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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Waldorf Vindictive to Parents who Ask Questions\

The vindictiveness that can be unleashed when one even questions the party line
is very worrisome to me. We are considering *not* sending our dd to high school
there- every time I asked a question at the meeting for 8th grade parents I was
met with dissembling worthy of the Catholic recusants in the Jacobean age. But I
am really worried that asking teachers to write recommendations will not be a
wise thing to do- and how to put this concern across to the new school we'd be
applying to?

My child has not learned one thing in two years there- grades seven and eight,
when they assure you (when you're in kindergarten heaven) that your child will
eventually embark on a rigorous curriculum. When I've complained that she's
bored they say she doesn't pay attention (yeah, no duh, because she's
B-O-R-E-D), and that she is already so "in her head" that she should focus more
on gym (though the gym teacher is SO awful and rude I would pull her out of
school on that principle alone). And if she's so bored, they say, why can't she
finish her work or put more effort into it? That's what she "needs to struggle
with." -sigh-

I can't get anyone to answer a straightforward question about the science
curriculum, for instance- my daughter misses textbooks (she was homeschooled
with Calvert, which was wonderful!) and loathes the block system. I asked if
there are science classes in "extra main," ie when there's no English block they
have a few periods per week in English, when there's no math block they have
extra math, etc. They answered that their kids get more science than public
schools (not true; I checked), and that since "math is the language of science,"
their math and history and art includes plenty of science. So that means the
math problem about the shadow and the building and the Pythagorean theorem,
that's enough science for a month? I'm an adult and I forget things from my
science classes earlier in the *semester.*

I know the stats they provide show that their kids do go to college, and most
are not doctors or lawyers or scientists. That's ok for my daughter; she's into
art anyway. But the lack of substance, and worse, the absence of a standard for
excellence and achievement (everything I've seen is mediocre or worse, even on
the high school level), has me very depressed. Especially since if my daughter
is going to be an artist or a writer, I want her to absorb enough information to
be a well-educated person, with a firm grounding in all the subjects she is
*not* drawn to.

And how to ask them to write a good recommendation so we can get the hell out?"

"Yes, I'm learning that where we live, saying your children are at the Waldorf
school is actually something to be embarrassed about, or to be followed by an
explanation that you're not really one of those people- we watch television and
believe in Evolution and the Scientific Method, and we don't talk in a singsongy
voice all day long. I meet people everywhere who've left the school for one
reason or another; many are reluctant to speak frankly about why they left.

People at the school, whether faculty or parents, seem to have so little contact
with the "outside" (the school's term, not mine!) that they have no clue. They
imagine they are envied and admired. Even C-students at the community college
have a low opinion of the Waldorf school!

My daughter's teacher is a god at this school- everyone talks about what a
wonderful class it is (no credit to us families!), so any complaint would fall
on deaf ears. Even other parents in the class get involved when they don't have
a complaint, so concerned are they that we - or others - are "troublemakers;"
I'm sick of that attitude and would rather she go to public school with its
out-on-paper protocols of accountability and privacy than remain here. She
refuses to attend the public school, however, so it's either a more expensive
private school or homeschooling for high school, which I never wanted to do.

I even consider leaving her where she is for social reasons- if they'll keep her
for high school after our "troublemaking-" except then I think of the PE
teacher, or what could be learned during the time wasted on Eurythmy..."

"She has visited our local school for a day, and the experience was so awful her
eye doctor, that afternoon for a regular visit, could not measure her eyes, they
were twitching so badly. That particular school is unfortunately known for
having pretty rough kids- the middle school girls' basketball team from that
school actually started punching our girls' team members during a game recently!
But more importantly, even at the middle school level when she visited, they
were doing work she had done years before as a homeschooler. Being behind is not
going to be a problem wherever she goes.

You make a good point about the public school bigotry at Waldorf schools. My
daughter does not like that either- in fact she was in tears one day last year
(gr 7) when she and another girl got into an argument about public vs Waldorf
schools! My daughter dared to point out that contrary to the belief that art is
better at Waldorf, in her opinion the art on display at county events from the
public schools is better than that from ours.

Also, if one more comment is made in my presence about "people from outside," or
"at the public schools," I will blow my stack. I do intend to say something if
it happens again. There is one parent in particular, a founder of the school
actually (the school is 35 or so years old), who does this at every meeting, in
every conversation, and I am sick of it. For one thing, we're all there for
whatever reason. For another, both my and my husband's PUBLIC high schools are
ALWAYS listed on WSJ's or US News/World Report's lists of best schools in the
country, or WSJ's "How to Get Into Harvard." So I just don't want to hear it. I
haven't seen a school that can touch my high school in any area, including
socially, and I do live in the world- the way the teachers speak as though they
are privy to some terrible dangers of "outside" is also getting on my nerves.

Speaking of socially, more than one friend has said they are unhappy with lots
of things at the school (ie even with tutoring their children cannot do basic
math), but they are so sure their kids will get beaten up at the public schools
they feel they have no choice (we are all in different districts, or we could
send them together!). They have ALSO said that as far as applying to any of the
other private schools here (as well as the grotesque expense), they are quite
sure their kids, knowing no math or writing skills, could not even get into
another school.

Our local Sylvan learning center joked with one friend of mine that she was very
early (grade four or five); "we don't usually see students from ----- until
tenth grade when they can't pass the PSAT!" : Meanwhile the school boasts that
they have a finalist or two every couple of years- this is proof their (tiny)
classes do comparably well?

PS- Has anyone read the study that's being flaunted all over the place about how
Waldorf students do after high school? Has anyone else noticed any elementary
statistics class gives enough info to render that study useless? Or that even if
their stats were reliable, the results are alarming rather than reassuring?