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Dishonest/evasive waldorf teacher...

post #1 of 186
Thread Starter 
I've wanted ds to go to Waldorf, but now i'm having really big second thoughts because of the experience we're having with one of the teachers right now. She's lied to me once, and it seems like every time ds's dad or i try to talk to her that she's very evasive and just wont give a straight answer about anything (re starting kindercottage in sept). There are a few things that are weirding me out right now, and i'm having serious doubts. I mean, really, if the teacher cant be honest and straightforward with the parents, then what kind of role model is she going to be for young impressionable children? I'm wondering if this is just our experience with this one person, or if all waldorf teachers are so evasive? There are so many things about waldorf that i love, but i'm getting really turned off by the secrecy and lack of communication.
post #2 of 186
this is exactly what we experienced (no outright lies that I know of, but) - a general feeling of secrecy and evasiveness. When combined with the singsong gentle sweetness of a waldorf teacher, it's kind of creepy.

I do love so many things about waldorf, but we ruled it out long ago when my oldest was a preschooler. We did parents and tots and spent several years active at the school, but in the end, I couldn't drop them off there and walk away. Too many unknowns and weird gut feelings. :-(
post #3 of 186
I have extensive experience with waldorf and my take would be that it is more likely to be the teacher rather than the entire waldorf movement. However, if you have uneasy feelings about the teacher or the school, then you probably should either back away or do more research.

Can you take the problems/questions up a level? Is there a "chair" or lead teacher for the preschool/kindergarten classes? A college chair for the school? An administrator? The admissions officer? If you don't raise your concerns and if no one else raises any concerns, then a teacher who is misbehaving can get away with whatever it is he/she is doing.

Good luck in figuring out the best way to go. Your child comes first, always.

Nana
post #4 of 186
Thread Starter 
thx for the feedback.

there is an admin and an admissions person and i'd like to talk to both of them before i make any more decisions about this.

on a gut level, i'm really questioning whether or not waldorf is going to be a good fit for us now, and we're keeping other options open.
post #5 of 186
I pulled my son out of Waldorf after almost 4 years for different reasons.
Waldorf did not suit my son's personality type or bring out the best in him.
His last teacher did not understand him and was not able to deal with him.
Looking back I regret sending him there at all.
However I can't say that the teachers were dishonest or evasive. The ones I encountered answered all my questions, so it is this particular teacher you are talking to who is that way.
I just can advise you if you have any strange or bad feelings about this teacher then don't for anything in this world leave your child with her!
Good Luck!
post #6 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by moss
thx for the feedback.

there is an admin and an admissions person and i'd like to talk to both of them before i make any more decisions about this.

on a gut level, i'm really questioning whether or not waldorf is going to be a good fit for us now, and we're keeping other options open.
My gut told me Waldorf wasn't for us either. You rarely go wrong listening to you r gut.
post #7 of 186
Whatever you decide to do, please let the enrollment co-ordinator know your feelings about this teacher. The teacher doesn't sound like they are doing a good job and they will ultimately hurt the school in many ways.

Teachers have a huge impact on people's perceptions of a school or system of education. A bad Montessori teacher left me with a bad impression of Montessori for a long time. I wish now, that I had said something to the school.

Good luck in your search for a preschool. I hope you find something that is a good fit for you and your child.
post #8 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by benjalo
this is exactly what we experienced (no outright lies that I know of, but) - a general feeling of secrecy and evasiveness. When combined with the singsong gentle sweetness of a waldorf teacher, it's kind of creepy.

I do love so many things about waldorf, but we ruled it out long ago when my oldest was a preschooler. We did parents and tots and spent several years active at the school, but in the end, I couldn't drop them off there and walk away. Too many unknowns and weird gut feelings. :-(
This was our experience also.

You are not alone, moss. I hope you find a school and teacher you feel good about.
post #9 of 186
What specifically did she lie about?
post #10 of 186
Moss,
Perhaps this site might help you get more information.


http://www.openwaldorf.com/
post #11 of 186
We had a bad experience with our Waldorf scool being dishonest , about some problems and issues they were having on an administrative level. Alot of the teachers were quitting and there was alot of unrest. We did however love DS's teacher and still miss her. We pulled DS out , partly bc of the $$, also the unrest bc of the tuition assistance programs. We had to keep Ds back a grade, which has hurt his self esteem. I loved the idea of the W schools, just the reality of a lower to mid income family going there was undoable. So when it is the "school' being dishonest, not just the teacher, you have to wonder.
post #12 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by BelovedK
We had a bad experience with our Waldorf scool being dishonest , about some problems and issues they were having on an administrative level. Alot of the teachers were quitting and there was alot of unrest. We did however love DS's teacher and still miss her. We pulled DS out , partly bc of the $$, also the unrest bc of the tuition assistance programs. We had to keep Ds back a grade, which has hurt his self esteem. I loved the idea of the W schools, just the reality of a lower to mid income family going there was undoable. So when it is the "school' being dishonest, not just the teacher, you have to wonder.
My experience, too, has been that an entire school can behave dishonestly. I don't agree with the comment a few posts above that it is an individual thing - I think it goes further into the philosophy itself and dishonesty is something that Steiner himself made available to the earliest Waldorf teachers because he understood that the general public would not accept Waldorf methods at face value. That's why we get answers like "Steiner is difficult" or "you should read more". In my 13 year Waldorf experience, I have encountered many dishonest teachers in Waldorf. One in particular was so dishonest that parents literally feared for their children's safety. I may be an odd case, but I often fear for my children's safety.

Some of this dishonesty comes automatically - teachers learn from their peers how to "handle" certain questions that parents keep asking (partly because they are never answered). "What's all this Lucifer and Ahriman stuff" - "Well, Steiner is difficult - you should join a study group if you want to learn about this - but, in any case, Anthroposophy is not taught in Waldorf schools." These are dishonest, rehearsed answers intended to placate parents for as long as possible. Then, typically, one of two things happen - parents either stop asking questions or they demand answers. Actually, a third option often happens - there is a crisis and the parents who had been fostering doubts about the school leave the school.

At at least one Waldorf school, there is a "communication's protocol" that says parents can only bring their questions/problems to the teacher directly. Parents are technically not allowed to communicate among themselves - so if a parent is experiencing strange behavior in a teacher, for example, they are likely to think they are the only one. When the teacher IS the problem, it makes it difficult to get anywhere.

Anyway, when parents start demanding answers, they may require special handling by the school (answers to the difficult questions are still not provided). The first thing they do is isolate the disgruntled parent. This is often done through the rumor or gossip mill that is common to all Waldorf schools that I know of. Sometimes, another parent or someone they trust will be enlisted to "help" them - or to calm them down. If that doesn't work, other methods increasing in discomfort for the family may be applied.

As a family enters Waldorf, they become part of a community. This seems very nice, but in reality it isolates families from the outside world. If a child has a birthday party, it is quietly expected that only Waldorf children will attend. And let's face it, Waldorf requires a lot of volunteering and between that and school plays, recitials, parent meetings, faires a festivals, seasonal events and sports activities, families are soon isolated from non-Waldorf friends because there is often little time for them. Sometimes, even family members and grandparents have been isolated or granted limited access to the children because of their non-Waldorf ideas. So after a year or two of Waldorf, many families have no life outside of Waldorf. And this harsh reality keeps them in Waldorf. When a problem is apparent, when a teacher or a school is dishonest, it isn't just a matter of walking out on a teacher or a school, you and your family walk out on an entire community - on all your children's friends, on all your own friends. The void left in one's family by leaving a Waldorf school is huge and leaving Waldorf is psychologically painful to everyone in the family. This is why so many people compare Waldorf environments to cults. It feels trapping in that way to many people.

Pete
post #13 of 186

Too bad to be true, but it is!

Wow, Pete.

What you have said is true, and I must say, it was a relief to hear someone else verbalize what I have experienced myself. I was a founding parent, and eventually became a grades teacher in a Waldorf School. Imagine the hostility I met with when I was the one raising questions about a fellow teacher!!!

My punishment (which they actually called it) took an entire school year where I was forced to write a six page apology to the teacher, closely edited line by line by the faculty chair, or I would lose my job.

I was also required to take anger management classes (I never once yelled, threatened, lied, exagerrated, or used profanity)

and

told to write a letter to the Anthroposophical (Waldorf) Doctor who reported to the school that my child's teacher had harmed my son. I was forced in this closely edited letter to tell this doctor I was wrong and that I understood that I could have ruined the teacher's career by telling the doctor why I brought my child to him!

After I jumped through all of their hoops, they added one last requirement in April: my son would have to stay out of the school for his first grade year so they could further monitor my "probation".

At first I agreed (to buy time while I thought it through and my family got outside counseling for perspective: which we had lost a lot of while in the community). The last week of school I told them that punishing my son was not fair, and they told me, "Okay, then we are taking that as your resignation". I said it was not, and they told me too bad, they were viewing it that way NO MATTER WHAT I SAID.

They then sent out a letter to the community saying I was unable to work out returning to the school for family issues and I had thus resigned!

Talk about dishonest!

I am trained in Waldorf Ed. and still devoted to the curriculum, but agree the Anthroposophical Society in America (ASA) as well as the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA) has a lot of inner reflection and brutal honesty to face before the movement can thrive. The evasive teachers are just one symptom. Unfortunately, they do learn it from each other, unless someone like me comes in and sheds light on it. It happens not only in my school, but all over, and I hear about it in teacher training.

At that point the only thing to be done is the parents rallying and pulling an "Alabama Bus Boycott" until the teachers wake up and behave in a professional, mature manner. Fearing your child's class will fold is not an excuse. We have to rally for the GREATER good in the long run, which may have been the ultimate lesson in the first place.

Sincerely,

B.
post #14 of 186
Wow. . just WOW.


I am not yet ready to discuss my own experience with this subject, as it is still too fresh for me.


I just wanted to speak up and let those of you know who have experienced this in a Waldorf school that you are not alone. You are believed and supported.
post #15 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
Wow, Pete.

What you have said is true, and I must say, it was a relief to hear someone else verbalize what I have experienced myself. I was a founding parent, and eventually became a grades teacher in a Waldorf School. Imagine the hostility I met with when I was the one raising questions about a fellow teacher!!!
I don't have to imagine it - I've experienced it first hand. It can get very ugly.
Quote:
My punishment (which they actually called it) took an entire school year where I was forced to write a six page apology to the teacher, closely edited line by line by the faculty chair, or I would lose my job.
Little did you know your job was gone the minute you broke ranks.
Quote:
I was also required to take anger management classes (I never once yelled, threatened, lied, exagerrated, or used profanity)
But the fact that you had to take them works great in the gossip mill. It makes it look like you were the problem.
Quote:
and told to write a letter to the Anthroposophical (Waldorf) Doctor who reported to the school that my child's teacher had harmed my son. I was forced in this closely edited letter to tell this doctor I was wrong and that I understood that I could have ruined the teacher's career by telling the doctor why I brought my child to him!
It sounds incredible to people who haven't experienced it - but absolutely rings true with those who have. And I assume we're not talking about a Waldorf school in a third-world country here, right?
Quote:
After I jumped through all of their hoops, they added one last requirement in April: my son would have to stay out of the school for his first grade year so they could further monitor my "probation".
When I, a parent, complained about the school, they expelled one of my three kids and issued a letter stating that because of my activities on the internet, my child could not attend the school.
Quote:
At first I agreed (to buy time while I thought it through and my family got outside counseling for perspective: which we had lost a lot of while in the community). The last week of school I told them that punishing my son was not fair, and they told me, "Okay, then we are taking that as your resignation". I said it was not, and they told me too bad, they were viewing it that way NO MATTER WHAT I SAID.
Again AFTER you had jumped through all their hoops. Punishment, indeed.
Quote:
They then sent out a letter to the community saying I was unable to work out returning to the school for family issues and I had thus resigned!

Talk about dishonest!
LOL! Yes, the letters they issue would be hilarious if they weren't so dishonest.
Quote:
I am trained in Waldorf Ed. and still devoted to the curriculum, but agree the Anthroposophical Society in America (ASA) as well as the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA) has a lot of inner reflection and brutal honesty to face before the movement can thrive. The evasive teachers are just one symptom. Unfortunately, they do learn it from each other, unless someone like me comes in and sheds light on it. It happens not only in my school, but all over, and I hear about it in teacher training.
Yes, by no means is this an isolated incident.
Quote:
At that point the only thing to be done is the parents rallying and pulling an "Alabama Bus Boycott" until the teachers wake up and behave in a professional, mature manner. Fearing your child's class will fold is not an excuse. We have to rally for the GREATER good in the long run, which may have been the ultimate lesson in the first place.
The more people that have the courage to speak out, the better, overall, it will be for Waldorf. There is NOTHING acceptable about this all-too-common behavior. They need to be exposed EVERY time something like this happens. And, frankly, I'm not so sure it wouldn't be beneficial to name names (but I won't). Parents should know exactly which schools are involved in this type of behavior. Silence on the part of the victims just breeds more victims.

Pete
post #16 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
It sounds incredible to people who haven't experienced it - but absolutely rings true with those who have. And I assume we're not talking about a Waldorf school in a third-world country here, right?

. . . . . . .

The more people that have the courage to speak out, the better, overall, it will be for Waldorf. There is NOTHING acceptable about this all-too-common behavior. They need to be exposed EVERY time something like this happens. And, frankly, I'm not so sure it wouldn't be beneficial to name names (but I won't). Parents should know exactly which schools are involved in this type of behavior. Silence on the part of the victims just breeds more victims.

Pete
Thank you for saying this.


I totally agree. There is a dire need for communication amongst a group that perpetuates mystery and quietly (or sometimes not) advocates unresolved conflict.

It is the responsibility of those who are aware to stand up and tell their stories. Otherwise, they are just passive participants contributing to the problem.
post #17 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
As a family enters Waldorf, they become part of a community. This seems very nice, but in reality it isolates families from the outside world. If a child has a birthday party, it is quietly expected that only Waldorf children will attend. And let's face it, Waldorf requires a lot of volunteering and between that and school plays, recitials, parent meetings, faires a festivals, seasonal events and sports activities, families are soon isolated from non-Waldorf friends because there is often little time for them. Sometimes, even family members and grandparents have been isolated or granted limited access to the children because of their non-Waldorf ideas. So after a year or two of Waldorf, many families have no life outside of Waldorf. And this harsh reality keeps them in Waldorf. When a problem is apparent, when a teacher or a school is dishonest, it isn't just a matter of walking out on a teacher or a school, you and your family walk out on an entire community - on all your children's friends, on all your own friends. The void left in one's family by leaving a Waldorf school is huge and leaving Waldorf is psychologically painful to everyone in the family. This is why so many people compare Waldorf environments to cults. It feels trapping in that way to many people.Pete
Well. I went to a Waldorf school for 9 years, and my sibs went k-12. I suppose you could call us a "Waldorf family." I have some good things to say about Waldorf education as it was practiced at this particular school. I also have many issues with my experience there, and my own kids are not going to a WS (for various reasons) This, however, was not one of my issues. And Pete, this take on things seems really extreme!

My school was/is one of the oldest, most established WS in the country. It has an extensive Anthroposophical community associated with it. And there were definitely families who made the school their main community. My family wasn't one of those families. Pressure only to invite Waldorf kids to a birthday party?! I never heard of such a thing. After a year or two of Waldorf, my family was doing the same old things we always did: skiing in the winter, road trips in the summer, trips to the library, going to Quaker Meeting, visiting grandparents, yadda yadda ya. We had plenty of life outside of Waldorf, and so did everyone I know.

And as for the families I knew who were more involved, it was usually the mother, who took on lots of volunteer work. You'll find mothers like that at any school. The only kids I knew who were anything like what you describe were the kids who came from the anthroposophical community near the school. They were the minority of students, and coming from that community, with anthropop parents, naturally they were going to make the community their focus. Not that I agree with such an insulated environment for a kid, but this pressure on regular families that you speak of is just confounding to me. I left my WS after 9th grade. Doing that wasn't psychologically painful to anyone in my family!

I've said before on these boards and I'll say it again: Don't judge all Waldorf schools by what you hear about one person's experience (and it sounds like Pete had a rotten time). Investigate the individual school.
post #18 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama
Well. I went to a Waldorf school for 9 years, and my sibs went k-12. I suppose you could call us a "Waldorf family." I have some good things to say about Waldorf education as it was practiced at this particular school. I also have many issues with my experience there, and my own kids are not going to a WS (for various reasons) This, however, was not one of my issues. And Pete, this take on things seems really extreme!
I think so too. It IS extreme - true, but extreme.
Quote:
My school was/is one of the oldest, most established WS in the country.
Mine too. Sometimes the older, more established schools are less progressive than the newer schools. There is no correlation between age and effectiveness that I've noticed.
Quote:
It has an extensive Anthroposophical community associated with it. And there were definitely families who made the school their main community. My family wasn't one of those families. Pressure only to invite Waldorf kids to a birthday party?! I never heard of such a thing.
And I never said such a thing - I said "expectation" - and that is absolutely true in my experience. Parents don't expect or appreciate when other non-Waldorf children attend birthday parties and things because they bring TV or other influences into conversations. I've seen this many times.
Quote:
After a year or two of Waldorf, my family was doing the same old things we always did: skiing in the winter, road trips in the summer, trips to the library, going to Quaker Meeting, visiting grandparents, yadda yadda ya. We had plenty of life outside of Waldorf, and so did everyone I know.
OK. And are you saying that I'm implying there were rules against this? I'm saying it is easy for families to become over-involved in Waldorf school activities. Not every family does, but many do.
Quote:
And as for the families I knew who were more involved, it was usually the mother, who took on lots of volunteer work. You'll find mothers like that at any school.
I wouldn't say that at all. I saw both mothers and fathers participating and volunteering for almost everything.
Quote:
The only kids I knew who were anything like what you describe were the kids who came from the anthroposophical community near the school. They were the minority of students, and coming from that community, with anthropop parents, naturally they were going to make the community their focus. Not that I agree with such an insulated environment for a kid, but this pressure on regular families that you speak of is just confounding to me.
I'll always be the first to admit everyone's experience is different - and absolutely, every school is different or similar in various ways. And, as I said, if you haven't experienced what I have described, it WILL sound astounding, unbelievable to you.
Quote:
I left my WS after 9th grade. Doing that wasn't psychologically painful to anyone in my family!
It doesn't sound like you were as entrenched in Waldorf as most of the families I have experienced.
Quote:
I've said before on these boards and I'll say it again: Don't judge all Waldorf schools by what you hear about one person's experience (and it sounds like Pete had a rotten time). Investigate the individual school.
Absolutely! Not all Waldorf schools are the same. I absolutely agree - investigate the individual school THOROUGHLY!!! And as I've said, be 100% sure Waldorf is for you before you sign on the dotted line.

Pete
post #19 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
I'll always be the first to admit everyone's experience is different - and absolutely, every school is different or similar in various ways. And, as I said, if you haven't experienced what I have described, it WILL sound astounding, unbelievable to you.



Pete

If I may. . it seems that Pete has definately shown that his perspective does not reflect 'people' in any general sense of the word; that his feeling of outrage is so because he has personally experienced outrageous behavior in his Waldorf community. That said, I don't think he'd feel compelled to single out Waldorf education if he saw that 'everyone' around him behaved this way, regardless of involvement with Waldorf.

He is able to differentiate between what is cultural social norm and the way they're acting in his Waldorf community, and it's through this comparison that he's coming to these conclusions. His conclusions are no less real or valid than anyone's whose had a smoother sail in their own Waldorf community, and he's not alone in his experience.
post #20 of 186
Quote:
Originally Posted by zinemama
Well. I went to a Waldorf school for 9 years, and my sibs went k-12. I suppose you could call us a "Waldorf family."
I forgot to ask, out of curiosity, and if you don't mind saying so, how did you all do? Did you all go to college, graduate college? Did you feel adequately prepared for college? What kind of careers did you end up in? Did Waldorf prepare you for your careers? Just curious - I'd love to think I have misconceptions about this. Thanks!

Pete
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