What’s the Harm?

So where is the harm in Steiner, if you don’t mind a bit of New Age spirituality/Occultism/Theosophy being practiced on your child in the classroom?

Well, aside from the belief in Karma and reincarnation which has consequences for the way children are allowed to interact, and the way incidences of bullying may be dealt with, the effects of anthroposophy on the individual are subtle yet noxious.

Roger Rawlings (who went to a Steiner school) describes how children are affected;

“The chief harm that Waldorf schools can inflict is to pull children away from reality, enticing them into an occult fantasy world that, while pleasing in many ways, is divorced from truth. Kids often emerge from Waldorf schools woefully unprepared for real life in the real world. Some require many years — and sometimes much therapy — before they can get their feet on the ground and begin to live as rational adults. Some never make it; and some, indeed, never try. Some Waldorf graduates spend their entire lives in and around Anthroposophical communities of various sorts — they spend their years in an unending retreat from reality. Others attempt to live more conventionally, holding down regular jobs, participating in regular communities — only to find, over and over, that life after Waldorf is too hard, too disappointing. Having internalized misty, unrealistic spiritual desires, they fail over and over in their attempts to make their way in the world that actually exists.”

The detachment from reality (inside the” bubble”) can be pleasant while it lasts. A child may be happy for a while, but at a cost.

He goes on;

“By the time I graduated from a Waldorf school, I had accepted all of these tenets:

The modern world is wicked; most people have no inkling of the Truth; science is wrong; technology is evil; unseen spirits are all around us; beings such as gnomes really exist, in a hard-to-specify way; the various human races stand at different evolutionary levels; Christ (who is different from what one learns in church) is central to human life; one improves spiritually through a process of meditation and prayer; Norse myths have special meaning and power; imagination is better than intellect; ordinary knowledge, such as one finds in encyclopedias, is suspect; powers of special spiritual insight can be attained (we didn’t use the word clairvoyance, but this is what was meant); a “natural” lifestyle is greatly superior to the sorts of lives most people lead; nature should be revered but also feared; the physical universe is illusory and empty (unless it manifests the spiritual world beyond); the community in and around a Waldorf school is greatly superior to other communities; and so forth.

Not all of these concepts are exclusively the product of Steiner’s teachings, but all of them are woven through Waldorf education”.

Summing up his account of life among the anthroposophists, Gregoire Perra gives this reason (translated) why he considered it important to inform everyone about Steiner schools;

” The mental confinement imposed on students in Waldorf schools can cause, in my estimation, deep psychological harm, and it undermines the students’ dignity, their inner freedom, even if the students do not necessarily realize this because of the subtle indoctrination they have undergone..”

What we read from former Steiner students isn’t what it says on the Steiner “tin”; it is impossible to guess this is what happens in Steiner schools, if you don’t look further than the leaflets and the open days. That’s why careful research is imperative to make sure you know what Steiner education really is.

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2 comments

  1. Angie

    Those planning the school said, on Thursday 14th, that they are not going to fully embrace Steiner principles….so why then try to establish a school in Stroud, where there are already surplus places, which is not actually going to offer anything that existing schools do not offer?

    • Helen

      Hi Angie.
      Yes, in the face of any criticism, that is the usual claim – that the most objectionable aspects of Steiner will not be found in “this new school”.
      Often those fronting the campaigns for Steiner schools are not those on the inside of the Steiner movement, and are not fully aware of the extent to which rules will be laid down (by the SWSF) for running a school based on anthroposophy. (see Denying Anthroposophy)
      Exactly what they consider they are offering that is different is not clear, apart from a chance to place your child in a school where other parents seem to have a similar lifestyle. As this post suggests, from the child’s point of view this will not be a good thing.

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