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Minority representation in Waldorf – Part 5

Why is minority representation in the Waldorf movement is so low?

Much research shows that hiring processes based primarily around interviews are inherently biased against minorities, as well as a very poor indication of actual subsequent job performance. In the interview process, people tend to screen for the type of person that like to hang out with, rather than for actual abilities. This is why research has shown the interview to be a poor indicator of actual job performance.

It’s a well observed habit that people tend to want to hang out with others who are most like them. Further, whites are the most racially isolated group in the country; because they are in the majority, a white person who doesn’t want to hang around minorities can construct a life so that they largely don’t have to. This is not something that minorities have the luxury of being able to do; when it happens it is usually the result of ghettoization. So minority applicants in an interview process run the danger of coming up against the Waldorf equivalent of a good old boys network, where the judgment is not on competence but on "fit", or “does this person seemed to be like the rest of us”. How much this actually happens in real Waldorf schools is an open question, since most seem so desperate for minority faculty that they give the impression they would probably hire any minority applicant they felt to be moderately competent. On the other hand, I’m not sure that public handwringing about lack of minorities on the faculty translates into anything approximating affirmative action in hiring practices. That would be another area for research. An interesting study would identify people who have been minority applicants at multiple Waldorf schools and interview them about their experiences. How did they find the application process? Were they offered the position they applied for? If not, what reasons were offered? What do they think really happened? If that could be matched from the school’s perspective, that would be helpful. How many minority applicants did the school have? How did they evaluate them? And if they decided that they had a "more qualified candidate" and therefore felt that they had to give the job to the non-minority applicant, has the school considered this in the larger context of their oft-stated desire to increase minority staffing?

So what can Waldorf schools do to increase minority representation on the faculty (and thereby probably increase minority enrollment)? The first issue is to examine the hiring process. Then examine the challenges facing minorities in the country at large.Out of a study of the phenomenon the possible solutions will arise. If the stated goal is to increase minority faculty, and there is no applicant pool, then it is probably necessary to create one. Some form of mentorship/scholarship program is likely the only way to create an applicant pool that meets the formal requirements of Waldorf teaching.

One Response to “Minority representation in Waldorf – Part 5”

  1. Maricel says:

    My sue me description of Anthroposophy is that it is a cult-like relgiious sect. It’s a cult in the process of becoming a religion, and the process is slow. Comparison with another recent cult/religion transformation, Mormonism, may be useful. They still have secret underwear, but they are mainstream. Mormonism’s founder died in 1844, 167 years ago. Anthroposophy’s founder died in 1925, only 86 years ago. It’s half the age, and still much more cult-like than religion-like.

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