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Help, anxiety attack about school... - Page 3

post #41 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom
and yet it is better for your children to attend this school? I would have gone to court.

Pete, you've totally lost me now.

Now I have trust issues.
I can understand this. Getting them out wasn't a slam dunk - it would have required a lot of work and a very lengthy and costly trial (imagine the cost of the nicest Mercedes you can imagine and triple it and you will know what the courts and lawyers had already taken during this process). Teachers who were willing to testify on my behalf would certainly have lost their jobs and yet they were still willing to testify. I'm pretty sure I would have prevailed, but coming up against a school/mentality like this one, where dishonesty is rampant, who knows what testimony and untruths would have found their way into the trial. The kids also had their own lawyer and he hadn't done any research on the school - all he knew was that the kids wanted to stay there so he supported this. The kids, of course, would have been torn apart by all this and they have already suffered enough. Meanwhile, the school knows I have their number and that I am willing to go public with any of their shennanigans, so I have a sense that my children are protected because of this. It was a difficult decision to allow them to remain, but, again, I ended up with the lion's share of the custody so I took it. In court, there's always a chance things will go terribly wrong and, again, the support system in place for Waldorf teachers is very hard to overcome. There are other safeguards in the settlement I'm not at liberty to discuss.

Pete
post #42 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
I think there is a plus to the very close relationships the kids have with their teachers but I can also see how lines can be crossed (or blurred) without accountability. Thanks.
You're welcome. I just want to comment about the close relationships the kids have with teachers. At this particular school, grade teachers are not usually around for the entire time - there are so many problems, teachers come and go. Some stick around for two years, some even less. The incoming 7th grade class, for example, is on their 8th teacher - although some years two teachers shared the responsibility and I'm counting both. The incoming 8th grade class is on their 5th teacher. So while Waldorf talks about the bonds between teacher and student, the more problematic schools that have difficulty finding and keeping teachers don't really develop those bonds. And, after a while, schools get a reputation that keeps the more seasoned (qualified) teachers from applying.

Pete
post #43 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
Okay so can you please summarize what Waldorf (anthroposophy) "really" mean to you.

That would truly be helpful.

I wasn't asking you to divulge personal info. You are willingly passionately participating in this didcussion and I want to understand what you feel they will do to my children. That is the point of this.
I covered some of this in my previous post but I didn't talk specifically about Anthroposophy. I can take a minute here (between projects I'm working on) and give you a brief picture.

Anthroposophy is a belief system based on the observations (both external and internal) of a single man - Rudolf Steiner. Almost nothing and certainly nothing of any substance has been added to Anthroposophy since Steiner's death. It is basically the worship and interpretation of his 30+ books and 6,000 lectures. Most people who are not Anthroposophists acknowledge that it is a religion or a religious belief system. In any case, it is generally described as Christian based although many Christians don't really find much traditional Christianity contained in it. Steiner included his own spiritual insights about how there were two Jesus children and stuff like that. Steiner felt comfortable borrowing from wisdom traditions such as reincarnation and karma and "revitalizing" them by, again, putting his own twists on them. For this reason, Anthroposophy often appears to be similar to other wisdom traditions to the casual observer. Steiner also borrowed from the mystical traditions and was a follower of Blavatsky's Theosophy before the schism that brought about Anthroposophy. He borrowed from Blavatsky the ideas of the relationships between the races through the myths of Atlantis and Lemuria and such things. Steiner liked to categorize things and developed complex hierarchies of the spirit and physical world and went into great detail about how these hierarchies interacted and developed and how humans played into the picture - how human consciousness evolved on Saturn, the sun, moon and Earth.

Steiner was able to produce volumes of information through his clairvoyant abilities. If one buys into the notion that Steiner was able to clearly see all these things, to read directly from the akashic record, one might feel comfortable accepting these ideas on faith. Steiner, however, didn't ask or expect people to take what he said on faith. He expected them to follow his indication for achieving/receiving this knowledge on their own. If only one would work hard at it, over a number of years, one could see all the things Steiner saw. Still, even a hundred years later, no new initiate has shown up to replace Steiner as the new seer of Anthroposophy. Oh, and nobody who had not spent years reading and understanding Anthroposophy was, according to Steiner, qualified to critique his work.

Steiner is correctly described as the founder of Waldorf schools. But what else do Waldorf schools attribute to Steiner. We have heard that Steiner was an educator. But was he really? He never taught a class. He went to school, of course, and he worked as a private tutor for a number of years. And yes, he started Waldorf based on clairvoyant information and whatever he gleaned of teaching by tutoring individual students. He never stood before a class of children as a teacher.

Steiner is also described by many people (or on school websites) as a scientist. But was he really? He never discovered anything? In fact, he never conducted any scientific research. He never used scientific methods. All he did was use his powers of clairvoyance to make "discoveries" about things. So if we really look at the founder of Anthroposophy, and we see how, not Waldorf websites, but Anthroposophy websites describe him, we see the words "occultist" and "esoteric" pop up. And really, that's what he was - he practiced and developed what he believed were powers of clairvoyance and turned his observations into philosophy (he had a PhD in philosophy, btw). That's pretty much it - and I don't intend to make light of the volumes of work he produced in this way. But this is where the philosophy that drives Waldorf education came from - a tutor who, if you can believe him, tapped into the spiritual realm and produced these "insights" that teachers are applying on our children.

Let me just say one more thing. If I send my kid to a Catholic or Christian school, I basically have to read one book that I can find in any hotel nightstand to find out what it is all about. An anthroposophical/Waldorf school, by comparison, requires the study of volumes and volumes of sometimes very obscure material. People can read Anthroposophy for years (and I have witnessed this - and it has happened to me also) and come across something that is completely new. It is very, very difficult for parents to really get a feel for what they are getting their kids into. If you want to take on the task of learning about Anthroposophy as it applies to Waldorf, I would suggest finding a Waldorf teacher training reading list (I can get one if you like - or David can, I'm pretty sure, supply one). There are many on-line. Read the books the teachers are reading and see what you think.

Sorry to so much.

Pete
post #44 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
David- Just wondering what your overall experience has been at the school.

BTW- I used to attend an acting class run by Scientologists (which I am not) and it was the best darn class I ever took and had the greatest impact on me as a person. Sure I never knew which parts were Scientology but it never mattered a bit because it worked whatever it was and I never became a Scientologist. I just wonder if there is a paralell.
We just finished our tenth year at the school. My oldest attended grades 1-8 (entering 11th this year), my middle attended nursery through 8 (just graduated), and the youngest enters grade six there in the fall. We have no local waldorf high school; they're in Catholic high school.

I'm also a board member (and the treasurer), and my wife has been employed at the waldorf school for several years, so I won't pretend to be providing a "typical parent" answer.

I am proud of the education provided at our school, and I think we have a remarkable record of both faculty stability and student retention.

I think there's some parallels with your Scientology example. I prefer to view the people teaching in the school as humans rather than as anthroposophists, since in my experience there is very little that all anthroposophists agree about. It is exactly that diversity of opinion and approach that I appreciate about our school.

Hope that helps.

David
post #45 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by canndw
I prefer to view the people teaching in the school as humans rather than as anthroposophists, since in my experience there is very little that all anthroposophists agree about. It is exactly that diversity of opinion and approach that I appreciate about our school.
Hi David,
I hope you didn't think I was implying that anthroposophists aren't human (I'm tempted to raise the question of the anthroposophical view that not all children are human - but I'll refrain ). With regard to the part about "there is very little that all anthroposophists agree about", my experience has been the exact opposite. Many, many ideas and behaviors (both good and bad) are absolutely common to Waldorf schools around the globe. And certainly you aren't implying that Anthroposophists aren't united by a set of ideas - of course they are, indeed their common philosophy is what identifies them as Anthroposophists. They may not agree about some things, but when it comes to spiritual ideas, children and education, they pretty much agree on everything - according to my experience - and, again, this agreement is universal. The diversity you talk about is very minor when compared with the diversity among the general population. And I don't see anything wrong with this in a religious group, btw.

Pete
post #46 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
With regard to the part about "there is very little that all anthroposophists agree about", my experience has been the exact opposite. Many, many ideas and behaviors (both good and bad) are absolutely common to Waldorf schools around the globe. And certainly you aren't implying that Anthroposophists aren't united by a set of ideas - of course they are, indeed their common philosophy is what identifies them as Anthroposophists. They may not agree about some things, but when it comes to spiritual ideas, children and education, they pretty much agree on everything - according to my experience - and, again, this agreement is universal. The diversity you talk about is very minor when compared with the diversity among the general population.
Pete, I am saying that the diversity of opinion among our faculty probably rivals the diversity of opinion at any school. You don't have to believe me. Is this a unique circumstance? Perhaps, but neither you nor I can say that with credibility.

I would say anthroposophy unites waldorf teachers through inspiration more than through any set of universal laws. In many years of working closely with our teachers, I have yet to find any such laws.

David
post #47 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete
I just want to comment about the close relationships the kids have with teachers. At this particular school, grade teachers are not usually around for the entire time ... The incoming 7th grade class, for example, is on their 8th teacher - although some years two teachers shared the responsibility and I'm counting both. The incoming 8th grade class is on their 5th teacher. So while Waldorf talks about the bonds between teacher and student, the more problematic schools that have difficulty finding and keeping teachers don't really develop those bonds. And, after a while, schools get a reputation that keeps the more seasoned (qualified) teachers from applying.
This is a good point. One daughter's class -- just graduated eighth grade -- had a single teacher for all eight years, the first time we've done that at our school. And the word does get out as to which schools are the ones to avoid as a new teacher!

A more subtle issue is turnover among subject teachers -- it was enormously helpful in our school once we had a group of special subject teachers (handwork, German, movement/games, woodworking, music) for several years in a row. The interaction with class teachers and grade curricula works much better when the subject teachers already know the children from the previous year.

David
post #48 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by canndw
Pete, I am saying that the diversity of opinion among our faculty probably rivals the diversity of opinion at any school. You don't have to believe me. Is this a unique circumstance? Perhaps, but neither you nor I can say that with credibility.
David, I absolutely believe you. I was just saying my experience is different than yours. I have often commented on how much different, and how much better your experience (and school) sounds from mine.
Quote:
I would say anthroposophy unites waldorf teachers through inspiration more than through any set of universal laws. In many years of working closely with our teachers, I have yet to find any such laws.
David
I think I said anthroposophists enjoy universal agreement of ideas and behavior. I wasn't suggesting they have a set of universal laws they abide by. I would, in fact agree with your statement above - united through "inspiration" is a good way to put it.

Pete
post #49 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by canndw
This is a good point. One daughter's class -- just graduated eighth grade -- had a single teacher for all eight years, the first time we've done that at our school. And the word does get out as to which schools are the ones to avoid as a new teacher!
My son's teacher stayed with the class first through eighth. It's wonderful, but rare, when this happens. It has happened one other time that I know of - in 12 years.
Quote:
A more subtle issue is turnover among subject teachers -- it was enormously helpful in our school once we had a group of special subject teachers (handwork, German, movement/games, woodworking, music) for several years in a row. The interaction with class teachers and grade curricula works much better when the subject teachers already know the children from the previous year.
While I agree this is very desirable, I would place much more importance on the continuity of grade teachers. But in the case where grade teachers come and go, having a continuity of subject teachers is the next best thing - and, I have to say in my experience, that often what happens is that certain parents step up in these extreme cases and provide the continuity kids need whether it be in sports, field trips and camping trips or plays and performances. It really requires a community effort in difficult circumstances.

Pete
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