Originally Posted by cgmom
The things that concern me that I will definitely be looking into include the approach to mediating student relationships (bullying specifically) - a hands off approach is definitely not okay with me, and competency of the teachers. I am puzzled how one person can be adequately trained in all of the subject areas they are required to teach in their 8 year journey with one class. Anyone who can shed light on that for me would be helping me out a great deal.
anyway, just a few random thoughts of mine...
On the mediating student relationships, I'm no expert. So I'll make a wild guess based on things I've heard from teachers and my own observations while working at a waldorf school. I think the idea is that teachers need to try to find a balance between trying to prevent all problems between children by intervening in all instances of conflict and standing back so far that children injure and intimidate each other. Children won't learn how to deal with conflict if they never experience it and they also won't learn to deal with conflict if they are seriously injured, frightened and overwhelmed by it.
Outright bullying is another whole problem. The school I worked at didn't seem to have much in the way of a problem with this: I never heard any complaints from children or parents, nor did I ever see any signs of children hassling each other. I did my playground duty a couple times a week, plus traffic duty in the morning once a week, so I did have a fair number of opportunities to observe. I also attended the large faculty meeting and the elementary level faculty meeting. The chronic behavioral problem in the level meeting was the boys flooding their restroom, something they seemed to find amusing. We finally got it under control by having the women teachers knock, announce that a woman teacher was coming in soon, and then entering (not enough male staff was the real problem
). The random invasions made it too nervewracking for the boys to keep stuffing the toilets.
On the 8 year subject excursion: not all teachers make it through the 8 years, for one thing. For another, most teachers prepare year by year. They will ask other teachers for ideas. They will take summer intensive courses on the upcoming curriculum. They will travel. They will research. The curriculum is challenging, but for the grade school material the teachers don't have to be deep academic experts, they just need to be able to present the material in a lively and fairly real way.
My daughter's teacher did very well until she hit the upper grades and started trying to teach science classes. At this point she asked one of the experienced teachers to go through a couple of the science blocks with her. He acted as lead teacher and she functioned as assistant teacher. By the time they finished she had a pretty good idea of what sort of prep she needed to do, what source materials to draw on, what equipment she needed and so forth.
At the other end: in 9th grade I was fortunate to have Hermann von Barravalle teaching conic sections. He was one of the teachers from the first waldorf school in Stuttgart who had fled from the Nazi takeover of Austria and ended up in the U.S. Although he had taught this subject innumerable times and had literally written the book on how it should be taught in waldorf schools, he still carefully prepared a fresh set of geometric constructions for each morning's class. Then he built the form on the blackboard, step-by-step, with the class following along building their own forms at their desk. It was an experience of the beauty and order and dynamism that exists in geometry that I can still remember with warmth and excitement 40 years later. He adored parabolas! Hyperbolas and ellipses certainly had their delights, but parabolas were something extraordinarily special.
In the second half of tenth grade, back in public school, I encountered a one page description of the conic sections in my geometry textbook. Dead boring. A diagram of a chopped up cone and a few formulas.
I think I've digressed all over the landscape, sorry!