Posted by: Alex Borders | January 11, 2011

Waldorf Where First Grade is First Grade


Tuesday 11th January

At WSP, First Grade Is First Grade by Sonja Seawright

My plan was to write a funny post about how, 20-30 years ago when many of us were attending first grade, we didn’t have homework and we weren’t expected to know 100 sight words upon walking into class on day one.  I started searching the internet for some statistics, or really anything, that would back up what I had to say, and then I was going to let the funny roll on out.  I ran across this a topic thread on mothering.com titled “First Grade the New 3rd Grade?” and started reading:

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/1261457/first-grade-the-new-3rd

The mother who started the thread wrote of her daughter getting 15 spelling words per week, plus 5 “bonus” words, and the kids are tested every Friday.  When her daughter got 7 wrong on a test, her teacher wrote “Study – you can do better,” on the top of her test.  The woman’s daughter asked her to read this comment, and when the mother did, her daughter asked her mother to help her spell out a note to her teacher: “I tried my best.”

I couldn’t make that funny.  It was too heartbreaking. There were 20 responses to the original post, each more upsetting than the last, although the one that almost made me cry was comment #14.  The mother describes her son getting a bad test score on his weekly spelling test.  She writes, “I had sat with him while he fell asleep the night before and he was talking in his sleep about how the words were coming at him too fast and he couldn’t do anything to stop them!!! Why put that much pressure on a 6 yr old????”

When I got to the bottom of the page, I noticed that there was a second page of comments, but I couldn’t bring myself to read anymore.  I felt a little sick already.

Once again, I find myself so grateful that the Waldorf School of Philadelphia came into our lives.  I don’t even remember what combination of words, typed into a search engine, brought me to this school for an open house, because I had never heard of Waldorf education before, nor did I know anyone with children at WSP.  But I got here, and my daughter got here, and when I read stories like those in the thread above, it makes complete sense that Waldorf is the fastest growing school movement in the nation.  Because first grade should be first grade.

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