Several weeks into the spring term of Joanna's Class 2 year the child psychiatrist from
the local Child Guidance Centre rang me to arrange an appointment. We discussed Joanna's problems, and I said that I felt
she may be being bullied. The doctor immediately said that, if I thought this was happening at a Waldorf school, I would probably
think it of any school, and that maybe part of the problem was that I was overprotective.
The whole family saw this doctor regularly for almost a year. I respected his opinion because
he was a psychiatrist, but I began to feel more and more that he had no real understanding of Joanna's problems. His advice
was that we should make her attend school even to the point of the teacher holding her until we had left. He felt that we
were not firm enough with her and that this was the cause of her insecurity.
His opinion of the school was that it was too child centred, that they were not strict enough.
He advised that Joanna must stay at school unless she was ill. We tried to follow his advice, although it was difficult because
the teacher was frequently ringing us and asking us to fetch her home because she was "Disrupting the whole class."
From what Joanna told me, she was sitting in silence doing nothing at all. She did not join
in with the class. There were occasions when one or other of the girls, and sometimes even the boys would ask her what was
wrong, and the teacher would get angry with them for not paying attention. I presume this is what he meant by disrupting the
class. I felt that the other children were learning a very important lesson, that of compassion, but the Waldorf curriculum
is very ridgidly enforced. Each lesson must be learned at the appropriate time. There is little flexibity.
Joanna told me how sometimes she would look out of the window and see her father coming
to fetch her younger brother, who was still doing half days, and the tears would flow down her face because he had not come
for her. I was really beginning to feel that the doctor's advice was wrong, but I didn't know what else to do. He insisted
I was overprotective, and at this time, I was unaware of the full extent of the bullying as Joanna was afraid to tell me.