Thursday, April 05, 2007

Make Mine a Waldorf...(hold the Stadler)

Okay, for any of you Muppet Show fans, you'll get that joke. But the request is a serious one. I have been woefully absent from my writing of late because I have been researching the best educational route for my youngest child. She is a scathingly bright little girl with an imagination the size of the cosmos...which doesn't cut it in the traditional public school setting. She is only in kindergarten, but it is painfully clear that if we leave the nurturing of her tender mind to the current administration, she will die--well, at least her spirit and love of learning will.

Since when was kindergarten all about academics?! They are 5 and 6 years old! It's about self-discovery, learning how to learn, learning how to play, learning how to eat paste. All I hear is, "She refused to take her test today. They have another one tomorrow. No, they did not get recess today because they didn't finish their worksheets." What has happened?! Okay, I won't even get started on NCLB, and I swear I haven't given up on public education--yet. We have some truly gifted teachers out there, and my son has been lucky enough to have 2 in his 4-year career. But we have become so bent on fitting all our pegs into that flippin' round hole that we have lost sight of the wonder of those little square pegs and triangular pegs and oval pegs and hexagonal pegs and...

My daughter is a peg of a whole new shape, but they are hammering out all they beautiful corners and curves to cram her into their hole so they can claim success and get their accredidation and federal funding. My son will do well no matter where he is, but my daughter needs more. our investigations, we discovered the Waldorf school only 20 minutes from our house. If you are not familiar with the approach, check out these sites: The Susquehanna Waldorf School
and The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America

It's magnificent and exactly what our girl needs. Artistic and holistic and nurturing. But it is also a lovely fit for our son. The tuition, however, is not such a lovely fit for our budget. So, I have decided to go back to teaching full time, if they will have me, and I have applied at the school where my children would attend. It's very daunting and not a job for slackers or the faint of heart. Teaching is always hard work, but this will be a whole new world for me. But it means a whole new, and better, world for my kids, too. I'm both excited and terrified to do this, terrified that I won't be good enough. I've seen the kids at this school, and they are truly thriving. Strong, articulate, interesting, self-possessed young people.

So, for the last few weeks, I have been updating my resume, writing a biography of myself (blak!), tracking down references, and reading anything I can find on Steiner's philosophy and the structure of the Waldorf program. No writing, very little reading, struggling to keep up with the class I am teaching, not to mention a maddening lack of sleep, but hoping to lay a lifechanging path for my kids.

My writing may have to take a back-back seat again, but it will find its way to the surface eventually. Wish me luck!

Now...Stadler, tell us a good joke!


  1. Well, good luck. That is quite a big change for you. Before you mentioned your solution of Waldorf, I was going to suggest you look into Montessori. That is an amazing program that my kids did for preschool. If we could have afforded to continue with the higher grades, I would have done it in a heart-beat.

    But Waldorf has a good rep too, although I've heard a few negative things. Those are only the small stuff, though, like restrictions on the clothes the kids get to wear, something that many parents prefer, something that others object to... like I said, the little stuff.

    I hope you get the job. It would be an amazing experience. Good luck.

  2. Thanks, Linda. One thing we noticed when we were there, the little girls look like little girls, not Madonna wannabes. They all dress in normal clothing, just nothing sexy or otherwise inappropriate. And the teachers are pretty casual, too.

    My son loves the idea of making his own text book. It is truly experiential learning, and just the thing my kids need.

    I'll keep you posted.

  3. Wow~ lots to think about! You're a good mom for being aware of what your kids need. Best wishes with everything, Mary Anne. Keep us updated!

  4. Hope you don't mind me chiming in here but I do want to wish you good luck, Mary Ann, and to say hang in there. I'm sure you'll find a good educational program for your daughter. I don't know much about Waldorf but if you've researched it and liked what you've seen, then it sounds like a good fit.

    My youngest sounds a lot like your daughter -- bright and imaginative and didn't quite fit in with their plan.

    I really wished we had the opportunity to send him to a private school but at the time we didn't have the money (I was a stay at home mom for a while) and there weren't many alternatives out here outside of Catholic schools. Neither one of us wanted to submit him to that as we'd heard horror stories about Catholic school.

    Anyhow, hope you get the teaching job and will still find time to squeeze in some writing.

    Happy Easter!

  5. Thanks, Stella! The money is the tough part. Whether I get the job at the school or not, I am determined at least to get my daughter there. So, I will probably teach more classes at the college if it comes to that. As long as they have more openings!
    Thanks for all your well wishes, everyone.

    Happy Easter!

  6. Please let us know how it all works out. So many changes! I have a lot of respect for parents willing to bend their lives to accomodate the needs of their children. Doesn't happen often enough. Let us know.


  7. Hi, me again, stopping back :)
    btw, I live in Lititz. It is so awesome to see a mom that realizes what type of children she has and is willing to work to give them the best. I taught for 4 years in Lanc. City SD before having children - I thought for sure my children would go to public school (both my hubby and I went to MCSD). But after teaching, and seeing how much time is put into teaching to the tests, I got frustrated. There were several other factors too, but I even shocked myself when I first started thinking about homeschool, but for our first year (just preschool, so really nothing heavy)it has worked well. My oldest will turn 5 in June so we'll start kdg at home in fall. I'm not suggesting this for your family - I just wanted to share our experience (what little we have anyway). :)
    Good luck and best wishes with the job opportunity!
    Leigh Ann

  8. Thanks so much Leigh Ann! I really admire you and dawnelle for homeschooling.

    BTW, I'm in Lititz all the time. I always shop at the Giant. I desperately miss our beloved book store there. Email me if you would like to get together some time:

  9. I tried to email last week, not sure if you got it. You should be able to reply directly to my comments. Wanna go shopping with me since my recent weight loss? :)


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