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Rude Waldorf experience - Page 2

post #21 of 45
Heh. The most "waldorfy" kids in the WS I went to would have been all over your girl with that Disney doll, too. But in their case, they would have been begging to play with her! My mother didn't allow Barbie because she was a bad role model etc. I knew her reasons. And never in a million years would it have occured to me to parrot those reasons to another kid. I was itching to get my hands on those unrealistic plastic boobs and shiny synthetic hair!

So yeah, this is a place I'd stay far from. Kids who have been taught to be mean to others about stuff like this - and get away with it - are not where I'd want my kids to be. It's great that your daughter handled it so confidently.

If I were you, I would write a (calmer) version of your post here, detailing exactly what happened and explaining just why you won't be back.
post #22 of 45
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all of ya'll for the great responses! I am the OP, and, after much reflection, have arrived at the conclusion that this incident was probably a good thing, much as I hate the fact that my dd was hurt & confused by the other childrens' behavior.
Ultimately, this little incident provided me w/some valuable insight into how this director handles what I believe was bullying behavior. I know, earthmama4, that kids in the preschool age range are exploring their world & know only what they've been taught by their parent(s), teachers, etc. ... so I don't blame these children. Of course not. I view the adults' inaction (most notably the director's & her assistant) as totally inappropriate. And while I fell in love w/the classroom & crafts & all organic snacks, I cannot in good conscience send my dd to a school where she's already been badgered & none of the adults acknowledged, re-directed, practiced GD, whatever. If I was right in the room, what would happen if I dropped her off for several hours? Oh, and this & the makeup incident were not the only things. Dd told me later, clearly frightned & upset, that one of the little boys told her that if she even thought about entering his improvised fort that he would "knock her head off." Now, I didn't witness this, I was probably peeking into the other room or something, but I was shocked. She's never said those words before. Now, I saw the little boy she described. He looked older, about 6, and was obviously isolating himself the whole time we visited, sitting in a corner, outright refusing to participate in the circle, etc. None of the teachers ever tried to engage him. Maybe he had emotional or learning difficulties, Idk. So I felt badly for him as well. And, yes, I know that kids are kids and that this sort of thing can & probably will happen ANYWHERE-- but I expect that the adults in charge would attempt to stop it. That said, I am so glad dd stood up for herself & was able to stop the taunting before I had to get involved & get all "mama bear". She is very much a leader.
JennifaBest, I certainly did talk w/dd. She was clearly hurt. It's been 2+ wks, and she still brings it up. A couple of days ago, very sadly, she said, "I'm different from those kids. I speak Spanish. And they don't like the toys I like." Very sad, IMO. Though I have been very upset, I really did my best to stay calm & objective, both during our Waldorf school visit & since.
MamaInCA & zinemama, I did calmly communicate my concerns to the director & brought up these incidents. I even thanked her for allowing us the opportunity to tour her facility. Her response was basically, "Okay, since you've communicated your disappointments, you're obviously not interested in our school." That's it! Pretty sad, considering that I read about her school while I was pg & kept it in mind as a very viable alternative ever since. Oh well. Guess we won't be a Waldorf family unless we ever move. The only other "Waldorf inspired" school in our area is 50+ miles from us, and the only other one in TX to my knowledge is in Austin. Guess I'll be exploring Montessori now.
post #23 of 45
well said earthmama.
post #24 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by egarcia76 View Post
Now, I saw the little boy she described. He looked older, about 6, and was obviously isolating himself the whole time we visited, sitting in a corner, outright refusing to participate in the circle, etc. None of the teachers ever tried to engage him. Maybe he had emotional or learning difficulties, Idk.

Or maybe ...... he was just smart and ready for an environment where he could actually learn something, as opposed to being expected to play pretend every minute with children younger than him. Being bright on top of being the oldest child in a class is a recipe for disaster...the kid gets bored to death and resents being put in that situation day after day. My son never bullied anyone, but when we made the unfortunate decision to put him in a Waldorf preschool for a few months when he was 5, he didn't participate and hated circle time. The following year he entered public K and has had not one problem since (he just finished 2nd). He's in the gifted program, is friends with everyone, and is loved by his teachers. He is truly the "golden child" yet was pegged a "problem" in our short 4-month stint in Waldorf because he didn't participate with enthusiasm.

Now, he was bullied by others--twin boys who rejected anyone new-- and nothing was ever done about it.

He was taught "bathroom humor" by another boy and then blamed for teaching it to him.

He was humiliated to the point of tears about a shirt he wore to school one day and told he couldn't enter the classroom with it on (it was from the local science museum and had bones on it).

He was made to feel even worse about accidentally squishing a slug he had found--he was already crying about it, but the teacher scolded him anyway and asked me if maybe he was watching too much TV at home.

We were treated to a ridiculous and condescending lecture about the dangers of modern medicine when a few of the kids came down with pertussis and scarlet fever and their parents were considerate enough to let everyone know that they were on antibiotics. It was a university and hospital community; every one of the parents was probably more educated than the teachers, yet the teachers took it upon themselves to try to tell us how to care for our sick kids.

So...yeah. I would say you were lucky to have this experience so you can move on.
post #25 of 45
Quote:
"Okay, since you've communicated your disappointments, you're obviously not interested in our school."
Ouch! I wonder how a school could survive with someone like that in charge?

I hope you find a school that is a fantastic fit for your family.
post #26 of 45
My son attended Waldorf preschool and while we decided it wasn't for us and didn't continue, we certainly did NOT have an experience like that. How awful.

I would most certainly be turned off by that school, but just know that not all Waldorf schools are like that.

Sorry that happened.
post #27 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super Pickle View Post
Or maybe ...... he was just smart and ready for an environment where he could actually learn something, as opposed to being expected to play pretend every minute with children younger than him. Being bright on top of being the oldest child in a class is a recipe for disaster...the kid gets bored to death and resents being put in that situation day after day. My son never bullied anyone, but when we made the unfortunate decision to put him in a Waldorf preschool for a few months when he was 5, he didn't participate and hated circle time. The following year he entered public K and has had not one problem since (he just finished 2nd). He's in the gifted program, is friends with everyone, and is loved by his teachers. He is truly the "golden child" yet was pegged a "problem" in our short 4-month stint in Waldorf because he didn't participate with enthusiasm.
This is exactly why I had to decide Waldorf was not for ds. He is very bright and at 3 was nearly reading on his own - he did one year of Waldorf Nursery and the teachers were amazed at how he learned the story they told daily for a month in less than A WEEK. Yep, he was bored stiff the entire rest of the month. I visited Kindy and knew it just wasn't right for him - we are doing public school and it's a much, much better fit. They keep him challenged which includes advanced reading (something he deeply enjoys) - and in Waldorf I don't think he would even be learning to read yet. It's certainly not for everyone.
post #28 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super Pickle View Post
Or maybe ...... he was just smart and ready for an environment where he could actually learn something, as opposed to being expected to play pretend every minute with children younger than him. Being bright on top of being the oldest child in a class is a recipe for disaster...the kid gets bored to death and resents being put in that situation day after day. My son never bullied anyone, but when we made the unfortunate decision to put him in a Waldorf preschool for a few months when he was 5, he didn't participate and hated circle time. The following year he entered public K and has had not one problem since (he just finished 2nd). He's in the gifted program, is friends with everyone, and is loved by his teachers. He is truly the "golden child" yet was pegged a "problem" in our short 4-month stint in Waldorf because he didn't participate with enthusiasm.

Now, he was bullied by others--twin boys who rejected anyone new-- and nothing was ever done about it.

He was taught "bathroom humor" by another boy and then blamed for teaching it to him.

He was humiliated to the point of tears about a shirt he wore to school one day and told he couldn't enter the classroom with it on (it was from the local science museum and had bones on it).

He was made to feel even worse about accidentally squishing a slug he had found--he was already crying about it, but the teacher scolded him anyway and asked me if maybe he was watching too much TV at home.

We were treated to a ridiculous and condescending lecture about the dangers of modern medicine when a few of the kids came down with pertussis and scarlet fever and their parents were considerate enough to let everyone know that they were on antibiotics. It was a university and hospital community; every one of the parents was probably more educated than the teachers, yet the teachers took it upon themselves to try to tell us how to care for our sick kids.

So...yeah. I would say you were lucky to have this experience so you can move on.
So sad to read about your son's experience. Glad he is in an environment better suited to him. And why on earth could he not wear a science museum shirt w/bones on it??? Was it considered violent or explicit or something? I'm truly curious. Thanks again to everyone for their responses.
post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by egarcia76 View Post
Dd told me later, clearly frightned & upset, that one of the little boys told her that if she even thought about entering his improvised fort that he would "knock her head off."
I bet nothing would have been done about it if he had. When we visited a Waldorf school last December, a little boy kicked my then barely 3 year old daughter in the back and another deliberately pushed her off a play structure resulting in a severely sprained ankle. No one said a word to them. Nothing. Nada. They continued playing like nothing happened. I was beyond stunned. I still makes me cry just thinking about it. Needless to say, she will not be attending the school.

I'm all for low intervention and letting kids be kids and allowing them work things out themselves, but it can be taken too far. I think bullying, teasing, and physical violence or threats of it should not be tolerated. I'm glad you decided to find a safer environment for your daughter.
post #30 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by riverscout View Post
I bet nothing would have been done about it if he had. When we visited a Waldorf school last December, a little boy kicked my then barely 3 year old daughter in the back and another deliberately pushed her off a play structure resulting in a severely sprained ankle. No one said a word to them. Nothing. Nada.
What the ...? My son's preschool was so totally mellow yellow. It was a very tiny class. How large are the classes some of the rest of you are seeing?
post #31 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaCl View Post
What the ...? ?
:

Where is this stuff coming from?
post #32 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetest View Post
:

Where is this stuff coming from?
I can't imagine any of these ever happening at our school and I spent a TON of time there...I always see teachers respond to cases like you have mentioned. I do know there is a fair bit of 'letting children work things out for themselves,' to an extent that could make some parenting personalities uncomfortable, but not any situations like have been cited. I just cannot imagine.
post #33 of 45
We did W baby and mama classes and nursery, and our school was dreamy- no problems like this.
I can't wrap my brain or heart around the idea of letting kids deal with conflicts on their own. Where is their model? How are they supposed to know to listen to each other or talk it out when they are so young?
I work in a school (it's Montessori), and we facilitate conflict resolution/mediation with the kids. Most of the time, all I have to do is get them started and then observe them working out their differences and shaking hands or hugging each other. Kids can be honored and respected AND guided.

OP, you sound like a wonderful mama. Your daughter obviously has a lot of security and confidence to be able to deal with a peer group like that. That does not sound like a very nice school community, and as a pp asked, how could the school even survive?
post #34 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by anamama View Post
I can't wrap my brain or heart around the idea of letting kids deal with conflicts on their own. Where is their model? How are they supposed to know to listen to each other or talk it out when they are so young?
I work in a school (it's Montessori), and we facilitate conflict resolution/mediation with the kids. Most of the time, all I have to do is get them started and then observe them working out their differences and shaking hands or hugging each other. Kids can be honored and respected AND guided.
This is actually quite common in waldorf schools, especially in the grades, and their are various pedagogical/anthroposophical reasons given for it. There is a waldorf educator who travels the circuit giving lectures about bullying, etc. to try and help the schools deal with the problem. In our old school karma and destiny were routinely given as reasons for why children who were struggling with each other needed to engage in the struggle. But, it was bullying, no matter what, and anyone could see it. Children left the school over it.

It is the responsibility for parents and teachers to model socially responsible behavior and conflict resolution. It doesn't just happen on it's own. I am currently observing some very effective, gentle guidance happen in one of my children's public school classrooms. It has to start early, and be consistent. Bullying should never be tolerated.
post #35 of 45
Karne, do you know if that consultant is able to help Waldorf schools with this issue and how?
post #36 of 45
It's Kim John Payne-he has a website. I think his information is presented in a way that's acceptable to waldorf folks, and a lot of it makes sense. The real issue, and this is with any school, is whether the bullying is acknowledged as a problem and whether there is a definite commitment to stopping it and having a positive social curriculum. That means that everything has to be examined-the curriculum, pedagogy, underlying beliefs about children and their interactions, the impact that social stress has on the availability of children to learn in the classroom, the role of the staff, etc. There is a risk in opening up yourselves as an institution and as individuals to this kind of questioning. If the system is open the work can be done. if the system is closed it's more challenging to change beliefs and culture.
post #37 of 45
It seems like those are some what of isolated incidents.
I think the whole idea around Waldorf is really quite lovely and I have really fallen in love with the waldorf community out here. It's too bad some of you have had such negative experieces with it.
Just to add on to the whole make-up thing too....
Most of the women involved in our waldorf community do wear make-up, some more natural than others. But anyways, I wear some Dr. Hauschka make-up. For those of you who don't know, Dr. Hauschka is a skin care line that was started based on Rudolf Steiners anthroposophy methods. You can get very earth friendly natural make-up these days. Too bad those others were so judgemental.
post #38 of 45
I see lots of posts saying this could happen anywhere. That's true, it could. But I think it's fair to say that it happens more often, and is more likely to occur, in schools with more homogenious populations. And Waldorf is definately that... it's a very self-selected group.
post #39 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingmama View Post
I see lots of posts saying this could happen anywhere. That's true, it could. But I think it's fair to say that it happens more often, and is more likely to occur, in schools with more homogenious populations. And Waldorf is definately that... it's a very self-selected group.

I found our Waldorf school to be quite diverse when compared to other private elementary schools in our area. There were families of several different religious affiliations including Muslim, Hindi, Jewish, Buddhist, Wiccan and atheist, along with Christians of all denominations. There were 2 African American families, a family from Mauritius, Brazil, several from different parts of Europe, Chinese and Asian indian, Native and Mexican American, an Israeli family and a family from NYC. I don't think the local public school was as international! The Festivals were highly diverse and if you felt strongly about one of your own traditions, you were encouraged to share it with the school community.

As for play ground supervision, it was a bit lax so several parents would volunteer to help out. Otherwise the children could get too boisterous, and too much for one or two teachers to handle, with pushing on the play equipment and running around wildly. Isn't than normal for children at recess? I did witness some injuries. My own dd was pushed from behind on the gym and had some back pain for a couple of weeks after, because of it. So yes, things happen, but they could happen anywhere.

The school really did depend on the community of families to keep things running smoothly. We worked on the gardens, fathers and uncles built playground equipment, mothers made dolls, costumes, furnishings, food and pitched in wherever needed. My dh and I both worked shifts in the school store. I think there was much more family and parental support than I have observed in other schools. The teachers encouraged it and would assign you tasks if you didn't volunteer for something. :

To the OP- I'm so sorry you had a rude experience but please know that not all Waldorf classrooms or schools are like that, at all. We had a very warm and welcoming experience at ours and maintained contact with the Waldorf school community long after our dd left.
post #40 of 45
This does not sound like a school that is concerned with the developmental needs of young children. At the preschool age group, our goal as educators of young children should not be to indoctrinate our children into our beliefs, such as makeup being bad. Children are sensorial beings, and they have not yet reached a stage of development where they can think critically about these things. At this point, we want to provide them with stimulating experiences and playthings that will simply provide them with a continued love of the natural world, and also for people and diversity. As they reach school age, we can gently begin to guide them to think criitcally. For example, I did exercises with my 7 and 8 year old girls where we learned about factory chicken eggs and free range chicken eggs.

With all of this in mind: A teacher once told me to change a complaint into a commitment for change, by following something called praxis. Praxis is a way to solve dillemmas such as this, and it is three steps: naming, critically reflecting, and action. This is my invitation to you, follow praxis(sounds like you have already named the dilemma), critically reflect, and act in a way that will provide a solution to this harrowing experience......
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