PSA, or, An endorsement no-one wanted

A Waldorf education is basically D&D camp.  There, I said it.

My initial impression was that the curriculum was designed to educate kids to become hippies (here’s the overview from my kid’s school) but now I realize they may actually be training DMs.

Here’s the literature & History curriculum by grade:

1 Folktales, fairy tales and nature stories to introduce letters and writing
2 Fables, legends of heroes, heroines and saints, native American stories
3 Biblical stories as introduction to ancient history
4 Norse mythology, local history through geography, area development through settlers
5 Ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece
6 Founding of Rome, life of Christ, crusades, life of Mohammed, Islam,
medieval society
7 1400-1700 Age of Exploration, Age of Discovery, Reformation, Renaissance
8 1700 – Present U.S. History, industrial revolution, comparative biographies

Gym class includes the Greek pentathlon and archery.  There are a ton of handicrafts including sculpting miniatures out of beeswax and diorama building, not to mention stuff like knitting, woodworking, and gardening — the skill set of medieval peasants.  Perhaps most importantly most of the academics are imparted through stories and songs, so that the kids develop this whole mythology of fairies and angels and so on, and a sense of the oral tradition.

So by 8th grade you will have learned almost everything you need to run an awesome campaign, and make your own minis.

The Waldorf method also puts a lot of emphasis on interpersonal skills and conflict resolution, so I’m guessing a gaming group at a Waldorf school would not have some of the ‘special problems’ gaming groups tend to see, or at least they’d have the tools to deal with them.

Best of all, at least for regressive old schooler type like me, is that Waldorf schools also tend to ban or limit “media” exposure (meaning mass media like TV and radio rather than all media, actually).  So you probably don’t have to worry too much about “gamer ADD” or losing players to the next shiny thing that happens along — Waldorf kids are generally thought to be somewhat resistant to consumerism because they don’t spend as much time being lobotomized by TV as average.

Also, there is a lot of Waldorf stuff that I am constantly wanting to steal for my games.  The school celebrates a number of semi-pagan/semi-Christian holidays, like Michaelmas (gnomes, dragons, knights, and avenging angels!), St. Lucia Day, and more.  The first graders learned a ton fairy tales — not the Disney versions, the Grimm and Andrew Lang versions.  They love this stuff.

One of the creepiest saints of all time … Blind Agnes or Saint Lucy?

image source: Wikimedia commons

Blind Agnes or St. Lucy?

Also, the annual Children’s Festival at my kid’s school has, among the activities, a miniature trebuchet for launching Osage Oranges. It’s like a goddurn medieval fair I tell you!

Anyway, I’m not saying I sent my kid to a Waldorf school to indoctrinate her into swords & dorkery type pursuits, but it sure isn’t hurting!

Oh, and true story, not so much D&D related but sort of Waldorf related:  When we were first checking out the school, we got a DVD that showed what the classrooms were like and interviews with some of the teachers and parents.  Part of it went on and on about Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the “Waldorf” teaching method.  Initially, I was completely aghast, because I had confused Rudolf Steiner with Wilhelm Reich.  I got more and more agitated as they talked about all his great ideas and philosophy.  I kept wondering when these sickos would roll out the orgone accumulators and vegetotherapy rooms.  Turns out Steiner had some oddball ideas (cough, anthroposophy, cough), but nothing as cracked as Reich!

Published in: on December 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I spent a year or two in a Waldorf school. It was hell on Earth. I gleefully left for underfunded DC public schools.

    • Well different strokes I guess. My kid loves it.
      Our Waldorf school is underfunded too BTW — wholly dependent on tuition and donations, no state money like those awful charter schools.

  2. There are so many things wrong with Waldorf schools it’s difficult to know where to begin.

    • There’s a lot that’s right with them though, especially the one we chose for our kid, but unsolicited parenting advice is always welcome, amiright?

      • Didn’t mean to offend. I’m a parent myself, and my wife’s a middle school teacher in a charter school, so I’ve heard more than my fair share of Waldorf School horror stories.

  3. As an ADD, AD&Der I think if you want to make a good DM you should concentrate on math and physics. To the modern eye it seems like way too much teaching make believe/religion for me. Anthroposophy is just scary (Don’t drink the cool aid!). But if anyone can steer her straight when it come to really believing in gnomes, fairies, saints, prophets and gods it is you. I am often struck when reading Geological papers from the 19th century just how well rounded engineers and geologist where back then, when all educations pretty much started with the King James Bible. So I can see how learning all the topics could widen her development. Although I a totally pro public schools I think parents have more direct influence then their child’s education then their school; therefore, Riley is in good hands. And although I did not learn to churn butter in my grade school I know cream rises to the top.

    • The occultism is not part of the cirriculum, and the make-believe stuff is for the K-2nd grade really. At least at our school, it’s very science-driven; they just like to think that science is validating some of the stuff Steiner taught…
      I have nothing against public schools per se but the emphasis on standardized testing is killing them. Also the technology for technology’s sake. Do you really think kids need a computer in the classroom or they won’t learn to use a computer?
      Actually Waldorf-educated kids tend to do better at math and science than average. But the most important thing I guess is that this school is very hands-on and involves the parents a lot. The thing that probably determines the success of any school, public or private, is parental involvement, and fortunately that’s something our school really kicks ass with.

  4. This sounds like a really neat school. I would have thrived in this environment, particularly on the creative side which got squelched after 7th grade. I’m willing to bet my kids would love it there as well, since they all seem like experiential learners.

  5. As a public school teacher I can tell you that we do not teach to the test. Novels such as “Crime and Punishment” or “To Kill a Mockingbird” are not on any standardized testing and are just 2 of the many novels that are taught in our English classes. The students in my Spanish classes through the use of computers in the school are able to communicate to students in several other Spanish – speaking countries. It is a wonderful experience for them! My degree in Secondary Education:Spanish K-12 required a minimum of 116 credit hours with a minimum of 45 hours of study in the Spanish language, history and literature.

    • You teach at a great school and of course part of its greatness is the teachers.
      I had mostly good experiences with public schools too.
      For Riley though the school we chose is great. I picked Riley and a kid we carpool with up from school last week one day and asked them what they liked most about their day at school. Both said “everything!”

  6. Enjoyed reading this post–there’s really very little as divisive as the raising of children, and it was courageous of you to put this out there for folks to appreciate or troll. I hope to raise our two young sons to love games and gaming as well as all of the accompanying history & folklore, so it’s inspiring to read how you include your daughter.

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