answering the age old question of whether Waldorf Critics are a "small group of
disgruntled secular humanists in California." The problems in Waldorf are
international. We hear the SAME complaints from Waldorf schools everywhere -
whether public or private, whether in California or the UK... The SAME behavior
by Waldorf teachers and administrators EVERYWHERE is identified in these
criticisms... criticisms NOT by critics, but by ORDINARY PARENTS!
The Chicago Waldorf School....although I have much to say, I will leave this
brief and to the point.
The school is poorly ran, they don't know how to accept change, they use people
that willingly volunteer their limited free time until the person feels so used
they never return to the "community".
I happen to think that the philosophical base behind Waldorf education is way
ahead of the curve; however, the people running the Chicago school are way
Maybe one day everything will click for them and the students can get the
education they deserve without the distractions that have constantly plagued the
My daughter was at CWS for 11 years, making it halfway through high school. I
was an extremely active volunteer. The best part of the place is the community.
The school itself has many internal issues that need to be resolved. Waldorf
education is a great thing and its founder, Rudolf Steiner, a brilliant
innovator. But CWS as an example of Waldorf learning falls down, especially in
the middle/high grades. Maybe other Waldorf schools are more satisfyingly run.
If those in charge of CWS were open to real change, such as the painful but
necessary retirement of some instructors, it would help. They advertise
constantly, rather than letting the education/school speak for itself. The
tuition is disturbingly high. In the end we were deeply disappointed with how
they handled our child's situation, despite having been a long-term attendee.
Some kids there do have it very good--keeping the same teacher all the way
through, for instance, or being on the receiving end of someone's favoritism.
(The happiest families usually have students still in the lower grades.) But the
teachers of our child changed 3 times through 8th grade, and the class kept
accepting new students who brought in disruptive behavior and a sorry lack of
the philosophy of the place. I'm a little sad to find that neither my child nor
us, her parents, miss the place.
They talk a great game but it is a bizarre education philosophy. My children
needed extensive tutoring to bring them up to grade level when they transferred
to regular schools.
My kind of town...
Posted June 7, 2011
When one reads the Waldorf curriculum, it sounds great and those morning lesson
books look fantastic. One feels that his/her child is going to great this
creative education that fosters critical thinking, but don't kid yourself!
Mostly, the kids are copying from the board. There is no thinking and one is not
allowed to question the philosophy. —Submitted by a parent
Posted May 4, 2011
This school really does not teach anything. After several years of attending
CWS, my son had to go to a reading specialist, not because he had any learning
disabilities, but because Waldorf had not really taught him to read. They say
that they are all about creativity but really the lessons are about copying
lessons from the board. Needless to say, we transferred our child and had to
send him to extra tutoring to get him on grade level. —Submitted by a parent
Posted May 4, 2011
My child has serous learning disabilities that they failed to even recognize!
They did some weird "birthing" investigation and then wanted to have my child
realigned. My child has dyslexia! My child is now getting the correct help, but
stay away from Chicago Waldorf!
—Submitted by a parent
Posted March 20, 2011
This school preaches tolerance and understanding, but they are Neo-Pagan
fundamentalists. They are judgmental and arbitrary in their decisions. The
administration is incompetent and weak. The school lacks process and procedures
for any difficulty. And the education quality is very disappointing. —Submitted
by a parent
Posted July 30, 2010
Our son attended the parent-child and early childhood programs which were truly
excellent and enriching experiences . He continued to the grade school where
problems began. His teacher appeared to have a bias against boys as well as
reported anger management issues which erupted in the classroom. She was also
very condescending and defensive with us in our attempts to discuss our son's
increasing distress. We realized that he needed to leave this school and began
searching for options. We found a much better fit for him at a small private
school that was not only much kinder, but provided a genuinely grounded
educational philosophy with a stronger academic curriculum. To summarize, this
school has an outstanding early childhood program, but be very wary of
continuing into the grade school. It is all about getting an excellent, caring
teacher and having a positive classroom environment. Unfortunately, our son had
neither. —Submitted by a parent
Posted December 23, 2009
There is a vague spiritual quasi - religous vision that guides every decision a
teacher and the administrators rely on to both teach and run this school. It was
our experience that the teachers do not want to partner with parents at all and
parents are barely welcome to step foot inside the school, it is all very
precious. Academics are faulty and if your child has a learning disability this
is NOT the place for them, they don't have the resources or training to assist
or identify a learning disabled child. —Submitted by a parent
Posted June 11, 2009
The teachers are given the most power over your children and you 'ideally' have
the same teacher for 8 years. The teacher will interpret and treat your child
based on their opinion of your child. They believe they are somehow qualified to
assess your child's soul or that they know more about the spiritual realm than
anyone else could. A lot of parents seem to crumble at the mystique that is
portrayed by teachers but it is really just a fallacy. They are teaching and
thus interacting with your child based upon esoteric studies that they
wholeheartedly believe in but are they really what you believe? Money talks at
this school although you'll find some pretty poor people who receive assistance
who are there basically because they totally believe in 'the way' and make the
place seem ideal and authentic. Proceed with caution. Don't believe the hype no
matter how pretty —Submitted by a parent
Posted January 11, 2008
Our daugher was enrolled in the pre-school parent teacher program. The original
teacher had a gift for recognizing the individual traits of the chilren; she
also appeared to be well attuned to Steiner's philosophy, with special emphasis
on nature, the outdoors, and the individual traits of each child. Alas, she
moved on. Now, the program is quite mechanical. Little attention is paid to
nature - the children do not even go outdoors. The teacher is not inclined or
able to recognize the invididual traits and characteristics of each child. And
the parents are quite competitive among themselves - a function, perhaps, of the
rather mechanical approach that now pervades the classroom. —Submitted by a
Posted April 15, 2006
The CWS is a school based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, but is
interpreted by teachers so there is room for error. The staff runs the school
and parents have little room to do anything that involves themself in their
children's lives except volunteering for fundraisers. Parents are not easily
welcomed into the classrooms and have little knowledge of what goes on. The
quality of the education varies from teacher to teacher and parents do not have
a choice in the selection of the grades teachers. All first grade classes fill
up to a capacity of 32 children even with the high tuition.
—Submitted by a parent
Posted February 16, 2006
For those interested in Waldorf education, this is the only school available in
the Chicago area. Unfortunately it's wildly expensive (approx. $12,000/year).
The quality of the academic program varies from teacher to teacher and subject
to subject. The school emphasizes art and music, incl. instrumental. The level
of parent involvement is high, but it's gone down over the years due to burn-out
and the fact that some parents get paid while others don't. Those interested
should be sure to at least know who Rudolf Steiner was, since Waldorf schools
are based on his philosophy. Definitely not for parents who want a high-tech
approach for their kids' school, e.g. computers, or who are very attached to the
media. I rated the Principal Leadership 'don't know' because they're looking for
a new one now. —Submitted by a parent
- Reviewed by Parent/Guardian on July 24, 2010
- This school does not tolerate other points of view. Their academics are weak, particularly in math and science. The administration is incompetent and does not follow their own policies and procedures.
- Reviewed by Parent/Guardian on April 30, 2010
- This school is disorganized and chaotic. The administration is inexperienced and incompetent. As much as they say they have your child's best interests at heart, they do not. All they care about is their philosophy and have no respect for the parents or other points of view.