Ok... I am going to tackle this and try my best to not ruffle feathers, please know that as I write this, I have the purest of intentions and believe that we are all thinking, loving, working beings of Source/God/dess/ Universe. .. what ever you may call it.
As I have worked with Waldorf pedagogy over the years I have noticed a great many things - when I started working with families (first peer counseling and then as a business) I found that our left of the road friends had the same concerns as the right of the road friends when it came to Waldorf and religion. Non- Christians felt it was too Christian in some areas and Christians often felt like it was too "world view" - but everyone loves the nature stories and the fairies and of course the toys. Mamas... grade three is the beginning of the nitty gritty... get ready - your child needs YOU to be on top of how you feel about things and needs YOU to be open. If you are not, as Jodie said, it will shine through... darkness seeps through to them as much as light. I am hoping by sharing some of my own experiences it will help.
I was raised a fairly strict Catholic, went to Catholic school, attended mass a couple times a week and while I was fairly well behaved, I was a questioner. It drove my religion teachers mad. My constant "why" gave them so much frustration - and in looking back I find that there is really only one thing they should have told me to do... PRAY. Pray about whether or not the word of God is true. Pray about my path, pray about my faith (or lack there of as a teen) pray about my role in the world. There is something so sacred about prayer - no matter what your faith - prayer is the act of conversing with the Divine. It is a call only you and Source can hear.
Since I have been consulting I have some very interesting findings... families that come together in some sort of prayer or meditation and I mean FAMILIES not just mom... have far less issues with the curriculum, with behavior, with getting their children on the road to advancement. I have also had a fair amount of clients where mom believes she is balanced and does plenty of inner work but doesn't take that to her children (or her spouse) - these moms struggle so much more... they struggle as much or more than the families I work with that have no faith base at all. Why? I have pondered it in prayer so many times - I sit in meditation daily for folks I work one on one with and ask for the right words to give them. Sometimes I end up giving words that are not well received, only to have moms write me 6 months later to tell me that they really needed to hear what I had to say, they just were not in a receiving place. I take what I do very seriously, Waldorf is far more than a method to educate your child - it is an extension of your connection with Source. Truth is truth - no matter what faith you have there are so many common threads. As humans we put up walls to separate us - our spirits LONG for freedom of those walls. They do not long for freedom from Source. They long to be ONE with Source. Now I know we've lost our atheist friends already... if you are reading and have no belief then I am sorry to waste your time... I do invite you to keep reading though... I will try not to make it book length.
Having said all that above, let's talk about perspectives. Your feelings are VERY valid if you grew up in a household where God was used as a weapon - I wish I could hug you. God wishes you would open up and let him/her/them IN. The darkness and frustration you feel is you turning away from Source. You may think you have yourself fooled - "I don't answer to anyone - my being is my own." Ok... all I can say to that is "good luck with it... I hope it serves you and it is my greatest hope that you have a happy and fulfilled life." - my guess is that is not the norm as most people drawn to Waldorf are drawn to the spiritual aspects too.
Let's break down a few things - one... the OT/Torah stories are being shared with a child that is 8 going on 9 or already 9 in the curriculum. Many families, especially Jewish or Christian ones will have already shared these stories as part of their faith and so this becomes a time to dig deeper and really get to the heart of what folks were doing. The stories of the OT/Torah and also the Qu'ran, the Gita - heavens even Greek and Norse myth tell tales of natural consequences for people who aspire to be like their Creator. For the 9yo - these stories give the authority that they often seek - anyone with 9yr going through or beginning through the change knows that they can be frustrating (but FUN!) little balls of goodness... there are days when you see the light almost fully incarnated in them and days when you want to drop them off at the grocery store and pretend they do not belong to you. They love to argue... pick things apart - if there is way for them to get out of the rules you just made then they will get out of it. That is their nature. And if you have two children going through these changes at once you my feel more exhausted at the end of the day then you did when they were toddlers!
Why the OT/Torah at age 9? Well they are going through this change in themselves - wondering who they are - what they are going to do with themselves on this side of the veil and if the rules around them can be broken. That being said, let's look closely at the stories in the OT/Torah (these carry to the other great works of faiths too, i.e. Qu'ran) People think... oh the garden of Eden is such a sad story.... it is? really... maybe it is how you are looking at it - in the garden, Adam and Eve are like children, they play, they tend the garden, they have no cares and they can not progress - they can not have children in the garden for they are children. They must leave the garden to move on to the purpose they agreed to before taking human bodies. While they get spoken to by God and told they must leave - I have never felt that it was God yelling at them... look at the deeper meaning - how much God loved them in order for them to progress... bring forth life, something they could not do while in the garden. The only reprimand comes to the serpent - he is told that while he will have the power to nip at man's heel, man will have the power to crush him - the serpent... the inner darkness... the outer frustrations. .. we are given the tools right there in the beginning to have power over ourselves. This power could only come from the partaking of the tree... from the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Do you not think God knew what he was doing - "hey kids - see that ice cream in the corner - don't touch it or you will die" The serpent says... "touch the ice cream... eat it... so you can be like God." - duh... God knew what he was doing! He wasn't being cruel he was giving his children the chance to progress - otherwise they never would have a desire or need to leave the garden... then we wouldn't be having this conversation because they would still be there playing and well... we'd be sitting on the other side wondering what on earth was going to get them to leave the dang garden! Now some choose to focus on the words given to Eve about birthing - it is a metaphor for the trials in parenthood - trials and blessings too... you have to go through this labor but look at the fruit of your labor! What worth having isn't worth working for??
Cain and Able... sad... yes... it is sad when anger stirs in another so much that they want to hurt or kill someone/something. If your 9yo has siblings they will TOTALLY get this story. Preach NVC (non-violent communication) all day and you will still have siblings that fight. One child did just as God asked. The other child didn't. It is that simple - God didn't say "go kill your brother" - if anything this is a lesson on how our anger can get the better of us. How do we work to keep our own human aggressions at bay? Unless your 9yo is a single child then this lesson will hit home just where it should. If you have an only child then you may have to turn to the world for other explanations.
Noah... ok... so some Gnostic texts tell a more expanded Noah story... and in the OT/Torah there is only a tiny bit of this story left... read the verse immediately preceding the story of Noah... it talks about the spirit sons of God combining with the earthly daughters of God and creating these horrible beings that could not be contained. It also depicts people that are beyond help - not just people who have turned their backs on God (come on Mom... that is YOUR interpretation! not the child's) it talks of people committing all sorts of horrid things. Now your child will only be able to understand as far as their knowledge - so if you have had lots of media exposure their knowledge will be a great source for this story - if you have sheltered them to this point, it is time to open the gates... just enough to let them grow (this does not mean go gang busters with media! it means their development is asking for a taste of the world - good and bad... they need a frame of reference to sort things out that is part of the struggle of being 9) - Now you can see God in this story as angry and mean or as just and generous. Noah pleads with God... let them live surely there is one worth saving! God says... SHOW ME - Noah can't... he can't show him - why? because there are not any... This saddens God and frustrates him... his plan is to save what he can... he built this world so destroying it can not have been a great pleasure to him. He instructs Noah on exactly what to do. Noah obeys. Everyone around him thinks he is nuts... HELLOO MAMAS! Ever felt like Noah? Felt like you were directed by the Spirit to do something and everyone around you said you were off your rocker? but then stuck to it and folks ate their words... this story is as much about Noah's connection with God as it is about God saving the righteous. Now another consideration here... the common story has animals brought two by two... not the case... read the text deeper... animals they were meant to consume or they needed to work for them (like chickens, etc.) were brought in larger quantities.. . this is a great math cross over lesson - really thinking about just how big the ark was... imagining all the animals that would have been there... how did it smell? what did they eat? How well did Noah have to prepare? Now this story, when looked at in a different perspective shows Noah's intense commitment to a connection with his Heavenly Father... he did as he was told and the road was not easy. But I would say it was likely worth it.
Lot... Pillar of salt, etc... these stories are again about obedience... some of them seem pretty twisted... honestly... how many times did these people need to be told to behave? Starting to sound like a parent of a 9yo maybe? That is the point - I often think these stories are as much for the parent during this time... look at relating with the greatest parent of them all! It always gives me perspective. .. I don't want his job... one 9yo at a time thank you.
My point in breaking some of the stories down was to help give moms a difference perspective and help you appreciate the lessons. Is God a loving God? I think so... he didn't have to let Adam and Eve progress... he didn't have to save Noah and his family... he didn't have to give Lot a chance to leave... so is your glass half full? or half empty?
Taking all of that aside... let's look at something else all together that gets lost in here... This is a tale of a group of people. Grade 3 begins the introduction of history through story. You start with these - now if you are Hindu or Muslim then you also have stories such as these in your sacred texts... by all means include them... they are your foundation.. . however don't forget that this is also a look at Jewish people, folklore, holidays, festivals, culture. This is about the beginning times of the Jewish world. Helping the child of age 9 realize that there are culture other than their own. After this year your child will explore the roots of Norse myth as a telling of Norse people, then Egyptian, Greek... all in a perfectly ordered time line to unfold as these children are ready. Stories of Norse in grade 4 speak to that 9yo going on 10yrs that has a sense of justice... albeit self righteous at times! lol... at 10 going on 11 they are looking at origins of others... breaking down intellectually the way things work and where they came from - you end grade 5 with Alexander the Great... which provides a beautiful transition into Roman studies the life of Christ (from both Christian AND nonChristian points of view) then continuing to the life of Muhammad... the revolutions and wars that come after... all in the name of who is right! This begins as a seed in the 9yo child and blossoms into the birth of great thinking in the 12yo and above.
I know this has been a mamothly long post, it is my hope that you will take these stories to your children without bias. Your experience with God and organized religion does not have to be your child's! In fact these stories about about people... not religions... they mirror what your child is going through... a struggling spirit on a human journey. Let them unfold it. If you are struggling with parts of the curriculum then you need to take that to prayer... don't pray? WHY? Because you think you have to pray as your parents did? Raising a child in the shadow of your own frustrations with faith is going to be far harder on them as you try to liberate yourself. Your journey should focus on the positive and the wonderful things you can bring to your family... not on the past. The past can only hurt you if you continue to let it. I have a past... and for the most part... I keep it where it belongs. My future... ahhhhh so much more fun
that my past!
Oh and for those wondering... I grew up Christian, spent much of my 20s Pagan and am now walking a very esoteric Christian path... a path that I have allowed elements of my Pagan past and my Christian upbringing to meld with... I have zero regrets... I love who I am working to become... and I love each of you too... I pray for all of you each day. You can do it Mama!!! Be that Beacon! No matter what path you are on, walk it.
Learn more about the roadmap through the Waldorf grades here.
Our Waldorf homeschooling Grade 3 curriculum is available here.