A Safe, Healthy Haven: Waldorf Questioners/Concerns Thread - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 801 Old 11-10-2005, 09:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Edit/Addition: There is now a Table of Contents here at the top to help newcomers (and oldies) locate certain topics of concern that have been discussed here so far. It is still under construction. Please feel free to post and ask anything even if it has already been mentioned before. An introduction to the thread follows the table of contents.

In Peace,

~Beansavi

Topic of the Week: Reading in Waldorf Schools and How One Waldorf Teacher was Trained to Teach Reading: See Posts 756, 757

Table of Contents

We have discussed our concerns with:

Beansavi's Story (punishment); Posts 11,164-166, 682,684

Anti-Sematism in Steiner's Spiritual Views; Posts 401-433

What is Anthroposophy?; Posts 29,

The Pain of the Grapevine:Slander and Gossip; Posts 682,684

Bullying; Posts

Is Waldorf a Religious Education?; Posts

Being Excommunicated from a Waldorf School; posts 23,684

AWSNA and the ASA; posts 20,422

Labelling Children with Temperaments/your Child's "Karma"; Posts 19,31,446

Boys Will Be Boys; Posts 21,

When Your Child Leaves Waldorf and Goes to Public School; Posts 18,

Reading in Waldorf Schools; Posts 18,756, 757

Steiner on Breastfeeding; Posts401-433



Hi Everyone,

I am creating this thread so that there is a safe and healthy place for people to get caring support for negative Waldorf experiences. Guidelines for posting that insure the feelings of safety and respect are listed at the bottom of this post.

(Just for reference, I am a former Waldorf grade teacher, Waldorf Parent in on the founding of the school, member of a local Anthroposophical Study group, and five year member of the Anthroposophical Society Headquarters in Switzerland and Anthroposophical Society in America. I also began the School of Spiritual Science training [first class in the ASA membership], but left when I had seen more than I was comfortable with personally.)

Waldorf Education definitely makes a great first impression. In my experience, it was a natural next step in my attachment parenting lifestyle. However, once I received my Waldorf Grades Teacher-Training, the world of Anthroposophy unfolded before me, and I was offended by, and personally insulted by the people I worked with and all that I saw/heard/studied/experienced. Namely, (in my and my son's experience) the lack of protection of my son and lack of following of protocol with Social Services. My story is in a later post.

Many of us have seen that Waldorf, Anthroposophy, and/or Steiner himself has a "darker side" (forgive me if I don't know how to put this better). This side is very difficult to discuss publicly, though I wish that weren't the case. In my experiences, I have found people either say they have issues with Waldorf, etc., or emphatically deny these issues exist on any large scale.

I have yet to (though I hope to one day) find someone within the Waldorf/Anthroposophical movements who sees both the beautiful aspects and the healing potiential within Waldorf Education, but who also discusses the very real negative experiences many around the world are having, as you will see discussed herein. This type of discussion requires real bravery and unwavering honesty.

Simply stating that we are sorry someone had a hard time but "that's not true at my Waldorf school" is not sufficient enough to get the job done.

Here is a little background important to understand when reading this thread:

All Waldorf schools (in North America) are members of the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA), and the members of this association are Anthroposophists and members of the Anthroposophical Society in America (ASA). (You will see these two acronyms often in this thread.) Whatever attitudes and practices AWSNA and the ASA have, a Waldorf school must ultimately have within it's "root system".

It seems to me that only when we have come to a truly honest discussion can the shadow I see in Waldorf/Anthroposophy be overcome. In doing so we will, I am certain, see Waldorf thrive and the grownups and children who have been left in the wake of its hurt, heal and thrive, too.

It is not my intention, nor is it my desire, to get into semantics here. Whether we refer to our negative experiences as our "observations", "perspectives", or whether someone else refers to negativity in the Waldorf community as simply "rumours", etc., our hurtful experiences are exactly that: they are real experiences, real examples of the problem, and they are not minimized or discredited by the names we
- or anyone - put on them. We are here to support each other and to talk as friends and confidantes.

Many Blessings
and
Most Sincerely,

Beansavi

PS Here are two great sites: [
www.postwaldorftutoring.com
www.easeonline.org

Here's how this thread hopes to serve as a "Safe Haven":

There is a sticky by Lauren requiring those who do not agree with the questioners to not post simply for the purpose of contradicting or undermining the working-through-of-issues we are attempting here. Please do not get those needing support off the topic by putting them in a position of defending themselves.

To quote Lauren directly: "Members posting simply to pick apart the question or put down the questioner will not be tolerated."

Please adhere to these rules, showing respect and maturity.

Suggested Guidelines for Our "Safe Haven"

These guidelines are not meant to be imposed as a "short leash". Instead, I see them as a way our sisterhood (but, then again, not exclusively for females!) can avoid the feelings of needing to defend ourselves, or getting caught up in any "negative vibes" experienced in the earlier Waldorf Concerns threads. It is my hope and intention that this place serve as a Healthy, Safe Haven for those of us who feel hurt in our hearts by what we have experienced.

1) Understand that right off the bat, what you tell me, I will believe. I believe you. I will also assume your intentions for posting here are good and for the purposes stated in the original post.

2) Check your feelings before you post: if someone has made a comment, etc. that makes you feel you need to defend your own integrity, or that of your child, either:

a) pm me and vent privately

b) ignore the post/comment altogether and continue with the discussion as it ran along before someone insinuated anything negative about your intentions for speaking out.

3) Understand that no one here is (or should be) speaking for another person "behind the scenes". Period. All statements are real-live human beings who speak only for the purpose of healing themselves and family members.

4) To avoid getting edited or shut down, let's not state the actual names of schools or people who have hurt us and/or our children, except in PMs.

Peace,

Beansavi
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#2 of 801 Old 11-11-2005, 11:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
Hi Everyone,

I am creating this thread so that there is a safe and healthy place for people to question Waldorf or get caring support for negative Waldorf experiences.

[B]There is a sticky by Lauren requiring those who do not agree with the questioners to not post simply for the purpose of contradicting or undermining the working through of issues we are attempting here. Please do not get those needing support off the topic by putting them in a position of defending themselves.
Thank you beansavi for creating this thread!
There are not many places where people like us who have had bad experiences with Waldorf (and whose children have had bad experiences) can talk about it. As we have seen, with a few exceptions, We CERTAINLY cannot talk our experiences with the Waldorf teachers or parents whose children are still in Waldorf. For them we are traitors, bad parents, and what ever happened must be our fault. They don't want to hear about it! And you can't talk about it to people who are unfamiliar with Waldorf because they will only think we were nuts for sending our kids there in the first place! When I look back I can't believe we allowed it all to happen.I am very grateful to have the opportunity to do so in this forum as well as read all the debates.
Thanks,
Lorraine
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#3 of 801 Old 11-12-2005, 11:54 AM
 
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Yeah - what she said. In fact, I haven't been around these parts in quite a while for exactly the reasons you gave, jalilah. The very last thing I need is yet another person challenging my truth with theirs in an area of such sensitivity and trauma for me, personally. No, thank you.... I'm done with that dance.

And, THANK YOU, beansavi, for your persistence and grace with all this. This thread is DEFINATELY needed. I feel safer already!
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#4 of 801 Old 11-12-2005, 12:23 PM
 
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Beansavi I sent you a PM but your PM box is full. Can you make some room?

 
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#5 of 801 Old 11-12-2005, 09:25 PM
 
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Could you please share some of your experiences at Waldorf. Thank you.
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#6 of 801 Old 11-12-2005, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all you mamas and chicas who have responded so far. So nice to hear from you!

(I don't think it's a coincidence that my daughter is singing to herself on the couch right now, "The more we get together, the happier we'll be"!!!)

I just knew I wasn't imagining that we still needed this haven...

I was saddened that the other threads turned into a place where survivors just ended up defending their integrity and were not actually getting a place to feel comforted, believed and supported. I was also disappointed in some who wanted to question, but weren't being very mature about it.

Then, I saw that the discussions/support just stopped completely... and that definitely did not feel like a good thing...

As far as my own experiences, I have detailed them on those old threads (which I think have now been removed), but don't mind recapping them here. I am a trained Waldorf teacher who went back to public ed. after severely negative and questionable bahavior toward my son and myself on the part of the school where I worked.

Right this minute I am low on brain cells, seven months preggers, and very sleepy. I will definitely post with my story in the upcoming days to encourage others' bravery in discussing anything they need help and friendship with.

I must admit to you, Lauren, that I am a bit "nervous" about your pm you will be sending to me, but know I may just be a little "gun shy" from other experiences, since you have always been so very helpful and balanced...

Since there are anti-Wal-Mart threads as well as others on MDC (things that are more "politically correct" to have objections to), I feel confident that if done ethically and humbly, this thread, too, can survive...

Much Love and Peace,


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#7 of 801 Old 11-13-2005, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi guys,

I have been asked (very nicely I will add) by Lauren to take the word "Survivor" out of the title due to some objections from others who contacted her.

That is fine and I have changed the word to "Concerns".

Regardless of what terminology we use, I am sure those of us who need and come together in this thread understand our common experiences and the support we need-and exactly why we need it.

Terminology will not limit our sisterhood when our intentions are so honest and pure.

I am also going to suggest some guidelines for us to use here, and will edit them into the original post. Please check that and let me know what you think, or if you have anything to add.

Peace,
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#8 of 801 Old 11-13-2005, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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PS

May May, I forgot to tell you I am soooo glad to see you here. I have a lot of respect for you, your bravery, maturity, gracefulness in difficult situations...

Rock on, chica!
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#9 of 801 Old 11-13-2005, 04:56 PM
 
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: The feelings are mutual, my friend.
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#10 of 801 Old 11-13-2005, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yay!
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#11 of 801 Old 11-15-2005, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, here is part of my story. I will add more later, when I feel up to it. I'm sure you all can understand the draining qualities of recounting abusive experiences. Again, I am sharing here to encourage the bravery of others, and to establish a safe place to talk and get support for what we have each been through.

Please also reference posts numbers 164-166 later in this thread.

When my child was one year old, I heard about Waldorf Education from a friend. Since I was in graduate school for Elementary Education, I was naturally intrigued. I was drawn by the normal influences: the color, the softness, the natural toys, the stories, the slow pace of the learning. It was pretty much the opposite of what I was being taught in college.

I attended initial meetings for founding a school in my area (probably five people at most) and did a lot of the grunt work to get the school going, including using our truck to haul desks and blackboards from another school an hour away.

Naturally, the people I was spending so much time with became my new community, now that I was a new mother. My friends that still had no children and I grew apart, and I let that happen. The common thread with my new friends was the Waldorf school, and Waldorf Ed. Unfortunately, I didn't attempt to find any other community. I felt like those I was with were the best of the best, and we really knew what was best for our kids, and for kids in general. We were also "mentored" by other schools and teachers, and so their opinion was that Waldorf was superior, and they stated constantly how and why. Not good.

The Kindergartens became established, and one grade. After spending years to help found the school, joining the local Anthroposophical study group, I became a substitute, then Kindergarten Assistant, then French teacher. I eventually I became a grades teacher at the school. They sent me, all expenses paid, to Rudolf Steiner College where I studied for thirteen hours a day, five days a week, in the summer.

After completing my foundation year of studies, my son was four and in Kindergarten. Another child started putting his hands down the kids' pants and grabbing them in front and in back. It took three meetings with the teacher to get her to do anything. My son was switched by the teachers into another class, and lost all of the friends he had ever known. The teachers said to me, very rudely, that there was no switching him back. Period. Then they refused to consider him for first grade although he met the age limit. He began a blinking habit, and pooping in his pants "on accident".

No one at the school called Social Services, which is the law, despite my many conversations about my concerns. I was told by the faculty chair that she thought the school had to call S.S. and that a parent (like me) could not. I believed her.

My son started acting out in class. He bit a child because he said the other kids were too "baby" and messed up his inventions made in class. (He should have been in first grade). He also said the teacher wasn't even looking most of the time. Other kids got injured during playtime because the teachers were around the corner, behind a bush, talking and not watching the kids. Other parents complained. I was one. I pulled my child out of the school.

No other teachers ever did anything in general to hold others to the carpet. It all fell on me, and I was overly stressed at that point because of everyone else's habit of ignoring elephants under the carpet.

Because I was a teacher there, too, I was "punished" (the term the faculty chose). I was required to write a six page apology letter to the Kindergarten teachers, and it was closely edited and reworded by the new faculty chair (they switched mid-crisis since the old faculty chair they considered to be too "on my side") which took nearly the entire school year! I was soooo exhausted. People also spoke to me regularly as if I was a child who was behaving badly-and I wouldn't even speak to my own child in such an abusive tone as they were using!

I was required to write the Anthroposophical doctor they required me to see for my son. In the letter I was to tell him I should not have told him about the very reasons I was there to see him and why my son was having a problem, because I could have ruined the Kindergarten teacher's career! It was assumed that I told him about our situation because I was trying to win something at the school, like I am a bad person, or mean with anger issues. I have since come to understand that people see each other with their "own eyes" and that they saw me in the way they, themselves, lived. They could not see outside of that.

I am a good, caring person and my concern was for my child-of course! It seems silly to even have to say that, but they were so dysfunctional IMO that it can mess with your head when you are feeling low for a moment.

I was also told by the school that my child could not come back the next year for first grade and rejoin his lifelong friends with a new teacher.

My son's Kindergarten teacher had beers every Thursday night with the Board of Trustees Chair (Head). The teacher admitted this in a fit of anger at a faculty meeting. The BOT Chair , after a special meeting on "the crisis" asked her in front of everyone if she still wanted to go to "Joe's" and have a beer since it was Thursday. She said "Yeah". Nobodyelse responded! I brought it up the next day and the new faculty chair said she would "think about it" noncomittally. WTH? How unprofessional (and illegal with the EEOC) is that?

The BOT Head and this KG teacher discussed confidential things they should not have. No one questioned this. This type of unprofessional behavior was commonplace and anyone who spoke out was punished.

The former faculty chair told me that one parent was taken off of every committee and her children threatened to be kicked out, if she "said one more thing".

Additionally, the first faculty chair told me to look in the files to see if the teacher had documented my son's behavior (since it was suddenly so "negative"). There was nothing. The faculty chair got the files out herself. Later, I was told that because I looked in the file cabinet, and was also a paorent as well as teacher in the school, then I would have to be on probation since looking in the files was unprofessional. I said the faculty chair suggested it and was present. They switched faculty chairs a few weeks before this statement and the new one said that what the old one did was irrelevant: I looked in the files and she (the new faculty chair) didn't like it, so the punishment would remain or I'd lose my job. I was so dumbfounded. It was like the twilight zone! Completely twisted.

There is much more to this, but I need to pace myself. Bottom line, when I said they were going too far by also punishing my son (not allowed to return), they said they were considering that statement to be my resignation. When I said it wasn't, they said they didn't care, they were still considering it a resignation, and released a memo to the school and parent community saying I quit due to family difficulties. They also held a meeting with the parents of my class without me. They couldn't even say the words, "fired", which is what they were doing. I was given one more paycheck, and then my family had no more income, not even through the summer.

After all the exhaustion and abuse, I had to look for another job as well as grieve and recover. I can't even believe I stayed through as much as I did, but at the time I viewed it as fighting for the school and stubbornly refusing to be bossed around. I lost the battle, but I feel like I won the war, because we are soooo much happier and healthier now. The school will never be much with such karma behind them. I still hear all the stories of the same behavior, and that makes me feel like they have learned nothing.

Too bad. But I just don't care anymore, except to help others who feel abused. It took me three years to even realize how abused I felt. I walked around embarassed, with my head down. But no more. Those people are the ones who embarassed themselves. Shame on them.

My family and I are great now, though we do have "flashbacks". We are working on baby number three, and I teach homeschoolers and enjoy being a family woman.

Sorry this is a bit disjointed, but as you know, I feel spent after talking about it all.

Peace,
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#12 of 801 Old 11-15-2005, 10:43 AM
 
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#13 of 801 Old 11-15-2005, 11:56 AM
 
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Oh, beansavi, thank you for sharing that difficult story. I DO know how draining that is... I am sending a thousand hugs your way. Use them as needed, whenever you're feeling low.


So many of the points you've covered appear to be universal Waldorf attributes -

I have had so many of the same experiences you've described. And once I began researching, I found that many, many others describe similar experiences. It is truly chilling. But, at the same time, it is so reassuring to know that we are not alone.

There is a lot to talk about, here. I am warming up....
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#14 of 801 Old 11-15-2005, 03:33 PM
 
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Thanks Beansavi for sharing your experience. I can only imagine how awful that experience was for you. See, I'm a total newbie to Waldorf ed, so please bear with me. I read that May May said that others have had similar problems. Is there something about the how Waldorf schools are run that leads to this or does it depend on the Waldorf school or do these problems (e.g. bullying) occur in most schools across the board and Waldorf administrators don't handle situations appropriately.
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#15 of 801 Old 11-15-2005, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks May May... right back at ya'...

Hi Aspenleaf,

It's my perspective that this is universal in Waldorf because when big "crises" arise at schools, they are mentored by the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America and/or mentored by older Waldorf schools and guided as to how to "deal with" the people involved in the situation.

Even when people don't have issues with their own school, or have thus far had a positive experience, that school has to "buy into" the Waldorf and AWSNA guidelines to even use the word "Waldorf" in their school name.

In my case, one of the head AWSNA people came down to our school, for the price of $1,000.00, and met me once - for fifteen minutes. I guess he didn't feel the need to get to know me any better than that, and took everyone else's word as to my integrity and intentions behind my filing a complaint.

After that initial meeting, he spoke at length (for days) with the faculty, and I was not allowed to be present. He then guided them from his office at AWSNA and (according to the faculty chair) told them that "whatever felt right to them" as far as my punishment went, was acceptable, simply because they as a group had agreed to it. I have, to this day, all of the statements as to why I was being punished and what the punishment would be, in writing, from the school.

I took it to a lawyer and he was amazed at the sheer illegality (is that a word? ) of their punishment and the audacity and dysfunction of their tone in the written statement.

So, this is not my own whining or just my opinion. Because my son was having such problems physically and emotionally, I chose to hold off on going to court so we could all de-stress and find some kind of normalcy in our lives. Three years later, it is just coming to us. My son does have until he is 18 years old to press charges. I don't think it is a coincidence that the very next Autumn, the school moved a few miles away and changed its name, even though there was no more room in the new space, nor was the lease where they were at risk of being terminated.

Okay, I'm going to rake some leaves now everybody! I need to "swish" this out of me!!!!

Peace,
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#16 of 801 Old 11-15-2005, 09:17 PM
 
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HI Beansavi

I am so sorry for what you and your son went through. How upsetting and sad on so many levels.

I am a social worker who works with children. I know in schools where I work all the teachers are mandated reporters - meaning that if they think a child is being neglected, physically or sexually abused they must call child protective services. I guess I am confused why no one called.
Because if a 6 year old is touching other children inappropriately it seems there is a very strong chance that the child is also being touched by someone inappropriately.

Also as a parent who is looking into Waldorf for my child I find this story very sad and upsetting too. I know that difficult situations can happen I just would hope that teachers and schools are equipped to handle them when they do .

I wonder if anyone knows if other Waldorf schools are trained for crisis kind of situations or at least can tap into resources and are willing to if needed?

Thank you
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#17 of 801 Old 11-15-2005, 09:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sweetlife
I am a social worker who works with children. I know in schools where I work all the teachers are mandated reporters - meaning that if they think a child is being neglected, physically or sexually abused they must call child protective services...

I wonder if anyone knows if other Waldorf schools are trained for crisis kind of situations or at least can tap into resources and are willing to if needed?
I can't answer for Waldorf schools in general, but I know that the faculty in the school where I'm a board member brought in social workers for full-faculty training on our obligation as 'mandatory reporters' vis a vis possible child abuse cases.

David
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#18 of 801 Old 11-16-2005, 03:12 AM
 
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Hi all,


I guess I will share my experience with Waldorf here in case it helps anyone looking for more information. Of course every Waldorf school is unique and my experience is unique as well.

I attended Waldorf in grade 6. My family had just moved out to BC and heard bad things about the local public schools and I was all set to enroll in one year into a private Baha'i school so we just had one year until then.

Because I had gone through years in the public school system and was learning reading with my mom at home even before we started it at school, I was very shocked at suddenly being immersed in such a different style of learning.

We had no books, we never read in class or for homework. A class usually consisted of the teacher giving a lecture and we could draw pictures or write what he or she said. 2 kids in my class of 9 could not read at all, they were the 2 who had gone through Waldorf from kindergarden age. Math class was drawing shapes in our sketchbooks and also one time I remember nailing little nails into a sheet of plywood and wrapping yarn around them to make it look like a star.

It was very hard to learn French and German because we couldn't practice reading from a text at school or at home. Our teacher would say words and we'd repeat them. That's it.

By the time I finished the year and went on to the next school, I was so far behind in my Math that it took me almost the entire seventh grade spent in after-school tutorials to catch up. Luckily I loved reading and had been reading books at home even though it wasn't part of my school work at Waldorf, so that didn't suffer. We didn't learn any science or geography or social studies at all, so I was behind on all of those too.

I'm so glad that I only went there for one year, other wise I know it would have taken me longer to catch up and Math has always been a challenge for me.

After that experience, I know I will never send any child of mine to Waldorf. I loved learning to read when I did - reading was a very special part of my childhood and I hope it will be for my children too. Also I want them to be prepared well for university, and I know that if I'd stayed on at Waldorf for all of high school, I'd never manage with college/university courses.

My younger sister unfortunately struggled with these same issues, since she also attended Waldorf that year. She was in grade 3. After that year, my parents took her out and put her in another school since we had moved to another area with a better public school. She almost had to repeat grade 3 because of Waldorf, but luckily the new teacher she had was willing to help her out after school if needed with her reading etc.



Thanks for letting me share my experience, and very glad this thread is here for those who need it.




-Kira
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#19 of 801 Old 11-16-2005, 03:15 AM
 
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Originally Posted by canndw
I can't answer for Waldorf schools in general, but I know that the faculty in the school where I'm a board member brought in social workers for full-faculty training on our obligation as 'mandatory reporters' vis a vis possible child abuse cases.

David
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?
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#20 of 801 Old 11-16-2005, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Sweetlife,

Regarding your quote, below:

Yes, you are right, the child doing the grabbing was also abused himself. None of the teachers reported it. Even after my three attempts at meeting with the teacher of this child and my son. She was very defensive, as was the rest of the faculty. There you have the underpinnings of my "crucifixion": covering their butts.

Blame the mother/teacher and the child, instead of acknowledging the school's own negligence, and attempt to drive the family away with several ridiculous hoops to jump through/punishments for the teacher/mother. Then when that doesn't work, "fire" her without ever saying she is fired. Lie in a memo to the entire school community and say she quit...and defame the child in the community's mind.

This school was guided by AWSNA in how to deal with this crisis, don't forget.

A mother whose child has been abused (by another child or adult) should not be further judged and punished by the school/board/personnel committee/AWSNA. Totally unfair, and abusive.

Also, this school was allowed to be open for years - under the support and mentorship of AWSNA and an older school - without ever receiving the Social Services mandatory reporters training. They got it after I was fired, at the request of a teacher who "saw my side" and finally thought "Hey, we should learn more about this!".

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetlife
HI Beansavi

I am so sorry for what you and your son went through. How upsetting and sad on so many levels.

I am a social worker who works with children. I know in schools where I work all the teachers are mandated reporters - meaning that if they think a child is being neglected, physically or sexually abused they must call child protective services. I guess I am confused why no one called.
Because if a 6 year old is touching other children inappropriately it seems there is a very strong chance that the child is also being touched by someone inappropriately.

Also as a parent who is looking into Waldorf for my child I find this story very sad and upsetting too. I know that difficult situations can happen I just would hope that teachers and schools are equipped to handle them when they do .

I wonder if anyone knows if other Waldorf schools are trained for crisis kind of situations or at least can tap into resources and are willing to if needed?



Thank you
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#21 of 801 Old 11-16-2005, 10:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The "boys need to chill" attitude I have seen in many Waldorf environments. In my teacher-training, schools, and I generally felt upset that my son felt he was inherently "bad" for being active and occasionally silly. He saw the response in his teacher's eyes, that she was not affectionate to him after he was "silly". He verbalized this and said she would no longer greet him in the morning. I understand this is just our one experience.

Quote:
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?
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#22 of 801 Old 11-16-2005, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Now that this thread has fully opened up and gotten "down to it", please remember that:

If you are not someone who needs help and support with a negative Waldorf experience, please do not post here unless you are directly supporting someone else who has spoken out, with bravery, about how they or their family feels hurt.

Also, please do not post here simply for the purpose of defending Waldorf Ed. or your particular school/good experience-- there are plenty of other threads for that.

Please review the guidelines in the original post, #1.

To quote Lauren, our moderator:

"Members posting simply to pick apart the question or put down the questioner will not be tolerated."

Peace,
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#23 of 801 Old 11-17-2005, 05:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, me again...

I want to maintain this thread as a supportive "lounge" environment, rather than an educational or debate-oriented thread, so I thought I would begin a new topic of conversation for those of us who have left, or been kicked out of the Waldorf movement.

Some issues my family has dealt with and ways to handle them are as follows:

1) Leaving the built-in, automatic community network, which includes friends of our children and friends we have made as parents.

This can be a lonely, yet liberating, transition time.

2) The pain of "I thought we were friends but now many in my community are literally telling me they "don't want to get involved", or "don't want to know about all the traumatic details" of what we went through. The school is "working" for their children, and so, that is "all [they] need to know".

Again, when we go through trauma, our friends are the ones we normally turn to for support. When many of these are no longer a resource, times can be very lonely indeed.

3) It is time to begin reaching out to family, being honest about what you went through (even if they think you were crazy for putting your kids there in the first place after hearing the story), and making new friends or reconnecting with those not involved in Waldorf. Expand your horizons.

4) It is also a good time not to underestimate the fact that you may be needing (and the chances are good for this) family or individual counseling, to gain perspective again.

Counseling helped my family enormously, because when an outsider scoffs immediately at some of the treatment you have received, it is very liberating to realize just how ridiculous some of the behavior you have gotten numb to really is.

5) Make a list of what worked for you in Waldorf, and what drew you to it in the first place. You do not have to give these things up. My children still have the tradition at Christmas that Santa sat by the fire carving in the old-fashioned way, a wooden toy for them as he and Mrs. Claus talked and thought about my kids only. I made up this tradition myself, and really enjoy looking at the Ostheimer and Kinderkram sites like The Wooden Wagon. However, I no longer order from companies that identify themselves as Waldorf associates or supporters. I also do not go to Waldorf craft fairs, etc.

What I do do is find the basic core of what was already existing within myself that Waldorf aligned with and thus drew me in: for me it was the crafts, songs, underlying spiritual acknowledgement, colors and textures. These elements are still very prevelant in my life and the lives of my family members.

By doing this, I have separated my identity from that of Waldorf. Losing our individual identity can be a common problem, and rediscovering it is crucial to our happiness and fulfillment.

Want to add anything? Please jump in!!!

Peace,
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#24 of 801 Old 11-20-2005, 12:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi

The Kindergartens became established, and one grade. Eventually I became a grades teacher at the school. They sent me, all expenses paid, to Rudolf Steiner College where I studied for thirteen hours a day, five days a week, in the summer.

After returning from my first year, I noticed the other teachers didn't seem as friendly to me. I chalked it up to my imagination.

Bensavi, why do you think your collegues did this? Were they questioning your training?

I am sorry that your son went through what he went through. During my daughters last year of Kindergarten, 2 families had to be asked to leave because their children were acting out sexually with the other children (mostly at playdates and a little at school). It was hard to tell those two families that their children we hurting the other children and that the school could not provide the kind of help their kids needed. The rest of the Kindergarten year was much better after that for the rest of the children. I am hopeful that the families got help for their children. I am sorry your school did not respond as they should have to protect the rest of the class.
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#25 of 801 Old 11-20-2005, 12:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beansavi
Now that this thread has fully opened up and gotten "down to it", please remember that:

If you are not someone who needs help and support with a negative Waldorf experience, please do not post here unless you are directly supporting someone else who has spoken out, with bravery, about how they or their family feels hurt.

Also, please do not post here simply for the purpose of defending Waldorf Ed. or your particular school/good experience-- there are plenty of other threads for that.

Please review the guidelines in the original post, #1.

To quote Lauren, our moderator:

"Members posting simply to pick apart the question or put down the questioner will not be tolerated."

Peace,

can we subscribe to this thread & just read the posts? I am a mother who uses some waldorf arts and crafts and other curriculum (hser) and would like to hear both sides. ok?
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#26 of 801 Old 11-20-2005, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Chandraj,

Thanks for your consideration in asking to read this thread.

I, personally, have no problem with that, and I am pretty sure the user guidelines don't have a problem with that either.

I also would like for others to come out and say if they had a problem, but honestly, I think the only problems we Waldorf Questioners/Concerners have ever had is having people question our motives, integrity, or actual credentials for statements we have made. This was done in an argumentative manner in the past, or simply to halt therapeutic discussions.

As long as the guidelines are being followed (stated in the original post and the sticky by Lauren), it's all good!

Thanks agian and have a great rest of the weekend!
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#27 of 801 Old 11-20-2005, 03:38 PM
 
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ok thanks!
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#28 of 801 Old 11-21-2005, 05:24 AM
 
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I came here when I was exploring education options for my children. I wanted to know what other peoples experiences were. I'm glad to see that there are still threads that are addressing Waldorf "concerns."

It is unfortunate, in retrospect that I ignored some of the warnings and concerns that were brought up on this board. I don't even think that your story Bensavi would have changed my mind.

So for any mother that is here looking for information and is wondering if Waldorf is for them I would like to just point some things out.

--If you are concerned about religion/anthroposophy being part of the Waldorf education system then please explore another type of school. While some schools are more open about this than others every parent needs to know that anthroposophy permeates the theory and practice of Waldorf. If you are unfamiliar with anthrosophy then start your research by looking into it. If you are comfortable with what you find then continue your research. If you don't like what you learn about anthrosophy then please save yourself the grief. You will not be able to change or dilute your child's Waldorf school or group.

--If joining something that is "Waldorf inspired" find out exactly what that means. To you it might mean the incorporation of Waldorf toys, stories, songs and music. To others "Waldorf inspired" might mean significantly more.

--How do you feel about academics and how children learn? Waldorf is very specific about this. If you think a child should be taught to read before 2nd grade then Waldorf isn't for you.
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#29 of 801 Old 11-21-2005, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Brooklyngirl...

Yes, as a former Waldorf teacher, I appreciate your pointing out that Waldorf is Anthroposophy. It is an educational form (pedagogy) created by Rudolf Steiner (creator of Waldorf ed.) in response to a request for such an educational model from one of his Anthroposophical supporters and students. If someone buys into Anthroposophy as a spiritual fact, and as a reality, then Waldorf would be fine for them.

But, to go into Waldorf Education without researching Anthroposophy is asking for potential problems down the line --- one of many reasons being that true Anthroposophy and thus Waldorf Education discourages attachment parenting, co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, etc., as well as other more dogmatic things stemming from Anthroposophy...

Some of my issues were the blaming of the child's karma for bad things that happened to him, or beliefs that since he was vaccinated, this didn't allow him to get ill -- and thus he had to "suffer" more in everyday life and relationships to obtain the same benefits that illnesses would have supposedly provided.

If one truly has "nothing to fear" from Waldorf critics/those with concerns, then one should have no problem researching from all the available critics websites and literature as well as pro-Waldorf sources, and would not be threatened by the information therein.

Peace,
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#30 of 801 Old 11-21-2005, 10:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Kira,

I've been meaning to thank you for sharing your experience with us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Kira~
Hi all,


I guess I will share my experience with Waldorf here in case it helps anyone looking for more information. Of course every Waldorf school is unique and my experience is unique as well.

I attended Waldorf in grade 6. My family had just moved out to BC and heard bad things about the local public schools and I was all set to enroll in one year into a private Baha'i school so we just had one year until then.

Because I had gone through years in the public school system and was learning reading with my mom at home even before we started it at school, I was very shocked at suddenly being immersed in such a different style of learning.

We had no books, we never read in class or for homework. A class usually consisted of the teacher giving a lecture and we could draw pictures or write what he or she said. 2 kids in my class of 9 could not read at all, they were the 2 who had gone through Waldorf from kindergarden age. Math class was drawing shapes in our sketchbooks and also one time I remember nailing little nails into a sheet of plywood and wrapping yarn around them to make it look like a star.

It was very hard to learn French and German because we couldn't practice reading from a text at school or at home. Our teacher would say words and we'd repeat them. That's it.

By the time I finished the year and went on to the next school, I was so far behind in my Math that it took me almost the entire seventh grade spent in after-school tutorials to catch up. Luckily I loved reading and had been reading books at home even though it wasn't part of my school work at Waldorf, so that didn't suffer. We didn't learn any science or geography or social studies at all, so I was behind on all of those too.

I'm so glad that I only went there for one year, other wise I know it would have taken me longer to catch up and Math has always been a challenge for me.

After that experience, I know I will never send any child of mine to Waldorf. I loved learning to read when I did - reading was a very special part of my childhood and I hope it will be for my children too. Also I want them to be prepared well for university, and I know that if I'd stayed on at Waldorf for all of high school, I'd never manage with college/university courses.

My younger sister unfortunately struggled with these same issues, since she also attended Waldorf that year. She was in grade 3. After that year, my parents took her out and put her in another school since we had moved to another area with a better public school. She almost had to repeat grade 3 because of Waldorf, but luckily the new teacher she had was willing to help her out after school if needed with her reading etc.



Thanks for letting me share my experience, and very glad this thread is here for those who need it.




-Kira
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