Originally Posted by mijumom
I think that other's complaints have been that when problems arise or accusations are made that the people speaking out become alienated and mistreated for the benefit of keeping the cohesion of the community. It just seems like a predictable problem in such closeknit communities.
One of the issues I've considered is that, since ours is only one of maybe 6 Waldorf schools within driving distance, that many of the conflicts that come up are treated more like personal issues than "Waldorf" issues. For example, if a parent and teacher clash over something or other, parents sometimes withdraw to a different Waldorf school. I've heard that we're one of the more desired schools for prospective teachers, so perhaps that makes it easier for a faculty to decide not to renew a particular teacher, confident other good candidates will appear. The school is pretty healthy financially, which helps minimize the school-wide impact of removing a teacher or student.
I'd characterize the community as a strong and healthy one, but there certainly isn't this "don't rock the boat" energy evident from my perspective. It seems like the faculty are a strongly opinionated bunch that are sometimes highly contentious with one another, more like a college or university faculty than a typical public school faculty which often deals more as a worker's group facing up against management/administration powers. There are strong disagreements sometimes, but enormous collegiality too. The peer support is tremendous. But they're just like people you find working together in other spheres, in that some are stubborn and forceful, some are the peacemakers, some are go-with-the-flow, others are "my way or the highway".
I'm a parent who tries not to be a "micro-manager" and don't expect the teachers to defend to me much why they do this or that in the classroom. If the teacher puts my child out of the class for talking or whatever, I'm not one to march to the school to inquire about who did what or that kind of thing. I remember an occasion where middle school students (including mine
) were ordered to detention for showing up a few minutes late for a very tightly scheduled rehearsal, and after the third or fourth parent of a straggler had interrupted the rehearsal to questioned the teacher's strictness or offer excuses, the teacher grew very crabby and short tempered with them. Well, this later blew up into a Very Big Deal. I was inclined to side with the teacher for the simple reason that she had established the rule and the consequence, this was detention, not a firing squad, that the students aren't going to break into pieces, and 7th and 8th graders don't benefit in issues like this to have mommy or daddy step in to fix it. They're capable of being their own advocates in issues of this
magnitude. Maybe not all issues with a teacher, but certainly this
But my view didn't win the day. The teacher was forced to withdraw the detention as a result of the parents speaking out.
There was a large problem that came up not long ago with some classmates in the high school. I don't want to go into specifics, but they were high school students who were completely in the wrong and committed a serious school offense. Many of us, faculty and parents, have real deep concerns, though, that the problem was very clumsily handled in many ways, and are working towards opening a dialogue and finding cutting-edge solutions for what's in reality a very complicated dilemma in adolescence. It is an issue that arouses strong emotions in people, (in some cases, strong differences of opinion which mirrors the divided opinions in the larger society). That just makes it that much more difficult to deal with the complexities involved.
So we're deep in the middle of working on a serious concern we have right now. It's a serious issue, but it's not an "us against them" issue. There is no "bad guy" vs "good guy". Nobody in the school did anything "wrong", per se. We have met with a bit of defensiveness from some, but enormous openness from others. It's just a process to work through to build trust that this isn't an "attack" against anyone. I'm going to have to use that word "complexities" again, but the situation is chock-full of them. There are issues of confidentiality, of privacy, of administrative procedure, of peer-social dynamics, and of potential vulnerabilities which a school may open itself to if anyone says something wrong or fails to act in a specific way. That's just the tip of it.
But even in the midst of a difficult problem in the HS community, I am *not* feeling any vibes to hush or back-off. I'm completely optimistic that real constructive new insights will come from this process, because everyone
involved wants to find the best possible path laid out for handling an extremely difficult, and not uncommon, problem teens can easily get involved in today.