Friday, May 11, 2012

Portland Waldorf School Reviews by Parents

I received this review by email:

Review by "Dr J"

Again and again I see these kinds of posts from people who really hope that their local Waldorf school will be the lovely, artistic, free, expansive, hand worked low tech
creative environment in which their children can grow into their full potential without trauma. Again and again I run into people, wounded and wondering how they could have been sucked into spending thousands of dollars to this school. Or that school. And they find their children did not produce this supposed Waldorf miracle. They did not suddenly blossom into reading and math. The years have gone by and they are years behind in learning and can not find the joy in fine literature or a complex math solution because they do not have the basics. It is the fault of some bad administrators. The fault of this or that teacher. I am telling you all, this is a plan on the part of the Waldorf system. They are a gnostic system, and do not feel obligated to tell the full truth to anyone without a Waldorf trained mind. They are really interested in getting people who stay in Waldorf, can not go elsewhere, and who meditate the way they do and who possibly are their kind of clairvoyant. Bored children might just do that. Oh, and they will want you, the parent, involved too. You are the one with the money, remember. Well, here I am spending money on catching my granddaughter up to her grade level after Waldorf neglect of academic teaching, and am fortunate that this is only at grade one and age 8. They kept her back "to help her develop"....but really because they wanted a blue eyed blond oldest child in the class to be the Second grade Santa Lucia for their festival, since Lucia is supposed to be the oldest child and they had a fuss the last year when the oldest child turned out to be a mixed race brown child. They picked another kid who was blue eyed and blond and some parents objected. My granddaughter was held back a year to keep from having another fiasco like that. Only we left, and her current Montessori school is rapidly taking her up to grade. We will be at grade level for her age by second grade, since we are keeping her in summer school. By pure luck I was able to find someone interested in teaching a child who had not had reading readiness training. You want to play Russian Roulette with your child's intellect? Pick the Waldorf method first. And if you think the Waldorf folks teach social interaction; good luck there. They have a long history of bullies in multiple schools, including the one she was in. Coming out of Waldorf in Eugene, my granddaughter had to learn; appropriate responses if you disagree with teachers or other children, appropriate ways and times to interrupt adults when they are talking, proper distances to stand and sit with other children when you are both using the same tools, how to privately amuse yourself sitting down if there is a public quiet time, how to...on and on. The three year old children in her new school are been taught these things. In Waldorf they just let the kids go wild and "develop." How unkind. Because almost everyone I speak to who has had Waldorf schools come for enrichment time...museums, farms, markets...all dread their coming because the children are not taught to behave. Unfortunately, that leaves some children with a long childhood memory of people who do not like them...why not teach these behaviors cognitively? Waldorf is expecting the karma of the child to determine how they learn these things. And the reason the teachers do this is because they are only taught how to teach through their inadequate Anthroposophy teacher's schools, which spend more time on how to modulate the tone of voice of the teacher than on curriculum structure. If you want a low tech school, why not look for some other school that has "traditional teaching" and not go with the gnomes and angels of the Waldorf system. Remember, for a good number of these folks, those gnomes and angels are not figurative. They see them, like Steiner did.



Posted June 6, 2013

This school has not prepared my child for college - in fact, I doubt she will be able to attend anything other than a community college. Thanks, PWS. A chemistry assignment involved creating a smoothie... really!?!? And how much is tuition?!?! The lack of testing and the atmosphere does not provide for real world application.
Posted February 4, 2013

Dysfunctional atmosphere, with hit-or-miss staff. A few teachers are actually good, but some are truly horrible...dogmatic, unkind, and cold. Also, not a terribly smart staff as a whole, both in the classes and in the administration. Furthermore, if you are considering this school, ask how it's administration is structured. Short answer: in such a way that no one takes responsibility for anything. Expect no real help if you ever have a problem. Academics are WEAK WEAK WEAK, with the class moving at the rate of the slowest kids in the class, which is scary slow since they withhold academics until very late. Not big on discipline either; no consequences ever! Lax parenting plus lax teachers equals really bratty kids. The parent "community" they tout is as dysfunctional as the school; gossipy and very strange. Too many really immature parents with no boundaries. If you really must do Waldorf, consider MichaEl.
—Submitted by a parent
Posted May 15, 2012
I am quite disappointed with the level of education my two students have gotten after many years at PWS. I cannot speak to all Waldorf education, because this is the only school I have personal experience with, but I find that the curriculum has not prepared them for college nor a professional career. The curriculum spends too much time on off-beat subjects, and not enough on core fundamentals. Neither of the kids has hardly any homework, and both seem bored by school. Math and science is so lacking that we are spending thousands on tutoring to make up for the lack. Also, one of the children who has struggled with reading has been very hampered by Waldorf's policy to not teach reading until 3rd grade. Though almost a freshman, her reading and writing is probably at about the level of an average 4th-5th grader. Despite our ongoing concern, her teacher has not made any effort to focus on this. An attempt to transition one of our kids to public education failed miserably. Our student found public school too difficult, with too much homework. I believe a public education, even with all their shortfalls, would actually be better than what PWS offers.  —Submitted by a parent
 
Posted March 12, 2012
This is the only private school I have ever known the inner workings of, but I am horrified at the dysfunction among the faculty and the staff. I find that this inevitably influences the children both in the classroom and outside of it. What is being modelled for them is not healthy. These are immature and underdeveloped adults who do not have a strong sense of themselves. Not only are students here being insufficiently served academically, they are being disserved because of a lack of healthy adult examples of mature social interaction, honesty, cooperation or even receptivity to parental concerns. Looking ahead, be sure to ask about the success rate of their graduates who, time and again, are dropping out of college before even the end of their first year. Ask what colleges are accepting these students. You won't find any big names here--for Waldorf schools in general, maybe, but for PWS specifically, it just isn't happening. I would strongly advise looking elsewhere. I found the nearby Micha-el school to have a far greater sense of integrity on the whole. —Submitted by a parent

Posted November 7, 2011
This school has the best of intentions; however, PWS lacks considerable talent with their teachers. My child submitted her math homework and got it wrong - as did one other boy. My daughter kept reworking the problem again and again and still came up with the same answer. The teacher began working with her and then realized that she had been teaching the problem incorrectly all along. One might applaud the teacher for honesty but the fact is she was teaching it wrong! Only my child and the other little boy got it correct. I pay too much money for this kind of ineptitude. Math is secondary in this school when our country seriously is falling behind global education standards. I fear that my child will have few opportunities and will not be able to attend a quality university (one that's beyond the obscure liberal arts colleges that typically result in few job opportunities). PWS doesnt test and deadlines are merely guidelines which is counter to 'real world standards. Education prepares children for life and this school does nothing of the sort. I am sure there are good Waldorf schools but this is definitely not one of them.

Posted March 29, 2011
There are some wonderful things about the education but.... huge problems in the administration and too many sub- standard teachers. The social issues and bullying at the school are heart breaking. Classroom management is more often than not outdated and ineffectual in lower school. The culture in the high school often breeds disinterest and lots of pot smoking. NOT a math and science school by any stretch. Unfortunately "crony-ism" has set in and those in control think it's all good when it is very stale, dysfunction and not a very inspiring place for many. I would recommend the kindergarten program. If you are lucky to get a well trained, professional grades teacher (few and far between), it can be a good place for a while. I think one of the big problems is there is really no apparent supervision of the teachers. They can kind of do what they want. Thus, there is a huge lack of professionalism both inside and outside of the classroom. If your high school student is HIGHLY motivated they can do well. But if they need more structure and a little push to do their best....they won't get it here. They just leave them alone and dismiss it all to "developmental appropriateness."  —Submitted by a parent

Posted February 16, 2011 
GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT. Portland Waldorf School can no longer make decisions based on what is best for its students. It has become a slave to its mortgage and makes decisions not based on healthy Waldorf pedagogy, but on the whims of the parents who pay its bills. I agree with one of the reviews below. The brick fortress is quite impressive in pictures, but behind closed doors, tired, unqualified, uneducated teachers use shame and humiliation to "discipline" students. For years now, the school has been running an anti-bullying, social inclusion campaign while its very own teachers and administrators lead by the example of shame, blame, and overt bullying. We were actually receiving free tuition and we opted to take our children to a healthy environment. This is nothing but one, big dysfunctional family unwilling to consider its weaknesses and provide children a happy, healthy learning environment. If you consider nothing else, just look around inside and ask yourself whether people seem to be joyful there. It is an environment of the living dead--not a place where children can be children and learn to like to learn.  —Submitted by a parent

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A Google User reviewed 2 years ago
The Waldorf Schools are in a class of their own. Their educational curriculum is based on the theory of human development as posed by the Austrian born Rudolph Steiner back in the late 1800's. The school is quite anachronistic in many ways. The education though I would have to put at above average, but parents should be aware where the underlying philospophy of the school comes from, mainly Rudolph Steiner, who was a self reported psychic among other things. He founded the new age "anthroposophy" which itself is a mouthful. It has to do with heavy and very difficult to understand concepts about the spirtual world and how it is connected to the human being. I always thought it was quite bizaare and I think only Rudy himself knew what he was talking about. His book "The Kingdom of Childhood" is worth reading before you send the kinder to Waldorf, it is also one of the readable books (of course all these works were translated from heavy German, I would assume, and so reads quite densely.) The schools have their charm and do help the child develop in many facets, including learning to knit in the first grade, wood working, music , and of course Eurythmy, which is a type of movement/dance which came out of Steiner's brain among other things. My kid despised Eurythmy, in fact most kids will complain about it. I am not sure why, it is just the way it is. Intellectual develompent did not seem to be the highest priority on Steiner's list, he was worried more about the spirtual matters and I am sure that Eurythmy must have something to do with the spirtual aspects or development of the child. Getting through Waldy will not make your kid more special than other kids, so don't think there is some special thing that will transform your child into something more than any other kid who was not exposed to Eurythmy and the other sometimes strange methodologies of Waldy. But Waldy is a "pretty" place, good for the artistic side, the kids learn to write as they are not allowed to use computers until high school, and their handwriting will be nice, with all the copying they will do from the blackboard. I really enjoyed it when my kid played "Thor" in a play, they do Nordic and other mythology. I say, Waldorf is okay if you can stand it, although some kids do seem happy to leave waldorf, as if they have gained some more freedom, so who knows. PWS was not so good at resolving conflicts in the past and in fact, parents were able to get rid of a teacher and it was done quite secretively without the knowledge of other parents in the classroom. I was one of those uniformed parents and was not too happy about it. I am not sure how they are these days as no onre really runs the place, there is no "headmaster/mistress/principal" so it is strange in that respect. I reluctantly give it the four stars by the way because I could not elaborate on the "strangeness" of anthrorposophy itself and how it ultimately dictates the educational methodology. It is just strange.

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You may ask, "where are all the 5=Star reviews?" Well, the problem with those reviews is that many tend not to be too honest. I have included 4-star reviews that appear honest. Often, gushing reviews are placed by teachers and administrators - as some comments here indicate. "This school educates the whole child!!!" - 5 stars - by Anonymous... I say baloney! Notice, many of the reviewers have been misled by Waldorf and are still buying the PR, even after having been disappointed. Feel free to comment but understand the intent of this blog. Comments are no longer moderated.