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#31 of 45 Old 06-06-2009, 03:24 AM
 
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What the ...? ?
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Where is this stuff coming from?
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#32 of 45 Old 06-06-2009, 03:59 AM
 
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Where is this stuff coming from?
I can't imagine any of these ever happening at our school and I spent a TON of time there...I always see teachers respond to cases like you have mentioned. I do know there is a fair bit of 'letting children work things out for themselves,' to an extent that could make some parenting personalities uncomfortable, but not any situations like have been cited. I just cannot imagine.
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#33 of 45 Old 06-10-2009, 12:28 PM
 
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We did W baby and mama classes and nursery, and our school was dreamy- no problems like this.
I can't wrap my brain or heart around the idea of letting kids deal with conflicts on their own. Where is their model? How are they supposed to know to listen to each other or talk it out when they are so young?
I work in a school (it's Montessori), and we facilitate conflict resolution/mediation with the kids. Most of the time, all I have to do is get them started and then observe them working out their differences and shaking hands or hugging each other. Kids can be honored and respected AND guided.

OP, you sound like a wonderful mama. Your daughter obviously has a lot of security and confidence to be able to deal with a peer group like that. That does not sound like a very nice school community, and as a pp asked, how could the school even survive?

so many roads to ease my soul...

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#34 of 45 Old 06-10-2009, 12:52 PM
 
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I can't wrap my brain or heart around the idea of letting kids deal with conflicts on their own. Where is their model? How are they supposed to know to listen to each other or talk it out when they are so young?
I work in a school (it's Montessori), and we facilitate conflict resolution/mediation with the kids. Most of the time, all I have to do is get them started and then observe them working out their differences and shaking hands or hugging each other. Kids can be honored and respected AND guided.
This is actually quite common in waldorf schools, especially in the grades, and their are various pedagogical/anthroposophical reasons given for it. There is a waldorf educator who travels the circuit giving lectures about bullying, etc. to try and help the schools deal with the problem. In our old school karma and destiny were routinely given as reasons for why children who were struggling with each other needed to engage in the struggle. But, it was bullying, no matter what, and anyone could see it. Children left the school over it.

It is the responsibility for parents and teachers to model socially responsible behavior and conflict resolution. It doesn't just happen on it's own. I am currently observing some very effective, gentle guidance happen in one of my children's public school classrooms. It has to start early, and be consistent. Bullying should never be tolerated.
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#35 of 45 Old 06-10-2009, 02:38 PM
 
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Karne, do you know if that consultant is able to help Waldorf schools with this issue and how?
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#36 of 45 Old 06-10-2009, 04:37 PM
 
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It's Kim John Payne-he has a website. I think his information is presented in a way that's acceptable to waldorf folks, and a lot of it makes sense. The real issue, and this is with any school, is whether the bullying is acknowledged as a problem and whether there is a definite commitment to stopping it and having a positive social curriculum. That means that everything has to be examined-the curriculum, pedagogy, underlying beliefs about children and their interactions, the impact that social stress has on the availability of children to learn in the classroom, the role of the staff, etc. There is a risk in opening up yourselves as an institution and as individuals to this kind of questioning. If the system is open the work can be done. if the system is closed it's more challenging to change beliefs and culture.
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#37 of 45 Old 06-10-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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It seems like those are some what of isolated incidents.
I think the whole idea around Waldorf is really quite lovely and I have really fallen in love with the waldorf community out here. It's too bad some of you have had such negative experieces with it.
Just to add on to the whole make-up thing too....
Most of the women involved in our waldorf community do wear make-up, some more natural than others. But anyways, I wear some Dr. Hauschka make-up. For those of you who don't know, Dr. Hauschka is a skin care line that was started based on Rudolf Steiners anthroposophy methods. You can get very earth friendly natural make-up these days. Too bad those others were so judgemental.
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#38 of 45 Old 06-12-2009, 02:40 PM
 
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I see lots of posts saying this could happen anywhere. That's true, it could. But I think it's fair to say that it happens more often, and is more likely to occur, in schools with more homogenious populations. And Waldorf is definately that... it's a very self-selected group.
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#39 of 45 Old 06-13-2009, 01:29 AM
 
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I see lots of posts saying this could happen anywhere. That's true, it could. But I think it's fair to say that it happens more often, and is more likely to occur, in schools with more homogenious populations. And Waldorf is definately that... it's a very self-selected group.

I found our Waldorf school to be quite diverse when compared to other private elementary schools in our area. There were families of several different religious affiliations including Muslim, Hindi, Jewish, Buddhist, Wiccan and atheist, along with Christians of all denominations. There were 2 African American families, a family from Mauritius, Brazil, several from different parts of Europe, Chinese and Asian indian, Native and Mexican American, an Israeli family and a family from NYC. I don't think the local public school was as international! The Festivals were highly diverse and if you felt strongly about one of your own traditions, you were encouraged to share it with the school community.

As for play ground supervision, it was a bit lax so several parents would volunteer to help out. Otherwise the children could get too boisterous, and too much for one or two teachers to handle, with pushing on the play equipment and running around wildly. Isn't than normal for children at recess? I did witness some injuries. My own dd was pushed from behind on the gym and had some back pain for a couple of weeks after, because of it. So yes, things happen, but they could happen anywhere.

The school really did depend on the community of families to keep things running smoothly. We worked on the gardens, fathers and uncles built playground equipment, mothers made dolls, costumes, furnishings, food and pitched in wherever needed. My dh and I both worked shifts in the school store. I think there was much more family and parental support than I have observed in other schools. The teachers encouraged it and would assign you tasks if you didn't volunteer for something. :

To the OP- I'm so sorry you had a rude experience but please know that not all Waldorf classrooms or schools are like that, at all. We had a very warm and welcoming experience at ours and maintained contact with the Waldorf school community long after our dd left.
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#40 of 45 Old 06-13-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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This does not sound like a school that is concerned with the developmental needs of young children. At the preschool age group, our goal as educators of young children should not be to indoctrinate our children into our beliefs, such as makeup being bad. Children are sensorial beings, and they have not yet reached a stage of development where they can think critically about these things. At this point, we want to provide them with stimulating experiences and playthings that will simply provide them with a continued love of the natural world, and also for people and diversity. As they reach school age, we can gently begin to guide them to think criitcally. For example, I did exercises with my 7 and 8 year old girls where we learned about factory chicken eggs and free range chicken eggs.

With all of this in mind: A teacher once told me to change a complaint into a commitment for change, by following something called praxis. Praxis is a way to solve dillemmas such as this, and it is three steps: naming, critically reflecting, and action. This is my invitation to you, follow praxis(sounds like you have already named the dilemma), critically reflect, and act in a way that will provide a solution to this harrowing experience......
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#41 of 45 Old 06-13-2009, 06:30 PM
 
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If only the administrator in the situation would follow your very reasonable recommendation for improvement. I think that what the OP saw is a result of him or her performing none of those steps. As for the OP, I think she has already done precisely what you recommend.
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#42 of 45 Old 06-23-2009, 03:13 PM
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i think that one of the element that is difficult about this scenario is that in an information session (which i assume this was), the director/teachers are actually there for the parents.

in the information sessions that i've been to--in a variety of schools/settings (public, private, montessori and waldorf)--the teachers/directors are there to give information and answer the questions of the parents while the children have some kind of free play.

in such instances, i'm there with a *baby* and i watch him carefully because many 2-4 yr olds do not know how to play around a baby. it's ok, honestly, i know they're not being malicious.

but, most of the kids are varying degrees of "bratty." you know, they're little kids and they want and they assert and they will put up a fuss and form little units/teams and just be "bratty." please note that i say this in a light hearted way. in fact, they're just being 2-4 or 4-6 yrs old and for the most part the behavior is harmless at every level.

what i notice when i'm there is that one parent usually follows the kid to ensure safety, manners, and what not, while the other parent is there with the other parents and teachers and director asking the questions. it's more like a play-group setting than an actual educational/child-care setting *during these meetings*.

this is not to say that i think that you were wrong in your assessment, that there isn't a problem of bullying within waldorf (or any other aspect of society) that needs to be named, contemplated, and resolved, but that it may be a situation where the directors had no intention of becoming involved because, in that moment, it wasn't his/her job to be involved. s/he may have been waiting on parents, and the parents may have more tolerance for their child's behavoirs or for 'working out the squabble' or whatever you might call it (brattiness or bullying too), than the directors and teachers might, and obviously more than you did.

in the actual classroom, it may be different. i don't know if i would risk it in this instance, either, but there you go.

and as for a statement fromt he admin saying that "this place isn't for you" and wondering how they stay open. . .

it's a statement i make frequently myself. i teach yoga. i teach it in a specific way. that way isn't for everyone. i have enough students to support my business and i attract more than enough new people to keep it growing. but, truly, it is NOT for everyone. there are lots of other yoga teachers out there who may be a better fit, and i even recommend some to certain folks. honestly, it's not just egotism or whatever. it is ok to say "this place is not for me" and for someone of that group to reflect that back to you "this really isn't a good space for you, you might prefer x."
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#43 of 45 Old 09-23-2009, 06:29 PM
 
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I know this is an old thread but I need to respond. I am so disappointed to hear of you and your dd's experience. I actually found this thread as I searched for "mainsteam" and "Waldorf" to see if there were any posts about this exact subject. We are a relatively mainstream family considering a local Waldorf preschool because I was turned off by emphasis on academics in all the MDO programs I've contacted. Sadly, the one we are considering is the same one in Houston that you probably visited. We are attending the visitor morning tomorrow. I was not planning to bring my daughter to observe, but perhaps I will in order to see how she is welcomed. Am I correct to assume that your dd did not enroll?
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#44 of 45 Old 09-24-2009, 12:45 AM
 
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Rather than justifying the kids' behavior, I'd like to just maybe add another perspective...I think the kids were being unacceptably mean, but I'm not sure their behavior was unusual for that age. My boys both went to Orthodox Jewish religious schools, not terribly right-wing places AT ALL, but still at that age my kids made a big point of seeing the whole world as "Jewish" and "not-Jewish," where "not-Jewish" was definitely bad. That wasn't something modeled at home (we have several relatives who aren't Jewish and a lot of our family friend's aren't) and it also wasn't taught in school. I like to think we are kind people and good parents. But kids at that age really do see the world as black and white. Same thing with plastic toys in our house being not allowed...yes, they've made comments about neighbors' plastic toys. Our children are being raised in a way that is outside the mainstream. That deserves explanation, so parents and teachers are providing that explanation. At 5 or 6 years of age, it becomes hard to process the idea "it's ok for them but not ok for me" and that's why it's an age that can't really comprehend what could be termed "hypocrisy" in the bad sense or "tolerance" in the good one. I also think you have to understand that Waldorf schools are built on a particular philosophy, and if you don't share it, that your child will be in a bit of a bind, since one thing will be taught at home (plastic or media or whatever is ok) whereas another will be taught at school (plastic or media or whatever is not ok). I think honestly that either you have to buy into their philosophy and reinforce it at home or find an alternative, since...as harmless as you see your daughter's Disney doll being...that's exactly what the parents in that school are trying their damnest to escape, so they probably won't be sympathetic to your (unwittingly) undermining their efforts to raise their kids without that stuff...and (even more tricky) without their kids coveting it. People who are outside the mainstream will always have stronger opinions, since they are the ones who have to "fight the tide" in raising their children to be different. That's not necessarily a "Waldorf" thing.
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#45 of 45 Old 11-04-2009, 05:53 PM
 
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chaunacey,

I want to chime in briefly here. I know the school that the OP is referring to. I also know many of the children, parents, and both teachers. If it was a typical visitor morning, the parents that were present at the time were parents of other visiting children. I think it is rare that a parent of an enrolled child would be there during visitor morning. It is very possible that the 'ringleader' or some of the other children who were pointing at the doll and visiting girl may have been visitors themselves.

I have brought my boys to this school for visitor mornings and several festival days and have had zero issues with bullying. Quite the opposite in fact. Many of the children take special care to watch out for my infant and help him up if he falls. At a recent outing, some older boys (this was a mixed outing with other waldorf families, not just families of that one school) were playing football and my toddler went up and picked it up off the ground between plays. The older boys very politely asked for it back and waited patiently for my toddler to put it into their hands, rather than grabbing the football from him. I was very impressed! Another boy didn't want to start playing again until my toddler was a fair distance away because he didn't want my little guy to accidentally get hurt.

Fair or not, I do think that a part of the problem was bringing a character doll into the school. It's something that is specifically against school policy and I would have been upset to see it there if I were a parent of one of the enrolled children. Now, that does not excuse the way the children behaved toward OP's dd. I think the director should have approached the OP about it in an effort to thwart any issues revolving around the doll specifically.

I think the make-up thing was just kids being kids. I've wear makeup every day and know other parents who do, too. I've never heard any ill comments about it from anyone.

Best of luck in your search for the perfect school.

DS1 2-17-07 DS2 1-1-09
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