Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waldorf Schools - How well do you know your child's teacher?

"One aspect of the insidious indoctrination in Waldorf schools is based on the establishment of a very close relationship between the teacher and his or her ​​students. Firstly, this proximity is enhanced by the fact that the same class teacher can follow the same group of students for six to eight years. This contributes to the creation of relationships that are more familial than professional. In addition, measures are deliberately taken to create the conditions for increased closeness."  Gregoire Perra former Waldorf student and Waldorf teacher. The Indoctrination of Students to Anthroposophy in the Steiner-Waldorf Schools

Yes, your child's teacher will be very close to your child... per Steiner's instructions.  They may be with your child for eight years - even more.  Waldorf teachers are intentionally supposed to get as close to the child as they can - and are to be seen as "authority" figures by the child.  

That's not always a good thing.

Perra continues later: "Here I must be very clear and also mention legally reprehensible behavior. Indeed, some ethical rules seem not to apply in the Steiner-Waldorf schools, and there are reports of sexual and romantic relationships sometimes occurring between students and teachers. For example, when I was teaching, I witnessed in one of these schools an illicit relationship that had developed between a teacher and a student of the upper classes. They started dating when the student was in 10th grade (Third) and the situation continued until the 12th grade (First or Terminal). All class teachers of the school knew about it, including some who were members of the board of the school. How could they ignore it, since this teacher and this student had come to live together in the same apartment? When this teacher left school after completing certification to teach further, all teachers of the upper classes — except one who probably wanted to be cautious, but who like the others who knew what had happened — came to a party in the apartment. Among themselves, teachers and students pretended to ignore or hide what was an open secret."

 - as we have seen with the recent disclosures of child abuse at Green Meadow Waldorf School.

One of the central conclusions from the independent investigation is that Green Meadow failed to adequately protect its students, faculty, staff, and community members from Mr. Alexandra. Allowing Mr. Alexandra to freely roam Threefold property resulted in giving him essentially unrestricted access to students and faculty members, and thereby enabled him to continue to victimize others. A number of the adults at Green Meadow and Threefold were in a position to have stopped Mr. Alexandra’s inappropriate and sometimes criminal behavior. However they did not do so, either because they were unaware of the breadth of his misconduct, or because they failed to understand the seriousness of what they had been told or had seen. 
Mr. Alexandra was a prominent member of the community and in a position of authority. Therefore his child victims were even less likely to come forward. In addition, T&M found that there was a feeling among some victims that adults at Green Meadow were complicit in what Mr. Alexandra was doing, since they observed his inappropriate behavior yet encouraged students to maintain a relationship with him. 
Doesn't this sound a lot like Gregoire Perra's description of teacher-student relationships going too far?  

Your child will have their teacher for many years.  
But there's another problem that makes this even more serious than the occasional bad teacher, child abuser or pedophile ending up at a Waldorf school.  Steiner instructed teachers to keep quiet about what happens in the school - even from parents.  Faculty Meetings is required reading for Waldorf teacher trainees.  It only takes Steiner to page 10 to get to how teachers should "not speak to people outside the school".
“However, there is something else that I would ask you to be aware of. That is, that we, as the faculty—what others do with the children is a separate thing—do not attempt to bring out into the public things that really concern only our school. I have been back only a few hours, and I have heard so much gossip about who got a slap and so forth. All of that gossip is going beyond all bounds, and I really found it very disturbing. We do not really need to concern ourselves when things seep out the cracks. We certainly have thick enough skins for that. But on the other hand, we clearly do not need to help it along. We should be quiet about how we handle things in the school, that is, we should maintain a kind of school confidentiality. We should not speak to people outside the school, except for the parents who come to us with questions, and in that case, only about their children, so that gossip has no opportunity to arise.”
From the Green Meadow Report:
"The findings, revealed in a damning report by a private investigative firm hired by Green Meadow, also accuse two other teachers of sex crimes — one of possessing child porn and another of assaulting a girl on a school-sponsored trip.  It says the school FAILED TO ACT when complaints of teachers' alleged criminal behavior surfaced.In the case of John Alexandra, the alleged serial offender, the school's lack of response enabled his predatory behavior, the report finds.
'Allowing Mr. Alexandra to freely roam Threefold property resulted in giving him essentially unrestricted access to students and faculty members, and thereby enabled him to continue to victimize others,' investigators said."
Waldorf schools are run by a very secretive society.  If you're involved in one... ask LOTS of questions - and insist on getting good, meaningful answers.  Waldorf schools are predisposed to hide information from parents... to keep things "confidential" - even to the point of preventing parents from talking with each other.  If your child's teacher is doing something inappropriate, there is no guarantee anyone will speak up, and a very good possibility nobody will speak up.  In Waldorf environments, they are trained to sweep this sort of thing under the rug.

So... how well do you know your child's teacher?  


You may ask, "where are all the 5=Star reviews?" Well, the problem with those reviews is that many tend not to be too honest. I have included 4-star reviews that appear honest. Often, gushing reviews are placed by teachers and administrators - as some comments here indicate. "This school educates the whole child!!!" - 5 stars - by Anonymous... I say baloney! Notice, many of the reviewers have been misled by Waldorf and are still buying the PR, even after having been disappointed. Feel free to comment but understand the intent of this blog. Comments are no longer moderated.