La violence dans les écoles Steiner-Waldorf


Violence in Steiner schools
Here Grègoire Perra writes about the causes and effects of the violence in these schools. It is a harrowing account. I provide my summary in a comment below.

La Vérité sur les écoles Steiner-Waldorf

Une récente affaire judiciaire à mis à jour la question de la violence sectaire au sein des écoles Steiner-Waldorf. Une mère de famille suisse a en effet décidé de porter plainte, après avoir découvert que la Maîtresse de son enfant aurait trainé cette dernière par les cheveux jusque dans les toilettes pour lui laver la bouche avec du savon. Les responsables de l’établissement se sont aussitôt expliqué en déplorant l’incident et en affirmant haut et fort que cette violence était purement accidentelle et qu’elle ne faisait absolument pas partie ni de leurs valeurs ni de leurs méthodes. Cependant, si la direction de cette école Steiner-Waldorf suisse avait été parfaitement honnête, sans doute aurait-elle du préciser qu’exiger que les enfants qui disent des grossièretés se lavent la bouche avec du savon fait partie du corpus de conseils que Rudolf Steiner, le fondateur de cette “pédagogie”, a donné à ses disciples pédagogues…

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  1. Helen

    First he cites a case in Switzerland where a mother is taking a school to court because her child was dragged to the toilets by his teacher and had his mouth washed out with soap and water. He says this is a common punishment (without being physically dragged first) for swearing or cursing, even in kindergartens.

    He explains that this particular punishment was recommended by Rudolf Steiner himself, and is an example of the way many Steiner teachers are so devoted to Steiner and so influenced by his teachings that their judgment is compromised.
    A particulary awful incident he writes about is the case of a child, badly bullied by his classmates over a long period, who finally broke down and told his mother what had been going on after he had been forced to simulate fellatio on other children.
    Somehow the school persuaded the mother not to file a complaint as she had threatened to do. She simply removed her child from the school, believing those in charge when they promised a lesson had been learned and it would be a one-off incident. She later regretted this on hearing that other children had subsequently suffered in a similar way.
    Steiner schools have such power of persuasion over parents that they are able to ensure reports of violence do not reach the ears of the appropriate authorities.
    Grègoire has written about the attacks he suffered and witnessed as a Steiner school student, and points to the examples on waldorfwatch from many different families.
    He explains the culture of violence experienced by many children and families as integral to the schools because they are based on anthroposophy. A wordview such as this where in the mind of the anthroposophist everything is explained by a gigantic and confused intellectual and cosmological edifice of dogma; their minds are further damaged by continuous meditation, causing violence to their spirit and to their whole being.
    The incidences of physical violence which come to light from time to time are not isolated, a result of one or two teachers or students “losing it”, as schools would have us believe, but diffuse and permanent within the system.
    In plain sight, as part of an ostensibly warm and welcoming environment where children are nurtured and cared for, there is violence and abuse, perpetrated among teachers and students alike.

  2. Helen

    While we are on the subject of violence here is a comment in the National secular society letters from some time ago;
    From Paul Bohanna:
    “I must agree with Helen Saunders who warned about Waldorf schools (Steiner schools). I was forced to attend the Bristol Waldorf school and I can say without hesitation that it was the most religious school I was ever forced to attend (I attended at least 15 schools during my turbulent childhood – including many religious ones).
    The Waldorf school repeatedly tried to force me to attend religious/spiritual ceremonies (though they gave them other names). I would literally run and hide and when found would be made to return – sometimes several times to the same ‘event’ until eventually the only way to keep me there was to sit me between two ‘teachers’. It seemed that every teacher had a different religious viewpoint which they happily tried to shove down our throats at every possible opportunity (science, maths, art, it did not matter, all were apparently ideal opportunities to preach – everything from Christianity to new age twaddle).
    I would also add that out of all the schools I attended, the Waldorf school was the only establishment where I was ever hit (hard) in the face by a teacher. I was later told by same teacher that “god was unfair when he handed out his abilities” – because I had received the highest exam mark in the class… in art! Total bunch of nutters.”

  3. Helen

    Reading through Roger Rawlings “slaps” article on Waldorf watch again I was struck by the “garden gnome-smashing therapy” one parent mentioned as helpful for their son; “smashing a garden gnome with a spade whilst shouting out all the things that made him sad and angry about Steiner school.”
    I was just picturing a gnome-smashing event outside the Houses of Parliament as a protest at Steiner free schools. Could be quite effective…

  4. Pingback: Gregoire Perra: “La violence dans les écoles Steiner-Waldorf” | BlackCrayons
  5. SR

    In the Steiner community where our children went, a parent of a wayward child described washing his mouth with soap at a parent’s evening, and I was the only person who expressed shock; according to my (and other children) teachers also used violent means to control children, dragging them by ears etc. There’s a sort of strange collective unspoken agreement that a lot of what goes on is “fine”, and within these communities extraordinary behaviour becomes normalised – from the bizarre beliefs, to violence like this; one is considered odd and different for NOT believing or doing the same as everyone else. One can easily see where normalised extreme behaviour can lead, and how dangerous this is.

  6. Helen

    Thanks, SR. Aside from the harm done to the victims of such violence, the result of children watching others being dealt with in such a way is to lead them to believe vile treatment is acceptable. If it’s ok for a teacher to administer such punishments the message is sent out that a culture of bullying, whether physical or not, is perfectly normal.
    And I think Gregoire is right, that some parents and teachers alike are accepting this because it is what the master declared all those years ago. The teachers don’t spend all that time reading Steiner’s works for nothing – they are learning “Steiner says” instead of “Simon says“.

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