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Anonymous Testimonial From Waldorf Parent

By Anonymous

April 2, 2000

Before anyone reads this I am a computer software programmer not a writer, I rambled on letting my emotions lead me. You can bring that up as many times and in as many different ways as you like but I already know it.

I won't go into my 'Waldorf Story' yet but I would like to make a comment on Lisa's post defending Diana for supposedly not saying enough while at her Waldorf school. I went along with some pretty silly stuff until a particularly negative situation came up and I pulled my child out of school, mid-term, and after being at the school for two years.

When my child was going through a bad time it was draining emotionally and my energy was gone. I needed to get him out of the situation, as a few other parents did with their children. I looked at the big picture and realized I wasn't up for the fight. The horizontal administration, not one person accountable, makes for very slow changes. Five months later and a few more students leaving ended in the teacher leaving and a new one coming in.

I have many friends still at the school and I know it takes something to happen to you to look at things from a different perspective. My child is now at a wonderful school and his behavior and attitude have changed beyond belief.

I want Debra Harvey to know that last year 35 families, approximately 75 children left our school, I was not an isolated case, and believe it or not the families that stayed, including myself, just looked the other way. Obviously those families did not think the fight was worth it. The fifth grade class at our school went from 24 children to 9 children, they lost most children this year and last year. The lower grades are fairing better but there have been at least 5 families that have left Kindergarten through second grade this year, mid-term. If it doesn't seem to be affecting your child you look the other way. Unfortunately it is hurting the budget so now the impact is being felt by the community at large.

My story, in the big picture, is the same as Lisa's, Diane's and Deby's. It almost makes me laugh, except I should be crying, when I read their posts because it was so ridiculous. The children at my Waldorf school tend to get labelled but I got mine out in time and for the first time in two year he is flourishing. He loves art now and uses black very wisely.

It was after I pulled him out of school that I started to read Steiner and realized how narrow the education and guidance he was being given at our school. The discipline in some classrooms was nonexistent. I can say after being at his new school many of the Waldorf teacher's lacked classroom management skills. My child was in trouble every day, that's a long story in itself.

Once you leave and open yourself to truly listening, the other families that left will tell you about their situations and there is one word that comes to mind, appalling. You cannot share your concerns and stories with families still at Waldorf and I can understand why, emotions run deep on all levels.

My son's Waldorf teacher asked me and another parent to keep our children apart, we did not. Now they are both in the same new school and their teacher sat them next to each other and they are doing great. The Waldorf teacher's at our school seemed so quick to blame every problem on what happened over the weekend, TV, friends, parents anything but themselves, that was a common thread in talking to many of the parents. I enjoy lurking on the critics list and particularly enjoy reading the posts about classroom situations, it has helped my anger to dissipate, because when my child was put through this anguish it did make me angry. I am now Waldorf inspired, like Sarina, or like Diana puts it Un-Waldorf inspired, which sounds like the truer description to me.

In response to another post by Debra Harvey: It is exactly the teachers, because of the horizontal system, who risk the most by speaking up. I know one assistant at our Waldorf school who is so dedicated to the school that she is still there with her fourth grader not reading and her second grader having trouble. One teacher's husband asked to meet the College of Teachers without their son's teacher present and not surprisingly their son's teacher was there. Bad teachers can last a long time before leaving.

I know it is difficult to find qualified teacher's so there seems to be a desperation that permeates the system. I can understand why there are so few teacher's, especially Americans, which is bothersome to me. The parents with children going into the first grade will probably not know who their teacher is until the next school year is about to start next. I know that is always an issue but is accepted as 'the way it has to be' and parents stop questioning.

I know many families left because their children were not learning to read. Some leaving sooner than later depending on how much the school was part of their life. It was easy to become very involved with the school. For good and bad almost everything is accomplished, outside the classrooms, by volunteers.

Your life gets intertwined with the school and it can make it very hard to leave. I do miss the festivals and the comradery but was able to look at what was happening to my child.

I believe parents enjoy their life at the school so much that they stop listening to their child.

Because I left without a fight, and the remaining parents could label why I left, I am still welcomed at the school, along with my son, and we can enjoy the festivals with our friends. It's like everything in life - it's not what you say or do it is how you say it or do it.

That is why I get such a kick out of Debra Harvey's post. They are so black and white, " why didn't you just do this?", which sounds so practical when you are analyzing something from afar. When you are in the middle of a situation their are such subtle nuances and such huge emotions. As a parent it should not be such a struggle and for me now it is not. I agree in theory with Debra but it doesn't work that way in practice, for most of us parents. I know of a few parents that documented issues, wrote letters, went through the appropriate channels and then were labelled trouble makers and left the school exhausted and very angry.

Now I do not have to figure out how the my son's school is run and by who, who to complain to, what long drawn out process I have to go through to get an answer, why so many boys are in trouble, why some girls act like queen bees and get away with hurting the other girls feelings on a daily basis. I read an article by Eugene Schwartz, of all people. He was stating that children nowadays have too many choices, it struck me that at our Waldorf school the children have too much control and too many choices but it is done passively and that becomes very confusing to the children.

I wish their was a forum for the fifty or so families that left our Waldorf to express their feelings without backlash but that is not how it works.

And as all of you know it is very time consuming. I went to Waldorf for a concept that was not executed well. Now after seeing the school in practice and finally reading Steiner and educating myself I would never send my child to another Waldorf for my personal reasons. I have gone on long enough and down too many paths.>>

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