Don't forget to visit The Waldorf Review for more up-to-date school reviews and news stories.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Waldorf Teacher Trainee Changes Mind\

"My son attends a newly formed school (one year old) in a small community. I am
an aide in the classroom 1 day/week. I am also pursuing a degree in (regular)
education, and obviously I see firsthand the many constrasts between Waldorf and
public school practices. I have questioned some aspects of Waldorf from the
beginning. And others I fully appreciate and embrace. I have seen changes in my
son that are wonderful and I would not change for the world. As others have
said, there are some truly beautiful and dynamic things about the Waldorf
philosophy, ones that I intend to bring with me to the public school classroom.
However...there is an ugly side and I have defiinitely noticed the disfunction
and the fact that for those of us who see it, there is almost nowhere to go with
our concerns. The community is way too defensive and overprotective. When I
brought ANY questions (not complaints, just observations, and wanting
clarifications) about the educational practices of Waldorf to the attention of
our teacher, she completely ignored me and changed the subject!

For one example, being a minor in special education, I have questions about
dyslexia and other learning disabilities...are Waldorf teachers trained to see
the symptoms and signs of these problems? If so, how are they dealt with? Are
the children helped or are they asked to find another school that can better
handle their differences that make them unique from the other learners (in other
words, kicked out!)?

I attended a Waldorf seminar in which one of the presenters described the
problems her son had had in a Waldorf school with reading and writing, she
described her son as having nearly every classic symptom of dyslexia (though she
refused to label it as such). He was very frustrated in school because the
Waldorf way does not support kids with such issues. He got no help there, so she
pulled him out and tried homeschooling, she tried nearly everything she could
think of to help him and eventually gave up and resigned herself to the fact
that her son would never really be able to truly write or spell (and a lesser
ability to read). I just couldn't help wondering why did she not seek more
conventional help for her son so that he could overcome his disability and be
able to read and write? And how does Waldorf address this? It seems to me that
it is totally ignored. If so, how many kids slip through the cracks?

Additionally, one of the other major issues I have so far had involve the lead
teacher and personality conflicts. For one, she could at times be very degrading
to the children (telling them to "quit your crying!", etc). I think I was the
only one to question her less than professional handling of discipline and other
such issues. Then came the issue of favoritism. Because I was the one that was
always bringing up things she didn't want to hear, I was not her favorite aide,
while another aide was. This resulted in ridiculous and blatent acts of
favoritism. Once again, I was shocked by the lack of professionalism. Although I
did bring this issue to the teacher (she denied it all and said I was seeing it
all wrong), I did not take it further because she will, thankfully, not be
returning next year (her own choice). The favoritism that I saw seems to go
along with things others have mentioned here about the illusion of community,
and yet it is actually a limited community and just by saying the wrong thing,
you can find yourself on the wrong side of community. Which I find to be
extremely hypocritical and going against everything that Waldorf is supposed to
be about.

Lastly, I just wanted to say thank you to you all for helping me make a
decision. I have been until now tossing around the idea of pursuing
certification in Waldorf education once I have finished my current degree, and
then teaching at my son's school. My previous hesitation is that Waldorf is so
limited and so rigid. There is such a lack of room for diverse thinking (despite
the illusion otherwise). I personally want to teach to a more diverse population
than what is typically found at a Waldorf school. Secondly, I want more freedom
to teach what I want to teach and to teach in a way that recognizes the
diversity of the individual learner--which ironically, despite NCLB and
standarized testing, I think I will actually find easier to do in a public
school rather than a Waldorf school. Still, as a matter of convienience and the
needs of the school, I hadn't ruled out being a Waldorf teacher. Now, after
reading this thread, my mind is made up. I will not be going in that direction.

I want to also add that I know that these things also happen in public schools,
I am not naive enough to think that they don't. However, I would like to think
that there are more safeguards set up to help and protect parents and students
there than in a small community/private school setting, especially one in which
you are burned at the stake for even suggesting that there could be any faults
in the system."