Persecution

“If only the public knew what they were they would be stopped on ethical grounds.”

Just one statement from a parent who has had a brush with Steiner and knows how they treat dissenters .

It is much easier to try to forget painful experiences, especially if you partly blame yourself for choosing such a school. Families who exit Steiner education in distress are sometimes never heard of again as critics, understandably they wish to put their experiences behind them.

Or sometimes they write anonymously; there is a private “survivors” group where families can share experiences without fear of retribution from the “movement”.

Parents of young children – and older children, just want to protect them from suffering any further problems than have already been experienced. Changing schools can be difficult enough for a child even when there is no animosity or bad feeling with the old school, so a positive outlook for the future seems better than dwelling on the past.

In addition to this the fear of persecution from some members of the Steiner movement, who pursue those they see as “enemies” relentlessly and seemingly with no scruples or compassion for them, is real and considerable.

What this means is that the Steiner schools carry on along their apparently benign, and outwardly rather beautiful path to spiritual knowledge, their reputation largely intact. Such criticism as appears in public realm is not immediately obvious, and can easily pass under the radar of parents wondering if Steiner education is right for their child.

I and others can write all we like about the defects of the Steiner creed and the way it operates, but many people, even those who have a responsibility to be informed, still prefer to believe the image they are presented with, and don’t see any need to investigate further. As has been mentioned before, some of the realities of Anthroposophy are so preposterous, they are difficult to comprehend or acknowledge, and this of course makes criticism more difficult to communicate.

But anyone who speaks out against Steiner is at risk. An example of this is the trial of Gregoire Perra; a former anthroposophist and Steiner student and teacher taken to a criminal court a year ago simply for stating the truth about anthroposophy and Steiner education . He was vindicated at last and the process of the trial exposed many faults within Steiner, but what motivates an organisation to pursue individuals in such an extreme way?

As he said in part two of his article “My life among them”, in the section “I would leave”, anyone who expresses disapproval about Steiner methods is vulnerable to attack;

“…it is not enough for Anthroposophists to expel someone who resists them, first they must demolish him, morally, socially, and psychologically. Certainly, if the individual emerges still standing, there is a serious risk that he will tell what he saw and heard. It is therefore necessary to take him apart him first.”

Critics the world over have been targeted by anthroposophists who use pseudonyms, at least one of whom has commented on this blog in the past. It seems they sometimes pose as mothers and fathers on forums and use multiple identities in an attempt to present Steiner in a positive light. If all else fails a tactic is to pursue families and parents individually until they retreat, or attack online until a forum is taken down because of the unpleasant nature of the personal attacks.

So the cult of Steiner continues, and even thrives, with state endorsement in the UK.

As Free Schools multiply there will be more accountability and openness demanded of the Steiner movement, and the resulting conflict from within will be interesting to observe. Parents who have sent a child to a state-funded free school will not be so quick to blame themselves for having chosen such a school, they will blame the government for allowing the school to open.

These families will not be so easy to quieten.

 

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6 comments

  1. Angel

    This is a very interesting post, especially in view of the recent BHA paper on Steiner free-schools that had zero mention of these kinds of abuses as a concern in Steiner schools.

    You say “parents of young children – and older children, just want to protect them from suffering any further” and the inference is that all parents therefore walk away and simply adopt a “positive outlook for the future” which seems “better than dwelling in the past”.

    And you finish by saying of future parents in State Steiner schools that “These families will not be so difficult to quieten”.

    Given that you are obviously concerned about what you describe as the litigious nature of Steiner, for which there is ample anecdotal evidence, I’m guessing that you would be keen to let parents and others also know of any successful outcomes by families who have managed to overcome the substantial and quite gruelling obstacles you describe.

    Not all families walk away as you appear to suggest and some families do see addressing such obvious injustice and achieving agency for bullied children and persecuted families as being “positive” and parents reading your blog should know that.

    And because “anyone who speaks out about Steiner is at risk” as you say, such positive results are all the more important to support and share.

    Perhaps then you would share this result, achieved in New Zealand, featured widely in the press there and acknowledged to be a landmark case and the first time a Steiner school anywhere has agreed to independent mediation with anyone, let alone Human Rights organisations: http://is.gd/Steinermess

    In addition the legally binding statements describe exactly the scenario of “unchecked bullying” so often reported anecdotally as well as the persecution that makes it so hard to confront.

    I trust that your belief in the seriousness of the problems you are highlighting here will lead to your practical support for practical remedies for the all too real dangers of bullying and the devastating life-long effects it can have on mental health and life chances.

    For that reason I’d also like to draw your attention to this page in which the family (us) who achieved the above settlement are now having to fight a stressful and expensive legal battle to prevent “influential” others from trying to conceal this useful and relevant information from those parents and children who stand to directly benefit from it: http://is.gd/bullyingsupport

    Together we can stop bullying.

    • we escaped!

      Our son wasn’t a victim of bullying, but we did witness it towards other children and parents.

      He was subjected to abuse though.

      We will continue to keep our personal details to ourselves as we simply do not trust steiner institutions. They have taken enough from us, and we will not allow them to damage our family any further by disclosing our identify. We are pretty sure they know who we are anyway! We will not take the risk to enable them to ruin us further. We truly have been damaged. We commend anyone that steps up and speaks out. But, as a family, we are still in the recovery phase, and we will not expose our son or ourselves. Perhaps one day eh!

      We have confidence that they will come unstuck. In the meantime, we will continue to tell our story to people that will listen and post on well respected blogs such as this.

      We are respectable people, and we have a large number of people that listen to us. Therefore, we will tell all of the people that we meet on the bus, plane, train, shopping centres, work conferences, holidays etc…
      Is what we will not allow steiner to do is hound us and threaten us, as they have done. New Zealand is different, obviously. From our experience the dfe and ofsted, that we should trust to defend us, do not have the power to do so.

  2. Helen

    In reply to Angel
    The bullying in Steiner schools is the most obviously damaging part of all that is wrong with Steiner education, and was the subject of the second post I wrote here back in August last year. Your legal case was highlighted in a comment on that post, and as I said at the time I hope everyone has read about it.
    It is only by hearing first hand accounts that the issue can be brought to the attention of people who need to know – parents of young children choosing a school. What I tried to emphasise in this post was the “tip of the iceberg” nature of criticism – it takes bravery or recklessness to speak out.
    My main purpose here is to inform parents about the dangers of Steiner schools which would otherwise be concealed; seeing the way anthroposophy has wormed its way in to the fabric of life here in Stroud, and by way of land grabs, a planned free school and endless associated businesses looks set to suffocate the life from the community is almost like watching a horror film.
    So yes, I am keen to let parents know about this successful outcome.

  3. Pingback: Focus op Antroposofie | Persecution | Stop Steiner in Stroud
  4. Pingback: [5] A l’école avec Rudolf Steiner | Au creux de mon âme

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