It is surprising how many misconceptions there are about Steiner schools;
- A bit like Montessori
- Progressive, freethinking
The third is how they try to be perceived, (in fact art in the schools is rigidly prescribed).
The fourth has a specific meaning in anthroposophy.( Not what parents would think).
The fifth is a completely mistaken perception of the schools, which they do nothing to prevent. Freethinking implies unstructured or even non-religious – this is false. Progressive – surely that means innovative or developing? Steiner is definitely not worthy of this description.
As for experimental, (someone said this was their vague perception of Steiner education to me recently) I cannot think of a better word for the antithesis of Steiner. Far from trying out new educational methods, they are stuck resolutely in the past- just under a century ago.
Perhaps they could experiment by allowing small children to look at a book now and then – or even, explaining to parents the ways anthroposophy affects school policy?
Steiner’s ideas about child development, spirituality, medicine, and human history are adhered to in Steiner schools with reverence.
There is no room for experimentation. According to Steiner doctrine, all children must learn certain disciplines at a certain age,(see handbook) not before, not after. All must learn about the same Mythology and study the same artists. They must do excessive amounts of Geometry because Steiner had a fascination for certain geometrical shapes and concepts.
They learn certain bible stories at certain ages.
The same anthroposophical festivals will be celebrated throughout the year– no matter what the religion of the individual children. They may throw in the odd lesson on Diwali if necessary to appease some parents, but not as a festival. In Australia, Michaelmas is celebrated in September as a Spring festival!
How an education such as this can be described as progressive or creative is baffling. Rigid, uncompromising and old-fashioned would be more accurate.
Experimental, humanist and free-thinking, Steiner is not.
Here is a revealing account by a student who went to the Hereford Steiner Academy.