Edited by pigletp - 8/5/13 at 5:45pm
Life After Waldorf ~ A Support Group - Page 59
I am having the rude awakening to Waldorf. I must eat crow because I have posted things in defense of Waldorf. We recently concluded our first and only year in a Waldorf charter school. I thought my daughter's teacher was wonderful. But I had concerns about the apparent loss in academic skills my daughter seemed to be experiencing in her time there. The behavior problems in the classroom were over the top and completely disruptive. I substituted at the school so I was able to see this problem wide spread, not just in one class. My daughter began to hate going to school out of boredom. She made some wonderful friends there, as did I but the only thing she seemed to actually learn was how to knit. I am glad she did. But we are home schooling this year and will from now on, at least until high school. I am presently assessing her skill level and am shocked at some very basic things that were taught but not emphasized that my daughter is way behind on. Others in the school were as well, and not just the areas that Waldorf admits students will be behind on for a short time. I don't have the energy to break down all the why's even though I am a licensed teacher. I just want to say how disappointed I feel and even betrayed I feel at making the discoveries I am now making with regard to my daughter's education. I will not put her education in others hands again like that. The problems that are epidemic in public schools and charter schools seem to be even more so in the Waldorf schools. I think Waldorf only works at home. Now I must go back to work on getting my daughter's education on track. Feel free to contact me with questions.
Clarification, I'm glad my daughter learned to knit. But I'm stunned at how little of anything else she learned. The deficits are huge. I wish I could say it was just my daughter. But I see our friends children going through the same thing, some finding other explanations. I observed children in all the grades I substituted in with the same problem. I feel really betrayed right now. I did not think a public school could be so ineffective in educating children. I am grateful for the concerns expressed by parents here because I read many of them (in disbelief) as we were starting at the Waldorf school. I thought they were more emotionally charged and perhaps either exaggerations, isolated or related to individual circumstances. Not any more. I observed the majority of the problems and concerns expressed in this thread in a short time there and am very sad to say it's all true. I have so much work to do with my daughter to not only get her back on track but get her academic habits re developed. I had thought the Waldorf school provided a more creative approach to learning, but that isn't what we experienced or observed. I am at a loss for words to describe some of the things, but it would take a better grasp on the functions of Waldorf to explain. I am not giving it any more of my energy or time. I see the danger and the damage. I'm still reeling in shock as I home school my daughter and uncover how much damage was done.
My daughter was a very good student, ahead of her age level before. Now she's functioning at and below grade level and has a negative attitude about school work too often. Her focus is poor. What kinds of approaches have worked for parents in re-engaging your children in learning post-Waldorf?
Both of my kids tried a local highly recommended private Waldorf school for less than a month. That was as long as they both could take it. They put their foot down after that and said "We won't go anymore".They both developed incredible fear over multiple "forbidden" things. It was at a point when my son would scream in fear refusing to go to school just because all his plain white shirts were in the laundry and I would suggest one with a picture of an animal on it (NOT any brand name or cartoon animal, but just an outline of a regular animal). My daughter would sob refusing to go because Monday morning she realized she had nail polish leftovers on her nails and we just could not find where our nail polish remover was. My kids were not permitted to eat their "sweets" one day. Excuse me, I am a nutritional consultant and what they called "their chocolates" were home made tahini balls: tahini with a bit of honey, xylitol, unsweetened cocoa powder and rolled in sesame seeds from the outside! So they did not allow them to eat those tahini rolls ("because they were sweets") and fed them some junky crackers instead! WTF!
My kids would sweat during hot and sunny early Fall days, but they would force them to wear hat and jacket every time regardless of the weather.
The main argument of Waldorf is that public school creates robots who are trained to take orders. Maybe it does with some kids (though I went through a public school and my biggest problem in life is that I can never follow rules or orders). But what about Waldorf?! Whether their rules makes ANY sense to the kids or not (for example, wearing a jacket and a hat when you are sweating), they force them to follow them, in other words, they train them to follow orders--even senseless ones--thoughtlessly without ever questioning them.
I said earlier I wasn't going to take the time to go over the problems. But twice recently I have talked to several friends of mine who either have a grandchild attending or are thinking about putting their grandchild that they are raising in the local Waldorf charter school. I didn't want to talk them out of it, but I told them about our experience, which was not all bad. But now that I have some perspective, I see the whole picture a little better. I feel the overall cultish aspects of anthroposophy are more at work than they should be in a publicly funded school in this particular school. The principal and key staff at the school were very clearly strong believers in the philosophy and imposed their beliefs on the students and staff. Like how they handled children who were injured was not consistent with requirements in public schools and frequently children with broken bones or needing stitches or other medical attention were simply sent back to class. I personally observed this so this is not just rumor. I was stunned. No school should be making the kind of decisions regarding children's health in the manner they did. They did not contact the parents, which was the most concerning part. One child came to school the next day showing me his cast. When I asked him how he broke his hand, he told me it was rolling logs on the playground at school. Log rolling is a common Waldorf playground activity. I had seen him sitting on the playground crying while I was working with another class. I asked the teacher what was wrong and she said "oh he's fine, he just bumped his hand." I was just sick to my stomach when I realized my concern was valid and I should have gone further with it. There were other incidents,but the details will probably reveal too much about the specific school. More than once I reported injuries of students to the office asking them to contact the parents after I realized they didn't inform parents of these things. They were very unpleasant to me about this but I stood in the office and watched them make the phone call. The liability alone dictates they inform the parents. The school district policies as well. Their own personal opinions on medical treatment are not theirs to impose on the children but they did. Various safety concerns that are more common in new charter schools in general were rampant. The Waldorf slant on this just added in a level of inattention and lack of concern. There were a number of local incidents that year affecting school children and the schools response to the safety of the children was less than comforting. I worked the day when the local authorities required them to conduct safety drills and they performed abysmally.
The school was awful to the staff and the staff had no support. Teachers were left on their own to deal with students who were constantly disruptive in class. I learned that the disruptive behavior in classes was epidemic and not limited to just my experience as a substitute nor any grade level. I got to see it in all grade levels. Maybe children learned to behave 100 years ago with this method but it is a poor fit culturally for today's children and behaviors. Most classes are anarchy with some control occasionally.
Academically, I'm very disappointed how weak Waldorf is in academics. There is a big difference between having a holistic education and no education and Waldorf unfortunately leans to far to the no education. The arts part is not arts the way we understand them to be. The science is utterly appalling. Children need to learn science, not just the ancient concept of the four elements. Nor should the ancient concept of the four elements serve as the dominant explanation for all things scientific which is what I'm coping with now when I'm teaching my daughter science. The letter formations they did are not helping her now with handwriting. Their claim to teach advanced math in the earlier grades doesn't seem to be adding up either. I'm having to go back a full year to teach her math concepts she should have learned last year. Reading has taken time to even get her interested in it again. It's still as touch and go issue. She was reading above her grade level before she started there and loved to read. Nobody had to force her. They say the middle school students receive a rigorous education. But I substituted in those classes as well and saw virtually nothing akin to academic rigor. It was more soft academics with pretty pictures being drawn around a concept, singing songs, playing music, acting out plays and hand work. There was not one part of the day they did anything that counted as academic rigor. I don't know where those kids will go to high school but they will not be prepared for high school work. I never taught algebra in that entire middle school and what passed for science was more of an art lesson with some nice ideas. The writing skills of the 8th graders were no better than those of kids I taught in title one schools where the majority of the students were learning English. It concerns me to think about what will happen to those kids later.
The only levels the Waldorf concepts made academic sense is in preschool and kindergarten. It's perfect for those ages.
The thing that I find most troubling is the philosophy that is so greatly understated when investigating this style of education is the governing philosophy. This particular school claims they are incorporating Waldorf ideals into a regular curriculum. But they aren't. They are putting up a show of applying regular curriculum and trying to run as Waldorf of a school as they can get away with using public funds. The most distressing part is they don't want parents to understand Waldorf unless they are fully committed to it. They wanted us to trust them with our child's education without questioning what they were actually teaching. That is a cult not an educational philosophy. They were being deceptive about what they were actually teaching. If you take the Waldorf ideas that are beneficial to a child's education and leave out the negative and questionable stuff, you are left with an incomplete model for a school. I don't know if other Waldorf schools do this. But the one we attended did. I think the school district should stop funding them because they are in violation of too many basic public education principles.
I can't tell you how happy I am to have found this group.
We have had a horrid experience with our local W school, and it has taken us a long time to heal enough to be able to articulate the big picture.
We see now that we were targeted because we tried our best to make the community more transparent, healthier.
WE is the opposite of transparency, as Anthroposophy is an "occult science." And Occult, as we know, means hidden.
The secrecy and lies were so pervasive, that the culture of fear that grew around that was deeply unhealthy and hurtful in so many ways.
Sadly, because we had the fortitude to stand up, they targeted our young child, knowing full well we would leave to protect her/him.
Our story is long and painful, and I was shocked to find out how NOT alone we are when it comes to this kind of treatment in WE.
If there is anyone out there who would like to connect around having been hurt by a WS please let me know.
I wish I had found this group two years ago.
My son has been in a Waldorf school for two years now. I originally put him in b/c of the "lax" approach to early education and the love for nature and outdoors that the school had. I wanted to believe in it. Everything just seemed so beautiful and the approach to learning made sense to me. I never bought into the religious Steiner views, but loved all the other aspects. Also, I always felt my son had ADHD or some sort of mental health problem or developmental delay. I had such little support from those around me to pursue on my instincts however.
My son is now so far behind in his schooling that I feel that we have lost precious ground we can never get back.
In school he was the one hurting other children, being disruptive in class, and completely defiant and disruptive, he couldn't sit still for a thing. His relationships with everyone was entirely taxed and strained to where people avoided us. The teachers did nothing about my son's behavior, in fact, I was rarely ever told. A good day, I found out, was him being in time-out "only" five times. When I got a call one day that he had scratched up another kid so bad that he had marks all over his face I did what I should have done long ago and sought out the help of a good ped. and we are set up to start counseling soon.
My son was just this week diagnosed with ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Chronic Tics disorder. What was told to me would "go away with time" or reiterated to me over and over and over again was a problem with our parenting, diet, allergies, etc. etc was a bunch of hogwash. He is six years old and can't even count to 20, identify letters or numbers, or write his own name.
I am on the precipice of quitting the school, but feel so stuck. My son really loves his peers and he just isn't academically going to succeed in even a public school kindergarten at this point. Waldorf has been the only school he knows.
Hi everyone. I'm new here. Thanks for starting this group.
My child attended a very Waldorf school (as opposed to inspired) for K and first grade. I'm not even sure where to begin at how bizarre Waldorf can be, and how it can sneak up on you.... just when you feel safe and happy, you realize many of the people who follow or run the school are.... how do I put this.... kinda crazy.... because they have some very, very strange belief systems, totally not rooted in reality, reason, or science. Something we usually take for granted with educators, right?
Cap't Court... I understand about your child being behind. And, unfortunately, we've suffered this last year dramatically because of it. I'm the last one to believe in testing or certain academic levels needing to be met at a certain time, but my child was just not taught anything that was relevant to her age or intellectual needs last year. They only covered the alphabet up to "P" (and it was only in caps). We're paying dearly this year by intensive tutoring (that costs a fortune) to catch up.
Anyway, some of the highlights of Steiner-Waldorf weirdness for me:
1. No emergency plans in place other than making the sign of a pentagon to ward off "evil" (I kid you not)
2. No black crayons or paint
3. All corners cut off of all papers
4. Children must copy verbatim what teacher made on the board, no individuality
5. Lessons taught when a child's teeth fall out
6. Teachers gained a "deeper understanding" of the child by the week they were born in the year, according to Steiner based poems (this did not work for us! Our child was born in a country where the seasons are opposite of Euro or American seasons)
7. Literal belief in gnomes and fairies
8. Belief in the supernatural (yet claim they are not based in religion or faith based reasoning)
9. Their bizarre view on adoption.... the child "chooses" his/her parents in a dream before being born (where to begin with that?)
Most of these things were concealed, downplayed or minimized when a parent would question the staff/teachers about them, which really made me enraged. Don't get me started on the cult-like community.... Luckily, we moved out of state so we did not have to face the wrath that other families have faced for withdraw.
My dd has been out of Waldorf for about 3 years now and, to be honest, I am happy that I pulled her when I did. A lot had gone on that year and I felt like I was at a crossroads. If I let her stay, I would have been locking her into a life there as she was headed out of kindergarten and couldn't recognize even a few basic sight words and such. She was put into a local charter and worked with the world's best first grade teacher. Every parent and child should be as lucky as we were.
Anyhow, she thrived and is doing quite well in a traditional setting. And I am happy that I made the choice before depleting my bank account and my sanity as I was working with her doing Kumon at home to try to get her up to speed. Not to mention that I found my life being entangled into the Waldorf culture and was tired of some of the behaviors of the adults. I remember her kindergarten teacher expressing concern that my dd was singing a rap song at school, at which point, i reminded her that we're black and if she was not singing ludacris' "welcome to my sex room," i did not see the harm as she listens to old school hip-hop like RunDMC at home.
Needless to say, I'm happy to be free and glad to be with y'all!