Seduction

When you first meet someone it is usual to give a friendly smile as you shake hands and say hello. Perhaps a nod of the head.

In his account of his time in his Waldorf school Gregoire Perra describes how the teachers would greet each child every morning, looking in to their eyes and shaking their hand for a long time before they went in to class.  This is something I also remember from my brief time in a Steiner school. It struck me as odd, I thought it was just a particular teacher’s unusual methods (which did work, the children seemed to regard him as a demi-god), but now I know this must be happening everywhere in Waldorf.

It chimes in with the techniques I mentioned before in the Teachers Handbook, about how to make it difficult for anyone else to teach your class. The class sees itself as a special group with a special teacher.

Gregoire goes on to say how each child would have a special poem written for them by their teacher. I certainly agree it can be flattering to have something written for you personally. Perhaps a bit like a serenade, in writing.

“Its extremely validating when someone takes the time to write a poem about you…who writes poems like that apart from anguished lovers?” he says.

“Mental control is a form of seduction whereby a seducer can make the human ego believe that he can only exist by the recognition granted to them.”

This would all have sounded far-fetched to me but for my experiences. A coincidence that the same techniques have been used in France and here? I don’t think so, and I do think it is part of almost imperceptible manipulation and indoctrination, as Gregoire asserts.

He also describes how the kindergarten teachers were instructed to be very maternal with the children, and initiate cuddles.  And how the class teacher used to come and eat with the family once a week, “so he became a bit like an uncle we saw a lot of”. The roles of teacher and family become blurred.

I don’t know if home visits are a common occurrence in this country but they are referred to in the handbook.

It is quite nice in a way to have a nursery teacher who has a motherly (or fatherly?) manner, and certainly a caring attitude, but one would hope this was a natural personality trait rather than a concerted attempt to manipulate someone’s behaviour.

The manipulation is described as similar to a form of hypnosis, used to put the future victim to sleep.

Apparently “Rudolf Steiner used to get the children together at the first Steiner school in Stuttgart and ask “Dear Children, do you love your teachers?”, waiting for the collective “Yes” that never failed to come.”

I already posted a link to a translation of the article, but here it is again, if you haven’t read it yet.

https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/mistreating-kids

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10 comments

  1. anon

    Steiner education and it’s principles may not make sense to everyone, some may seem archaic; hard to translate to the 21st century. However, this is not my problem- my problem is this cruel and unfair attack on Steiner education, clearly you do not agree with this alternative view of education however others do. I have seen first hand how the holistic and nurturing nature of this special type of education has helped create fantastic, free thinking, creative individuals. Can you not accept that some people agree with this kind of education- you do not, but why try and sabotage it for others? Steiner education doesn’t have to effect you in anyway, so avoid it rather than criticise it and create a fight where there need not be one.

    • Helen

      First of all, anon, Steiner education has already affected me, simply by being such a conspicuous presence here. I can’t expect you to agree with my viewpoint, but you have to admit that the Steiner influence in our area cannot be ignored, and for anyone who doesn’t go along with the spiritual, political, and social attitudes (eg, anti-vaccination) which abound as a result of the large Steiner population, the effect is not a positive one.
      Secondly, you may be aware; this large new school is going to be paid for by tax-payers. They will be paying the teachers who will in all likelihood have been trained at somewhere like West of England Steiner Teacher training;
      http://www.westt.org.uk/
      I am sure the teachers will be very good at artistically decorating the blackboard with coloured chalk, but it seems some will not have a degree in their specialist subject or have spent 3 or 4 years studying education and their subject at university. They will have spent 2 years learning about anthroposophy and how best to impart it to students, often without the knowledge or permission of the parents.
      I can see some parents will grab this opportunity to have their child educated at what they see as an alternative school where the other parents all have a similar lifestyle, but I do not think tax-payers should be paying for it.
      Lastly, you say Steiner creates fantastic, freethinking, creative individuals, well, I have three of those who live with me and they each went to state schools.

  2. BJ

    Firstly, I am pleased to see this Blog here. It is good to see someone taking the opportunity to have their say on a subject which, I’ve noticed, many people in Stroud are quite reticent to speak about openly, particularly if they have concerns. That, in itself, is interesting. I wonder how many subscribers this blog has.
    Secondly, I worked for just over a year at a local Steiner-Waldorf college. Like many, I had assumed this form of education was creative, a bit hippified, basically harmless. The experience was a real eye opener for me and I left because I saw so much that deeply worried me.
    Thirdly – and in direct response to Anon and Helen: I absolutely agree with the idea that people should have the freedom to choose what schools to send their kids to, what lifestyle to embrace, what religion to follow etc. I know we can’t all be the same. The point is, I think, Steiner-Waldorf is not all that it cracks itself up to be. It presents itself as scientific – but it behaves like a cult. It claims to be fair and open – but prejudice is rife and there is a complete lack of transparency. How are parents to make an informed choice if they believe an option to be something it really is not? Steiner-Waldorf centres are unregulated, which means that there is no-one but themselves to say whether the way they work at each establishment follows any kind of Best Practice.
    I can see their appeal, but I would urge all parents who obviously care about the wellbeing of their children, to do some digging – as you would if you were choosing a state school. Be certain that your choice is INFORMED. That’s what this blog is trying to effect. There’s no harm in that.

    • Helen

      A belated “thank you” BJ. Taking a stance in opposition to something like Steiner is seen as ” just being picky” sometimes. But if you have had experience of it in the work-place as you and I have, it doesn’t take long to realise there is far more to it than meets the eye. Having to employ people who are not “in” the movement must present something of a concern for the true believers.

  3. Jim

    Although generally I agree with BJ’s comment above there is one point which does trouble me – the extent to which parents should be able to choose their child’s education. It cannot be an unlimited freedom because the parent’s freedom could become the child’s handicap. What if the child was taught to hate certain groups in society, denied basic knowledge of the world and ultimately made incapable of functioning within it? Wouldn’t that constitute child abuse?
    So there have to be some things a child must be taught and some it must not but that still leaves a lot of freedom. At the limits of that freedom there are degrees of unacceptability – at the lower degrees I think we say OK but the state will not support you. At the higher degree I think we have to say no, this is not acceptable. The child’s rights are more important than the parent’s freedom.

  4. Helen

    Parents who home educate seem to have the freedom to teach however they see fit, they just have to prove they are providing some kind of education.
    “Inciting racial hatred” may not even apply in education, I don’t know.

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