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August 6, 2005

PLANS - accurate? Responses and comments thereon (cont)

Continuing my exchange with Dan, he quoted me:

No creativity? At another school I know well, the eighth grade class spends their craft periods learning to design and sew clothing. At the end of the year they put on a fashion show. Every garment is different: different fabric, different choice of design, different items of clothing. Dresses, jackets, skirts, pants, shirts, blouses, everything from formal wear to swimwear. The parents and children at that school would be quite surprised to discover that creativity is supposedly discouraged at waldorf schools.

Dan's response:

Now DK has switched to eighth grade, where,
everybody knows, some creativity -is- allowed.

Our conversation had begun with this quote from PLANS web-site:

Parents should be told that although Waldorf bills itself as "arts-based"
education to attract holistically minded parents, creativity is actually
discouraged, and many of the "artistic" activities in Waldorf are more
accurately described as religious rituals, such as meditation on symbols
important in Anthroposophy. Children spend a lot of time copying the
teacher's work directly off the board. Fourth graders embroidering a purse
must all use the same pattern (often with esoteric symbols).

Dan's response is quite silly. "everybody knows" His preferred audience for the PLANS website is parents who are researching waldorf. Many of them don't know anything and are trying to find out a bit. Further, the bit I quote from the web-site says absolutely nothing about grade levels except to mention fourth graders. There is nothing in the quote to indicate that anything is different in the upper grades of a waldorf elementary school. Based on the material I was quoting, it was completely appropriate to mention 8th grade activities. In addition, any creativity manifested by an 8th grader in a waldorf school could be reasonably attributed to their previous educational experiences, right?

Carrying on with my discussion with Dan:
Dan wrote:

I agree, paranoia feeds on confirmatory evidence,
often trivial. But that doesn't mean any observed
pattern like the use of occultist symbols in
Waldorf student art isn't meaningful.

You have observed this pattern. I haven't. You offer no data to support your observations. I don't either. PLANS has spent 10 + years researching waldorf education. I find the total absence of any organized data from PLANS on any topic connected to waldorf rather telling. Asserting something doesn't prove it. Claiming that lots of people have "told" you stuff isn't all that impressive either.

Then I wrote:

After over 40 years of exposure to waldorf education I can’t think of a
single incident of children being asked to meditate in class or out of
class. Teachers do sometimes ask children to be quiet...perhaps this is
being misinterpreted by a creative member of PLANS?

Dan responded:

Deborah doesn't realize what the endless
wet-on-wet painting exercises were for.

Oh my. Please offer up a quotation from Steiner or from a waldorf teacher using the word meditation in connection with wet-on-wet painting exercises for children. Otherwise I'll continue to believe that the painting exercises are really painting exercises, involving color experiences and the mastery of painting techniques.

Dan ended:

Deborah is welcome to make her points in person, here.

First, there is no such thing as "in person" in cyberspace. I am as much here as I would be there and I like the fact that my comments "here" (and my e-mail address) will not end up, sans my permission, in the WC archive on the PLANS site. But thanks for the generous invite, I'm sure it is kindly meant and that you have nothing but good intentions towards me and my comments.

Later, or tomorrow, I'll tackle Walden's responses to my original post.


Posted by Deborah at August 6, 2005 1:15 PM


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