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.