Caveat Emptor

“Buyer beware”.

Why are so many parents not informed about what they are “buying” when they choose a Steiner Waldorf school?

It is not as though they are the kind of parents who are not too bothered about their child’s education. They have actively sought out a school they believe will provide the best education for their child.They have toured the school (usually on an open day) read the prospectus, talked to staff. And yet the families who make an exit in distress or disillusionment all seem to have been unaware of the cult-like spiritual foundation of the schools –“anthroposophy”.

It has become more common recently – largely due to the increasing amount of criticism on the internet –  for schools to mention anthroposophy briefly (too briefly to make many parents curious) on their websites, but not usually in the leaflets they hand out, as far as I can see.

So parents are not armed with the knowledge to ask the right questions when they visit. Who would guess it is important to ask a school how many of the teachers are anthroposophists and how much this influences the decisions they make in the classroom and in the playground?

First you have to know that anthroposophy exists.

Then you have to find out what it is.

Then you have to know it can have a big influence on the way the schools are run.

Then you have to be aware of the problems this can cause if families do not go along with the tenets of the belief system.

Then you have to decide whether this is how you want your child’s education to be formulated.

I do not see how parents can be accused of making a poor decision for their child, or not doing enough research, when the questions, let alone the answers are so hard to find out about.

Here is a comment from a father on Waldorf critics about how his family felt they had been deceived, and how hard it can be to leave when things go wrong.

There are plenty more like this.

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4 comments

  1. Helen

    Being ignored in your local health food shop after exiting from Steiner – yes, that would be awkward, especially in a tiny shop such as the one in Stroud.

  2. Melanie Byng (@ThetisMercurio)

    I knew that anthroposophy existed – since it was mentioned – and took steps to understand what it was. That wasn’t easy in 1998 when there wasn’t such lively disclosure available. I read books but they were by anthroposophists. It was as clear as mud. I even went to Steiner House with our kindergarten teacher! Still foggy, since she didn’t take the trouble to explain to me how this vague stuff was impacting on my children. I only understood the mechanism years later, and when I did everything I hadn’t understood before fell into place. That understanding is difficult while you’re there with your little ones because you’ve been to a certain extent hypnotised, or feel as if you have wool in your ears. These schools do not appear to me to be any more honest now. Beware, beware.

    Great blog Helen.

  3. Helen

    The staff don’t need or want the parents to know what they are doing through anthroposophy and don’t seem to see anything wrong with carrying out their rituals on the quiet.
    Things go along more smoothly for them if most parents don’t ask questions.
    From reading accounts there are some parents who come to think anthroposophy is cool and these are the families who gain status within the school. According to Gregoire Perra this also affects how the children behave towards each other and explains how some of the bullying occurs.
    https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/my-life-among-them (English translation – scroll to “difficult social relations”)

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