All schools have anti-bullying policies now, and Steiner schools are no exception.
The state-funded Exeter Steiner Academy’s policy is pretty standard except for the following extract;
Pupils usually become victims of bullying through no fault of their own. On occasions, however, a pupil may be subject to bullying because they:
- are new to the class;
- are different in appearance, speech or background from other people;
- suffer from low self esteem.
I have never seen a document before that suggested bullying may be the victim’s own fault. The three areas highlighted must be what Steiner schools regard as problem situations in their experience.
The first category corresponds to the deliberately fostered tribal nature of a Steiner class, as described in the Handbook for Waldorf class teachers; the class remains with the same teacher for 8 years, and a strong bond is formed. Any outsider will have trouble integrating, according to the book.
The second is unfathomable – aren’t we all different? How different does a child have to be before the bullying becomes their own fault?
Thirdly, a child with low self-esteem can expect problems with bullying ? Well, thanks for the information.
Some parents say they don’t have a problem with karma as a framework for the way a Steiner school operates. They may find the idea of an eternal soul attractive, but perhaps without examining the matter in too much detail. The idea of teachers deciding their child’s treatment based on karma may not have crossed their mind, unless they have read the accounts of families where bullies are allowed to work out their karma by victimising other children
4 members of staff at Exeter Steiner academy are qualified teachers, but most have simply spent a lot of time in Steiner schools and gone through the Steiner training courses, where they learned all about…anthroposophy. These teachers certainly know all about karma.
Sharon Lombard mentioned how curative eurythmy is used on the victims of bullying; events during the child’s previous incarnation are said to have brought about her victimisation, and this is the method teachers use to “work on her karma”.
All this would be difficult to believe, except that reported cases of bullying in Steiner schools bear striking similarities in the way they are handled. The recent report from a parent commenting on a post here about a child having weights strapped to his ankles in eurythmy is an horrific case in point; any parent who thinks these practices are no longer taking place should think again.
The Exeter Steiner Academy’s policy is in line with Steiner teachings about karma; the victim must be to blame rather than the bullies.