If, like many parents, you're concerned that mainstream education is a cold and unfeeling machine that treats your child like a number, then you might be tempted to send the precious little one to a Waldorf school, where each child is treated as an individual. In the weirdest possible way.
Waldorf education is the largest-growing alternative education movement in the world today, and although some schools will admit it more readily than others, their system is based on a spiritual movement called anthroposophy, which revolves around things like karma, astrology, clairvoyance, reincarnation, and "advancing children's connection to the spirit world."
"No, Jimmy, wrong spirit door! Run toward the light!"
According to Waldorf advocates, individual children should be labeled with different "temperaments" based on their physical characteristics. These characteristics can include the general build, the size of the head, and the, well, color of the skin. After the children are assigned as "phlegmatic," "sanguine," "choleric," or "melancholic," they are then to be treated differently according to that classification.
If this doesn't already sound like something dreamed up by your racist grandpa, Waldorf schools also adhere to a low-tech, anti-technology mantra. That doesn't just mean they've banned iPads -- anything requiring batteries is taboo, and the toys available are things like pinecones and faceless dolls, and anything else that would make an Amish elder grunt in approval. Ironically, some of the biggest fans of this style of education include many in the Silicon Valley crowd, who balk at the idea that a tablet can teach their kids to read. Not that Waldorf schools will teach them to read -- they commonly delay reading to the point where children cannot do so proficiently until age 9 or 10.
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"Sure, Dad, I'd love to hear you read me a story. Thanks for rubbing it in, asshole."
The philosophy behind Waldorf education was dreamed up at the turn of the 20th century by Rudolph Steiner of Austria, a crackpot who we have already mentioned due to his daffy agricultural theories that included filling cow horns with manure and burying them to please the Earth spirits. If classifying children into categories based on skin color makes you uncomfortable, it's probably because the idea came from a guy who believed that the highest state of being could only be found in the form of a Germanic or Nordic white European.
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As demonstrated by this ridiculous stereotype.
Apparently, the Waldorf system has had some successes, from claims of higher SAT scores to a decent track record for working with troubled youths. And that's fine if you don't mind your kids learning that science is wrong about most things and that you have 12 senses based on the signs of the zodiac.
E. Reid Ross does some other stuff over at RealToyGun.com.
For more stupid things you can do with your millions and millions of dollars, check out 7 Great Products for Telling the World You're a Rich Dick and 6 Pet Products That Prove Rich People Have Gone Insane.
And to further expand your noggin, check out Cracked's De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew.