Waldorf Education - One family's story

More Bullying


Joanna had always been the outsider in her class.  There were only three other girls and they had been a tightknit threesome since kindergarten. The boys tended to be controlled by the bullies. Then  a new boy joined the class. After a day or two he and Joanna became friendly. We were delighted she had a friend, and for a while so was she.
After a week or two, though, we could see that something was bothering her. Eventually she told us that pressure was being put upon her by the other boys to stop mixing with the new boy. They didn't want to accept him and were trying to drive him out. I say this because one of the boys actually told Joanna that they hated him and she had to hate him too or they would never speak to her again.
Joanna was a compassionate, caring child, and was very distressed by this. Apart from wanting a friend, she didn't want to be cruel to this new boy because she knew how it felt. Eventually she gave in and stopped mixing with him. A few weeks later he left  the school.
We began to see a change in our daughter. She became unhappy and withdrawn. At the time I felt she was feeling guilty and responsible for the boy's leaving because she had treated him badly.
A few days before Chrismas Joanna's class teacher rang us and said she was being very difficult. He asked us to fetch her home and keep her home for the rest of term.He said that maybe not being allowed to take part in the Christmas festival would teach her a lesson.
We did fetch her home. When I told her the teacher did not want her back that term she had what I can only describe as a tantrum. She had not had tantrums since she was two. She fell to the floor and began to kick and spit. It went on for an hour and a half. She contiued to have these tantrums throughout the Christmas holidays. I took her to our GP and he arranged for her to see a child psychiatrist. 



Looking back, I can't understand what the teachers were doing while the bullying was taking place. Joanna told me stories of the children dancing round her in a circle chanting "Hate him, hate him, or we'll hate you." She began to have nightmares. She used to tell me there was a witch in her wardobe and eventually she refused to sleep anywhere but in our bed. 


One evening I was sitting with Joanna and a gut feeling made me ask if there was anything We could do that would stop her having tantrums. Instantly she said "Tell me I never have to go back to that school." I still didn't know the full extent of the bullying and Joanna was only eight years old. I believed in the school. I believed there may be something wrong with Joanna.
I compromised. I told her she didn't have to go back at the beginning of term. We would think things over. She stopped having tantrums and became much happier.
At about this time she joined the local Brownie pack. She was afraid to stay without me but desperately wanted to be a Brownie, so I stayed with her. After two weeks she was able to let me sit in the car outside. We were winning. She was happier each week and the children there were sweet to her, so unlike the children at the Waldorf school.
There was an evening when I was sitting in the car waiting for her. I was parked outside the village school and a light was on inside. I thought of going in and asking about a visit. The children from the Brownies went to that school. I sat there thinking about what I should do. Then the light went out in the school and a car drove away. I still believed in the Waldorf school. I didn't want to lose my dream.
A week later the Waldorf class teacher rang us and said we had to make a decision right away. We either sent Joanna back to school or we took her away for good. I wanted to wait and see the psychiatrist first but he wouldn't wait. We sent her back.