Life after Waldorf Steiner

I recently found a thread named Life after Waldorf on  Mothering.com started by a former Waldorf parent and teacher who returned to mainstream education after a very bad experience with a Steiner school; a teacher had ignored sexual abuse in the classroom. Other parents report issues of bullying and “labelling”.

Steiner schools are called “Waldorf” schools in America, and the “Mothering” site is “The home for Natural Family Living”.

The original thread entitled “A Safe, Healthy Haven: Waldorf Questioners/Concerns” was started for those with experiences they wanted to share.  Those who wished to defend Steiner schools and question the integrity and motives of the posters were asked not to join in – an interesting idea, and indicative of how threads commonly descend into insults and are taken down.

There are many interesting issues raised, and I really recommend reading the thread but here are a few particularly interesting points.

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This kind of response from other parents is not considered helpful;

“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.”

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Even if you don’t think it’s necessary to research anthroposophy, it will be used to make decisions about your child.

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…

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This is one I hadn’t heard before, and explains why schools ask about vaccination records;

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.

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Why do some parents resist reading about criticisms?

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.

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The use of temperaments; no, teachers do not divulge which temperament they have attributed to your “individual” child;

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’

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Books on Steiner education reveal why any Steiner kindergartens appear to frown on extended breastfeeding;

These books heavily discouraged/ criticised ‘extended’ breastfeeding, co-sleeping and other AP practises. My friend formula fed because ‘children should be independant’. The books stated that a child ‘absorbs cultural information with the breastmilk and therefore prolonged breastfeeding leads to a rigid, culturally-specific way of thinking that is not appropriate in our modern global world’.

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Some parents recognise the fact that Steiner schools want children to conform to their special idea of what is best, at the same time criticising those on the outside for conforming.

…it seems even more so in the Waldorf school then anywhere else that they desire all children to be alike, play with the approved toys and as I was singing the clean up song with my daughter the other day I was almost frightened by the way she immediately responded to it in a pavlovian way.

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There are posters from the UK too;

It was the reality of the schools themselves (we tried two) that led to us leaving and our continuing disappointment in the way teachers taught and handled the children. Both schools continued to employ teachers who had been directly observed to physically assault children and yet parents would not complain to outside agencies. The families either just left or attempted to acheive resolution within the school. There was a real culture of avoiding anything negative getting outside the school and becoming known. We were even told in writing to be careful of what we said about the school! I believe the big fear was in becoming ostracised by the school community which many parents relied on for employment.

… Maybe it seems odd but I still feel uncomfortable about “speaking out”!

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To finish with, good advice;

I would also look at Waldorf critic websites, since anyone who chooses Waldorf for their children, and therefore family at large, should not be threatened by anything those sites might add. Those sites will also have other sources for you to look into.

 

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