paid in full, semi-annually or monthly payments. Families entering the school after September will be charged a prorated tuition. Payment (including post-dated cheques) is due with the Enrollment Contract to hold a place in the class.
Sibling Discount
Parents pay full tuition for the initial child. Discounts grow per sibling enrolled in the grades:
2nd Child the Grades $7,975
3rd Child in the Grades $6,200
4th Child in the Grades $2,750