Sorry

Strangely I feel the need to say sorry, for any offense caused; to all the Steiner Waldorf students who have been reading this and the few who have commented to express their anger or shock at how their school is perceived by some people. I guess until now they would have had no clue that there is such a thing as Steiner criticism.

It is a difficult one to deal with, because I do  not want to cause distress to anyone, especially young people who have enjoyed themselves at Waldorf.

Of course the children have no say in how they are educated – that is the whole point really, isn’t it? We need to make sure that parents have the right information to make the best choice for their child. If there are enough people who decide Steiner’s Occultism (sorry again) is a good way to educate their child once they know about it, so be it.

(I do have a worry that some of those signing up are from outside the area and prepared to move here to have a free Steiner education – that’s another blog post.)

What to do?

Several people have commented to me in person recently on their misgivings about, deep distrust of, or outright hostility to Steiner. There are stories to tell everywhere, about how people have encountered the Steiner movement in one way or another (sometimes quite funny stories, too), but understandably in a small town (and on the internet!) people are wary.

Informed choice and openness are the issues here. If the Steiner Free Schools do multiply, opposition will surface elsewhere. The subject needs to be aired and everyone is entitled to their say when it comes to how our money is spent.

So we will have to go on criticising, and hope that the young people will realise that disagreements are a part of life, and that they personally are not being targeted for criticism. Nor is their school, specifically. And I will try to keep in mind the age-range of the readership of this blog.

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5 comments

  1. eyesbeingopened

    I think lots of people are scared of debate, for one reason or another, or scared of conflict.

    I find it very difficult to believe that anyone would sign up to Steiner knowing nothing of the occult side of things however, so your argument may be viewed as an unnecessary use of your energy.

    If you assume that no one would be silly enough to actually send their child to a school with a certain philosophy without researching it at all, then all people involved in Steiner are perfectly happy and should be left alone.

    If you make the assumption that a minority of people send their children to a fee paying alternative school knowing little or nothing about it’s namesake then, really, they cannot blame Steiner for being Steiner when they finally realise what it means.

    Free schools are about choice – if people choose to send their child there it’s no different to sending a child to a C of E school and all that that entails, so why should they be denied funding if the demand is there?

    • Helen

      What interesting points! You realise I am only apologising to the children – 2 or 3 commented yesterday and it does seem hard on them to have their school criticised.

      I have to disagree with you, my view is that most of the kindergarten parents who decide to send their child to a Steiner school are unaware of the occultism therein. The schools and kindergartens really do not advertise it – they hide it.
      You have to look really quite hard, even on the internet, to find any real information about how the schools are run. Of course anthroposophy is well documented outside the schools, but how would parents even guess they were dealing with that?!

      Lastly, yes, if the demand is there, and they are reasonably well organised,they will probably get the funding. My point is that the demand would not be there once parents know what is behind the façade of Steiner education.

  2. eyesbeingopened

    It is good to know about these things! Then people can choose.

    I attended a Steiner mother and baby group for several years, it was lovely. But when I looked further into Steiner schooling I felt that it was very odd, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I was very impressed with Wynstones exam results, and I love the crafts and skills they learn there.

    Then I found your blog and did a bit more digging and now I know for sure that it’s not for me.

    I suppose I imagine that’s what most parents would do – have a good look at it and what it represents. If you look hard enough (very hard!) you can find the occultism within the pro-Steiner web content – for example the St Luke’s website – but most of the really off-putting stuff is to be found in anti-Steiner content. It is therefore up to the pro-Steiner lot to dispute or disprove what is being said i.e. that Steiner education has its roots firmly in occultism.

    I don’t think anyone commenting on this blog has denied this. On balance however I have the impression that the whole thing is essentially harmless, has good intentions but is deeply flawed (in my opinion). A lot of the secretiveness probably comes from a fear of being judged and misunderstood – understandable if you hold extreme views, and are part of something that you both love and want to protect and also publicise all at the same time, for the purposes of creating a free school. Steiner philosophy doesn’t stand up to any kind of analysis using the values of the modern world, but maybe that’s the point. It seems a little bit sad, I kind of want them to succeed now, to keep their funny little world.

  3. Helen

    That is very interesting indeed. You have come to the right decision, and it is good to know you did your own digging, which is the best and only way to satisfy yourself with your choice.
    I can’t agree with “essentially harmless”, however, having read testimonies from victims of bullying and heard sorry tales of years wasted without progressing at school. I am afraid it is not just a case of crackpots in their own funny little world. They are affecting the lives of real families.
    If other parents read what you have said, I hope they will take a leaf out of your book and start doing their own digging.

  4. Helen

    eyesbeingopened –
    “A lot of the secretiveness probably comes from a fear of being judged and misunderstood – understandable if you hold extreme views, and are part of something that you both love and want to protect and also publicise all at the same time, for the purposes of creating a free school”
    You are right again, what a difficult balancing act they are trying to perform. Almost impossible too, surely.