The first parent tour we went on was the Seattle Waldorf School, and boy are they a trip! We had some idea of the Waldorf curriculum going in. We dutifully read the full-color glossy book they had sent to our house a few weeks earlier. We’d poked around the website. We liked the idea that the kids have the same class and teacher through all of 1st-8th grade. We liked the idea of a well-researched, pre-set curriculum. The geekling is in Suzuki violin, after all, so we’re no stranger to strict lesson plans with lots of parent involvement.
We got there and were taken to the music room (all Waldorf kids learn to play violin, so it was stuffed with string instruments), and encouraged to look at laminated books of classroom work produced by different grade levels. The very polite and perky admissions officer told us that these books contained the best work produced by Waldorf students. She seemed to think this was something to be proud of. It sounded more to us like an apologetic admission that not all of their students produce this level of work.
There was also propaganda from the national Waldorf organization, one with a sexy headshot of Julianna Margulies and a blockquote about how much Waldorf education had taught her about critical thinking. That’s good, we thought, our daughter could be an actress who’s good at critical thinking!