Steiner schools

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    Ok, I was reading the thread about 90's childhood and the bit that said kids don't use their imagination and i totally have to agree. My mum is a teacher in a mainstream school and they spend so much money on toy this and toy that but in a steiner school that i have been visiting they have very few actual toys, they are happy with an sheet of fabric and few boxes. It is amazing to watch these 21st century kids who you'd expect to want all the latest gadgets and slutty dolls, playing the way we used to with baby dolls and using their imaginations. Steiner school doesn't have any tv and the parents are encouraged to not let children watch tv at home, but of course that is not monitered. I just wanted to know has anyone else on here visited or been to a steiner school and what are your veiws on steiner schools?
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    i know some kids at a steiner school and i really agree with the education method - these kids are alllowed to have a childhood rather than taking SATs and learning to read too quickly

    like, class one plants the wheat (and learns about how plants grow, and maths as they plant it)
    class 2 digs up the wheat
    class 3 shells it
    class 4 grinds it up
    class 5 makes bread with it
    class 6 makes jam for the bread, and serves it to class 1

    BUT i don;t agree with all the strict rules on TV and computers and video games. the kids i know are allowed all these things but when the parents of other kids come round they try to hide it! some of the parents are so strict that their kids wouldn;t be able to come round and play anymore if they knew about all the technology!
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    The Steinerites I know are a cool bunch. They're more laid back but also more able in some ways. They're fun too.

    What's the difference between Steiner and Montesori?
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    I don't know the exact difference between Steiner and Montesory but the teachers can't stress enough that Steiner and Montesory are not similar at all.
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    According to our good friend wikipedia:

    (put under a spoiler for length - don't worry, it's not the whole article!) Steiner/Waldorf schools
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    Pre-school and kindergarten: birth to age 6 or 7

    Waldorf schools emphasize the belief that children in the early stages of life learn through imitation and example. In Waldorf schools, oral language development is addressed through circle games (songs, poems and games in movement), daily story time (normally recited from memory) and a range of other activities. Substantial time is given for children to freely play; such an environment is considered to support the physical, emotional and intellectual growth of the child through assimilative learning. Colour, the use of natural materials, and toys and dolls that encourage the imagination are "intrinsic to the uncluttered, warm and homelike, aesthetically pleasing Waldorf environments."

    Waldorf early childhood education emphasizes the importance of children experiencing the rhythms of the year and seasons, including seasonal festivals drawn from a variety of traditions. Waldorf classrooms around the world traditionally celebrate Michaelmas in the autumn, Christmas and Martinmas in winter, Easter and May Day (complete with Maypole and ribbons) in the spring, and St. John's Day in summer.

    Many Waldorf kindergartens and lower grades ask or require that children be sheltered from media and popular cultural influences, including television and recorded music.

    Elementary education: age 6 or 7 to puberty

    In Waldorf schools, elementary education generally begins when the child is nearing or already seven years of age. The elementary school curriculum includes two foreign languages - begun at age 6/7 - as well as a multi-disciplined arts based curriculum which includes drawing, drama, artistic movement, and both vocal and instrumental music.

    Throughout these years, an imaginative approach is encouraged; new material is introduced through stories and images, academic instruction is integrated with the visual and plastic arts, music and movement, and the children create their own "textbooks", known as "main lesson books". "This notion, that imagination is the heart of learning, animates the entire arc of Waldorf teaching."

    The school day generally starts with a one-and-a-half to two hour "Main Lesson", that explores a single academic subject over the course of about a month's time and generally includes recitations of poetry, including a verse written by Steiner for the start of a school day.

    The Role of the Main Lesson Teacher

    An objective of Waldorf schools is to have a single teacher accompany a class throughout the elementary school years, an approach which has become known as "looping." This teacher, usually referred to as the "main lesson" teacher, is responsible for teaching the principal academic lessons to a class. The main lesson teacher may also have responsibilities for some of the artistic and practical lessons; however, specialist teachers generally teach the latter. There is an emphasis on the "artistry, autonomy and authority of the individual teacher".

    There is evidence to support that the continuity afforded by "looping" fosters learning in students. Other evidence indicates substantial downsides to looping, in that:

    * it restricts the ability of teacher to perfect a lesson through repetition;
    * conflict or tension between students and teachers is not always resolved and can endure from year to year;
    * lapses in an instructor's teachings are not necessarily corrected later on by a different instructor.

    Since the Main Lesson teacher defines the character of the individual class, each class carries with it its own unique and observable strengths and weaknesses throughout the grades.

    Secondary education

    In most Waldorf schools, pupils enter secondary education when they are about fourteen years old. The education is now wholly carried out by specialist teachers. Though the education now focuses much more strongly on academic subjects, students normally continue to take courses in art, music, and crafts. The curriculum "focuses on helping the student develop a sense of competence, responsibility and purpose"; ethical principles and social responsibility are cultivated

    While the elementary education focuses the child's experience on the teacher as an authority, pupils are now encouraged to begin a more independent development of "vital and creative" thinking.

    Four temperaments

    Waldorf teachers use the concept of "the four temperaments" to help interpret, understand and relate to the behaviour and personalities of children under their tutelage. Steiner's four temperaments are related to the four humours as postulated by the ancient Greek physician, Galen. These humours are choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic, and sanguine.

    These four temperaments are thought to express four basic personality types, each possessing its own fundamental way of regarding and interacting with the world. Therefore, Waldorf teachers may seat children of the same "temperament" or personality type in proximity in the classroom, to help "modulate excessive characteristics" of each type.

    Focus on the non-competitive environment

    Another fundamental tenet of Waldorf pedagogy is the pursuit of the non-competitive environment. Children are allowed to learn at their own pace, based upon the belief that a child will grasp a concept or achieve a skill when he or she is ready. This approach also extends to physical education, where competitive sports are introduced in upper grades.


    I think that on the surface it sounds OK - emphasis on creativity, letting children learn at their own pace, early teaching of foreign languages etc etc. However, I think that to an extent it sounds a bit too passive - a child will rarely just magically start reading, and yet they seem to expect that a child will start to read and add up when they're 'ready'. Something like this surely has to be at least kick-started, otherwise the danger is that they may end up behind other children of the same age. Plus, I think the idea of the four humours is outdated - I fail to see the point of taking Ancient Greek medicine as gospel. And human life is competitive - no system of education should attempt to deny this fact.

    Now, Montessori:
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    The Montessori method discourages traditional measurements of achievement (grades, tests) as negative competition that is damaging to the inner growth of children (and adults). Feedback and qualitative analysis of a child's performance does exist but is generally provided in the form of a list of skills, activities and critical points, and sometimes a narrative of the child's achievements, strengths and weaknesses, with emphasis on the improvement of those weaknesses....As an educational approach, the Montessori method's focus is on the individuality of each child in respect of their needs or talents, as opposed to the needs of the class as a whole. A goal is to help the child maintain their natural joy of learning.

    The Montessori method encourages independence and freedom with limits and responsibility. The youngest children are guided in "practical life" skills: domestic skills and manners. These skills are emphasized with the goal of increasing attention spans, hand-eye coordination, and tenacity. The Montessori Method states that satisfaction, contentment, and joy result from the child feeling like a full participant in daily activities. Montessori education carried through the elementary and high school years follows the child's emerging tendency for peer interactions and still emphasizes each student as guardian of his or her own intellectual development.
    ...
    A child doesn't work with an activity until the teacher or another student has demonstrated its proper use to him or her, and then s/he may use it as s/he wishes (limited only by his or her imagination or a danger to the material, himself or herself or others). Each activity leads directly to a new level of learning or concept. When a child "works," s/he is acquiring the basis for later concepts. Repetition of activities is considered an integral part of this learning process and children are allowed to repeat activities as often as they wish. A child's becoming tired of the repetition is thought to be a sign s/he is ready for the next level of learning.

    The child proceeds at his or her own pace from concrete objects and tactile experiences to abstract thinking, writing, reading, science, and mathematics. For example, in the language area, the child begins with the sandpaper letters (26 flat wooden panels, each with a single letter of the alphabet cut from sandpaper and affixed to it). The child's first lesson is to trace the shape of the letter with their fingers while saying the phonic sound of the letter. A next level activity might be the letter boxes (small containers each with a letter on the top, filled with objects that begin with that letter). Having mastered these, the child may move on to the word boxes (small containers each with a short three-letter word on the top, for example CAT, containing a small wooden cat and the letters C, A, T). One child might move through all three levels of lessons in a few weeks while another might take several months; although there is a prescribed sequence of activities there is no prescribed timetable. A Montessori teacher or instructor observes each child like a scientist, providing him with appropriate lessons as he is ready for them.

    Home schoolers may find both the philosophy and the materials useful since each child is treated as an individual and activities are self-contained, self-correcting, and expandable. Aspects of the Montessori Method can easily scale down to a homeschooling environment - save, of course, Montessori's requirement for large, mixed age groups of children.

    To me, the Montessori method sounds better in terms of constructive criticism and language learning without losing the emphasis on creativity. Critics have pointed out that Montessori schools don't assign homework - whether you see this as a good or bad thing, though, depends on your point of view. At the moment I can't see any glaring problems with Montessori education, but then again I'm no expert. I have been educated in neither of these systems, so it could be that I'm way off the mark.
    If I was to put my child into either of these systems it would likely be the Montessori one; and it would have to be right for the child. I wouldn't just put them into this system without thinking about it. It sounds like both systems might be good for early years teaching (age 3-5), but I'd be hesitant to leave a child in these systems beyond that.
    If I've got anything wrong here then someone please correct me
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    I'm not an expert on either kind of school, but I believe that true Montessori is a lot more structured than Steiner. In Montessori there's a lot of emphasis on an ordered, calm environment, where learning materials are easily accessible to children. Montessori places a lot of emphasis on children developing concentration, and it's actually a very structured environment, where the teacher acts as a guide to the child's learning through experience. I *think* that in Montessori there's a lot of emphasis on co-operation and social skills too. I don't know much about Steiner at all but I believe that it's a much more 'free' way of educating children.
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    Both sound rather slow and alternative.
    They would be good for brilliant children: they do well anywhere.
    And for those who are really struggling with issues in their lives.

    However, I think that a the vast majority of average and above average kids would be better served by a good public school.
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    is that actually a uk thing? cos i've never heard of it before :s:
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    It originated in Europe but there are plenty of schools in the UK like this.

    Seriously, you've never heard of them?! Wow.
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    There are lots of schools in the UK that call themselves Montessori and Steiner-Waldorf, but very few that actually are completely so. This is particularly true for Montessori - most 'Montessori' schools have just one or two Montessori trained teachers, and adopt some of the methods and equipment, but you couldn't call them 'true' Montessori schools. Both Montessori and Steiner and very 'teacher-intensive' methods, and require a lot of specialist equipment that is very expensive, so most places can't adopt the methods fully. There is a growing interest in these methods in home-schooling though.
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    (Original post by Paeony)
    There are lots of schools in the UK that call themselves Montessori and Steiner-Waldorf, but very few that actually are completely so. This is particularly true for Montessori - most 'Montessori' schools have just one or two Montessori trained teachers, and adopt some of the methods and equipment, but you couldn't call them 'true' Montessori schools. Both Montessori and Steiner and very 'teacher-intensive' methods, and require a lot of specialist equipment that is very expensive, so most places can't adopt the methods fully. There is a growing interest in these methods in home-schooling though.
    the only schools i know of are bog standard ones :p:
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    (Original post by xXMessedUpXx)
    the only schools i know of are bog standard ones :p:
    Lol These kinds of schools are usually private, although there is a primary school in Gorton, a really bad part of Manchester, that's recently adopted Montessori methods and had some really good results with it.
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    my aunt used to run a montessori nursery, so i went there

    it was fun... but i dont remember much else. and i'm certainly not disadvantaged now...
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    Having been helping out in a steiner school for two weeks now i am pretty sure i would send my child to a steiner school til the age of 11 i love the system and can see how it works and the older children are not behind in anyway for entering a state school.
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    totally agree....im in my last years at a steiner school and it's not hard to see the difference between A level students from a steiner school and those from a state school. state schools arent all bad but the tendency to spoon-feed students and desperate reliance on exam results does not exist in a steiner school.........you're taught to think for yourself and out of the box.
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    Ok I went to a Steiner School and I'm pretty torn on it.

    My one is the only state funded Steiner in the country - the Hereford Steiner Academy, although it was only state funded for the last year of my education there.

    I'll start with the positive side of Steiner Education. The young children are raised without pressures and enjoying their learning. They develop a good understanding and are generally well sheltered while also learning good creative skills. They are approcable and genrally kind and undestaning, although this is not always the case.

    That was just a summary, the negatives, I am afraid, far outweigh the positives though and becacme increasingly apparent the further up the school i went.

    For starters, I was taught German and French from the offing and when French was dropped due to a lack of teachers in class 8 (year 9) we took up Spanish. What do I have to show for these skills? I have HALF of an OCN. An OCN is basically a poor GCSE equivalent based on project work instead of exams. OCN is to GCSE kind of what Btec is to A-level except no one has heard of them. On top of this my language skills themselves are dreadful. Despite ten (yes TEN) years of learning German my friend who took it for 3 or so years at a state school is far more competent than me AND is qualified to take it at A level.

    Now, I do not mean to sound full of my self, but at a young age when I went to a state primary school (they start a year earlier than Steiner) for a year I was one of the best in my year and of enormous potential. One of the other people who was on a similar level to me is now headed for Oxford University, having taken German A level at school she was so good, and Spanish and French. Why such a difference in achievment between two so evenly matched? Education.

    By the way, we only did three GCSE's at school: the two Englishes and Maths.

    Secondly, the sciences. I was in love with science at primary school. When I went to Steiner, we didn't even do it. Our first foray into science was class 5 (year 6!!!) when we did some biology. This was gradually stepped up until we eventually completed...1/4 of an OCN in biology and chemistry with our slightly crazy Swedish science teacher. I have one friend who is attempting physics A level and is finding the work to catch up huge because we basically never even touched on it. There are two from my small class of 19 that are determined to become doctors. Problem? They are both getting C grades at Chemistry and Bilogy due to the lack of grounding in the subjects. One of them is incredibly hard working so it can hardly be put down to that!

    Sports. My school (although some are different) didn't allow football. While I was not particularly talented I was OBSESSED with it when I was little. Each morning they gave us time to write down thoughts and memories in a diary. Looking through mine the other day it is full of football scores, football discussion, etc. When I played I was at my utmost happiest and I was prepared, no matter what my academic potential, to work everyday to make it in football. All ambition was however, squashed ou of me and what is more, for a school that sells itself as making happier students, surely taking away something that makes so many of the students so much happier is plainly ridiculous.

    Our first and only taste of competetive sport came in class 9 (year 10) when we played in the basketball tournament of the county. We had never played in such a tournament and were nervous and up against the year above. They squeezed by us by 3 points and eventually our group came down to one game - us against the physical school who bullies. Now I was far from the best in the year at basket ball but I was, at the very least, competent and reasonably tall but I was dropped for this game so that a bunch of people who couldnt care less about it and were utterly hopeless at it. I watched from the sidelines as we were, once again, unfortunate to go down by 3 points. This one taste of competition had been taken away from me once again, but I was only grateful that those who were truly passionate about the sport were not dropped.

    The english teaching and the maths teaching was surprisingly competent. Having said that, most of the content of the language paper was taught to us in the week preceding the exam as the teacher (a crazy canadian woman who was allegedly very experienced but was known to storm out of them class crying if people talked in her desperately boring lessons) because she had spent most of our time in the two years she taught us reading poem after poem.

    In maths, we were taught abysmally actually, until the last year when we recieved state funding and suddenly we got a competent teacher. Yes he was Czech and some students struggled to understand his accent, but for the first time we had a teacher who I could find stimulating and who didn't, to use that old state school cliche, 'spoon feed' us work like the other teachers did!

    It has also been said that the school helps people in difficult circumstances. Well this, I'm afraid is also a myth. One of my friends was saved by the Steiner School. He came to the school depressed and with long hair shielding his face. He had been bullied at his old school for being stupid. In fact, while he is heavily dyspraxic and dyslexic he is one of the cleverest people I know. Apart from this, however, there are three cases while I was at school where people in similar situations came and went and the school was utterly at a loss of what to do. One boy, who i remember as being very odd and out of place was given totally insufficient and learning support and left, still a shell of what he should have been. The same guy sits next to me in geography A level classes and is as confident and intelligent as can be.

    The issue of bullying is also one which is kept mighty quiet by the school. A kid was in my class all through school and had anger problems. He was baited non stop and frequently got into fights after being bullied. There is also the normal school 'hierarchy system' with the cool kids dominating those below them and, as one of the ones who for many years was in the lower echelon I can tell you, making them feel dreadful.

    Art teaching is another thing which is massively over stated. You may be, as lots ofpeople are, that the Steiner School is an arts based school. This is not the case. After my ten years I can tell you, we did the same pictures year on year (brown leaves in autumn...green leaves in spring...oooh...always accmopanied by a poem) and yet were never told how to draw, simply that me must do it. In class 10, for the first time!!!, we had an actual art teacher, well, if you can call her that. She was an Australian woman who was good at art and had had kids at the school, whether she was qualififed or not I have no idea. I managed to learn nothing at all off her in my 9 or so months of lessons as, by this point I had grown so resentful of the school I did as little work as possible in lessons that I did not consider to be important to my sixth form education.

    The work we did was not marked with grades until class 7. When it was my work, I seem to remember, came to light as suddenly I had something to work towards! When I recieved my grade and comments back, however, I was to be dissappointed. What do you think let me down? My writing? My essays? My spelling and grammar? Certainly not. In fact my spelling and grammar, and that of several other students' was better than our main teacher at the time as she was dyslexic and an ex hippy who I do not doubt for a moment smoked an awful lot of drugs when she was younger. What actually got my work marked down was my minimalistic decorations. While others around me drew elaborate borders and colourful pictures, I felt that a coloured line and and black and white sketch would suffice. Yet this became an dongoing theme and, the more it happened the more resentful I became and the less effort I put in.

    I do believe that, if GCSE's were offered in foreign languages, sciences and other topics that we actually study, such as RE, the whole system would gain an element of focus. What was most frustrating was the whole lack of focus and lack of ambition. With a little bit more drive I am sure that I could have been a much better student than I am now and quite possibly an Oxbridge candidate as well!

    I could go on but I must admit, I am becoming rather frazzled with all this typing!!! I know this is seriously long but I just think people should be aware of a lot of the pit falls of Steiner. I think there is a serious danger that talent can be wasted as I believe it was in my case. I was naturally gifted at languages and sciences and an able athlete who was given such a tiny amount to aim for I felt like a dog trying to jump through a pin hole!

    Hope this is interesting to people and I am sorry but I simply cannot be bothered to read through it so beware the typos etc.
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    i aint gonna read that but u must be a hippy haha!
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    Oh and I didn't even mention that fact that no matter how many times I was told my lack of GCSE's would be irrelavent once I did my A level I am now struggling to find a top ranked uni that does not set too much store by GCSE's!
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    Sorry to hear your story austinwho (and yes I did read it all) :hugs:
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    I went to Steiner Kindergarten then to state Primary it was like going from heaven to he'll
 
 
 
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