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Waldorf > Help, anxiety attack about school...
Pete's Avatar Pete 12:40 PM 07-20-2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
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.
At the risk of helping this thread digress even further , do you believe that an adult taking an acting class run by Scientologists and not becoming a Scientologist is a suitable parallel for a child being exposed to Anthroposophy six hours a day, five days a week from, say, age 4 through age 18 (14 years)?

Pete

UUMom's Avatar UUMom 12:50 PM 07-20-2005
I actually would be interested in hearing about how your kids 'turned out' . I am not asking for personal information or anything. You posted earlier that your 17 yr old went through waldorf school. Is she (he? sorry, can't remember) doing well, having had this exposure that worries you so much?

You also mentioned in the other thread that you had a lot of legal issues stemming from Waldord. i am wondering if you wanted to withdraw the children from their school? (This actually might be too personal, so feel free to ignore). I ask because if you did want them out of the school and the courts said they could stay, the courts probably didn't find anthroposophy to be damaging to them.
mijumom's Avatar mijumom 01:43 PM 07-20-2005
Okay Pete, you do digress. I wasn't saying my acting class was the "same". I was illustrating that sometimes you can get a lot out of something without buying into every aspect. And I know enough people that have kids at Waldorf to know that they are having good experiences overall.

My sister went to Catholic High School to get a good education (she's Jewish). I don't think you have to subscribe to the whole doctrine to reap the benefits. I am simply trying to determine if the benefits that I want for my children are at Waldorf.

It would be nice to know how your kids turned out or how they reflect on their educations.
Pete's Avatar Pete 01:45 PM 07-20-2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by UUMom
I actually would be interested in hearing about how your kids 'turned out' . I am not asking for personal information or anything. You posted earlier that your 17 yr old went through waldorf school. Is she (he? sorry, can't remember) doing well, having had this exposure that worries you so much?
Unfortunately, I don't hide who I am, so people know me by my first and last name and the school my kids attend. So naturally, I'm not going to go into detail about how my own kids have done at their school. Anything I say here could get back to them and I hope you understand my need to be sensitive to this. And while I understand the curiosity, I try to keep personal stuff out of my posts as much a possible.
Quote:
You also mentioned in the other thread that you had a lot of legal issues stemming from Waldord. i am wondering if you wanted to withdraw the children from their school? (This actually might be too personal, so feel free to ignore).
It's no secret that I have wanted to withdraw my kids from their particular school several times.
Quote:
I ask because if you did want them out of the school and the courts said they could stay, the courts probably didn't find anthroposophy to be damaging to them.
OK, more personal stuff - but I see that I will need to answer it - or leave the impression that the courts think Anthroposophy is OK. The case never ended up in trial. We settled out of court. I conceded to allowing the kids to stay in their current school as part of a settlement that granted me additional custody of them. I would have won in court, I am quite sure, but at what cost? A settlement was better for the kids - and the additional custody allows me to monitor and deal with what they are being exposed to at school and to supplement their education. And I am able to concentrate on bringing reform issues into focus at their school.

Pete
mijumom's Avatar mijumom 01:59 PM 07-20-2005
Could you just let me know a little more about what is so bad or scary about Waldorf. I believe you that you have had a bad experience, i just want to know what is so threatening that it could be worse than public school. When I went there were gang members, oercrowded classrooms and very scewed information being taught (especially history). We were always subject to the beliefs and personal baggage that each teacher brought to teaching. It was usually pretty bad. There was one teacher who's beliefs and personality were inspiring...ONE.
Pete's Avatar Pete 02:10 PM 07-20-2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
Okay Pete, you do digress. I wasn't saying my acting class was the "same". I was illustrating that sometimes you can get a lot out of something without buying into every aspect. And I know enough people that have kids at Waldorf to know that they are having good experiences overall.
I still don't agree with your parallel/comparison/illustration. Children cannot discern what "buying into every aspect" means, nor do they have the where-with-all to understand the subtle nuances of what they are being exposed to. Of course they buy into every aspect. I know a lot of people that have kids at Waldorf who are having good experiences too. For many families, ignorance is bliss. Some people are content to see only the candy house. I was, unfortunately, too close to the philosophy to not see what was/is happening in Waldorf education.
Quote:
My sister went to Catholic High School to get a good education (she's Jewish).
Did she know it was a Catholic High School? Were they up front about the fact that it was Catholic?
Quote:
I don't think you have to subscribe to the whole doctrine to reap the benefits. I am simply trying to determine if the benefits that I want for my children are at Waldorf.
Nobody is suggesting one must be an Anthroposophist to reap the benefits of Waldorf, but I believe one should know that Waldorf education is based on Anthroposophy and what that *really* means and to what extent it is applied in the curriculum and in the way issues are dealt with. Isn't this part of making an informed decision?
Quote:
It would be nice to know how your kids turned out or how they reflect on their educations.
Please read my response to UUMOM - I'm not willing to publicly discuss how my kids turned out. Sorry. PM me if you want the details.

Pete
mijumom's Avatar mijumom 02:42 PM 07-20-2005
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.
Pete's Avatar Pete 02:56 PM 07-20-2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by mijumom
Could you just let me know a little more about what is so bad or scary about Waldorf. I believe you that you have had a bad experience, i just want to know what is so threatening that it could be worse than public school. When I went there were gang members, oercrowded classrooms and very scewed information being taught (especially history). We were always subject to the beliefs and personal baggage that each teacher brought to teaching. It was usually pretty bad. There was one teacher who's beliefs and personality were inspiring...ONE.
That sounds pretty bad. My public school education was much better (although, again, ignorance may have been bliss - this time my own ignorance). I graduated high school (Chatsworth, CA) in 1970. My education was very good, I think. There were a lot of activities - we went on field trips to see live performances/plays of Shakespeare and some more contemporary works. Little or no gang activity back then. But if the comparison is between Waldorf education and today's public education, I'm not sure I can make a case. If the comparison is Waldorf vs other alternatives, then there is room to question Waldorf.
I am reluctant to list everything that happened that was horrible in the years my kids attended Waldorf, and it would take a lot of time and space on this board - and I'm sure a lot of people already believe I'm here to bash Waldorf - so while the invitation is tempting, I'll just mention a few bullet points. If there is anything you would like me to go into detail about, please ask.

To get a feel for how and why these things can happen, one must understand that Waldorf teachers, unlike other school teachers, are bound by a religious philosophy and that part of that philosophy permits secrecy and hiding information from the public and from parents. So, when *things* happen in Waldorf schools, and they always do, there is a hive mentality among Waldorf teachers to white-wash or cover up incidents. This is insight that most people don't get so if it sounds too wierd to you I completely understand. Here are the bullet points of *some* of the incidents and crises I have personally witnessed or have had related to me first hand by the participants or victims:

- Children being mistreated, controlled, manipulated by teachers. Corporal punishment (cleaning restrooms).
- Children being sexually molested by a teenage son of a teacher and the school participating in a cover-up of the incidents (two separate) - and subsequent exposure of the cover-up.
- A teacher who dispensed medication to children it was not intended for in order to calm them down. A school cover-up of the incident - and subsequent exposure of the cover-up. A report to the police revealed that while this is a crime in public schools, this is not a crime in private schools.
- Teachers lying to parents and children.
- A teacher telling a child in a troubled family situation that she would like to adopt the child.
- A teacher wispering threats to a child.
- A teacher reading stories about rape, incest and mutilation on several occasions to 10 year old students.
- A teacher striking a child.
- A male teacher grabbing the buttocks of a 10th grade female student on a camping trip.
- Administrators interfering in legal actions.
- Administrators with control issues leading to parents being mistreated, ostricised or publicly ridiculed or defamed.
- Bullying (many times).
- Fist fights while teachers looked on.
- Students on a camping trip unsupervised on a public road who ended up hitchhiking to their campsite.
- Drugs and drug trafficing on campus.

I could be making all this up, of course, but if one looks at the rate at which people leave this particular Waldorf school (25% per year) it becomes obvious there is at least smoke and very likely fire here. Waldorf schools are not perfect, but they are especially imperfect because of the system in place that allows these types of incidents to be covered up or spun into acceptable gossip - or the people relating the incidents to be defamed or ridiculed. The system worked well for them, to some degree, but with the invention of the internet, word has been getting around and people in the US are discovering that the same things are happening in schools in Australia and in the Netherlands and Great Britain and everywhere. The advantage of other schools, even public schools, is that there IS accountability for the actions of the teachers. In Waldorf schools, there isn't. In public schools, teachers aren't bound by a religious belief system that endorses hiding the nature of the belief system from the public. In Waldorf schools, they are.

Pete
mijumom's Avatar mijumom 03:09 PM 07-20-2005
Thank you Pete. And no that's not too weird to me. It is direct and what I am looking for.

I do have a sense of the herd mentality and the secrecy and the issue of bullying which I have heard about from parents.

I think we are dealing with the same school and there have been recent events that coroborate what you are saying to some degree. Sometimes it feels like an ideally loving supportive familial community and sometimes it seems like sheep sticking their heads in the sand.

I think my children will do fine this year. The teachers we have are teachers that I know a lot about (through friends) and I will have to investigate your claims further. I do not think it is impossible that those things occured and it concerns me. 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.
UUMom's Avatar UUMom 03:15 PM 07-20-2005
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.
Pete's Avatar Pete 04:34 PM 07-20-2005
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
Pete's Avatar Pete 04:44 PM 07-20-2005
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
Pete's Avatar Pete 06:55 PM 07-20-2005
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
canndw's Avatar canndw 05:55 PM 07-21-2005
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
Pete's Avatar Pete 07:58 PM 07-21-2005
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
canndw's Avatar canndw 10:48 PM 07-21-2005
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
canndw's Avatar canndw 10:57 PM 07-21-2005
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
Pete's Avatar Pete 12:53 AM 07-22-2005
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
Pete's Avatar Pete 01:10 AM 07-22-2005
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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