A parent wrote to a local newspaper this week, complaining that there is no room for her children to join local schools at the appropriate year group. Unfortunate perhaps, but it is will not always be easy to find room for a child part way through in any school.
She sees a Steiner education as preferable for her children who have been educated at home.
There is often a link between Steiner and home education – parents believe that a mainstream education is not good enough for their child, or will harm them in some unspecified way. So they will opt for home education if a Steiner school is not available.
This idea of Steiner superiority is introduced and reinforced by Steiner schools, who often manage to convince children and their parents that it is an immense privilege to be part of the Steiner “community” and that everything outside it is inferior – a very effective way of keeping families on board and minimising dissent.
It is one reason why families stay so long after problems arise, before finally making the decision to leave; one former Steiner student remarked that to someone who is unhappy within the Steiner system, suffering at the hands of other students within it as is not uncommon, the mistaken belief that the world outside is much, much worse makes everything harder to bear.
Educating a child at home is a choice most parents in this country would not wish to make. In the USA the most common reason for teaching your own child is to make sure they are indoctrinated with the right set of religious beliefs, and are not exposed to what the parents see as the threat of conflicting facts or opinions.
With the expansion of free schools here in the UK we are offering an opportunity for parents who wish to isolate their child from outside influences without the need for home-schooling.
Parents who seek this isolation for their children probably see it as a form of protection, but sadly they are often leaping into the fire. What seems to be a gentle alternative can be a form of torture for those who do not conform to the Steiner mindset, or who are different enough to find themselves outside what passes for normality within this kind of community.