Check out this scene. We had three good weeks of Waldorf Forest Nursery in Central Park.
On Thursday morning we were all gathered for our morning walk. It was a cool sunny autumn morning, heading toward 70 degrees. As we set off, the teacher approached Bea and told her she would not be permitted to join the other acorn children unless she put on a sweater.
Okay, weird enough, but also weirder because the teacher knew that Bea was very sweater-averse and that I never had any luck getting a sweater on her and that when she doesn't want to wear a sweater she simply doesn't wear a sweater.
The other parents and kids formed their morning singing circle and when Bea tried to join the circle they wouldn't let her. (She's two and a half— picture those grown ups.)
I said to the teacher, "She's just not going to wear a sweater" and the teacher said she would have to go home and that way she would learn to follow the rules. I said "That's punitive." And she said "No it's not. All children must wear sweaters. It's the responsibility of the parent to enforce the rule."
So we left. We've been expelled from the realm of the Children of the Acorn. But why? We suspect that the sweater was not the real issue. Again we see how schools work— even offbeat Waldorf education— wherever there's a philosophy or a doctrine, someone has to enforce it.
Bea had been greeted with frowns from the grown ups last week when she opened up a piece of luncheon snack seaweed and said it was a book. She read an imaginary story from the seaweed book, about Tin Tin sailing on the ship the Karaboudjan. I said "That's her favorite right now. The Tin Tin books." The adults ignored my comment.
Rudolf Steiner said that no elementary school classroom teacher should ever stand in front of a class with a book. Books are for later. As are characters from books. Bea is supposed to be spared the influences of the world of books and history.
I wonder also if there could have been a popsicle issue. We always had "healthy snacks" at our picnics, but on our way out of the park Bea would sometimes have a popsicle. One of the other kids in the group said "what's that?" with great surprise. I'm afraid we brought the devil popsicle into their midst. But the Beast's favorite foods are broccoli, seaweed, rice, and raw fish. So I'm not so opposed to the popsicle. In fact, I kind of think it would be cruel to deprive her the joy of a popsicle on a sunny day.
So we left the Waldorf group and we're starting an unschooling forest nursery for the sweater shunning anarchic unschoolers.
And we ended up spending Thursday morning at the Science Museum looking at dinosaur skeletons and learning the names of a few dinosaurs— facts from the world of science — discouraged in Waldorf preschooling.
We've always liked the hands on craft and nature aspect of Waldorf philosophy, but we're disappointed to be reminded that it's just another system of education. More and more these days we feel like education is a horrible thing. No one needs to be educated. Every organism thrives in its/his/her own way by its/his/her own volition. Our beast learned letters and numbers somehow. Sesame Street? Subway Trains? That was what she wanted to do.
As for sweaters, they are over-rated.
Peace out peops and check out this terrific blog:
Here's an excerpt:
If a child is forced to eat two more bites of dinner, then she is robbed of a chance to feel just full enough to be satisfied.
If a child is forced to clean up, then he is robbed of a chance to show how helpful he can be, voluntarily.
If a child is forced to wear a jacket, then she is robbed of a chance to feel cold enough to know when she really needs one.
If a child is forced to stop crying, then he is robbed of a chance to express his fears or his dreams.
If a child is told she is not good enough, then she is robbed of a chance to be happy with herself the way she is.