• Other Families - I'm Becoming an Outcast

Q. I'm not 100% Waldorf. I have some questions and doubts. But when I talk skeptically, other families at the school start to freeze me out. What should I do?

A. Waldorf schools tend to be the centers of self-enclosed communities. It is part of their charm. They are retreats from the noisy, modern, hurly-burly world. They are pockets of "superior," alternative values — green values, anti-materialistic values, countercultural values. Sometimes they are even a bit elitist. There are some good points in all this, and the appeal is palpable.

The flip side, however, is that Waldorf communities can be self-congratulatory, insular, and even cultish. The members of a Waldorf community may feel that either you are with them or you are against them. And if you are against them, then there must be something wrong with you. Waldorf is on the side of the angels, after all — so what are you, on the side of the devils?

What all this boils down to is that maintaining a neutral stance is very difficult in and around Waldorf schools. If you cannot commit totally, you may be better off leaving — difficult as this can be. For some people, Waldorf schools are ideal. These are generally people who are able to accept the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, or who at least are not troubled by it. But for people who see problems in the Waldorf belief system, existence in a Waldorf community can become extremely uncomfortable. Indeed, a skeptic who doesn't leave voluntarily may well be ejected.

Here's the nub: Study Anthroposophy. Read up on Waldorf beliefs and methods. If you like what you read, then try to get on board as fully as possible. But if you dislike what you read — if your doubts deepen or even turn into opposition — then it is probably time for you to move on. Find a different school for your children, and work to create a comfortable life for your family in that other community.