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Re: One of many recently damaged by Steiner Waldorf

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  • zooey_stockholm
    ... My waldorf school, and the kindergarten too, was very violent; violence was around all the time. There was lots of bullying, and I ve read other state that
    Message 1 of 23 , Feb 6, 2009
      --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "Roger Rawlings"
      <downfromfog@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      > Important points. Mistakenly, I have argued that Waldorfs are
      > generally free of violence and bullying. Comments here open my eyes.
      > I'd like to learn more. Anyone with relevant stories, please tell them
      > more of them here.

      My waldorf school, and the kindergarten too, was very violent;
      violence was around all the time. There was lots of bullying, and I've
      read other state that the school was well-known for its problems with
      bullying. Nothing was ever done to stop the bullying.

      The violence was pretty much a standard method of hanging around, I
      can't describe it better. You could count on being thrown into the
      wall, cupboards or into rocks, being hit, being pushed, those kinds of
      things--every day.

      I've been scratched 'til I got bruises, been kicked in my back 'til I
      couldn't breath, been hit with a wooden "club" on my head so that I
      saw stars (but no angels). But that's just the tip of an iceberg.

      As far as I can remember I was never physically maltreated by a
      teacher--my class teacher was a relatively decent human being,
      although misled by Steinerites. In kindergarten I don't know, these
      teachers were more evil and more anthro. Also, the teacher who was
      hired to bring me to school against my will when I was in 1st grade,
      she didn't mind hurting me while she stopped me from fleeing. But she
      didn't continue to hurt me just because she could.

      > Hypotheses: a) Occultism may have
      > special appeal for people who are discontented with reality â€" and this
      > discontent may manifest sometimes as anger. b) Occultists may become
      > angry because they seek impossible mystic fulfillments, so they are
      > bound to be disappointed and vexed. Those who were angry before may
      > become angrier, and those who were placid before may be led into
      > newfound anger.


      Yes, both hypotheses work. Both a) and b) people find a place to work
      within the waldorf environment, although they aren't really fit to
      work as teachers. Still they have to work--and waldorf provides them
      with the opportunity to take their spiritual interests to work with them.

      >
      >
      > > Roger, I think your website is marvellous.
      >

      I second what Cathy wrote!!

      -z
    • Roger Rawlings
      ... Thanks, Zooey. This is truly shocking. I ve argued that Waldorfs provide safe havens, but I start to think I was wrong, at least in some cases. ... Now
      Message 2 of 23 , Feb 7, 2009
        --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "zooey_stockholm"
        <skottehund@...> wrote:
        >

        > My waldorf school, and the kindergarten too, was very violent;
        > violence was around all the time. There was lots of bullying, and I've
        > read other state that the school was well-known for its problems with
        > bullying. Nothing was ever done to stop the bullying.

        Thanks, Zooey. This is truly shocking. I've argued that Waldorfs
        provide safe havens, but I start to think I was wrong, at least in
        some cases.

        > The violence was pretty much a standard method of hanging around, I
        > can't describe it better.

        Now that you mention it, I remember that students at my school
        sometimes engaged in running battles during recess. They would gather
        at each recess to resume fights that had begun earlier. I myself had
        such a continuing combat with another student in 4th grade or so. No
        teacher ever intervened in such fights, as far as I know. Of course,
        the teachers may not have known what was going on (in which case their
        supervision was certainly inadequate), and such fights were, I think,
        relatively rare. Still, they happened.

        > As far as I can remember I was never physically maltreated by a
        > teacher

        I was never hit, pinched, etc., by a teacher, so far as I remember. On
        one dramatic occasion, however, one of our teachers became annoyed
        with a student and kicked over the chair/desk at which the kid was
        seated. Chair, desk, and child wound up in a heap on the floor.

        I would not contend, even now, that there is more violence at Waldorfs
        than at other schools. Am I wrong? My impression, however, is that
        parents who think they are protecting their kids by selecting Waldorfs
        may be mistaken.

        - Roger




        --my class teacher was a relatively decent human being,
        > although misled by Steinerites. In kindergarten I don't know, these
        > teachers were more evil and more anthro. Also, the teacher who was
        > hired to bring me to school against my will when I was in 1st grade,
        > she didn't mind hurting me while she stopped me from fleeing. But she
        > didn't continue to hurt me just because she could.
        >
        > > Hypotheses: a) Occultism may have
        > > special appeal for people who are discontented with reality â€"
        and this
        > > discontent may manifest sometimes as anger. b) Occultists may become
        > > angry because they seek impossible mystic fulfillments, so they are
        > > bound to be disappointed and vexed. Those who were angry before may
        > > become angrier, and those who were placid before may be led into
        > > newfound anger.
        >
        >
        > Yes, both hypotheses work. Both a) and b) people find a place to work
        > within the waldorf environment, although they aren't really fit to
        > work as teachers. Still they have to work--and waldorf provides them
        > with the opportunity to take their spiritual interests to work with
        them.
        >
        > >
        > >
        > > > Roger, I think your website is marvellous.
        > >
        >
        > I second what Cathy wrote!!
        >
        > -z
        >
      • Margaret Sachs
        At our Waldorf school, my son s class teacher did take bullying seriously when it was brought to his attention and, as far as I could tell, handled the
        Message 3 of 23 , Feb 7, 2009
          At our Waldorf school, my son's class teacher
          did take bullying seriously when it was brought to his attention and, as far as
          I could tell, handled the situation well. Parents in other classes, however,
          told me they were not satisfied with how teachers handled reports of
          bullying. One girl, who made up stories about other children hurting her, actually broke
          other children's bones. One of her parents was a Waldorf graduate and at least
          one of her grandparents was an Anthroposophist. Several teen boys, including the son of Waldorf teachers, assaulted a girl. The girl's mother reported the assault to the police and the teachers' son ended up having to leave the school. Some years later, an Anthroposophist parent and board member told me that the girl's mother had overreacted. Because I knew some of the details of the assault, for me it was one of those moments when you're looking at someone and you suddenly realize they are barking mad.

          �A girl I knew was rammed
          against a wall by a teacher, left the school shortly thereafter, and seemed traumatized by it when she told me about
          it years later. Yet another girl told me that a teacher hurt her when he yanked
          her arm to try to force her to cross a stream on a field trip and then grabbed
          her and shook her violently, despite the fact that she kept telling him not to
          touch her. I saw a teacher go ballistic on two children for playing with some
          outdoor sprinkler lines when all he needed to do was to say, "Don't play with those pipes." Even
          a teacher whom we liked and respected had a reputation for occasionally going
          into extraordinary rages in the classroom.



          In all fairness, there were some serious instances of student bullying and violence at
          a couple of other schools my children attended, although I never heard of
          teachers being out of control at any of them.



          Clearly, though, our Waldorf school was far from being the peaceful, spiritually
          evolved environment we had originally believed it to be. It's my opinion that some of the teachers at our Waldorf school should not have been working with children and would never have been able to find employment in a non-Anthroposophical school.



          Margaret

          --- On Sat, 2/7/09, Roger Rawlings <downfromfog@...> wrote:
          From: Roger Rawlings <downfromfog@...>
          Subject: [wc] Re: One of many recently damaged by Steiner Waldorf
          To: waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Saturday, February 7, 2009, 7:13 AM












          --- In waldorf-critics@ yahoogroups. com, "zooey_stockholm"

          <skottehund@ ...> wrote:

          >



          > My waldorf school, and the kindergarten too, was very violent;

          > violence was around all the time. There was lots of bullying, and I've

          > read other state that the school was well-known for its problems with

          > bullying. Nothing was ever done to stop the bullying.



          Thanks, Zooey. This is truly shocking. I've argued that Waldorfs

          provide safe havens, but I start to think I was wrong, at least in

          some cases.



          > The violence was pretty much a standard method of hanging around, I

          > can't describe it better.



          Now that you mention it, I remember that students at my school

          sometimes engaged in running battles during recess. They would gather

          at each recess to resume fights that had begun earlier. I myself had

          such a continuing combat with another student in 4th grade or so. No

          teacher ever intervened in such fights, as far as I know. Of course,

          the teachers may not have known what was going on (in which case their

          supervision was certainly inadequate), and such fights were, I think,

          relatively rare. Still, they happened.



          > As far as I can remember I was never physically maltreated by a

          > teacher



          I was never hit, pinched, etc., by a teacher, so far as I remember. On

          one dramatic occasion, however, one of our teachers became annoyed

          with a student and kicked over the chair/desk at which the kid was

          seated. Chair, desk, and child wound up in a heap on the floor.



          I would not contend, even now, that there is more violence at Waldorfs

          than at other schools. Am I wrong? My impression, however, is that

          parents who think they are protecting their kids by selecting Waldorfs

          may be mistaken.



          - Roger



          --my class teacher was a relatively decent human being,

          > although misled by Steinerites. In kindergarten I don't know, these

          > teachers were more evil and more anthro. Also, the teacher who was

          > hired to bring me to school against my will when I was in 1st grade,

          > she didn't mind hurting me while she stopped me from fleeing. But she

          > didn't continue to hurt me just because she could.

          >

          > > Hypotheses: a) Occultism may have

          > > special appeal for people who are discontented with reality ��"

          and this

          > > discontent may manifest sometimes as anger. b) Occultists may become

          > > angry because they seek impossible mystic fulfillments, so they are

          > > bound to be disappointed and vexed. Those who were angry before may

          > > become angrier, and those who were placid before may be led into

          > > newfound anger.

          >

          >

          > Yes, both hypotheses work. Both a) and b) people find a place to work

          > within the waldorf environment, although they aren't really fit to

          > work as teachers. Still they have to work--and waldorf provides them

          > with the opportunity to take their spiritual interests to work with

          them.

          >

          > >

          > >

          > > > Roger, I think your website is marvellous.

          > >

          >

          > I second what Cathy wrote!!

          >

          > -z

          >


































          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Roger Rawlings
          ... teacher shook her violently I saw a teacher go ballistic on two children ... occasionally going ... Thanks, Margaret. The cumulative
          Message 4 of 23 , Feb 8, 2009
            --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, Margaret Sachs
            <powerofjoy2004@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > A girl I knew was rammed
            > against a wall by a teacher <snip> Yet another girl told me that a
            teacher <snip> shook her violently <snip> I saw a teacher go ballistic
            on two children <snip>
            > a teacher whom we liked and respected had a reputation for
            occasionally going
            > into extraordinary rages in the classroom.

            Thanks, Margaret.

            The cumulative effect of these accounts is telling.

            > In all fairness, there were some serious instances of student
            bullying and violence at
            > a couple of other schools my children attended

            Yes. The point is not that no such problems occur elsewhere, but that
            they DO sometimes occur at Waldorfs. Anthroposophy, in my view, is an
            escapist fantasy. Likewise, the selection of a Waldorf school can
            sometimes be a form of escapism -- trying to find a full-out
            alternative to problems encountered in society at large. Yet the
            escape is often unsuccessful -- the problems recur inside Waldorfs,
            sometimes with added layers of awfulness. Occult looniness, I'd
            submit, is awfulness squared, and if my hypotheses about Waldorf rage
            are correct, then students at Waldorfs may confront, in some of their
            teachers, particularly intractable forms of anger that may erupt with
            deeply damaging effect.

            > Clearly, though, our Waldorf school was far from being the peaceful,
            spiritually
            > evolved environment we had originally believed it to be.

            I do want to reiterate that my Waldorf was, for the most part, a
            peaceable and pleasant place. Now that Zooey has jogged my memory, I
            recall a few more episodes of violence and bullying, as well as a
            marked disinclination by the teachers to intervene. Also, as I've
            said, some faculty at the school had mighty tempers, which produced an
            atmosphere of mild but pervasive fearfulness. Still, I would say that
            my school provided a comfortable environment much of the time for most
            of the students. This may not be the case at some other Waldorfs --
            the problems we've been discussing may be worse there. At the least,
            this is something parents should look into when evaluating a Waldorf.

            - Roger
          • awaldenpond@shaw.ca
            Hi Roger, You wrote: The point is not that no such problems occur elsewhere, but that they DO sometimes occur at Waldorfs. Anthroposophy, in my view, is an
            Message 5 of 23 , Feb 8, 2009
              Hi Roger,

              You wrote:
              "The point is not that no such problems occur elsewhere, but that
              they DO sometimes occur at Waldorfs. Anthroposophy, in my view, is an
              escapist fantasy. Likewise, the selection of a Waldorf school can
              sometimes be a form of escapism -- trying to find a full-out
              alternative to problems encountered in society at large. Yet the
              escape is often unsuccessful -- the problems recur inside Waldorfs,
              sometimes with added layers of awfulness. Occult looniness, I'd
              submit, is awfulness squared, and if my hypotheses about Waldorf rage
              are correct, then students at Waldorfs may confront, in some of their
              teachers, particularly intractable forms of anger that may erupt with
              deeply damaging effect."

              Anthroposophy as Escapist Fantasy. I think that idea is worth pursuing but it should certainly NOT be taken as an insult to anthroposophists. Maybe we should pull a Castaneda and call it a "separate reality?" I hope it might be possible for the purpose of exploring the idea. The angry outbursts from anthroposophists/waldorf teachers might come as a result of them confusing reality with fantasy - which is which, etc.? When you believe you have discovered meaning/happiness/comfort via a spiritual path/community - especially after a difficult period (divorce, abuse, family death, loneliness . . . .) it is SO easy to dismiss anything that might even hint at challenging that comfort zone. The best plan might be to explore the deeper problem on what are they escaping FROM?

              Justifying Escapist Fantasy/Separate Reality can appear outrageous and irrational to those who do not buy into that Fantasy. We've seen it happen here many times with anthroposophists refusing to discuss or deal with content because they are convincing themselves that non-anthros cannot possible comment on anthroposophy because we do go into the subject in the "proper" way - we do not believe before we start reading Steiner. "How DARE you presume to talk about Steiner!" The obfuscation and anger is often obvious to all but themselves.

              One Fantasy-Reality example that comes to mind happened at a big Waldorf "community" meeting years ago. A group of local anthroposophists/waldorfers wanted to expand the Waldorf school but this meant they'd need to take over two houses adjacent to the property. They had already hired an anthro architect and the plans were under way. The owner of one house was not interested in selling. He was an older man who had lived there for decades. During the Waldorf meeting, one of the development anthros spoke seriously about how we could get the old man out of his house. One of his ideas was to have waldorf kids playing basketball outside the man's house at all hours of the day and night. A few people at the meeting laughed at this suggestion and the man became visibly upset; he was serious and continued to lecture everyone on the importance of the expansion project - from an anthroposophic point of view. A fight nearly broke out at that same meeting. Point: The anthroposophist was not able to see that his plan - while good/important in his mind - was socially irresponsible and actually cruel in the real world of the old man living near the school. The difference between the anthro fantasy and the old man's reality was blurred to the anthroposophist.

              I think this same dynamic is responsible for anthro-inspired anger elsewhere and is especially troubling when it happens between Waldorf teachers and children. Children are children are children and when they do not fit an anthro version of a reincarnating soul thankful to accept the karmic connection with the teacher as the authority figure for 8 years . . . . the children often experience the Will of the Teacher in less than healthy lessons.

              I'd encourage others to comment on this - especially anthroposophists and Waldorf supporters.

              -Walden





              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Roger Rawlings
              ... pursuing but it should certainly NOT be taken as an insult to anthroposophists. Hi, Walden. I agree. My fire is directed at the ideology, not at the
              Message 6 of 23 , Feb 9, 2009
                --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, <awaldenpond@...> wrote:
                >
                >
                > Anthroposophy as Escapist Fantasy. I think that idea is worth
                pursuing but it should certainly NOT be taken as an insult to
                anthroposophists.

                Hi, Walden.

                I agree. My fire is directed at the ideology, not at the adherents.
                The distinction can get lost in the heat of debate, but it is
                important. I argue that Anthroposophy is looney, not that
                Anthroposophists are lunatics. I think most if not all
                Anthroposophists are sincere spiritual seekers, and I wish them well
                on their quest. I do not intend to make ad hominem attacks on them. I
                do not even intend to try to wean them from their beliefs. My work is
                addressed to non-Anthroposophists who may become unwittingly snared in
                Waldorfworld. I want to help one and all to see what Steiner taught
                and what Waldorf is all about. Anyone who understands Steiner and his
                doctrines and who then wishes to send children to a Waldorf school
                should be entirely free to do so, IMO. I would tremble for the
                children, but I have no authority in such a situation, not do I want
                such authority.

                I understand the anger Anthroposophists, Waldorf teachers, Waldorf
                alums, etc., feel toward Waldorf critics such as yrs. trly. Some of my
                old classmates are livid at me, I believe. This causes me pain, but it
                is a price I must pay if I am to tell the truth about Steiner and
                Waldorf. Again: My criticisms are directed at the thinking behind the
                schools, and at some of the practices of the schools, not at the
                people within the schools.

                I call Anthroposophy an escapist fantasy because, having lived with it
                all my life and studied it intensively for the last several years,
                that's what it appears to me to be. I have frequently stated, in
                various essays and here at the list, that there is a chance that
                Steiner was right about everything. However, truthfully, I consider
                this chance to be so small as to be almost entirely negligible. As I
                have argued in such essays as "Steiner's Blunders," "Steiner's
                'Sceince,'" "Steiner's Logic," etc., the vast weight of human
                knowledge is against Steiner -- he has no real leg to stand on, IMO.
                He describes a very different universe from that which can be verified
                by science, and very different from that which orthodox religions
                recognize. Possibly Steiner is right and everyone else (aside from his
                faithful adherents) is wrong. But the onus is on Anthroposophists to
                prove this. If the best they can do is to claim that Steiner -- and
                perhaps they themselves -- used the non-existent faculty of
                clairvoyance, then they are offering no real evidence at all.

                (Does clairvoyance exist? As with all these matters, I admit that
                there is a very slight chance that it does. BUT there is no reliable
                evidence that it does. The ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, for instance, is
                so impressed by clairvoyance that it devotes one brief paragraph to
                the subject. Here it is, in full: "Clairvoyance -- knowledge of
                information not necessarily known to any other person, not obtained by
                ordinary channels of perceiving or reasoning -â€" thus a form of
                extrasensory perception (ESP). Spiritualists also use the term to mean
                seeing or hearing (clairaudience) the spirits of the dead that are
                said to surround the living. Research in parapsychology -- such as
                testing a subject’s ability to predict the order of cards in a
                shuffled deck â€"- has yet to provide conclusive support for the
                existence of clairvoyance." ["clairvoyance." Encyclopædia Britannica.
                2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 09 Feb. 2009] Now,
                Anthropophists generally reject such compendiums of reliable
                information as the BRITANNICA. But this just points us at the
                problem. Accepting Steiner's version of things means rejecting real
                knowledge.)

                Anyway, thanks, Walden. I agree that we should be as polite and decent
                as possible in all our discussions, with Anthroposophists as well as
                all others. I have argued for human equality and respect. I include
                Anthroposophists within these precepts.

                - Roger
              • zooey_stockholm
                ... We had MANY of that kind here too... (My class teacher wasn t one of them, which at least was a good thing. But I don t think it would be wrong to say that
                Message 7 of 23 , Feb 9, 2009
                  --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "winters_diana"
                  <diana.winters@...> wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > I could write a book on this . . . We had a lot of teachers walking
                  > around who were anger time-bombs, and the occasional explosions were
                  > truly memorable.

                  We had MANY of that kind here too... (My class teacher wasn't one of
                  them, which at least was a good thing. But I don't think it would be
                  wrong to say that most or at least half of the teachers were really
                  bad-tempered. Quitely depressed... and then *boom*)

                  -z
                • zooey_stockholm
                  ... Yes, I think so--at least generally speaking. Waldorfs aren t safe havens, and some waldorfs are perhaps unsafer than others, and I think this is due to
                  Message 8 of 23 , Feb 9, 2009
                    --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "Roger Rawlings"
                    <downfromfog@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > --- In waldorf-critics@yahoogroups.com, "zooey_stockholm"
                    > <skottehund@> wrote:
                    > >
                    >
                    > > My waldorf school, and the kindergarten too, was very violent;
                    > > violence was around all the time. There was lots of bullying, and I've
                    > > read other state that the school was well-known for its problems with
                    > > bullying. Nothing was ever done to stop the bullying.
                    >
                    > Thanks, Zooey. This is truly shocking. I've argued that Waldorfs
                    > provide safe havens, but I start to think I was wrong, at least in
                    > some cases.

                    Yes, I think so--at least generally speaking. Waldorfs aren't safe
                    havens, and some waldorfs are perhaps unsafer than others, and I think
                    this is due to the staff's inaptitude at dealing with children and
                    social and environmental issues of everyday life. (However, I don't
                    think any schools are safe havens, and I doubt that creating safe
                    havens is a worthwhile goal. But it's all a matter of degrees.)

                    >
                    > > The violence was pretty much a standard method of hanging around, I
                    > > can't describe it better.
                    >
                    > Now that you mention it, I remember that students at my school
                    > sometimes engaged in running battles during recess. They would gather
                    > at each recess to resume fights that had begun earlier. I myself had
                    > such a continuing combat with another student in 4th grade or so. No
                    > teacher ever intervened in such fights, as far as I know. Of course,
                    > the teachers may not have known what was going on (in which case their
                    > supervision was certainly inadequate), and such fights were, I think,
                    > relatively rare. Still, they happened.

                    I don't remember adults being present at recess at all. And it wasn't
                    like it was fighting *about* something, really, it was more like, I
                    don't know how to describe it, that beating somebody up was socially
                    acceptable just because someone felt like doing it. It wasn't a big
                    deal, hitting people was like one way of communicating (most of the
                    time without having anything to communicate, though).

                    > I would not contend, even now, that there is more violence at Waldorfs
                    > than at other schools. Am I wrong? My impression, however, is that
                    > parents who think they are protecting their kids by selecting Waldorfs
                    > may be mistaken.
                    >
                    > - Roger
                    >

                    I would think it's very hard to say it's one way or the other. Of the
                    two schools I went to, waldorf and non-waldorf, the latter was
                    practically free of violence (if not totally free--maybe a couple of
                    kids got into a fist fight, although that was rare, and was always
                    dealt with by adults who interfered), a sharp conntrast to the waldorf
                    school. And that wasn't because the kids were less troubled
                    necessarily--but they were generally more capable of expressing
                    themselves verbally.

                    The important thing in all this is, as you write, to not allow for
                    waldorfs to pretend that they are better in this regard. Parents would
                    be wrong in assuming that waldorf guarantees anything the local public
                    school can't promise. They certainly aren't any more the rosy safe
                    havens than any other school option.

                    -z
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