Not at all “Humanist”

In a recent story in the local press, the Steiner approach to education was described as “Humanist”.

I don’t know whether this claim was made by the Steiner Free school supporters named in the report, or whether the information was gleaned from elsewhere.

In fact The British Humanist Association have objected to Steiner Free schools and co-ordinated a campaign to stop the Department for Education from funding them as Free Schools.

Here are details of the campaign.

The BHA object to Steiner schools chiefly on the grounds that they teach science from a book “sceptical of evolution”, and give homeopathy to students; they object to anthroposophy in the schools.

There are several specific problems with the teaching in Steiner schools mentioned in this piece, and also with the kind of teaching staff being recruited – applicants are asked to provide details of their “awareness of anthroposophy”.

Humanists are non-religious, and Steiner schools are anything but that. The precise nature of their religiosity is sometimes hard to pin down.

Greg Perra’s post on “The Christ of the anthroposophists” does go some way towards explaining it.



  1. MarkH

    When the word “humanist” is used to describe Steiner education it refers not to the usual understanding of humanism that the BHA would recognise but to Steiner’s view of the human being as espoused in Anthroposophy. It’s fairly common for the Steiner movement to use words which are intended to appeal to a broad audience but which actually mean something other than you’d expect when you look in more detail.

  2. Helen

    You are right, Mark – I only had to look at Anthroposophy a little to realise there are many “known unknowns” for me. The Anthroposophists enjoy their special vocabulary, I think.
    The word “human” comes up so often, but not in a way that makes sense to anyone else.
    As for “fully human”, seen on many Steiner sites – who is not, exactly?

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