It is very relevant; Steiner professed himself clairvoyant, and lectured about it. This material hasn’t been consigned to the dustbin by those running Steiner schools. It is the aim of these followers to become clairvoyant – achieving knowledge of “higher worlds”.
It is also their aim to help enable the children and vulnerable adults in their care along the “spiritual path” to become clairvoyant.
I will provide some references to illustrate this in a moment.
Most people do not know about the “clairvoyance thing”, which is why so many Steiner enterprises have been able to get off the ground so easily, (often with public funding) and are even treated with respect.
Any other group trying to set up a free school (or a care home or a college, a teacher training course or a day nursery ) would struggle to gain credibility anywhere – even in Stroud, if it admitted it was based on an “understanding of the world” which was all about becoming clairvoyant.
That is why Steiner groups do not talk of clairvoyance – they talk of “insight”. They talk of “heightened imagination” (with or without a capital “I”) and of “dream consciousness”.
It is easy for unsuspecting parents (or even ministers for education) to overlook this ambiguous terminology and assume it is just a hippy dippy, New Age way of looking at education or a harmless way of providing care for the vulnerable in our society.
Recently (November 27th) there was a refreshingly honest letter to the local paper in support of Steiner schools in which the writer, a “fan of Rudolf Steiner for nearly 30 years”, explained how Steiner proclaimed himself, and was accepted by his followers as, a clairvoyant;
“He [Steiner] claimed that from a young age he could ‘see’ a spiritual world…he maintained everyone, regardless of creed, has latent clairvoyant faculties that, with regular meditation, can be very slowly awakened.”
I would guess that this correspondent is sufficiently detached from the free school bid to feel comfortable in acknowledging these aspects of Steiner’s creed. You don’t hear the free school team talking about this.
The “very slow awakening” is of course being facilitated in children at Steiner schools.
Apart from the occasional contribution from Steiner “fans”, such as this one, the information about clairvoyance as it is in use today is there in print if you look hard enough. I have already directed readers to the Handbook for Waldorf Class Teachers which (unintentionally?) reveals how anthroposophy is incorporated in to lessons.
Another interesting source, for those curious enough to find out, is “The Educational Tasks and Content of the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum”, written by Tobias Richter and Martyn Rawson. It is the curriculum book specified in a Freedom Of Information request from Hereford Steiner Academy. On the first page it states;
“This document has been produced on behalf of the Pedagogical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland in co-operation with the Steiner Schools Fellowship Publications.”
This curriculum book is in some ways quite open about the aim of guiding children towards clairvoyance, saying that Steiner Waldorf education is founded on Steiner’s understanding of the human being (anthroposophy) which was “enhanced by his direct insight into spiritual realities”.
It says ” *its content is not taught in the schools, but its “insights and ethos inform the curriculum”
(*Yeah, right – see “Hang a sign on the door”)
It says anthroposophy “provides the teachers with a body of ideas”, and that teachers derive inspiration from these ideas.
Steiner said anthroposophy was “a path of knowledge that seeks to lead the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe.”
You could say that since becoming clairvoyant is an unlikely outcome (in the real world) for school children, even those at Steiner schools, why not just let them get on with it – as long as they can do it in woolly jumpers and not branded sweatshirts?
(Don’t get me wrong, I also prefer woolly jumpers, but I don’t put them as a higher priority in school than a rational approach to the curriculum.)
Unfortunately the side-effects of teachers working towards knowledge of higher worlds can be substandard education, a lack of respect for freedom of the individual, an astonishing lack of competence and motivation when dealing with instances of bullying and “tribalism” (see handbook) and a belief imparted to students that only a life spent meditating with a view to achieving this “Knowledge of higher worlds” will be worthwhile (see What’s the harm?).
To quote Roger Rawlings on “We do not teach anthroposophy”
“For a moment, let’s accept this disclaimer. How reassuring do you find it? Consider this analogy. Imagine a school that says, “All of our methods are based on voodoo. However, we do not teach voodoo to the children.” Would you be reassured? Would you send your child there?”
Many parents showing an interest in the proposed free school are not aware of the spiritual, astrological, deeply religious cult-like features of Steiner education; they will not have found out about the Handbook or the curriculum book, or read them. They will not know about the gnomes, the undines, the angels and the demons. The teachers know all about them, but they’re not telling.
Apart from some who are already involved in anthroposophy (and who are behaving dishonestly by not sharing this fact with new recruits) they are simply caring parents who mistakenly think they are selecting a harmless, alternative, even progressive form of education.
I don’t give credence to clairvoyance (or voodoo), but that does not mean it should pass unnoticed as a secret foundation for a school.
There are many, many belief systems most of us would consider bizarre. Anthroposophy is the only one that has managed to operate stealthily enough to make it through towards gaining public funding here in Gloucestershire.