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Archive for Thursday, April 4, 2002

Waldorf schooling

April 4, 2002

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To the editor:

I appreciate the opportunity to print corrections to the latest story about establishing a Waldorf School in Lawrence (J-W, March 24).

1. A Waldorf school is not an "alternative school." Waldorf schools represent the largest independent school movement in the world. In many countries and in several cities in the U.S., they are supported by public funds. The Lawrence school founders are not "wary" of public schools. We are simply establishing a traditional Waldorf school for children.

2. Waldorf schools are not affiliated with any religion. The sub-headline indicating that "critics" call a Waldorf school "a front for cult-like religion," is completely inaccurate, based on my experience with two Waldorf-educated sons and through years of serving on a Waldorf school board. I must criticize the reporter for doing too little research in this area. His selection of a "critic," an apparently disgruntled California mother, was random and inadequate to support criticism of the entire Waldorf movement.

3. The article suggests that the Waldorf school will be "different ... no tests or grades. No computers. At home, little or no television." Those statements are misleading. Evaluations are made, but letter grades are not used. Computers are used, but not in the early grades. There are pedagogical reasons for not giving standardized tests in the early grades, for allowing development of large and small muscle motor skills before sitting a child in front of a keyboard, and for encouraging children to play and interact with the physical world rather than watch television. We ask that these things be considered seriously before dismissing them as merely unusual characteristics of an "alternative" school.

Rick Mitchell,

Lawrence

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