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Is this normal?

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
I was talking with a friend of mine who sends her son to the Waldorf School near here and she told me that her son (Just turned 5 in January) has been coming home saying that another little boy in the class tells him that he wants to kill him . He has also come home saying that this boy gets the rest of the class not to play with him.

I asked her if she spoke with the teacher about it and she said yes and that the teacher is not really doing anything about it. The mother of the other child has also complained about my friend and her son to the teacher.

I was just surprised when she was telling me this because it has always been my impression that bullying is something that is not tolerated and dealt with in the Waldorf environment.
post #2 of 47

In theory No

This is just some of the stuff I (or should I say my son) have been going through the last 2 years which is just one of many reasons why I finally pulled him out a few months ago.
My son was going wild in the Kindergarten class. He was telling me about other kids hitting him or saying mean things to him, but he was doing it too and other parents complained to the teacher about him a well. It was terrible!

Of course in theory bulling is not allowed in Waldorf schools. However because they let the children have so much unstructured free play I think allot gets by the teachers unnoticed.
Another thing is they let my son get away with bad behaviour.Often he had no idea he had done any thing wrong!
This is not only my experience but other parents as well.
I can't say though if that is so in every Waldorf school because allot of it depends on how vigilant the individual teacher is.
post #3 of 47
That should not be tolerated in any school....period! :
post #4 of 47
This has not been my experience at our school. Whenever we have had a problem, the teachers have kept a closer eye on things and made sure that the situation did not continue. Your friend should keep talking to the teacher about it and asking what she can do to help with her son. Is it possible for her to talk with the other mother? As crazy as it seems, a playdate together at one or the other's house might help a lot.
post #5 of 47
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhonwyn
This has not been my experience at our school. Whenever we have had a problem, the teachers have kept a closer eye on things and made sure that the situation did not continue. Your friend should keep talking to the teacher about it and asking what she can do to help with her son. Is it possible for her to talk with the other mother? As crazy as it seems, a playdate together at one or the other's house might help a lot.

My friend has actually tried prior to this recent incident to set up a play date with them. She even said to the mother that she believes they could get past their differences if they spent time one on one together. The other mother was not interested.

I will advise her to keep discussing the situation with the teacher. She is also thinking of requesting her son be switched to a different teacher next year since their are 4 classes for that grade. Besides the issue with this other child she is thinking that this may not be the right teacher for her son.

Thank you for all your feedback ladies. I was at a loss as to what to tell her because I do not have any personal experience with Waldorf.
post #6 of 47
She should also be able to take the problem to a higher authority if she is not getting anywhere with the teacher. How this works depends on the school.

Some schools have a "lead" teacher or "chair" at each level. At the Chicago Waldorf School there was a chair for early childhood, one for the grades and one for the HS. If a question wasn't satisfactorily answered by the teacher the talking to the chair would be the next step.

The parent's handbook should have a section on problem resolution. If it doesn't, talk to the school administrator or to the college chair.

Hope she can get this sorted out quickly. It sounds like a terrible situation.
Nana
post #7 of 47
I am not at all surprised that the teacher didn't do anything. Anthroposophists believe in karma. If a child is being bullied, it is because of his or her karma, and they don't want to interfere.
post #8 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by janellesmommy
I am not at all surprised that the teacher didn't do anything. Anthroposophists believe in karma. If a child is being bullied, it is because of his or her karma, and they don't want to interfere.
What is suppose to happen then? :
post #9 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by janellesmommy
I am not at all surprised that the teacher didn't do anything. Anthroposophists believe in karma. If a child is being bullied, it is because of his or her karma, and they don't want to interfere.

For one thing, not all Waldorf teachers are anthroposophists and for another, even if they do believe in karma, most no longer follow this line of reasoning. Our Kindergarten teachers seemed to believe in karma (never came out an said they specifically did) and they never let this sort of bullying go on. They believed in teaching kids manners and that everyone should be treated nicely and fairly. One of their most common sayings to the children is "All doors are open" meaning that no one is allowed to exclude another child from playing with them or their group.
post #10 of 47
I agree with Rhonwyn. I have about 40 years of experience with waldorf, as a student, parent, administrator and now grandparent and I've never once had a teacher use karma as a reason to abstain from interfering with bullying or any other problem between children.

When I was going to public schools I was regularly bullied. No teacher ever noticed, much less interfered. This was in the 50s and 60s and I believe there wasn't much awareness among teachers. In gym class bullying was even encouraged. Gym class was an opportunity for the rest of the kids to pick on the brainy kids.

When I was 14 I moved to a waldorf school. In the two years I spent there I was never once bullied or harassed. In the 13 years my daughter spent in two waldorf schools she had one problem with teasing, in HS. The kids involved ended up leaving the school.

So the teachers in this particular situation may be incompetent, but I doubt if a belief in karma plays into the problem at all. It is just another club to attack waldorf. It is effective to raise a concern about bullying in a waldorf school in exactly the same way it would be raised in any other school. First by talking to the teacher and then, if that doesn't quickly resolve the problem, going up to the next level of authority. In some schools that would be the chair, sometimes in a larger school the "level" chair, sometimes the college chair, sometimes the administrator. Who to go to should be explained in the parent handbook, and if it isn't, that is another concern to raise.

Deborah (Nana)
post #11 of 47
Thread Starter 
I wanted to give all of you ladies an update since you were so helpful with my question.

I saw my friend briefly over the week-end and asked her how her meeting went with the chair. She did not want to get into it. She still wants to switch teachers for her son and told me she needs to write a letter. When I asked her if she got any resolution she said that they need to have another meeting. All she really said about the experience was that they really did not seem to care as it was the end of the school year. She felt they were more interested in summer break then discussing her child.
post #12 of 47

Is this normal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kewb
I wanted to give all of you ladies an update since you were so helpful with my question.

I saw my friend briefly over the week-end and asked her how her meeting went with the chair. She did not want to get into it. She still wants to switch teachers for her son and told me she needs to write a letter. When I asked her if she got any resolution she said that they need to have another meeting. All she really said about the experience was that they really did not seem to care as it was the end of the school year. She felt they were more interested in summer break then discussing her child.
It has been my experience that, depending on the teacher, bullying is allowed for some time to run its course. I sincerely believe this is based on the Anthroposophical belief in karma and a reasoning that says the students have karma together that needs to be worked out. The extent to which this is allowed to continue, varies from teacher to teacher and school to school - but it happens and it is my understanding that it is fairly common.

Pete
post #13 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
It has been my experience that, depending on the teacher, bullying is allowed for some time to run its course. I sincerely believe this is based on the Anthroposophical belief in karma and a reasoning that says the students have karma together that needs to be worked out. The extent to which this is allowed to continue, varies from teacher to teacher and school to school - but it happens and it is my understanding that it is fairly common.

Pete

From my experience, it is not common. Our school, in particular, has had several Waldorf speakers come and address the issue of bullying. How to recognize it and how to handle it. At every single workshop I have attended, not once has karma been used as an excuse to allow bullying to continue.

I can only speak for the Kindergarten classes and the two classes my children are a part of, but in none of them was bullying allowed to continue. There was some letting the children work things out but when situations came to the point where it was obvious that this was not working, the teachers or parents around, stepped in. A no blame policy of working with the receiver and the giver, has worked very well in the Kindergarten classes and the 2 grade school classes I have directly observed. The 'all doors are open' policy the Kindergarten teachers, whom our family was with for 5 years between two children, worked very well. I won't say everything was sweetness and light, but when problems arose, they were adressed and not allowed to fester.
post #14 of 47
With all respect, from my view, I do believe that far too much is allowed/accepted under the Anthroposophical umbrella of karma.
post #15 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by pioneermama
With all respect, from my view, I do believe that far too much is allowed/accepted under the Anthroposophical umbrella of karma.
I can relate a personal experience here. I came to pick up my son from class one afternoon and turned the corner in time to witness him swing his backpack at (and hit) another, much larger boy. I started to step in but the teacher was there (a teacher I dearly love, BTW) and she let it go. The bigger boy was a little stunned by it, but was OK. I pulled the teacher aside and asked what that was all about. She said the bigger boy had been pestering my boy all week. What I witnessed was a response to an ongoing situation - one that resolved itself at that point. I'm not sure I would have let it work itself out in this way (based on the behavior my son had to adopt to protect himself) but I let it go. It's not that I don't believe in "boys will be boys", but I would have drawn the line earlier.

Pete
post #16 of 47
My dd was a victim this past year in preschool of a "Queen Bee" bully who did the same thing - divided up all the girls, told each one whom they could play with and what they could play, hovered, manipulated, bullied and harrassed the kids, mostly the girls. The teachers said they did believe there was karma at work, but that they would guide my dd to help her come into her own strength so she could meet the challenge, but as far as I can tell, they just forgot all about it and let it continue. In the class next door there is a boy bully who had similar tactics.

The mothers of three girls in our class all compared notes and we all had the same experiences with the teachers’ noncommittal attitude. Five boys in the other class dropped out last year due to that same boy because essentially the parents were told that the boy had to work it out and the teachers were not going to do anything to stop him.

On the other hand, the preschool dd went to in the U.S. from 2002-2004 was totally different, where the teacher was very proactive in stopping the dominant kids from bullying. She was also much more culturally aware and less traditionally Waldorf than the teachers here (Eastern Europe). So I think it really is individual on the part of the teacher and whether the school community is progressive or more orthodox.
post #17 of 47
Again, I can only speak for our school, but at our school there is recognition that bullying is not a good thing and it is not allowed to go on with karma as the excuse. The children are encouraged to work things out but with guidance from the teacher or other adults. As the children get older, many of this situations are handled in class meetings with the children policing themselves.

I will say that rough play is allowed but is watched closely to make sure that it is okay with all parties. If someone didn't want to be a part of it, the class was expected to let that party not participate without any reprecussions. My son has been on the receiving end of rough play (wrestling on the ground) but he is not usually the instigator. His teacher (in private) has asked him repeatedly if he was okay with it. He always said 'Yes, it is fun!'. She was concerned that he was just saying that to be part of the group so she came to us and talked about it, seeking to make sure that he really was okay with it. We talked with him and because we know our son, we were able to confirm that he really was okay with it and actually enjoyed it. The wrestling lasted maybe a couple of months before the boys moved on to something else. It seemed to be something that they needed to do to get it out of their system. I was glad that the teacher kept a very close eye on it but allowed it to continue. I believe it was a release for them after summer until they could settle down in school and without the wrestling, many of the boys would have had discipline issues in the classroom.

One of the reasons I like Waldorf, is that they let the kids climb trees, etc and stretch themselves physically.
post #18 of 47
There's sometimes a fine line between being authoritative and bullying. Waldorf teachers tend to have problems with independent-thinking children. My personal experience has been that Waldorf teachers can become the bullies. In my child's class, the teacher had lost favor with (the respect of) the children - at least half the class hated her (and she deserved it IMO). One child was more vocal than the other children and the teacher chose to make things difficult on her - making her run laps in the hot sun and giving her dirty looks when nobody was looking. In one case the teacher came into the girl's restroom and seeing a huge mess that the child had nothing to do with, forced her and her friend to clean up the entire restroom. After the teacher was finally fired (after months of the other teachers circling the wagons around her) the girl was seen laughing in the hallway (I'm told about something unrelated) and it was assumed by another teacher that the children were discussing the firing of their teacher. The child was told she would have to work the entire day in the garden (Southern California in June = 90-100 degrees). A parent stepped in and stopped the punishment. I feel strongly that bullying of children extends to teachers and administrators.

Pete
post #19 of 47
Quote:
She said the bigger boy had been pestering my boy all week. What I witnessed was a response to an ongoing situation - one that resolved itself at that point.
Pete,

From my view, I do not understand why the bigger child would be allowed to pester your child in an ongoing manner for a week without a teacher addressing it in some positive way before your child felt he had to swing his backpack at the bigger boy?

My two cents: There are several different takes on karma and how it works. The Anthroposophical view is but one.

I have checked into (visited, stayed, observed) four different Waldorf schools and participated along with my dd in one playgroup. In the three school visits I witnessed varying degrees of bullying and aggression and there was no teacher intervention.

I think it is potentially dangerous to have a policy of non-interference in the name of karma.
post #20 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by pioneermama
Pete,

From my view, I do not understand why the bigger child would be allowed to pester your child in an ongoing manner for a week without a teacher addressing it in some positive way before your child felt he had to swing his backpack at the bigger boy?
I can kind of understand it I suppose. One kid does a little pestering - a little shove here, a little punch there. The other kid says "knock it off" and the first kid stops for a while. Then starts up again - maybe a little more forceful - and so on. I can see this happening and building up over the course of a week. Again, I would have stepped in sooner.

Quote:
My two cents: There are several different takes on karma and how it works. The Anthroposophical view is but one.
Oh, yes! Absolutely. One cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater - karma, as provided in the wisdom traditions, is not karma as provided in Anthroposophy.
Quote:
I have checked into (visited, stayed, observed) four different Waldorf schools and participated along with my dd in one playgroup. In the three school visits I witnessed varying degrees of bullying and aggression and there was no teacher intervention.

I think it is potentially dangerous to have a policy of non-interference in the name of karma.
And, again, I don't know if it is a "policy" per se, or just a practice that is deemed acceptable by some teachers. Teachers (most teachers) believe (are taught) that every child in their class is there because of a karmic connection with the teacher and the class.

Pete
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