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A Safe, Healthy Haven: Waldorf Questioners/Concerns Thread - Page 3

post #41 of 801
Hello~ I have recently enrolled my dd in the Sugar Pea program at a Waldorf School. I had my ds enrolled for sweetpeas for a complete series of sessions a couple years ago. Upon entering the building I immediately felt a sense of comfort and desire to "belong" to this community. I delved a little into the antroposohopy and attended some meetings based on this belief. Not enough, to truly make me an expert I just skimmed the surface. Two experiences led me to withdrawl my son from futhering his education there. 1. There was another child in our class that continuously displayed VERY aggressive behavior. He would lunge across tables and bite, grab toys, hit scream etc. He was never removed or really even redirected and my son became so fearful that he would cringe when this child came near him. The mother was so immeresed in the handwork or whatever that she completely ignored his behavior. At one point it was almost comical as the teacher goes about singing and this child literally keeps antagonizing the other children to the point of tears. I did discuss this with the teacher and she noted this has been a problem but kinda gave me the what are you going to do attitude. We broke off our relationship with the school and I happen to run into a friend whose children were enrolled and attending same school. She told me they were thinking of leaving due to some issues and through the conversation I learned it was because of a similar experience and it happened to be with the same child. This is years later. I was amazed. She seemed to feel that the reason nothing was done had to do with the childs parents financial contribution to the school. The elephant under the rug. The second reason was the anthroposphy~it just seemed a little sneaky the way , unless you ask or investigate about it it is never really mentioned yet it is what the schools philosophy is based on. As was mentioned earlier, it is definately not child led~ they are being molded to the Waldorf Way. In fact my partner almost feels like it is cultish. While I feel SugarPeas and Sweetpeas are harmless and the fact that I will be with our dd at all times helps, we definately are not going to continue past that point, and if our experience is anything less then enriching we will discontinue immediately. I am a BIG fan of John Holt and upon reading his literature feel this is the direction for our family. We have been looking into the Circle School or Homeschooling for dd.
post #42 of 801


Originally Posted by frolick16
The second reason was the anthroposphy~it just seemed a little sneaky the way , unless you ask or investigate about it it is never really mentioned yet it is what the schools philosophy is based on. As was mentioned earlier, it is definately not child led~ they are being molded to the Waldorf Way. In fact my partner almost feels like it is cultish.
I agree with you. Even the schools that do admit that they are based on Anthroposphy don't clearly explain what anthroposphy is.

Child led? If child led means having an adult tell you what to play with, what to draw with, how to paint, how to sing......

I found what Waldorf promised and what it actually provides to be two very distinct things.

I have a question: What role does race play in Waldorf education/anthoposphy?
post #43 of 801
Originally Posted by brooklyngirl
I have a question: What role does race play in Waldorf education/anthoposphy?
not beansavi, but here's my 2 cents. Steiner had some extremely questionable views on race. You can find out more about that on the waldorf critics website. Now he was maybe a product of his times and the schools have hopefully moved on from that. But when it comes down to it, our school is extremely white and middle class. The one mixed race couple I know are having problems with it. The lack of diversity is my number one reason for getting out. Here in the UK there is an enormous push for state schools to embrace multiculturalism, and there are some wonderful initiatives in place. While the Steiner school will say they teach tolerance, embrace multiculturalism, etc, in the end their approach and philosophy appeals to a very small portion of the population, and that's largely white upper middle class. I could go on, but interested to hear other views on this one.

Also, yes, the art and music...argh..people choose the school because of the emphasis on "the arts". But I cannot stand how every child's paintings are exactly the same, the songs are all sung in the same tone, instruments are only permitted at steiner-specified ages, crafts come down to making gnomes and telling kids they are real.....individual creativity does not come into it. one time my son came home in tears because he wanted to paint a dinosaur and the teacher told him he had to make a fairy, just like everyone else. Dinosaurs are much more real to him than fairys!
post #44 of 801
I have been reading Deschooling our Children and had an awakening!!! I was almost like Dorothy in the field of poppies, I had forgotten what I truly felt about school in general. The Waldorf school had the trappings of everything I felt was good but as you pointed out about diversity it seems even more so in the Waldorf school then anywhere else that they desire all children to be alike, play with the approved toys and as I was singing the clean up song with my daughter the other day I was almost frightened by the way she immediately responded to it in a pavlovian way. I was lulled into complacency by the softness of it all.
post #45 of 801
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,

I've been in "Thanksgiving Zone" for the last few days...

You have each made such great points and observations.

The race issue in Anthroposophy and Waldorf? Whew! That is a hot topic and has even had its moments here on MDC.

Let's tiptoe while still saying what we need to say, so we don't invite the negative vibes and argument seekers...

Anthroposophy definitely sees the human race as if on a track towards Enlightenment/reconnection with God. That said, it also states very clearly that some are further along on that track than others (i.e. closer toward Enlightenment than others), and this is identifiable by their physical characteristics.

This includes skin pigmentation (race), and trickles down into smaller details such as what was said about my child, "He is flat-footed and was three weeks overdue at birth, and thus this means he resisted incarnation and did not want to come to earth to do the work he needs to do."

It feels really invasive and hurtful to have a group of people say such a thing to you, not in a loving, helpful way, but in a way that justifies (in their minds) them kicking you out of the school and making you lose your community. Blech.
post #46 of 801
Originally Posted by muse
That's encouraging to hear. And I agree with sweetlife that that particular situation of beansavi's should have been investigated properly.

I think things are run quite differently here in the UK (Steiner schools are independent of one another for a start and all work differently), but I think some similar issues come up. One of my concerns has been around this particular issue and wondering what kind of training the teachers get. It seems to me that some of the things that bother me stem from Waldorf philosophy itself, but others stem from being a private institution. In many ways they seem to function in heir own little sphere, unaccountable to anyone but themselves.

Something we're struggling with a bit right now is the "labelling" of children that goes on; is this universal in waldorf? When ds started in kindergarten the teacher referred to some children as "melancholy" and some as "sparky". We said, hmm, are there any other types of children besides that and she said no. She wouldn't let on what category she put our son in, but I'm guessing sparky, and that that had all sorts of negative connotations; cheeky, mischevious, 'too much energy'. Now he has a new teacher and she says at the end of the day, when he is bubbling and excited and talkative, that he had "not good energy today", and then one day when he was sick, exhausted, had black circles under his eyes, said, "he had a very good energy level today". As in, boys (in particular) are supposed to be quiet, subdued, passive little things. Not at all what we signed up for.
: Is this typical?

Hi Everyone,
I was reading this recently and feel that I would like to respond as I am also in the UK and have had quite a number of years connected to Waldorf. Originally I trained as a KG teacher and also placed both my children in KG, truly believing it would be such a gift to them. I won't go into the details of our "fall from grace" as it were but it was extremely painful. I learned a salutary lesson particularly regarding believing people because they were nice!

The main reason I have chipped in though is to point out that Steiner Waldorf Schools in the UK do operate under the umbrella of and (used to) pay a subscription to The Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, they are independent of government funding for the moment.

Teachers receive specific Steiner training (sometimes to degree level) but are not qualified to practice in mainstream education. My own KG training was completely inadequate as regards understanding and managing children in anything other than the Waldorf Way. I was seperately qualified to work with children in another setting and when directly working in KG that is what I relied on.

It was the reality of the schools themselves (we tried two) that led to us leaving and our continuing disappointment in the way teachers taught and handled the children. Both schools continued to employ teachers who had been directly observed to physically assault children and yet parents would not complain to outside agencies. The families either just left or attempted to acheive resolution within the school. There was a real culture of avoiding anything negative getting outside the school and becoming known. We were even told in writing to be careful of what we said about the school! I believe the big fear was in becoming ostracised by the school community which many parents relied on for employment.

Anyway, as I don't know if this post will even work yet I will stop there. Maybe it seems odd but I still feel uncomfortable about "speaking out"!

Thanks for listening,
post #47 of 801
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Columbine, for your candor and bravery in speaking out and sharing your personal story here.

I know it can be strange and a little scary when you first speak out. Thanks for the information for those of us in the US who are not as aware of the similarities in Waldorf training and experiences that exist between the UK and the US.

post #48 of 801
Thank you for the welcome beansavi,
During my training it seemed to me that Waldorf was one big worldwide community. That was one of the things that I liked; this sense that right around the world there were people who cared so much about children that they were prepared to stand out from the crowd.

Because I was so passionately interested in a concept of a natural and unpressured childhood with myself as an Earth Mother growing our food , baking and crafting homemade toys and creating beauty all around for our children that I confess I took less notice of the Anthroposophy and more of the practicalities of creating a beautiful environment for children. Although in truth the course did focus more on that too.

It is still the biggest betrayal for me that I witnessed the children's protection being placed a poor second to the Anthroposophical ethos of the schools we attended. Even though neither of my children could even remotely read at 9 years old and still had not had any formal instruction in reading it is the disregard for their safety that most affects me. I had no gurantees that the Waldorf method of education would work but I had believed that the children would be safer in Waldorf than anywhere else.
Sorting out the reading took just a few months of effective teaching but the emotional effects of the Waldorf years for all of us seem to linger on.

Only after leaving the second Steiner school did I turn back to my books to try to see where things went wrong. I thought at first that the teachers were not following Steiner and wanted to identify just what he had said. However, when I read his words I began to see how the teachers were able to justify themselves and their behaviour and how the schools themselves were rather closed off from the outside community. I am certainly not claiming that Steiner condoned child abuse but I could see how the teachers view of the karmic relationship with a child could lead to a struggle taking place and that struggle being viewed as okay .

A friend also reported a conversation she had had with a trainer of Waldorf teachers who stated that whatever the problems it was very important that the teacher and the child remained in that relationship. Seeing in my reading that the child had chosen their relationships and their experiences means that from the way I see it perhaps the school has little incentive to correct unhealthy relationships. Perhaps even believing that this could be harmful to their soul development. However, this does not really alter the fact that they do have a legal responsibility to protect children and here in the UK teachers are not allowed to shove, slap or kick children or have sexual relations with students. To my mind dealing with these things within the school, if they are dealt with at all, is just not good enough.

Anyway, I am sorry for rambling on, as you can see the child safety aspects still bother me! The Labour government is going to pilot a state-funded SteinerWaldorf school here so I really hope that there will be the kind of supervision from outside that could prevent quite so much being "swept under the carpet". Better still, not taking place at all!
post #49 of 801
Thread Starter 
Hi Columbine,

Thank you so much for your latest post. I agree with you completely.

As far as the "Karmic Justification" for allowing unhealthy relationships between students or between teachers and students in Waldorf schools, I agree with what you have said.

I pointed out at my former school that it was perhaps the faculty's Karma to step in and handle the situation properly! Maybe it was a test for them! Duh!

They definitely failed the test if that was the case in my opinion...

Yes, regardless of the spiritual views, as teachers, etc. it is our number one responsibility to protect children and not blame parents when we have failed to do so...
post #50 of 801
post #51 of 801
Thread Starter 

PS Where's the chocolate icon? Don't we need one of those?
post #52 of 801

How's that?

I was involved with my Waldorf "inspired" group for less than a year but it was quite surprising how abruptly it changed from having these people in our lives to never seeing them again. Once it became clear that I was not on the same "Waldorf page" it all went sour pretty quickly. I was concerned about the loss for my children but they seemed to get over it without a problem. I think they asked about the change once.

I guess it never occurred to me that some people choose friends based on certain finite critieria. I have never thought of friendship in those terms.

I can only imagine how difficult it would be for those that have spent several years in the Waldorf community.
post #53 of 801
Thread Starter 
Good points. I was just thinking a moment ago how those issues you were speaking of are some of the most difficult and are particularly long-lasting for me.

If I call myself a friend to someone, I am not going to take that lightly or "blow them off" because their reality contradicts something I want to believe. I told a friend the other day that the older I get, the more I can see that many opposite things can live side by side. Too bad more people don't feel that way: the loss of community is very painful at times-but as you said, it has been much harder on me than the kids.

We strive as a family to stick with what we know is good and right, and so believe we are most likely better off without fair-weather friends, no matter how "cool" they seem(ed) to be... quality versus quantity, ya' know.
post #54 of 801
Thread Starter 

How's that?


Ahhh....chocolate! Now I can carry on!
post #55 of 801
Originally Posted by brooklyngirl

How's that?


Ahhh....chocolate! Now I can carry on!

Hey, can I have some??

I don't have time to post the whole sordid story right now, but we also had a bad experience with the WS in our area. We were turned down for financial aid when we clearly needed it and got a passive aggressive letter from a member of the tuition ass. commitee stating that wew were being turned down bc my DH (at the time) did not apply himself to supporting his family (I also worked) then after a few letters (polite) I got a letter with a big CONFIDENTIAL stamped across it stating to us that if we talked about our situation to *anyone* we would be booted out of the community.

My issue was the personal attack on my husband and then to be told to "hush up" about it.

We were forced to answer many probing questions (humiliating) in front of a board consisting of our peers...

I wish i had more time, but i gotta go, will post more later.
post #56 of 801
Originally Posted by beansavi

My issue was the personal attack on my husband and then to be told to "hush up" about it.

We were forced to answer many probing questions (humiliating) in front of a board consisting of our peers...

OUCH!!! That sounds painful.
post #57 of 801
Oh, it was...most of the people on the board were parents who now know all of my most private business. After receiving that letter i felt so bad, i could hardly look certian people (who used to be my friends...i thought) in the eyes. Now that i am no longer part of the community, i feel kind of relieved, though i wish my DC could've had a Waldorf education. I guess you really do have to be affluent to go through that school, it's just like any other private school (monetarily) but with alot of dysfunction internally.
post #58 of 801
Thread Starter 
Thanks, BelovedK, for sharing your story here. Yep, it can be pretty publicly humiliating to be "disciplined" about your lifestyle. That's just crossing the line...

The "peers" in our situation weren't able to maintain any sort of neutrality, either.

We are here for you...
post #59 of 801
I had to spend alot of time trying to find forgiveness, i even went to the beach and sat by the ocean letting the waves take away my cares and it worked...I found it in my heart to write a direct but nice letter to the individual who wrote the first letter to me about my husband...and, guess what? No reply.

I thought i was being fair and forgiving and i didn't even get the chance to state my peice , even in private just to the members of the TA comittee. I felt very cheated, as well as being turned down for TA for the reasons stated. It made me hate that community (strong word, but true at the time) I've since come around, but don't want to have anything to do with a community that is so selective and thinks nothing about booting you out if you don't fit in with their picture.
post #60 of 801
Thread Starter 

We found, too, that no matter what spiritual striving we acheived being forgiving and still wanting to talk, the school couldn't reach that far and was/still is stuck in their own ego issues.

Good for you for "letting it go" on the ocean waves and not carrying their burden on yourself any longer.

Right on!
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